Take a Last Look at Universal Studios Florida's Now-Closed 'Disaster!'

September 7, 2015, 5:17 PM · The Disaster! attraction at Universal Studios Florida closed today, to make room for the park's new Fast & Furious ride which will debut in 2017.


Disaster! opened in early 2008 as a retheme of the park's Earthquake: The Big One experience, one of the original attractions from the park's 1990 opening. By 2007, though, few park visitors had heard of or remembered the 1974 disaster film Earthquake that inspired the attraction. And those who did likely stopped caring about, or even thinking about, the film decades ago. In addition, the increased use of computer-generated imagery [CGI] in special effects made obsolete — or, at least, out of fashion — many of the practical effects depicted in the attraction.

Disaster! gave Earthquake: The Big One an additional seven-some years of life by ditching the references the to 1974 film and overlaying a tongue-in-cheek story of a fictional, low-budget film studio instead. Instead of watching an earnest recreation of how filmmakers shot a Charlton Heston movie 40 years ago, we now watched as "Disaster Studios" founder Frank Kincaid (played by the delightful Christopher Walken) tried to wrangle all of us into the production of his latest cheesy disaster flick, "Mutha Nature."

The new version kept with audience volunteers being used in demonstrations of special effects, with the explanation that Disaster Studios couldn't afford any of that fancy CGI for its productions. And the subway ride at the climax remained much the same, except this time we all were the extras, being directed to scream on cue. At the end, we got to watch the "film" we'd helped create, as scenes from "Mutha Nature" showed on the overhead screens in the subway train, with scenes starring the audience volunteers from our show cut in.

But if Disaster! postponed the attraction's demise, this new storyline could not prevent its closure. The Orlando Sentinel's Dewayne Bevil said it best:

If you never had the opportunity to experience Disaster! (or just walked by if you did), here is a fill video of the experience, including the pre-show, special effects demonstrations and subway ride at the end.

In addition today was the final day for the Incredible Hulk Coaster, which starts a long refurbishment tomorrow that will see the installation of a new launch system, on-ride effects, and new show elements in the queue and loading area. The new version of the Hulk coaster will reopen sometime in the middle of next year.

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Replies (7)

September 7, 2015 at 5:48 PM · So it's finally happened. I was at USF a week ago and I rode it knowing that it would be my last time. Thankfully I had the best Lonnie ever. This makes me wonder just how long USF's remaining opening day attractions, ET Adventure and Horror Make-Up Show, will be around. I also rode ET in that same visit, first time in over 2 years, and it was a lot better than I remembered. It donned on me while I was riding it that if it were to be built at Disney, it would be considered one of those untouchable classics that, if it were taken out, there'd be an uproar in the fan community. At Universal, no one would bat an eye. And yet I actually find it better than it's main Disney rival, Peter Pan. Pretty sad.
September 7, 2015 at 6:17 PM · The subway ride in Earthquake was scary. Disaster took the same subway ride and made it more funny and entertaining. You still had a truck blowing up and water rushing in, but you were too busy filming Mutha Nature to worry about it too much.
September 7, 2015 at 7:01 PM · At lest it is still part of the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood
September 8, 2015 at 3:57 AM · I'll always remember this ride as the backdrop to that action sequence in Beverly Hills Cop III. I think it was actually filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood, but the rides were almost the same.
September 8, 2015 at 5:21 PM · Disnerversal, at Disney world now, they nixed the Backlot tour to make room for new star wars land
September 8, 2015 at 5:24 PM · I remember being scared...um, a lot when I saw Earthquake the movie. I saw it in an old giant first run theater in SurroundSound. I had my feet on the row in front of me; I didn't want to put my toesies on the the cement floor to find out IT was shaking too!
September 9, 2015 at 9:41 AM · @ Disneyversal said it was still part of the studio tour at Universal in Hollywood. Not Hollywood studios at Disney, the west coast universal Studios park.

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