Paxton's Last Stand: Universal Orlando's Twister Closes This Weekend

October 30, 2015, 3:10 PM · Sunday is your last chance to see experience Twister - Ride It Out, before the attraction "blows away forever" from Universal Studios Florida. Universal is closing the show to make way for its new "Tonight Show"-themed Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Twister opened in 1998, replacing the Ghostbusters Spooktacular show that had run in the park's New York since the park's opening. How tornadoes ripping through Wakita, Oklahoma fit into New York City is a mystery that remains to this day. But the movie Twister was a huge hit in 1996, earning nearly half a billion dollars in box office, so no one could blame Universal for wanting to get this franchise into its park as quickly as possible.

An odd location in the park wasn't the only mismatch reflected in this show, however. Twister, the movie, demonstrated the power of computer generated imagery [CGI] in creating an on-screen spectacle. But Twister, the show, relied entirely upon practical effects that looked, well, pretty cheesy — especially when the impressive CGI tornadoes of the film remained fresh in audience's minds.

But Twister's on-stage windstorm looked absolutely authentic when compared with the pre-show performance by Twister star Bill Paxton. [Paxton appears at 1:10.]

Paxton's deadpan spiel appealed to a generation of fans who howled at the apparent insincerity of the performance. Universal might have produced better practical-effects demonstrations with its Lights! Camera! Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg show in Singapore, or even the old "Backdraft" show at Universal Studios Hollywood. But no Universal attraction did unintentional comedy better than Bill Paxton in Twister.

Replies (16)

October 30, 2015 at 4:08 PM · Anyone familiar with the mannequ story?
October 30, 2015 at 4:56 PM · I still say they should have taken the shark from jaws and put it in there to make Sharknado. Even if it was only for horror nights, it would have gone out in glory.
October 30, 2015 at 9:44 PM · Bill Paxton was easily the highlight of the experience. His overall "I'm dead inside" delivery made me giggle every single time.
October 30, 2015 at 11:14 PM ·
October 30, 2015 at 11:19 PM · Bill Paxton... The entity, The demon Spirit himself will be missed!!! I'd give anything for his directors chair prop from the queue! The "ride" is outdated and in the new Universal Orlando didn't fit anymore. I really was hoping for a few more years of him though and a new Ghostbusters attraction to take over if the new movie is a hit. I do like Jimmy Fallon though.
October 31, 2015 at 7:30 AM · I'm one if the people who opposes the Jimmy Fallon ride. But you know what? I'd take Jimmy Fallon over Twister any day. "The Tonight Show" is actually really good. Twister? Not so good. And I'm sorry if I'm bursting anyone's nostalgia bubble, but that movie is flat-out terrible. Yes, the special effects were pretty good for it's time, but that's why the movie sucked so much! The people making it thought "well, we have this awesome cgi to draw in all the big crowds, so let's just forget about things like a decent plot or characters that do n't annoy you to death."

And the "ride?" Well, I honestly see how Twister could have been a good ride. Universal was able to make an awesome ride out of Michael Bay's Transformers, another undeservedly successful blockbuster, so they could've made Twister work. But that didn't happen. First off, the name of the attraction is "Twister: RIDE It Out,"! But it's not even a ride! It's a show/walk through! Second, Paxton's spiel. I perfectly understand why some people would find it funny, but I found it kinda boring. And third, the main show. With all it's bad special effects...ugh...

Ok. My little rant is over now. Have a good day and Happy Halloween.

October 31, 2015 at 8:48 AM · It's one thing to say that the practical effects were cheesy, but USF and IOA attractions are starting to depend far too much on "spectacular" CGI effects IMHO. The fast&furious and kong rides will apparently consist mostly of watching video screens, and the Tonight Show ride is likely to be no different.

I thought that Twister was a charming and undemanding experience, and after the first viewing was mostly fun for watching everyone else's reaction to the (spoiler alert) lurching platform at the end. And the "movie set" in front of you was in real, living 3D, so real you could literally touch it.

October 31, 2015 at 4:03 PM · Ah another old friend gone. BTTF , Jaws , Earthquake now Twister please dont take E.T. !
October 31, 2015 at 4:19 PM · We will never truly know what was wrong with Bill Paxton's right shoulder. Plus this ride was the worst adaptation of a boardgame ever. Let that one sink in for a minute...
October 31, 2015 at 4:57 PM · I thought it was a good attraction. I'd rather keep Twister than have this new Fallon attraction. Worst idea for a ride since Superstar Limo.
October 31, 2015 at 9:25 PM · Only got to it once, in 2012, but still not bad, was intense feeling that power in a small space. Still, not their best so probably good to let it make way for another ride (despite how stupid the Fallon thing sounds).
November 1, 2015 at 3:19 AM · Am I the only one who will miss it? It was always fun for me to see peoples reaction at the end for the "surprise". And it was nice to have real effects as opposed to the "watch another 3D movie" cookie cutter rides Universal is churning out. Hope Kong will have plenty of real effects.
November 1, 2015 at 9:07 AM · The only reason I liked twister is because I loved the physical set and real effects as well. I hated to see Jaws go for the same reasons. All of these motion simulator/3D rides are starting to get on my nerves.
November 1, 2015 at 9:59 AM · I liked Twister, as did my kids.
November 1, 2015 at 8:19 PM · Would have loved to have been able to go one last time, but wasn't able to get away this weekend. Truly a shame, even though it wasn't the most well received in recent years. Completely understand the need for change, just frustrating to see so many favorites(Twister, Disaster!, Jaws, Back to the Future, and Kongfrontation) go the way of the dinosaur. Little by little Universal is replacing most of the reasons why I went to the park, only ones left that I love are Terminator and Men In Black.

Definitely an interesting choice to replace it with, especially with the recent "chatter" about Jimmy Fallon and the concerns that NBC execs have about his increasingly frequent partying lifestyle. Would be a big miss to prepare this attraction and then have to change it suddenly should they end up dropping him at some point.

November 2, 2015 at 9:04 PM · This attraction was one of the most intimate experiences available. Not being in a ride vehicle made you feel very exposed to the elements. I loved it. If they could have come up with a better way to do the actual tornado effect it would have been a perfect attraction. Seeing the cow fly by at the end made my universal day complete. The replacement sounds like a really lame Michael Eisner-ish synergy idea. Using real pop culture people as themselves instantly dates an attraction. I'll be interested to see if this is a one-time fluke that got green lit, or if it's a sign of changes being made by the new mega corporation finally trickling down.

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