Men in Black: Alien Attack is an interactive dark ride that is found at Universal Studios Florida. The premise of the attraction follows the story of the original Men in Black film, where the organization is looking for more recruits to add to its ranks. Both Will Smith and Rip Torn reprised their roles for the attraction, and Steven Spielberg served as a creative consultant.
Guests first enter what at first appears to be a World's Fair pavilion called "The Universe & You", but in the middle of the presentation see that it's just meant to be a disguise for the MIB headquarters. The guests are then taken into an elevator, and into the heart of the organization's operations where they are brought up to date on information regarding extraterrestrial activity, as well as getting briefed on their training.
After viewing an instructional video on the training called, "Doofus and Do-Right", guests are seated in vehicles that are equipped with interactive laser guns and get sent into training. Not too long after it starts, the training is interrupted when an alien invasion breaks out in New York City. The riders are forced into battle, where the goal is to blast away the aliens and earn as many points as possible. Along the way, they are pitted against an opposing vehicle and later on stumble upon a gigantic alien, which they are forced to press the emergency "red button" on the vehicle to deal with. The ride's overall outcome as to whether or not the guests achieve the rank of an MIB agent all depends on how well they score.
Development of the ride had begun immediately after the release of the original movie in 1997, when Universal saw the perfect ride potential in it. Early online insiders began spreading word of the attraction as soon as late 1998; and planning documents that were filed in 1999 describing the new attraction as an "alien-themed laser tag ride" had only further let the cat out of the bag. Universal officially announced the ride in October of 1999, a mere few months before it had its grand opening on April 14th, 2000.
Built on a budget of $70 million note , the attraction was at the time the biggest dark ride Universal had ever built, covering a space of 70,000 sq ft. It was also a record-breaker for Universal in terms of how many animatronics it contains: a whopping 127.
The attraction received lavish praise upon its opening for its sheer inventiveness, with it receiving a "Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement" by the Themed Entertainment Association. Although it is no longer being used in advertising, the attraction to this day is still viewed by many fans as being an Ensemble Dark Horse of the park, with most agreeing that it was way ahead of its time.
Despite the attraction's success, it is notable for being one of the few Universal attractions that has never been cloned to any of the other parks around the world.
Men in Black: Alien Attack provides examples of the following tropes:
- Affectionate Parody: The posters in the queue line for "The Universe and You" were purposely designed to resemble the classic Disneyland attraction posters.
- Alien Invasion: This occurs in the ride, when an extra-terrestrial prison transport crashes into the city, freeing the prisoners.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: The ride is Universal's answer to the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin ride at Walt Disney World, which is also an attraction where guests can take aim at targets and rack up points.
- Alternate Continuity: The attraction isn't really meant to be seen as canonical, especially with inconsistencies like the MIB headquarters suddenly switching locations.
- The Artifact: In recent years, the ride has become this, as it was initially designed specifically so it would fit in within the World Expo area that Back to the Future: The Ride occupied. A few years later, BTTF was closed and then replaced with The Simpsons Ride, and much of the surrounding expo theming was eventually converted into a Springfield area. As a result, this ride has now become thematically isolated.
- Attack Its Weak Point: The vehicles have a "fusion exhaust port" that you're supposed to hit when it's revealed that the vehicle next to you is actually filled with aliens disguised as humans.
- BFG: Sometimes the employees can be seen carrying one around.
- Big Applesauce: The invasion takes place in none other than NYC.
- Big Red Button: Every ride vehicle has one, and it's to be used only in "emergency situations". note
- Blasting It Out of Their Hands: There are a few secret targets where you have to shoot the aliens' guns, rather than the aliens themselves.
- Boom, Headshot!: Before boarding, guests are specifically instructed to aim for the aliens' heads (or their shoulders) for the best chance at getting points.
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: A few aliens can be seen hiding in some bushes, where only their eyes are visible.
- Cap: You can earn 999,999 points before maxing out on the ride.
- Catastrophic Countdown: During the Immigration Room briefing, a ten-second countdown to "planetary implosion" gets activated by mistake. It's quickly shut down at the 5-second mark.
- Continuity Nod: Agent K is nowhere to be seen, as the attraction opened two years before Men in Black II came out.
- Contrived Coincidence: There's conveniently no citizens around when the aliens crash down in New York.
- Covers Always Lie: Despite Agent K not being in the ride, he still appears in the ride's logo.
- Covert Group with Mundane Front: In this attraction, the entrance to the MIB headquarters is disguised as a World's Fair pavilion.
- The Ditz: In the instructional video, Doofus is shown as being the one who can never do anything right and has to be guided by Do-Right
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: J hacks into the video feed for one of the Times Square screens in order to talk to the riders.
- Easter Egg: Frank the Pug appears in the ride. If you shoot his collar, you'll get bonus points.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: The ride vehicle will spin violently every time an alien hits it.
- F--: If one vehicle gets the "Bug Bait" ranking, there's certain cases where J will use this as an insult.Agent J: Ya'll got an F, only because I can't give you a G. You in the back? You got an H.
- Failure Is the Only Option: No matter what ranking you get, J will still not accept you into the MIB and neuralize you.
- Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: As mentioned above, a red button appears in every ride car. Like in the film, you are told never to press it. However, by the end of the ride you face a giant alien that's immune to your weapons. Guess what you have to do?
- A cheesy instruction video seen while in line on the ride explains exactly WHY you don't press the button; it's a nuke capable of frying the more Kaiju-esque aliens.
- See the note under "Big Red Button" for what it does for the player.
- Forced Perspective: The two astro towers at the entrance employ this, making them look bigger from a distance than they actually are.
- Golden Ending: The "Galaxy Defender" ending, which can only be earned if the entire group of people in the vehicle manages an average score of about 250,000 or so.
- Historical In-Joke: And a rather dark one at that. A bulletin board paper in the queue states that JFK's assassination was indeed a conspiracy, as he was going to reveal to the world the existence of aliens.
- Hydrant Geyser: One of the aliens can be seen riding on top of a geyser caused by a hydrant.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Despite there being a whole army of aliens throughout the NY streets, virtually none of them are able to successfully hit your vehicle.
- Incompletely Trained: Guests are sent off into combat with escaped alien prisoners despite receiving merely a few seconds of training.
- Instructional Film: An animated short called "Doofus and Do-Right" is shown, which explains what to do and what not to do when embarking on MIB training.
- I Surrender, Suckers: One alien pleads to the riders, "Please! Don't shoot! Don't shoot!", only to reveal that you just walked right into an ambush and orders his cronies to open fire.
- Let's Split Up, Gang: After the first battle scene, Zed insists that the two vehicles split up.
- Light Gun Game: The ride itself is this.
- One alien in particular attempts to disguise itself as Steven Spielberg.
- Another alien disguises itself as a baby in a carriage.
- Lured into a Trap: As mentioned above, one alien leads the riders into an ambush by pretending to be innocent.
- The Mole: The riders in the vehicle beside you are revealed to be evil aliens in disguise.
- Meaningful Name: Doofus and Do-Right are exactly what their names would imply.
- Multiple Endings: Depending on how high or low your score is.
- Bug Bait: If you do absolutely abysmally, J will mock your performance before neuralizing you.
- Cosmically Average: The most common ending for guests. You are told that you zigged when you should have zagged before getting neuralized.
- Galaxy Defender: J praises your performance and it's said that your suits will be ready "next Wendesday". However, you still end up getting neuralized anyway.
- Newcomer Saves the Day: The guests are the ones to succeed in stopping the alien invasion in the end, even with it being their first mission.
- Newspaper-Thin Disguise: The alien disguised as Steven Spielberg holds up a newspaper in order to hide the exposed parts of its body.
- Not Bad: If you get the "Cosmically Average" ending, Agent K, before neuralizing the guests, will remark, "Not bad, slick. But not good enough."
- Red Alert: The Immigration Room gets put into one when the destruction of the world is accidentally triggered (only for it to be stopped with just 5 seconds).
- Reride Bonus: There's a lot of revisit value to the attraction not only because of the multiple endings, but also because of the many different combinations you can get with what J says to the two vehicles at the end.
- Right Way/Wrong Way Pair: The "Doofus and Do-Right" short is a picture-perfect example of this, with it showing what to do and what not do via the contrasting characters.
- Role Reprisal: Both Will Smith and Rip Torn reprised their respective roles for the attraction.
- The previously mentioned alien disguised as Steven Spielberg. The newspaper he's reading is saying something about Jurassic Park III.
- There are three buildings inside the attraction that have shout-outs on their signs:
- One building is titled "The I.M. Hotep Jewelery Store", a reference to Imhotep from The Mummy (1932).
- Another building is titled "Flaming Moe's", an obvious nod to The Simpsons
- Finally, there's a building with the name "Louie's Taxi Service", which references the Taxi show and its character "Louie".
- Stat-O-Vision: The vehicles go through a bio-scan, which reveal that the humans in the opposing vehicle are actually evil aliens.
- Stealth Pun: If one shoots the alien disguised as Steven Spielberg, it will reveal that it has three heads, a joke on how the Dreamworks company has "three heads": Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen.
- Swallowed Whole: This happens to the riders, until they blow up the big bug.
- This Is Not a Drill: Zed mentions this when he gives the riders the sudden news that an alien invasion is taking place.
- The Walls Have Eyes: In the vehicle face-off scene, there's a few alien eyes that appear on several posters behind the opposing vehicle.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Do really poorly, and Agent Jay will sputter at your performance, suggesting that you get back in line to try it again, or point to where the "Men in Pink" attraction is.
- Toilet Humor: Before getting blown up, the big bug lets out a particularly loud belch.
- Too Dumb to Live: Most of the unarmed aliens in the ride don't make much of an effort to hide themselves.
- Wall of Weapons: The queue passes through the "Weapons Room", which has a whole wall of any kind of MIB weapon you could imagine.
- You Won't Feel a Thing: Before Zed sends the two vehicles through the bio-scan, he reassures, "This won't hurt a bit."
- "That was pretty hot, wasn't it? Too bad you're not gonna remember any of it."