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What Is Up with the Triceratops Encounter?

So what is Universal going to do with Triceratops Encounter? Uni's Web site and Guest Relations department can't even agree on the status of this walk-through, much less its future.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted April 28, 2002 at 3:37 AM
When I was last at IOA, the Triceratops Encounter was closed. I read somewhere that it was being updated. I read elsewhere that it was closed until summer because it was unpopular. So which is it?

I noticed last time that the rock sign out front had a different name on it. I don't remember the new name, so could someone clue me in. The website still has it as "Encounter." (Not that I am surprised. When planning a previous vacation, I got into a huffy email war with the webmaster. She couldn't accept that her site wasn't up to date, even after explaining to her that I had a long talk with Guest Services the day before about all the incorrect info on the site. Don't screw with me when I am planning a vacation!)

Anyhow, has anyone been to IOA recently? Is this open? I think it might have been for Spring Break, if not since then. If it is or was open, did anyone check it out? Has anything changed? Enquiring minds want to know.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Robert Niles
Posted April 28, 2002 at 2:37 PM
Word I had from Universal's PR people *last year* was that this was gone for good. That's when I took it off Theme Park Insider's listings for Islands of Adventure.

That said, I don't understand why you'd close this unless you were immediately working on a replacement. How much must running a animatronic dinosaur cost? Plus a staffer to "train" it? If it sucks a few hundred people an hour off the street, I'd think it'd be worth keeping open.

Sure, people who go in expecting a ride or a show leave disappointed. But that's why you should rely on handy guides like this one, rather than the stuff the park puts out. (Grin)

From Kevin Baxter
Posted April 28, 2002 at 3:55 PM
That was my EXACT reason as to why I couldn't understand it closing. It wasn't all that exciting, but it was something that got people out of other lines.

I actually like the concept, but I think it just wasn't enough for a full-blown attraction. If they can't come up with different things in the queue to do, then they should at least move Cera to a corner of Camp Jurassic. Keep the ranger and let kids touch it and stuff. Just don't turn it into a major ordeal.

Then they could use the current Encounter area, which is quite large, for the rumored coaster.

From Anonymous
Posted April 28, 2002 at 7:31 PM
They have to keep Triceratops Encounter in some form. My 5 year old son loved it, by far his favorite part of IOA!

From Robert Niles
Posted April 28, 2002 at 8:59 PM
That gives me an idea. Couldn't they put this just off the street in a designated "child swap" area for the Jurassic Park River Adventure? It's a big hit with kids, and would be a *great* way for little ones and their parents to pass time while they wait for the rest of their group to get off the ride.

This change would turn all those complaints that this isn't worthwhile into raves that Universal provided something so cool for people waiting on a kid swap (which is otherwise one of the single most boring things in the world to endure.)

From Robert Swinarski Jr
Posted April 28, 2002 at 9:13 PM
When my wife and I visited in January, we ran into a friend of hers that was working the "ride"- he told us that they were going to be closing the Tri Encounter while staff reshuffling took place, and they cut hours and positions, opting to close that relatively unpopular "ride" and keep full staff at the other, more popular areas, for the time being. His understanding was that they would be reopening the area/show/ride (whatever you want to think of it as) as things picked back up.

Like any other theme park rumor and/or employee tidbit, this may not have been the whole story- the last few times we have gone in the last month, it was not open, though they had a full staff everywhere and a packed park, even with extra street performers added for show, but no Tri Encounter. I personally like the exhibit, just for the chance to see how big some of the dinos really were- they tried to get as close to the "real thing" as possible when designing the area.

Anyway, we likely won't know the true fate of the ride until either a) an official announcement or b) the summer comes and goes, with Encounter opening or staying closed. I'm hoping they do a little work on it or possibly make an actual theme ride with the framework they have there- some of the props are very cool in that area!

From Robert Niles
Posted April 29, 2002 at 9:37 AM
Labor at theme parks is cheap. Under $10 a hour for almost every position. Unless an attraction requires several dozen shifts a day to operate, the labor costs of running an attraction are typically trivial against the technical and overhead costs.

So I don't buy the idea that Tric shut down to save on labor costs. On a busy day, you'll just end up spending the same money to pick up a couple extra crowd control shifts at Jurassic Park.

