Men in Black: Alien Attack is an interactive dark ride, part of the Universal Studios Florida theme park. It follows the story of the original Men in Black film, where the organization is looking for 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 enter what at first appears to be a World's Fair exhibition called "The Universe & You", but in the middle of the presentation see that it's just a disguise for the MIB headquarters. The guests are then taken into the heart of the organization, where they are filled in on the existence of aliens and told they will start their training to join MIB.
After viewing several instructional videos while waiting in line, the guests board vehicles that are equipped with interactive laser guns and get sent into training. The training is almost immediately interrupted when aliens invade New York City. The riders are forced into battle, where the goal is to shot targets on the aliens and earn as many points as possible. Along the way, they are pitted against an opposing vehicle and then a gigantic alien which can only be destroyed with the emergency "red button". At the end, depending on the average score of the riders in a vehicle, they are either accepted as MIB agents or not.
Development of the ride began immediately after the release of the original movie in 1997, when Universal saw the 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" only further let the cat out of the bag. Universal officially announced the ride in October 1999, a mere few months before its grand opening on April 14, 2000.
Built on a budget of $70 million note , the attraction was at the time the biggest dark ride Universal had ever built, covering 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, 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: An extra-terrestrial prison transport crashes into Earth, 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 shoot when it's revealed that the vehicle next to you is actually filled with aliens disguised as humans.
- Beam Spam: Pre-ride instructions encourage this approach with your laser guns. One sign near the children's waiting area states: "This is not a game of accuracy...if it's alien, zap it! Zappers never run out of ammo...so keep zapping!"
- BFG: Sometimes the employees can be seen carrying one around.
- Big Applesauce: The invasion takes place in none other than New York City.
- 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.
- But Thou Must!: If no one pushes the red button, the vehicle will still unleash the mega blast regardless.
- 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 with a car alarm chirp.
- Continuity Nod: Agent K is nowhere to be seen, as the attraction opened two years before Men in Black II came out.
- Contrived Coincidence: The alien ship just so happens to crash on Earth about thirty seconds after you begin your training session.
- 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.
- 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.
- F--: If one vehicle gets the "Bug Bait" ranking, Agent J will sometimes use this as an insult.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 neuralize you. On the highest-ranked ending, it's uncertain whether your character actually gets accepted into the MIB or not.
- 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 titanic alien that's immune to your weapons. Guess what you have to do?
- An instruction video seen while waiting in line explains WHY you don't press the button: it's a nuke capable of frying the more Kaiju-esque aliens.
- Forced Perspective: The two astro towers at the entrance employ this, making them look bigger from a distance than they actually are.
- Garbage Hideout: Several aliens hide in trash cans and only poke their heads out, making it hard to shoot them.
- Golden Ending: The Galaxy Defender ending, which is earned if the group of people in the vehicle have an average score of about 250,000 or higher. In it, your group is 'actually recruited' to join the Men in Black.
- 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, and your vehicle moving slower than most people could jog, virtually none of your foes are able to hit you.
- 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 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. You're trying to shoot target areas on alien statues with your laser pistol while riding in a moving vehicle.
- Masquerade: The pre-ride waiting area is themed as an exposition exhibit titled "The Universe and You", which promises to teach the visitors "the truth" about extraterrestrial life. After the ride, you enter into the final part of the exhibit, where a large sign proclaims: "Are we alone? Of course we are! The universe is yours... make it a happy one!"
- Several aliens try to disguise themselves during their attack, like disguises as a baby and Steven Spielberg.
- 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 act exactly how their names would imply.
- Multiple Endings: Depending on how high or low the average score of the six riders in your car is.
- Bug Bait: If you do abysmally, J will mock your performance before neuralizing you.
- Cosmically Average: The most common ending. You are told "Not bad, Slick... but not good enough" and get neuralized.
- Galaxy Defender: J praises your performance and your group is recruited as MIB agents. However, you still get 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, you are told: "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 to spare).
- Rewatch 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.
- 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 TV show Taxi and its character Louie.
- Spectacular Spinning: The ride vehicle will spin violently every time an alien hits it.
- Stealth Pun: If one shoots the alien disguised as Steven Spielberg, it will reveal that it has three heads, a joke on how DreamWorks SKG has (or rather, had at one point) "three heads", with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen serving as the other two.
- 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 pointing 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 from the agency that is specifically aiming to kill them.
- 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."