A Look Back at the Original Designs for Universal's Jurassic Park Ride

June 10, 2015, 9:40 PM · In honor of the release of Jurassic World this weekend, theme park design firm Goddard Group this week has been posting to Facebook concept art and storyboards from the original design for Universal's Jurassic Park ride.

Original Jurassic Park ride concept art
Image via Goddard Group

Goddard Group noted that the original design for the Orlando version of the attraction called for it to be built on what is now the site of Men in Black Alien Attack, before Universal decided to proceed with a second gate that became the Islands of Adventure theme park, and to make the Jurassic Park franchise one of its cornerstones. The project started in 1992, before the original film's release, as a Jeep ride adventure.

In earlier schemes, JURASSIC PARK: THE RIDE's climactic indoor sequence would have been significantly more expansive than in the finished attraction. Shown here in these never-before-seen storyboards, one concept involved a live actor who would attempt to evacuate riders before falling victim to a startling raptor attack!

Original Jurassic Park storyboards
Image via Goddard Group

Jurassic Park: The Ride opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in June 1996, followed by the Jurassic Park River Adventure in Islands of Adventure in May 1999.

Update: Check out this new post from Gary Goddard about the live actor scene. It looks like this was where Universal might have gotten the idea for the "false exit" that eventually ended up in the Orlando version of Revenge of the Mummy.

Once we entered the massive building, we discover there is an emergency “red light” evacuation taking place. Having been knocked off course, our boat is suddenly lifted (conveyor ramp) to a backstage load/unload dock where a ride operator is urgently shouting at us, warning us that “we have an emergency and we must evacuate immediately!” He is waiting for our boat to dock and he is telling us that he will lead us out. As we are about ready to get out – (but no the safety bar has not released yet), a dinosaur comes bursting through a chain link fence, roaring and causing our attendant to fall back, hitting the controls and plunging us into darkness AS OUR BOAT SUDDENLY RELEASES AND TAKES US BACKWARDS down the ramp.

Go read the rest. It is amazing.

Replies (12)

June 10, 2015 at 10:28 PM · It's a great ride, I kinda hope they update the animatronics on it soon. The first Dino you see is so underwhelming. The track build and drop is great just those minor tweaks could make a huge difference
June 11, 2015 at 3:40 AM · We were at Universal Hollywood for the opening .Had been so excited months leading up to it and we were not disappointed.At time it was cutting edge.
June 11, 2015 at 4:43 AM · A live actor would have been pretty trippy! I hope they make some tweaks to incorporate the new movie!
June 11, 2015 at 5:48 AM · One of my all time favorite attractions.. Just try to get the front seat, views are so much better.

And the drop is always great....

June 11, 2015 at 6:52 AM · I love these history articles. I definitely would be a fan of more of them!
June 11, 2015 at 7:53 AM · It does feel like there should be more to the ride when you're on it. The stories in Sam Gennawey's book are fascinating about it. Cool post!
June 11, 2015 at 9:50 AM · I wish the dinosaurs were better at USH. You can obviously see how the dinosaurs sit on the metal platforms. They make no effort to disguise the footings. There's half a dino. The lap bar is equally intrusive. It's huge. The dinosaur before the drop is not always working. It is quite scary when it does work. The story makes no sense however. You'll drop despite the final appearance of the dinosaur and you don't know why. You just do.
June 11, 2015 at 4:40 PM · Hollywood version of the ride is way better than the one thrown together in FL
June 12, 2015 at 10:59 AM · I remember when the had the attraction with the animatronic baby triceratops that you could interact with. It didn't last long but it was really cool. Every time we walk past the place where it was (and we are annual passholders) we say we wish they still had it.
June 12, 2015 at 11:11 AM · I wonder if the live actor idea was scrapped because of safety concerns? Park workers or cast members are people too. I think there's too many things that could go wrong and lead to serious injuries.
June 12, 2015 at 3:22 PM · Today was Jurassic Park Day for me! I saw the new film in the Universal Cineplex. Followed by a ride on the River Adventure (which I caught a lucky break cause it started raining as I got off and they closed the ride down.) And later on I saw the Raptor Encounter for the first time, truly impressive.

That whole thing about a cast member getting eaten reminds me of Alien Encounter when a similar fate befell an unfortunate technician.

June 13, 2015 at 8:56 AM · I remember the "live actor" being used on attractions at Universal Studios in California back in the 1970s, with the tram attraction based on the old SF television series Battlestar Galactica. The tram would be captured by a Cylon spaceship, and forced inside. A Colonial warrior (live actor) would show up, start shooting the Cylons inside the ship, and tell the tram to get the h*** out of there.

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