ORLANDO, Fla. -- I am in a boat, chasing Cragger the crocodile king, who has stolen an orb of chi. My water cannon is primed.
As the boat passes out of the Lion Temple, Sam Dalessandro leans over and gives me a tip. Aim for the brown targets, he says, and animate a piece of scenery. I shoot at the first one I see; a pipe "animates" and sprays water at me.
It's only the beginning of the series of dousings I will receive.
The Quest for Chi, which opened July 3 at Legoland Florida, is a very wet interactive ride. Based on Lego's Legends of Chima line of toys, it is the centerpiece of a new "land" that features several other Chima attractions. It is one of Legoland's most complex rides, and, aided by the toys and a Cartoon Network animated series, it has a better developed story line.
And it's a lot of fun.
For those who haven't seen the Cartoon Network show and don't know the story, a video recounts the high points for people waiting in line: "Chi" is a source of energy and power that comes in a waterfall from Mount Cavora, which is suspended like a full moon over this section of Legoland. The lion tribe controls the chi, rolls it into orbs and shares it with seven other animal tribes -- crocodiles, eagles, wolves, bears, rhinos, gorillas and ravens.
But one day, Cragger, the young and power-hungry king of the crocodile tribe, steals an orb of chi. Riders board the boats at the Lion Temple and join a pursuit that will take them through the habitats of the other animals, ending up in the home of the crocodiles.
I'm riding with Dalessandro, Legoland's model shop supervisor, who says that more than 2 million Lego bricks were used to build the Chima attractions, including about 150 Lego figures. There are seven Legoland parks worldwide, but the Winter Haven park, the largest, is the only one that has the ride.
A water cannon is mounted in front of each of the eight seats on the boat and on the land overlooking the river, where spectators take aim at us. We're not far into the chase before I am soaked.
I get so absorbed in aiming my water cannon at anyone within range that I don't notice the animal tribes' habitats we pass. Finally Dalessandro tells me that we have recovered the orb of chi and the ride is ending. Reluctantly, I let go of my water cannon. Like the kids around me, I climb out of the boat, grinning and dripping.
Queasiness factor: none.
In addition to the ride, the World of Chima has Cragger's Swamp, a small water play area for toddlers; Speedorz Arena, a large tabletop-style arena where kids can race Speedorz, the rip-cord-powered chariots driven by Chima's inhabitants; character meet-and-greets; a 3-D Chima movie; and a Lego store.
In order to talk about Universal Studios' new Transformers 3-D ride, let's first talk about its forerunner, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at the Studios' sister park, Islands of Adventure.
Spider-Man is thrilling, full of surprises, creativity and speed, a POW! BAM! battle between comic-book heroes and villains. It uses a combination of 3-D projections and flight simulator technology that leaves riders constantly ducking or throwing up their arms to protect themselves from the shrapnel and debris that seem to be coming right at them.
Transformers 3-D is better.
The Transformers ride, which opened June 20 at Universal Orlando, is also a battle between animated heroes and villains and is based on the same technology, including the 3-D glasses. Even though Spider-Man was updated just 18 months ago, it isn't as technologically sophisticated as Transformers. Thierry Coup, senior vice president for Universal's Creative Studio, said the Transformers ride is "the next generation of Spider-Man."
Based on the Transformers movies and voiced by the same actors, the ride "brings the characters to life in 3-D and places our guests right in the middle," Coup said. "Being able to experience the great battles between the good robots and the bad robots is something that Transformers fans have dreamed about."
Here's the story: Autobots, the good-guy Transformers, are guarding a sliver of All-Spark, a source of energy Transformers need to turn from robots into vehicles and back. The Decepticons attack the warehouse where the All-Spark is stored. We riders, as green recruits, are the only humans available to defend the substance, along with a brash young Autobot named Evac, a character invented for this ride in collaboration with Hasbro toys.