I continue to suspect that either the technical cost of operating the Tric was too high for the company to stomach, or the thing just got so many complaints that the company figured it was ahead on PR by closing it, even if it did mean a reduction in hourly attraction capacity for the area.

From Anonymous
Posted April 29, 2002 at 1:50 PM
I was their at spring break and it was open, it had a 45 min. wait almost all day. The new name is discovery trail

From Mike Duchock
Posted April 29, 2002 at 2:23 PM
Leave it to Universal to look like they don't know what they're doing. The temporary sign at the entrance says Triceretops Discovery Trail, an attraction which i see no point in having an Express pass. That is one person they can afford to not staff.

From Anonymous
Posted April 29, 2002 at 6:17 PM
I was there yesterday and it was open and they did have one person at the front of the encounter and one at the end with the triceratop. There was not wait at all. You just basically walk through a long air conditioned trail and at the end the guide is there with the animated triceratop. It was a very big disappointment.This really needs to be updated or just totally done away with. It is not a ride and it would be a waste for someone with express passes because you don't need an express pass for this lame walk through.

From Anonymous
Posted April 30, 2002 at 7:14 AM
It was a labor cost decision! Think about in a business you need what to operate? Supervisor, manager, several attendants and then a few leads. This adds up when the park isn't making money. Ever heard of cutting fat? Why do you think they fired the supervisor and one area manager after 9/11? To cut fat and some of them were over this attraction. Since then the business has done very well and it only makes sense to fatten up when business is calling for it. I love rumors! Everybody jumps to ideas.

From Lesley Allen
Posted April 30, 2002 at 9:54 AM
I just got back from Universal/IOA yesterday and the Triceratops Encounter was open. As mentioned, the wait was very short. During the 3 days I was there I think the longest wait time was 10 minutes. But it was definitely open this past weekend.

From Reid Loveland
Posted April 30, 2002 at 11:12 AM
I think Robert had an excellent idea: Move it to the child swap waiting area. Have things for the kids who can't ride or are too afraid to ride. Disney has stuff to do for the kids who don't meet Splash Mountain's height requirement. If I was a kid who couldn't go on a ride because I was too little I'd love to have something especially for me. Seeing a dinosaur up-close would be great.

From Anonymous
Posted April 30, 2002 at 4:59 PM
i think what they should do is build a ride off of the 3rd movie's dinosaur, and leave the tri there for a more prehistoric feeling. or they should move the dino to the river ride, but i defintley think that the ride was lame, after being there 5 times now it's really boring. the first 2 times were alright, but COME ON who wants to stand there and see a robotic dinosaur. don't get me wrong, i like how they made it and i respect the labor that went into it, but maybe they should am the tri in a new direction.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted May 1, 2002 at 12:46 AM
The child swap idea isn't bad, but it would get such a small crowd there and something like that deserves to be seen, since it did cost them a pretty penny. I'm sticking with my Camp Jurassic idea.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted May 1, 2002 at 12:51 AM
Also, Robert already explained how little the employee cost would be. An attraction like this wouldn't have a manager, a supervisor and a few leads. The manager probably covers all of JP, while supervisors cover several areas in JP and the leads, if Universal even has them, might number a whole two or three and they would probably be the ones working the attraction. So I still ain't buying that excuse.

From Anonymous
Posted May 1, 2002 at 12:43 PM
They have 1 supervisor for tri and Discovery. 1 for River, and 1 for Camp. They have 2 leads a day and on avg 7 attendants. Go get some details before you speak of someone's attraction.

From Lesley Allen
Posted May 1, 2002 at 1:04 PM
Hey Anonymous...Why don't you tell us of your credentials and how you claim to be so knowledgeable before you speak of other people's posts?

From Anonymous
Posted May 1, 2002 at 2:37 PM
I am in management at IOA. Me saying who I am could result in loss of my job. Don't mean to sound so rude but it's old hearing how people trash things with out knowing of what it takes and what was put into it. Here's somehting to talk about. HHN has been confirmed and put into the budget to take place at IOA with Bill and Ted's at Toon. This is something that has been talked about here and is true.

From Tim Hillman
Posted May 1, 2002 at 2:41 PM
Leslie, who cares what credentials Anonymous (via 65.33.152.161) has? He's had a couple of opportunities to constructively add to this thread and all he's done is belittle people. Whether or not he has accurate information that is authoritative is irrelevant at this point. IMHO he's just another one of those people who like to anonymously snipe at other people in order to compensate for some deficiency. ;-)

From Robert Niles
Posted May 1, 2002 at 3:47 PM
Wait a minute: Three supervisors for four attractions? And the two leads and seven operators are for what? Is that an average per attraction?

