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Say My Name, E.T. Say My Name!

December 17, 2014, 6:59 PM · Fans are reporting that E.T. is once again saying riders' names on the E.T. Adventure at Universal Studios Florida.

Listening to other followers on Twitter, the reaction to this news seems to be split between "Wait a minute, E.T. can say people's names?" and "Wait a minute, there's still an E.T. ride at Universal Studios Florida?" E.T. is the last remaining unchanged original attraction from the 1990 opening of the park, save for the coming and going of the namechecking, of course.

The use in the attraction of "passport" cards to E.T.'s home world, which then allowed E.T. to say each visitor's name at the end of the ride, represented one of the first widespread uses of interactivity in a major theme park attraction. Director Steven Spielberg recorded the preshow for the attraction, which makes a point of emphasizing the passports that visitors would collect as they told a ride attendant their name upon entering the inside queue. Ride attendants at the load area would collect the passport cards, which would be associated with each rider's name and would provide the input that would prompt E.T.'s farewell at the conclusion of the trip.

E.T.

Of course, much fun was to be had in trying to come up with the most outlandish (and borderline inappropriate) names that you could get the USF team members to input. Over the years, though, the namecheck interaction on the ride became more and more inconsistent, adding to a general feeling among many fans that E.T.'s days in the park might be numbered. Universal Studios Hollywood closed its E.T. ride in 2003 and its show building is now used for that park's version of Revenge of the Mummy. Japan's version closed in 2009 to make way for Space Fantasy: The Ride.

Here's an on-ride video of E.T. Adventure that I recorded in Orlando last month. E.T. did not say my name, or anyone else's.

Have you ridden the E.T. Adventure? Did E.T. say your name?

Replies (29)

December 17, 2014 at 7:21 PM · ET did not say our name. First time we rode it, we were told they were out of the passports. The second time we rode it, we were given an ET playing card, or something like it. We went in August 2014.
December 17, 2014 at 7:43 PM · No names on Wednesday 12/10. I figured they had given up on it. I am ambivalent with respect to ET. DW loves it.
December 17, 2014 at 8:50 PM · We love ET. It's always our first attraction as we begin a Universal vacation, and the last attraction we ride when we end our vacation. And, yes, we also like the other world "acid trip" scenes. Great nostalgia and it really seems like a Disney type ride. Hope it stays forever. And the forest scented queue is one of the most enjoyable queues in any theme park.
December 17, 2014 at 10:12 PM · We were there last week. No names.
December 17, 2014 at 10:50 PM · That feature wasn't working when we went to Universal in October. He did say my name a few years ago...and mangled it beyond all recognition.
December 17, 2014 at 11:13 PM · My last visit was on December 16 and there were no passports or names!
December 18, 2014 at 1:07 AM · Been on it at least 4 times since 2000 and he's said our names everytime
December 18, 2014 at 1:10 AM · I actually rode it in Hollywood before it opened. I was a tour guide, in uniform, and snuck two of my friends into the building out of curiosity, and to show off a bit.
I chose a random door on the front of the building which was unlocked. Lo and behold, we ended up at the ride platform, and THE RIDE WAS RUNNING. They must have been testing the ride vehicles or something, so of course we hopped aboard. We were treated to plastic-wrapped "Cinebots" (Universal can't use Disney's trademarked Animatronics), no sound or lighting, and no, E.T. did not say my name, because he had not yet been installed. In fact, he never said my name, in all the times I rode. The feature was a nice attempt, but more a gimmick, and almost never worked.

I've missed this ride since it closed in Hollywood. I also worked at the Florida park, and am surprised they didn't close it years ago. It was a neglected step child from the day the park opened, in my opinion.
December 18, 2014 at 3:12 AM · They should get rid of this unnecessary gimmick, which never works properly anyway, and focus on refurbishing the ride sites, figures and the showbuilding look. It's still a great attraction and could remain for years. If Disney can have so many old classics in top shape, so should Universal.
December 18, 2014 at 4:20 AM · When we last rode about five years back, ET said...something. Not sure it was my name but there was definitely some guttural utterance that exuded forth from his pie hole and proceeded to frighten the bejesus out of my youngest at the time. Not sure it was the reaction Mr. Spielberg desired, but I thought it was kind of funny.
December 18, 2014 at 5:25 AM · I have, and he said my name. I hope this ride doesn't go away. I like that it celebrates a classic, yet you don't need to have seen the movie to enjoy it.
December 18, 2014 at 5:49 AM · Never managed to hear ET say my name, but I'm sure he made an attempt! However, my name, Ian, isn't that common in the US and already had a problem to overcome when giving my info on the way in:

Operator: "What's your name?"
Me: "Ian"
Operator types the letter E. Long pause. "er, how do you spell that?"

