Ride Review – Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania, located at Motiongate in the UAE, is a trackless dark ride from ETF with a storyline that is of course based on the film franchise of the same name. I knew little of this attraction on arrival (or even the park in general) and having never seen one of the movies there could be no form of IP bias going into this experience. I could even go as far as saying the opposite – as a brand it actively didn’t excite me, though of course a dark ride will always get me though the entrance. Turns out I really enjoyed this attraction and it has actually managed to increase my interest in watching the source material, so a job well done by any standards.

Vampirism seems like an appropriate topic for parks in the Dubai area as I was practicing the art myself during the daytime portion of my visits. With the sun feeling like it was searing skin almost immediately upon impact, the best tactic was always to dart around between patches of shade to avoid inevitably catching fire. It was in this rushed state, further increased by my use of some time limited lockers elsewhere in the park, that I stumbled into the entrance of Hotel Transylvania for the first time, without taking those important extra moments to slow down and absorb the atmosphere of a themed attraction such as this.

I had many moments at Motiongate of entering an area and having an almost stunned reaction at what I was seeing. While there were greater examples elsewhere in the park, the scenery here had a similar effect on me and this was perhaps driven by the sheer lack of expectation. There’s such a contrast in the transition from outside to inside and I found it to have a rather magical vibe about it. The fact it was almost entirely empty and I often had the queue and ride to myself no doubt helped as well.

The queueline was nicely detailed for the relative small size of it and though it’s a shame to not have any form of preshow or other media to set the scene, being almost immediately greeted by a cute little Mystic Mover trackless vehicle (hmm, that name sounds familiar) is always a welcome sight for me. Within the first corner, the full range of styles in scenery is on display, from large physical set pieces through holographic projections to your standard, often lamented, media screens.

After this introductory area, the cars enter the main hub of the track layout which comprises of a vast corridor and side rooms, with other vehicles criss-crossing in all directions. I like an overwhelming sense of scale in certain moments on my dark rides, rather than relying solely on tight enclosed spaces at every turn, and that delivers here, though it almost gets taken too far in the opposite direction – I feel it’s best to strike a balance with some more intimate moments too.

While the system doesn’t utilise the trackless aspect to the same degree as perhaps certain Disney attractions, the ride fan in me did always enjoy watching the simple spectacle of several cars popping in and out of view at all times and covering the same ground at all sorts of different angles. This ride would be high on the list for guest interaction if you had any other familiar parties riding at the same time as you (or if Japanese waving culture caught on).

This aspect perhaps trumps any interaction between the scenes in the side rooms and the riders themselves. It’s much more of a sit back, watch and enjoy type of experience as opposed to there being any real action, adventure or even storyline that you may or may not have expected from the franchise, I suppose more in the classical style of a haunted house attraction. Between that, the audio and the ride system itself there was more than enough to keep me entertained and coming back for more, amongst a multitude of other significant coasters and dark rides in the park, which says enough for me.

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