Twister...Ride it Out
|Twister...Ride It Out|
|Universal Studios Florida|
|Area||New York City|
|Opening date||May 4, 1998|
|Closing date||November 1, 2015|
|Replaced by||Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon (2017)|
|Pre-Show Hosts||Bill Paxton|
|Vehicle Names||Observation Platforms|
Universal Express available
Closed captioning available
Twister...Ride It Out was an indoor special effects attraction based on the 1996 film Twister, located in the New York themed area at Universal Studios Florida. It replaced Ghostbusters Spooktacular and opened to the public on May 4, 1998. Hosts Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt, stars from the original film, were featured in recorded video footage and audio narrations throughout the attraction. Guests experienced a life-like encounter with a simulated tornado in the main show area. which included water, fire, and the movement of objects across the stage among other audio and visual effects. Declining popularity led to the attraction's permanent closure on November 1, 2015. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon opened in its place in 2017.
Prior to the opening of Twister...Ride it Out, its spot was formerly home to Ghostbusters Spooktacular, a Ghostbusters themed show that opened along with Universal Studios Florida on June 7, 1990. By the mid 1990s, the popularity of the attraction had severely dwindled. On October 15, 1996, Universal Studios Florida announced the closure of Ghostbusters Spooktacular. The final show would take place on November 8, 1996. The same year Ghostbusters Spooktacular closed, Twister was released in theaters. Universal officials said that it was time for a change.
On February 6, 1997, Universal Studios Florida announced that Twister...Ride it Out would be added in 1998. It would be located towards the back of the park in the former spot of Ghostbusters Spooktacular. Construction began in the spring of 1997 and was completed later that year. A small portion of the Aftermath gift shop was open at the same time.
To accurately simulate a tornado, Universal Parks & Resorts entered talks with tornado meteorologists to discover the actual sights, sound, and feel of the experience. Twister...Ride it Out was originally going to open in March 1998, but just a few weeks before that, the Kissimmee tornado outbreak happened nearby. For this, the attraction's opening was delayed to May 4, 1998. During its opening year, staff members performed a demonstration of the attraction experience inside the wind truck. Officials also donated $100,000 to the victims. At the same time, Universal Studios Escape was introduced when the company was gearing up to open Islands of Adventure and CityWalk in 1999.
In 2008, the outdoor queue line was reduced to make room for Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, where the roller coaster blasts through the firehouse facade. The ride involved the closure of the Boneyard in September 2008, and the moving of the Blue Man Group pathway in November 2008. This was to make room for the Universal Music Plaza Stage and the entrance of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.
The Aftermath gift shop was converted into the Halloween Horror Nights 25 store during the park's 2015 Halloween event. This meant that all Twister theming and props were replaced with Halloween ones. At that time, Twister...Ride it Out was becoming a very outdated attraction.
On October 27, 2015, Universal announced the decision to retire Twister...Ride it Out after 17 years of service on November 1, 2015. Over the years, the attraction had become one of the park's least popular. The film it was based on lacked long-term cultural significance, and the cost of operation was expensive. It was replaced by Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, a 3D motion simulator ride that was constructed in the same building.
In a window display of the Jimmy Fallon attraction featuring elements of NBC's broadcasting history, there are multiple references to the former Twister attraction including one that honors Bill Paxton, who died shortly before the new ride's debut. It includes Bill Paxton's light blue shirt that became synonymous with the actor's performance in a video displayed in Twister's pre-show queue. It also features a stapler on a nearby desk labeled "B. Paxton" and an advertisement for Twister Cola.
Guests pass under the entrance and make a right turn. In the first half of the queue, guests bypass some studio props in an enclosed area behind the New York facade. A variety of songs is heard on the speakers in the area, along with a broadcasting mock radio show written and produced by Tony Miceli with his company SOUNDELUX Florida. Other visitors can see the guests bypassing the queue in the windows. There are some exit doors that guests can take if they decide not to experience the attraction. This can only be used if they are taking the standard line. A cow imprint in a metal bay door in the wall is shown on the left side. On the right side, there are Steven Spielberg, Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt director chairs. From time to time in the later years, guests can hear the roars coming from the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. Guests make a left turn and enter the second half of the queue, which takes place outside in a small mock-up of the Oklahoma town of Wakita. In this area, guests can watch real tornado videos on the television screens. Each video begins with the location and date being shown as a sound effect can be heard. There are two types of sound effects, with one being horror wind blowing and the other being inspired by the Jurassic Park opening theme. In addition, the television screens show tornado facts that guests can read while waiting in line. Each fact features a symbol being shown on the upper left side and a tornado background. Some of the facts include debris flying across the screen. Occasionally, the Twister logo will be shown on the screens as Bill Paxton can be heard telling guests to follow the safety instructions. When the attraction first opened, it featured a much larger outdoor queue with several vehicles, switchbacks, crop farms, a tool barn, a windmill and the Wakita water tower. The vehicles included Dusty's Bus (nicknamed the Barn Burner), Beltzer's Van, a Mercury Grand Marquis and a tractor. Dusty's Bus featured computer equipment and nitrogen tanks, while Beltzer's Van featured a patio with lounging chairs, a cooler, an umbrella, blankets, an Oklahoma flag and a television that guests could watch the tornado videos and read the tornado facts. However, that section was reduced by 2008. Guests can find an Esmoo's Dairy sign above some haybales. They are greeted by a Wakita sign, which is followed by a damaged rectangular New Channel 4 billboard featuring a map and a lady. A plastic talking cow can be found in the queue line. When guests press the button, the cow will moo and say "Drink Esmoo Milk. Fresh from the farm to your fridge." There are signs of the Fujita Scale that feature tornado pictures and description. Each picture has the location, date and type of tornado. DOROTHY II can be seen near the waiting area. As the doors to Soundstage 50 open, staff members allow guests to enter the first pre-show room.