December 18, 2014 at 6:46 AM · The original system (not sure if it's the one still in use) used a custom-designed audio playback box by Alcorn McBride and the operator interface was designed by Briket Engineering. At the time the look-up system was the first use I know of for what google searches do, matching names character-by character. The original voice actress for ET recorded 8000 names over a several day period to provide the names ET would speak, so it didn't matter what you told the operator--if the name wasn't among the 8000 it couldn't be spoken.
December 18, 2014 at 6:54 AM · We have been going to universal since the mid 90's. He use to say our names and for the kids making up names was a big deal...a lot of fun as he would somehow mangle it. But, its still my wifes favorite ride and I have no issue going on it even as the mummy, men in black, transformers and rip rocket is what I enjoy most...and yes, I miss the original kong, ghostbusters and jaws...
December 18, 2014 at 7:18 AM · I rode it in 1990/91 and ET said about six different names, but none of them were mine. Love the forest queue!
December 18, 2014 at 8:43 AM · ET said our names back in January 2012. I didn't realize it wasn't working more recently!
December 18, 2014 at 8:52 AM · ET is indeed saying names again. :)
December 18, 2014 at 10:56 AM · Rode the USH ET ride many times when I lived in the LA area and was so impressed with the name thing the first time I heard it. When my sister and her teenage son visited in 2001, they loved hearing ET say their names so much that they declared it their favorite part of the whole day.

My family and I visited the Orlando park in June of 2012, however, and had a completely different experience. Here's an excerpt from my trip log regarding that particular ET ride:

<<...don’t know what was wrong, but I had the team all pumped to listen for a surprise at the end…and you couldn’t understand a single thing E.T. was saying. Deb and Katie had no idea that he had just called us by our names. Partly because he wasn’t loud enough, partly because it was timed wrong, and partly because I don’t think they had coded our cards correctly. I sort of heard “Katie” – only because I knew what to listen for – but the other two names could have been spoken in E.T.’s own language for all I know. They really oughta get that fixed.>>

So glad to hear that they did!

December 18, 2014 at 11:06 AM · When I rode this ride 20 years ago, I ended up in the same ride vehicle. Apparently, ET could not handle Japanese, so at the end of the ride ET bid us farewell with..
"Goodbye friend, friend, friend, Don, friend, friend, friend, friend".
It seems everyone else in our vehicle was ET's friend but me.

We were just there a couple of weeks ago. We were told that we had been per-approved for galactic travel due to the seriousness of the situation and that no passports were necessary. After 20 years, ET finally announced that I was his friend.

December 18, 2014 at 1:17 PM · Don: Now that's a great story.
December 18, 2014 at 1:59 PM · @Steve A.: Great info!

When I was there in 10/2013 E.T. did say my name. I loved riding it again after so many years!

December 18, 2014 at 3:47 PM · They should stop trying to say names. Instead, E.T. should try to sell you a photo. They should add a camera right when your bicyle is ready to takeoff. Snap! When you see E.T., he directs you to the photo. "E.T. sees you!" You see your photo on the screen next to him. Then you exit and buy your photo.
December 18, 2014 at 4:19 PM · Good that the name part was rehab-ed. I rode it shortly before it was removed and the ambient noise was too loud and ET's voice was so low that when he said my name "Tony" I barely heard what he said. I hope the sound balance was improved.
December 18, 2014 at 11:25 PM · We rode the ride in November 2007 and yes we did hear our names called x
December 19, 2014 at 9:16 AM · I remember riding ET at USJ. ET said my name clearly, but for many Chinese tourists, he didn't have their names in the memory bank. So he ended up just saying "Friend" for the non-English names.
December 19, 2014 at 6:23 PM · I don't know if it was just me, but it took me a long time to hear the names part.

I think I had heard so much about it, I expected to hear just my name, not ET real off all the names on that vehicle at once.

December 20, 2014 at 7:41 AM · Don: that story was awesome!
December 21, 2014 at 3:15 PM · Just rode it 5minutes ago. He said lots of names from what must have been the group in front or behind of us and none matched our group
December 22, 2014 at 9:34 AM · E.T. speaks! The names absolutely have returned and instead of a selection of 8000, there are now supposed to be many, many more. Ask for Wakabayashi! It's the best name on the roster. (and please remember, if you spell your name to the attendant, and make sure they type what you spell, then 'Ashleigh' becomes 'friend', whereas 'Ashley' stays Ashley. Simon will be Simon, but 'Symon' results in 'friend'. In other words, let the attendant find the closest phonetic match to your name. Now please, GO, and help him save his planet. "Only *you* can help!"

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