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Domenik Jost
Writer

Farewell to a classic - Jaws closes at Universal Studios Florida

Published: January 3, 2012 at 9:49 PM

Monday, January 2, 2012 started like just another day in Central Florida. It was 48 degrees (Fahrenheit) in the morning and warmed up to a comfortable 64 degrees. The sun was out, a handful of small clouds in the sky. It was a picture perfect day to enjoy a theme park without having to worry about walking five feet and being drenched in sweat like one is accustomed of during a central Florida theme park visit. A couple of months ago no one would have suspected that this day would become so historic to theme park fans. At Theme Park Insider every year the first of the year would include the annual Rose Parade coverage, but that would have to be moved to the 2nd since the parade never happens on a Sunday. This is a tradition that dates back to the late 1800s to not disturb the horses at churches along the different first of the year parade routes. Of course no one could foresee that this is would also become such a significant day because it would be the last day that Jaws would be open at Universal Studios Florida.

Of course I could not miss the opportunity to pay my respects to this iconic ride that has been with us for 22 years (20 years the way it was up till now). Many memories were created from people proposing on the boat tour to a couple of musicals (The Jaws Ride: Ballad of the Boat Skipper and Jaws the Musical: How to Tune a Fish) that put a smile on your face. Here’s what the last Fourth of July looked like at Amity:

The closing team member shirts were so sad:

“For the first time in Amity, it will be July 5th”

The day didn’t go without a hitch for the old workshark though, around 2 hours before the ride was scheduled to close its doors forever it had it’s last “technical difficulty” breakdown. It didn’t take long though and it was back up and running again. Unfortunately after the break down the last shark attack scene did no longer work properly, so here is the last ride video I took ultimately before the ride broke down 15 minutes later.

The sun set one last time on Amity and the darkness of the night was beginning to set in. The time was getting closer and closer to that dreaded 8 o’clock pm park closing time. Having been on the ride seven times through out the day and the time being 7:59 pm it was time to join the queue one last time. A minute later the door was shut behind us forever and skippers outside saluted the crowd goodnight.

Not even 40 minutes later it was time to choose our row and get ready to board the last public boat tour. There was another voyage after us but that required you to have gotten one of the lucky lanyards for the last voyage. So I consider them being the last VIP group to have gotten a voyage on Jaws, while we were the last publicly open ride. Of course I recorded the last public ride, so here it is:

Once we got back to the docks, the area was surrounded by Amity and Jaws team members that had worked in and around the attraction. Tears were pouring out, not just a little and by few, but a lot and by many of the skippers that have called this attraction home for the last years. It was tough not to let a few tears slip by seeing all the emotion that surrounded what was about to happen. The last and final Jaws boat tour came to the dock, and cheers erupted and tears once again began to flow. The team members began chanting “Jaws Ride, Jaws Ride, Jaws Ride!” followed by them singing a final tribute. It was a bittersweet end for Jaws.

So here is my farewell to this great ride:

“We were on the second to last voyage of Jaws to have left dock at Amity. Memories were made, tears were shed, and goodbyes were said. RIP Jaws! You were great when you weren't broken down even if you were slightly out dated. You symbolized a piece of film history and theme park history. Farewell and Bon Voyage!”

Share with us your thoughts, memories, and farewells in the comments below.

Replies (10)

98.15.151.65

Published: January 3, 2012 at 11:12 PM

sad day.
Bob Liebe

Published: January 4, 2012 at 3:27 AM

I have seen a video of one of the last rides and pictures of Amity on different websites, but for some reason this post really got to me. I instantly flashed back 17 years ago to my first ride on Jaws. I can see myself in my red Ninja Turtles T- shirt gripping my new souvenir rifle that I got at WDW the day before in my hands not knowing what to expect. With fear and anxiety I stepped onto Capt. Jake's boat tour not knowing if I'd ever step foot onto land again! It was like it was yesterday. I can still remember the sights, sounds, and even smells. I haven't been able to fall asleep since I read the post. Even though I knew Jaws was going to be closing since it was announced on TPI, it finally sank in a few hours ago that Jaws will never terrorize Orlando again in the same fashion. The ride will surely be missed but using my best Dumbledore phoenix metaphor hopefully a great ride will rise out of the ashes to replace Jaws and the people at Universal Creative can leave something behind to pay homage Jaws for it was a classic. Thanks for your post Domenik. I'm sure I will revisit it many times in the near future!
Kelly Muggleton

Published: January 4, 2012 at 6:15 AM

Goodbye Amity's BEST...and only boat tours.
Goodbye WJWS - I laughed every time.
Goodbye to a ride that had become a staple of every visit for us. We knew what would happen but we still jumped, laughed and commented on how hot the explosion was.
Great post Domenik.
You'll be missed Jaws. Call off the Marines, you served us well. Thank you.
Ricardo K

Published: January 4, 2012 at 6:58 AM

This is sad.... Jaws was not the most exciting attraction but it was always cool to ride... I am glad I got to ride one more time during our last trip to Orlando in September.
Joseph Catlett

Published: January 4, 2012 at 7:21 AM

Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish Ladies.
Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain.
For we've received orders for to sail home to Boston,
and never more shall we see you again.
Dominick D

Published: January 4, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Go to the discussion for my rant. As for this comment, farwell Jaws :(
Mike Gallagher

Published: January 4, 2012 at 8:41 AM

BIG +1 to Joseph. Robert Shaw's performance in that movie is one of my favorite on-screen portrayals EVER!
174.252.26.52

Published: January 4, 2012 at 10:48 AM

It was the very first ride my Daughter Maggie ever went on she was three. Months old slept almost all the way through. The ride right up till she got soaked .will miss that ride
Justin Kermgard

Published: January 4, 2012 at 8:50 PM

I am going to miss this attraction alot. With its closure, that means E.T. is the only "classic" attraction at the park aside from Feivel's Playland and Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue. Everything else is different/added after the park's opening. To this day I still miss Kongfrontation, Ghostbusters, Disaster(when it was called Earthquake: The Big One) and of course Back To The Future. If only Universal had the same space to work with as Disney World does, It could simply build different parks for the different major themes rather than replacing nostalgic attractions. Hopefully the Hollywood park keeps Jaws as part of its Studio Tour.
HANNAH CALLER

Published: January 5, 2012 at 3:10 AM

I am in mourning for this ride, I first rode it when I was 7 back when Universal had just opened & it was in it's original state, & last rode it Feb 2011, it was always I ride I looked forward to going on, I loved it's ability to terrify small children, the way it did me when I was young, it is the first ride that has made me feel this sad upon closure! R.I.P Jaws!

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