|Jaws: The Ride|
|Universal Studios Florida|
|Area||San Francisco/Amity Island|
|Opening date||June 7, 1990|
|Closing date||January 2, 2012|
|Replaced by||Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts|
(The Wizarding World of Harry Potter)
|Universal Studios Japan|
|Opening date||March 31, 2001|
|Designer||MCA Planning and Development|
Ride & Show Engineering, Inc. (1990 version)
Totally Fun Company (1993 version)
|Length||1,140 ft (350 m)|
|Manufacturers||Ride & Show Engineering, Inc. (1990 version)|
Intamin (1993 version)
MTS Systems Corporation (USJ version)
Universal Express Pass available
Jaws is an amusement ride attraction based on the Jaws film series and is located at Universal Studios Japan. It originally opened at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando in 1990, and another installation later opened at Universal Studios Japan in 2001. The ride uses tour boats to take guests through a harbor of the fictional Amity Island, which begins as a leisurely tour that is abruptly interrupted by an attack of the famous great white shark. The concept is an expanded version of the Jaws miniature attraction featured in the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood in California. In 2012, the attraction was removed from the Florida theme park to make room for the second phase of expansion for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2023)
The original attraction at Universal Studios Florida was inspired by a small attraction on the long-running Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, in which the Studio Tour tram passes through several sets inspired by the 1975 film Jaws. The attraction at the Hollywood location opened in 1976 and is still in operation. For the Universal Studios Florida park project, Universal borrowed components of the Hollywood tram experience when designing the ride in Orlando. The original ride was designed by MCA/Universal Planning and Development, in association with Ride & Show Engineering, Inc., a company that designed the original scenes on the Studio Tour. Steven Spielberg, who directed the first film in the series, also served as a creative consultant for the new ride installation.
Following the opening of Jaws within the park on June 7, 1990, it experienced frequent breakdowns as a result of the elaborate special effects involved, as did other opening day rides Kongfrontation and Earthquake: The Big One. However, while Universal was able to eventually resolve many of the technical bugs in the Kong and Earthquake rides, the Jaws ride continued to have issues and was often evacuated on a daily basis. Universal temporarily shut down the ride in August 1990 and sued Ride & Show Engineering, Inc., for neglect in the design the ride. Through 1992, Universal had limited success in redesigning some aspects of the ride while the attraction remain closed.
Eventually, Universal collaborated with Totally Fun Company, ITEC Entertainment, Intamin, and Oceaneering International, to install an entirely new ride system with modified special effects. One change resulted in the first scene, where Jaws bit onto the tour boat and turned it 180 degrees, to be replaced with a gas dock explosion scene. Another change was with the finale, which was originally based on the ending of the first film. Instead of simulating the firing of a rifle at an air tank in the shark's mouth, the scene was replaced by one loosely based on the ending for Jaws 2, where the shark is electrocuted after biting an underwater cable attached to a high-voltage barge. Oceaneering provided the animatronic shark for the redesigned ride, and it was their first theme park project. The ride officially reopened in Spring of 1993, and several stars were present, including Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary and Steven Spielberg.
Following the hurricanes that struck Central Florida in 2004, Universal was forced to temporarily close the ride in January 2005 due to the rising cost of petroleum, which was used to fuel the numerous pyrotechnical effects throughout the attraction as well as the tour boats. The ride finally reopened in December 2005, but was listed as "seasonal" and only open on busier days. This lasted until February 2007 when the ride was finally opened full-time again after numerous guest complaints. During the 2005 closure, several renovations were made to the ride. The attraction was further refurbished every year from 2008-2011.
On December 2, 2011, Universal Orlando Resort announced that the Jaws attraction along with the entire Amity area of Universal Studios Florida would close permanently on January 2, 2012, to "make room for an exciting, NEW, experience." (the second phase of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.) Severe backlash followed after the announcement. The attraction officially closed on January 2, 2012, at 9:00 pm with Michael Skipper aka "Skip" giving the final voyage to the last lucky group of 48 guests. By the next morning, the entire Amity area was walled off and completely demolished in the following months. The hanging shark statue from the town square remains as a tribute to the ride and can be found in the Fisherman's Wharf area of the San Francisco section of the park. The attraction remains open at Universal Studios Japan as well as does the original tram stop at Universal Studios Hollywood.
After the shark nicknamed as Jaws was eventually destroyed by Chief Brody, Matt Hooper and Quint in 1974, Brody became a legend in Amity Harbor, and the "Jaws" incident inspired Steven Spielberg's big Hollywood movie. However, tourism on Amity Island strongly decreased following the incident due to a fear of sharks. Eventually, resident seaman Jake Grundy decided to open a new boat tour on the island which would take guests out to the historic areas where the shark attacks actually occurred, which ultimately brought back tourism to the island.
