With over 600 episodes, hardcore fans of “The Simpsons” can easily rattle off 100 major and minor characters that have found their way through Springfield, U.S.A.
When The Simpsons Ride opened in 2008 at Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood, the area around the ride was turned into a living embodiment of the town that borders Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky.
As guests stroll around the Upper Lot at Universal Studios Hollywood, eagle-eyed fans can pinpoint references to minor characters and plots from several episodes, be it Springfield’s motto…
Homer’s alter-ego, Pie Man, along with Spider-Pig…
…to Moe’s once-famous drink.
Phineas Q. Butterfat’s is a quite obscure reference that, personally, I am surprised by, as it has been very, very infrequently mentioned on the show. Especially in comparison to places like Moe’s, Krusty Burger and the Kwik-E-Mart.
Sadly, several places, such as The Android’s Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop, home of The Comic Book Guy, and Herman’s Military Antiques, are just facades and guests can’t enter the stores. Then again, having a gun shop in a theme park might not be the best idea.
The entire ride is basically a self-referential parody of theme park attractions, with Bart being sick of riding a kiddie ride (it’s a small world) to Homer and Marge being on a dark flume ride with a smokescreen (Pirates of the Caribbean) to Lisa riding an Orca whale (Sea World).
The ride hardly breaks any new ground plot-wise, with Sideshow Bob attempting to kill them yet again. The attraction is fun with a time-tested simulator show.
Back to the Future: The Ride, which opened in 1990, was an amazing attraction based on one of the best film franchises of all time. Great in its day, even the futuristic second installment is now a thing of the past, as it only explored 2015. Entering both Maggie’s and Krusty’s mouths during the ride could be seen as a callback to the BTTF: The Ride.
The Simpsons Ride had already been on the air for nearly 20 years when the attraction opened. While a plot device not very common on the show, the ride does break the fourth wall several times.
“Sweetie, they won’t kill you in an amusement park while you still have a dime left in your pocket,” said Homer as he reassures Lisa.
With Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa getting into trouble and no one there to aid them, Maggie ends up saving the day, which has been the case on episode after episode. With the show being on the air for nearly 30 years, they’re bound to repeat themselves.
While the show doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, did Universal come a little too late to the party by adding the ride/land once the show had been on the air for 20 years? Will the same be said for adding Nintendo land after Super Mario Bros. has been out for over 30? Where is the line between nostalgia and dated? It doesn’t seem to matter as long as cash registers keep ringing and the queue wraps around the corner. Your thoughts?