Universal Studios Hollywood celebrates its Jurassic World

July 23, 2019, 1:07 AM · Universal Studios Hollywood this evening celebrated the grand opening of Jurassic World - The Ride with the director and stars of the films.

Universal's Karen Irwin and Ron Meyer welcomed director Colin Trevorrow, who was joined by actors Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt (along with Blue) for the opening moment.

Jurassic World updates the park's old Jurassic Park - The Ride to match the new films. In the queue, new videos show off some of the franchise's human stars, while on the ride, it's the dino-stars who take the spotlight. (I am so sorry for typing that.) Once on board and up the ramp, Jurassic World wastes no time showing off its fanciest new set piece — the Mosasaurus.

Universal amps the technology it used on Orlando's Hogwarts Express to bring this enormous marine dinosaur to riders' eye level. The conceit is that we are sailing past a giant aquarium that holds the Mosasaurus, complete with water spilling over the top, splashing us as we cower in fear while the marine giant smacks — and cracks — the glass containing it. The effect relies on a scaled-up installation of the parallax screens that Universal uses on Hogwarts Express, but the scene reminded me most of a PG-13 version of the encounter with the whale in Efteling's much gentler Symbolica ride.

Nothing was going to go horribly wrong on that magical journey, but this ain't no enchanted castle. This is Jurassic World, where the dinosaurs come on vacation to enjoy an all-they-can-eat buffet. We all know it's going to go terribly wrong. There's no point in pretending otherwise. The only question is how much of Chekhov's arsenal we can cram into the ride in acts one and two before we ignite the inevitable fusillade in act three.

On that count, Universal delivers. We lose the herbivore pool from the original to get the Mosasaurus aquarium, but Universal's Mesozoic menagerie still impresses. While the original Jurassic Park introduced us to the wonder of living dinosaurs, the Jurassic World films deliver a more cynical view, playing upon our expectation that everything will go horribly wrong in this genetically engineered world... and delivering that.

So it is, too, on Jurassic World - The Ride. After a moment gawking at the Stegosaurus in the remaining Herbivore Cove, it's time for the red lights to flash as buffet opens in the Predator Cove next door. There we eventually meet two more of the stars of Jurassic World, the big, bad Indominus Rex, and that frenemy Blue.

Universal has rendered each as impressive animatronics, but it's the star of the original Jurassic Park - the T Rex - that steals the scene at the ride's climax, jumping out to attack as we escape down the soaking waterfall. It's a stunning moment to complete a ride that's filled with them.

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Replies (7)

July 23, 2019 at 6:24 AM

Might be in the minority, but after watching the new ride through videos online, I think I prefer the original ride...

July 23, 2019 at 7:57 AM

Am I right in thinking that the ride is missing a few additional dinos, and that the Indominus Rex animatronic, is not the one that’s meant to be there?

July 23, 2019 at 1:30 PM

Can't help but think the universal logo on that podium looks like the "Terran Empire" logo from Trek...

July 23, 2019 at 2:37 PM

As you mention it, Robert, the whale encouter in the Symbolica ride (Efteling) is big enough to be scaring for little kids, but it's avoided by the gentle (non aggressive) movements it makes. Even when the tail hits the glass of the greenhouse, and the water starts dripping in (tail and cracks in the glass are video projection mixed up with the real animatronic below) this "disaster" is presented as soft as possible. The add on effect (since less then a year) there is that the lights flicker down in the greenhouse, and actually water drops on the visitors in the ride vehicles, at the moment they drive off to safer places :-)
Since opening of Symbolica, continuously new experience details have been added. (Like the cake in the ballroom, spinning-floating in mid air above the table..) The attraction is not yet 'ready'. For the add-on (mapping) video projections on objects along the path, most probably not (yet) budgets are available. One must think about the huge budgets per minute of animation video production !! ... To get detail mapping projections in 4 more of the scenes (now, only the whale scene has one), probably some 15 minutes of total animation production time would be needed, and that alone could need a budget for another € 1 - 1.5 M ... but wait, and one day, they would come up !

... Excelling rides use full real-world sets and animatronics & animated props, then augmented by light/water/fog/video/scent... effects. When video augments the real-world set, it's a thousand times more interesting, then when it's just there, alone on a screen. 3D or not.
HAPPY that Jurasic was not turned into a screen-after-screen ride, but they reinvented the real thing !


July 23, 2019 at 3:13 PM

I do like some of the effects and such but guess just a soft spot for the original so hard to top it. Still, a very good example of how to reveamp a ride without completely redoing it.

July 23, 2019 at 4:01 PM

FWIW, the ride I had looked *so* much better than any videos I've seen, with excellent animatronic functionality. It makes me wish that I would have ignored the park's "no filming on the ride" rule and taken my 4K GoPro from my pocket to capture it.

But it also makes me wish that more parks would allow pro websites to film on-ride, so that fans consistently could see rides presented in better quality online. Alas.

July 25, 2019 at 12:04 PM

We just got off a few minutes ago, and it’s a massive improvement over the original. Well done UC!!!

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