Scene 1: First Pre-Show
As guests walk into Soundstage 50, there will be more props, such as a piano and road signs. The Twister soundtrack can be heard in this room. There are two large screens and two smaller ones in front. The beginning of the film will be shown on the screens first. When the scene ends, the Twister logo is shown. Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt then appear on the screens to talk about their experiences filming the movie.
The Sound designer, audio producer and on site mixer is Tony Miceli with his company SOUNDELUX Florida.
Scene 2: Second Pre-Show
Guests next walk into a new room which is a model of Aunt Meg's damaged house after the twister. As guests walk into the kitchen, televisions are seen impaled into the wall, as if by tremendous force. There is a Hidden Mickey on one of the car wheels on the ceiling. Paxton and Hunt appear on the televisions and talk about the extreme experiences filming Twister, such as enduring the blasts of jet engines, having bits of chopped-up ice shot at them to simulate hail, and even having a gas tanker dropped in front of them and explode. They also mention that during filming, actual tornadoes started touching down south of the filming locations. Paxton in particular claims that the role leaves one in fearful awe of tornadoes and the terrible power they can unleash. The moment they finish, a thunder sound effect is heard as the televisions start to static and tornado warning sirens begin to blare. The doors to the main show open and staff members with flashing red emergency glowsticks lead guests into the room.
Scene 3: Main Show
Inside the main show room, a message is playing telling guests to get out of the house as television screens show the Channel 5 News report, with a weather anchor issuing a tornado warning. Guests are finally led onto a set resembling the Galaxy Drive-In Theater scene in the movie, standing on a platform just outside the auto repair shop. They line up in three separate rows on a tiered observation platform under a corrugated metal roof, overlooking a real sound stage outdoor scene featuring a view of the rural Galaxy Drive-in theater and the Rocket Hamburgers diner at dusk as dark clouds roll overhead. Suddenly, a tree gets struck by lightning, scenes from The People Under the Stairs appear on the movie screen, sirens sound briefly, and winds in the room get stronger, as well as rain falling from the sky. A small flashlight can be seen inside the Rocket Hamburgers a couple of feet away, as well as voices of family within the restaurant screaming to get inside along with a dog barking. A projected tornado drops from the sky in the background. As it fully forms getting closer, the tornado turns and destroys the drive-in theater. Then another tornado would appear on stage five stories tall and twelve feet wide. The glass on the Rocket Hamburgers window shatters and as the sound effect is heard, water spits behind the guests. DOROTHY flies by as lightning flashes. The Galaxy Drive-in sign rips away and crashes inside Eric's garage. After that happens, a cow flies by the guests which is a homage to a scene in the film. The roof of the observation platform also threatens to tear off, being pulled upwards. A Dodge Ram parked in front of the garage slides towards a couple of gas tanks with the force of the tornado pulling it. The truck hits one of the gas tanks as gasoline liquid drains. Sparks are caused by the impact of the truck and fire forms up reaching the tornado which causes a fireball three stories high to erupt. The twister dies out, and the roof falls down above the guests. As this happens, the floor also gives a sudden drop giving guests a final scare. Bill Paxton thanks everyone for surviving twister directing them to exit to their left through the "Aftermath" gift shop.
Use in media
Twister...Ride it Out appeared in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, a 2015 film. While riding Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, a shark caused the ride vehicle to derail from the tracks, sending Fin Shepard into Soundstage 50. He landed inside the show area of Twister...Ride it Out. As a shark entered the building, he pulled a chainsaw out of his backpack and used it to kill the shark. Afterwards, the audience thanked him for saving their lives.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Twister: Ride it Out.|
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