As guests enter Captain Jake's Amity Boat Tours, they walk through a series of boathouses located near Amity Harbor, which hold various fishing supplies, nautical artifacts and feature numerous overhead television monitors that are tuned to Amity's local TV station, WJWS13: The Station That BITES (which also has the tagline "The station that plays the hits"). The station features a low-budget local talk show entitled "Hey There, Amity!", children's and news programming, ads for local businesses, and promos for classic movies and television shows, many of them from the Universal library. Upon reaching the end of the queue, guests are loaded onto one of Captain Jake's tour boats.
After boarding the tour boat, guests learn that they are taking a guided scenic cruise to visit the actual locations of the shark attacks that occurred during the summer of 1974, which were made famous in a popular Hollywood movie that was released not long afterward. The tour boat is piloted by one of Captain Jake's skippers and is protected by an army surplus 40mm grenade launcher. However, guests are reassured by their skipper that they won't need to use it as no sharks have been seen in the area since the attacks.
The tour begins in Amity Harbor as the boat passes the homes of Chief Brody, Mayor Larry Vaughn, and various harbor side businesses. As the tour boat approaches a lighthouse situated on top of a rocky jetty, the tour is suddenly interrupted by a radio distress call from a fellow tour boat skipper named Gordon. His call for help turns into screams of horror, followed by mysterious silence. As the skipper contacts the home base in an attempt to find out what is going on with Gordon's boat, the tour boat crosses the jetty to reveal the remains of Gordon's tour boat, Amity 3, sinking under the water.
Suddenly, a fin appears out of the water. The fin submerges and swims under the tour boat, rocking it back and forth. Worried, the skipper pulls out the grenade launcher as the dorsal fin rises out of the water on the starboard. Not realizing that it is actually loaded, the skipper fires at the shark, but misses. They try firing the second shot but miss again as the fin sinks back beneath the surface of the water.
The skipper then comes up with the idea to try to hide the tour boat in a nearby boathouse and wait for Chief Brody's arrival. As the skipper brings the tour boat to a stop inside and looks for somewhere to tie it up, a sound is heard near the back of the boathouse. A loud crashing noise breaks the silence as the walls of the boathouse begin to shake. The skipper realizes that something is barging itself against the outside of the boathouse trying to break in. The skipper starts to drive off but is unable to get the tour boat to drop into gear. After several tense seconds of fighting with the tour boat's throttle, the skipper finally gets it to drop into gear just as a shark finally breaks a hole through the wall and surfaces inside of the boathouse, grazing the side of the tour boat.
As the tour boat leaves the boathouse, the skipper is informed by Chief Brody over the radio that he'll be there in ten minutes. The skipper replies with "we'll be shark bait in ten minutes" and picks up the grenade launcher again, just as the shark attacks the tour boat near Bridewell's Gas Dock. Unfortunately, the next grenade that the skipper fires strike the nearby gas dock, which erupts into flames, threatening to engulf the tour boat and its passengers. However, the skipper manages to pilot an escape before the flames reach the tour boat.
As a last resort, the skipper decides to unload everyone at an old fishing pier that happens to be located near a high voltage barge. But just as they reach the pier, the shark's fin reappears heading straight for the tour boat. Suddenly, the shark emerges right next to the tour boat but accidentally bites down onto a submerged power cable from the barge and electrocutes itself. The smell of roasted shark fills the air as the shark disappears into a cloud of steam that engulfs the tour boat. As the steam cloud clears, the burnt corpse of the shark resurfaces and makes one final lunge at the tour boat. But the skipper immediately takes one last shot at it with the grenade launcher and finally hits it, decimating the shark.
Despite the skipper being praised for bringing peace once again to Amity Island with cheers from the guests, the skipper wants to keep it a secret between them so that fish companies won't hear about it and the guests agree. Afterward, the skipper brings the guests back to the dock safely where they disembark and exit the attraction.
In July 1990, a 39-year-old man fell into the water while riding after a boat railing allegedly broke. According to his lawyer, guests applauded as he was pulled back into the boat, having assumed the incident was part of the ride. There were no serious injuries, and he sued Universal for $1 million claiming negligence and poor maintenance.
- "Intamin ride catalogue" (PDF). August 2008. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- Fassbender, Melissa (May 19, 2014). "After Jaws, a Ride Designers Dream". Product Design & Development. Archived from the original on August 10, 2014. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Emmons, Natasha (March 5, 2001). "No expense spared to wow locals with park attractions". Amusement Business. 113 (9): 18.
- "Ride Announcement". Universal Orlando Resort. 2 December 2011. Archived from the original on 6 December 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
- Susan G. Strother (March 9, 1992). "JAWS RIDE SPARKS SUIT". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 24, 2021.