For comparison, at Disney we had (if I remember correctly) one area manager, one supervisor and four assistant supervisors for all of Magic Kingdom West (at that time, 14 attractions). In general, each attraction had two or three leads, depending upon operating hours for the day. (One opener, one mid-shift--during summers and Christmas, and one closer.) But in some cases, several attractions were clustered, sharing one group of leads. I think there were eight groups of leads in MK West, so that meant between 16 and 24 leads a day for 14 attractions.

Can anyone explain, on the record, Universal's attraction staffing structure?

From Anonymous
Posted May 1, 2002 at 6:04 PM
I wish anybody understood Universal's structure! Sorry to be so dang rude I don't mean it. This for some reason hit me weird. 9This topic) Any way's unfortunatley Universal and I would guess Disney now a days are having a hard time find gooding attendants. Pickings hard. Universal is trying to push to have Supervisors in the park more for the guests. When they did this that left the attraction to go to hell. SO.... Every attraction or two small ones has it's own Supervisor so there is proper supervison to the guest and to the employee.

From Robert Niles
Posted May 1, 2002 at 8:42 PM
Well, all theme parks have having a tough time finding good quality employees because theme park companies don't pay a living wage. Theme park wages haven't kept close to increases in the cost of living over the past generation. (Especially once Disney gutted its unions.)

As a result, most of what parks can get are kids (and not even the best kids), a few young adults on a lark (who don't stick around long), and drop-outs who can't hold another job.

Sure, there are a few exceptions. But companies that don't pay a living wage (one that you can support yourself and a family on) shouldn't expect to find top quality employees who stick around. In any industry.

Seasonal parks have always had staffing quality problems, due to their seasonal nature. But Disney and the few other parks that stayed open year-round used to be able to do better. Now, even they can't.

Score: Myopic greed -- 1, employees and customers -- 0.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted May 2, 2002 at 12:34 AM
I was assuming that Universal would follow in the footsteps of SUCCESSFUL businesses when it comes to staffing. That many supervisors and leads for one tiny attraction is totally wasteful. I don't care what anyone says, employees can't be so bad that they have to be supervised 8 hours a day. Look at all the unsuccessful businesses out there (like the Post Office) and you will often find one problem: too much middle management.

From Steve Warren
Posted May 2, 2002 at 2:43 PM
I think the "ride" is alright. I mean, there aren't that many things to do for adults on the Jurassic Park island. Theres Camp Jurassic for the little ones, JP river adventure for the adults, and triceratops encounter and thats really everythig unless you want to waste some time in the discovery center. the thing I liked least about it was the way you have to walk through it. People stand there forever in the front with their kids on their shoulders and you cant see a thing.


Hell, dont trash the thing. It was really cool the first time, even though it wasn't real. Its great for everybody which was the idea, I think, so theres more than one thing to do as a kid or an adult.

From Anonymous
Posted June 25, 2002 at 9:59 PM
I know this thread is old, but I just wanted to add something.

First off, I love the fact IOA is trying their best to do something different. No other park lets you get up this close to animatronics.

BUT, there is a problem with the attraction. The Triceratops, no matter how realistic you make it act, is, well, animatronic.

The advertisements for IOA when it opened showed a Triceratops running at break neck speed and catching a frisbee. While this commercial is gone from public memory, the idea underneath it is stil there. People want to see this thing dance. The average theme park goer, who knows nothing of theme parks, how they're run, and how they're staffed, doesn't care if they created a Tric that can realistically "breath", snort, even vomit! A lot of people who shuffle through the attraction don't stop to "smell the roses". Once they realize this thing won't charge the little fence, they leave. The little kids like it though. They're pretty convinced. Their parents want to drag them to JP River Adventure. If they could find a way to make this a show instead of a ride, maybe small stadiums of 50 or so, and give 5 minute presentations where the Tric (in large grass or behind some fencing) runs realistically, kicks the fence or bucks like a bull, maybe they'd be able to suspend there disbelief a bit.
Granted, you'd catch on about the grass blocking the view of the mechanics, but the adults would be a little more interested.

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