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2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Universal Studios Hollywood's Waterworld

By Robert Niles
Published: January 18, 2010 at 10:12 PM
Can a lousy movie inspire a great theme park attraction?

Exhibit A in this debate always seems to be Universal Studios Hollywood's Waterworld, the 11th seed in the Best Live Show bracket in the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament.

Universal Studios Hollywood's Waterworld

It seemed like a sure-fire hit at the time. Academy Award winner Kevin Coster, fresh from a string of hits including Dances with Wolves and JFK, would star in an action thriller set in the future, after global warming had melted the Earth's ice caps, submerging the world's land. Rather than waiting to see if the movie would be a hit, Universal Studios Hollywood would debut a stunt show based on the film that same fall (in 1995), to take advantage of what would surely be the movie's immense popularity.

Thank goodness that Universal didn't wait, for if it had, we likely wouldn't have what's turned out to become one of the most popular theme park shows ever produced. Waterworld, the movie, turned out to be a dud, earning less than half its production cost in its initial release. But Waterworld, the theme park show, continues to thrill audiences with its 16 minutes of JetSki stunts, fistfights and explosions, including an audacious finale where a full-sized plane crashes into the water, just a few feet in front of the audience.

The show takes place after the events of the film. Helen returns from Dryland to save her friends, when the evil Smokers attack. But the Mariner soon returns to save the day. Here's a YouTube clip from the show:

Waterworld also plays at Universal Studios Japan and also will run in Singapore when that park debuts later this year. (And yet, there's no Waterworld show at Universal Orlando, Universal's most popular theme park resort.)

What do you think about Universal Studios Hollywood's Waterworld? Waterworld pulled one upset, by outshining the film upon which it was based. Can it advance in this year's tournament? We'll find out when voting begins in March.

Readers' Opinions

From Rob P on January 19, 2010 at 4:24 AM
Simply the best show of it's kind bar none.
Audiences still pack out the stands for every performance and it's easy to see why. It's fast , furious and choc full of special effects culminating in an extraordinarily good finale involving a full size water-plane.
The script is witty and they use stunt actors from top TV shows and movies to perform some of the best stunts you'll see.
I can't see this show being beaten.
From Anthony Murphy on January 19, 2010 at 9:07 AM
Not really agreeing with this placement and many others, but I guess thats where the chips fall. I see many upsets in this contest.

Then again, the plane effect is pretty cool!I might need to check it out!

From Manny Barron on January 19, 2010 at 10:43 AM
The 11th seed?! WaterWorld is by far the best stunt show in theme parks. Maybe the best show period. I've seen this show many times and I never get tired of it. It's not a long show but every single minute of the show is jam-packed with action. Even the preshow is fun. WaterWorld SHOULD upset the 6th seed and move deep into the tourney.
From Mark Migliaccio on January 19, 2010 at 3:06 PM
Hey!! I liked the movie Waterworld.
From Robert Niles on January 19, 2010 at 3:15 PM
Well, if you'd only bought about 15 million more tickets, it could have ended up in the black. :-)
From Joshua Counsil on January 19, 2010 at 4:59 PM
It's like the antithesis of most Disney theme park attractions, which have crappy movies based on great attractions (save one).

And I really enjoy it. Could be the best theme park stunt show out there. I also appreciate the cast call at the end of the show to give some credit to the performers. That's rarely seen in a theme park attraction (then again, a plane crash is rarely seen, either).

9-Outstanding on the TPI scale.

From 67.8.63.61 on January 19, 2010 at 7:15 PM
that was pretty cool..never been to universal hollywood..wish they would add this show to orlando where the currently empty fear factor show is..

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