The "Storm Force Accelatron" ride at Universal Studios Florida Islands of Adventure is tucked away in one corner, just across from the Incredible Hulk Coaster. It's a bit easy to miss if you're not looking for it.
I approached it with a sense of trepidation, hoping for something perhaps like the Mission: Space ride from Disney's Epcot park. Instead I was rather disappointed to see... a tea-cup ride.
Yep, with the obvious exception of the color scheme and the stage-dressing, this ride is fundamentally the same concept as the Mad Tea Party Ride which can be found at all five of the Disney Magic Kingdom theme parks.
There's a few cosmetic differences. When running, the Storm Force Accelatron features flashing strobe lights, and a very aggressive sound track. It also offers only 12 cups compared to the Tea Party's 18. In theory, up to five riders can fit in a cup, although four adults will find they bang knees plenty enough, and typical load is two or three riders.
If you've never been on a tea-cup ride, here's how it works. When the ride is turned on, the entire turntable rotates. There are four smaller turntables within that each spin their three cups, while finally the individual cups can be made to spin by using brute force to turn the fixed disk at the centre. The three spin cycles sometimes combine forces to produce a high acceleration, and sometimes subtract from each other to produce a low acceleration.
The total amount of force you experience is determined by how much your spin your individual cup. I have no specific figures, but my personal impression was be that the rotation speed of the Storm Force ride feels basically the same as that of the Disney equivalent.
The ride itself lasts approximately 90 seconds, with around 90 seconds change-over time. With a typical load of 30 people (12 cups with 2-3 people per cup), that's 6 seconds per person which isn't a particularly high throughput. Even so, typical waiting time is minimal on this ride - around 5 minutes. If you don't get in the very next load, you'll probably get in the one after that. There is no walking time.
I have a bit of a soft spot for the Mad Tea Party Ride, as it was the first ride I ever experienced, the very first time I went to a theme park (which for the record was Disney World Magic Kingdom in Florida, back in 1993).
But that affection doesn't count for much when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of rating Storm Force. Frankly, I have to confess that objectively speaking, neither version rates very highly on my list. The Storm Force ride didn't appeal to me thematically, and the loud music didn't give me any sense of excitement.
Frankly, the entertainment to nausea ratio is just too low for me to rate this ride highly. There are only four rides on the Marvel Island, and the X-Men deserved much better than this.
I guess it's a classic ride - early versions featuring this concept appeared in amusement parks as early as the 1920's. And I suppose that the Marvel Super Hero Island wanted to offer something to the younger kids who might be too small for the Incredible Hulk Coaster or Doctor Doom's Fearfall. But really, this one was a massive disappointment for me. I can't give it more than two webs.
The Storm Force ride opened in May 2000, a year after the other three rides. It was created by Mack Rides GmbH.