If you look at the concept, JAWS should never have worked as a theme park ride. The first iteration of it had a shark attacking you, chasing you, you shot at it with grenades, and then you blew it up! The damn shark blew the hell up with big bloody chunks! The version that has stuck around the longest starts out with someone screaming on the radio, like he’s getting eaten. You go into a spooky boathouse and get the hell scared out of you, a shark chases you, you almost get your face burned off, and then you roast the damn monster alive. For a family based theme park…that shouldn’t work! BUT IT DOES! So brilliantly so that it has legions of fans complete with a fansite and Facebook page. Now comes word that JAWS is closing, and with it comes a whole horde of rumors, speculation, and most importantly an end to an era.
Universal Orlando was the first theme park to coin the phrase “Ride the Movies”. When the park opened in 1990, that’s precisely what you could do-ride attractions based on some of the hottest (and biggest flops) of the times. You could face off with ole Banana Breath King Kong in Kongfrontation, follow Doc Brown through time as you chased Biff, and even gotten in the shower at the Bates Motel. Slowly Universal has changed, taking old attractions out and replacing them with new ones that have very little to do with films that they are based on. Sure rides like Men In Black Alien Attack, The Simpsons and Disaster are great attractions…but to say that you’re riding the movies on those are a bit of a stretch.
In all honesty, Universal had to go that way to keep up with the ever changing theme park market. Instead of creating huge rides off of obscure movies, and making them amazing success stories, they have gone the way of taking huge blockbuster names and licenses and making even bigger success stories on attractions. Again, I have to stress that there are great attractions like Terminator, The Mummy, E.T. and Twister, but they are made in different molds from the original attractions. They take on a different story line that really has nothing to do with the movie, and exist in a world where the movie doesn’t. It’s amazing, and completely fun and still one of my favorite parks in the world.
But now comes the news, confirmed by Universal that one of the old favorites…pretty much an original attraction (though it has undergone a few transformations)….is closing. Jaws will attack it’s last tour boat from Captain Jake on January 2nd 2012. Even more shocking is that they are closing the ENTIRE Amity area and retheming it completely. It has to be huge, absolutely huge, for them to do that. But for fans of the park and the ride, it is extremely sad news. It’s another classic gone. Okay, so Jaws takes place outside of the movie, where Amity has survived for years without another visit from a huge shark. In fact, Captain Jake takes tourists on boat tours and revisits the places made famous in the movie Jaws. All of a sudden out of the blue, we get another huge shark attacking and chasing the boat. Chief Brody, who is still alive and serving despite the fact that he has to be like 80 now, will be there to save the day in ten minutes. TEN MINUTES!?!? WE’LL BE SHARK BAIT IN TEN MINUTES! Everything works out as the skipper of the boat saves the day. It’s a great, fun ride that has everyone cheering at the end. The effects are simple and basic, but works so well. The ride is a people eater…meaning that it can get a ton of people on and off of it in a short amount of time (maximum capacity listed at 2500 people an hour!). It’s wildly popular, and creates great customer service as employees always interact in a fun manner with the guests. So why is it closing?
All of those reasons listed above. Jaws is an expensive ride to maintain and operate. It has fire effects, which have been reduced at times because of the cost of fuel. It uses about seven animated sharks in the water. Remember how much trouble the film had because of the water? Imagine six sharks operating 10-12 hours a day, 365 days a year. Things are constantly breaking, and the ride system is completely submerged underwater. It uses hydraulic pumps to operate these huge beasts, which again costs a lot of money. Then there are the skippers. What other attraction in the park puts an employee on the ride with you? Most rides you have the employee loading and unloading, and that’s the extent of it. This ride not only do you have the employees loading, unloading, operating the ride, but also on the boats. Considering the ride operates quite a number of boats at once, that’s one more person per boat. Plus, the ride is based on a film that came out in 1975. While it’s a great film, it’s not very relevant these days. All those reasons aside, the ride is still an amazing attraction. So why close it?
Universal has something new in mind. It has to be huge to take up the entire Amity area, and it has to be hot for the park to close the area right after the busy Christmas season and start construction. Nothing has come out officially, but everything points to one thing…or boy. Potter. The rumors have been running rampant about an expansion since the Wizarding World opened in 2010 at Islands of Adventure. But to have the boy wizard in two parks? How can that make any sense at all? Well let’s dive into the rumors and see. Mind you these are all rumors…nothing is confirmed at all, and the chance of any of it being true is as likely as a pygmy puff plopping out of your butt….but stranger things have happened.
First an anonymous letter from “Quint”
First with regards to Jaws: there are 2 schools of thought on this. Potter expansion and/or Transformers. With Potter expansion think actual interactive Hogwarts Express train ride to Hogsmeade. I personally have many thoughts on how this could be done. The one thing this source kept stressing is that were going to see technology that’s never been in the states before up until this future expansion whatever it may ultimately be.
The thought is that the existing Amity could be pardon the pun, “transformed” into London possibly or other existing Potter world environments like the Safe House, Quiditch arena etc.
Also in regards to Potter, get your Lost Continent trips in because we can bet on the rest of that Island going bye bye in the near future…so I’m told. Granted fans have speculated that for a while especially since Potter.
Now HHN time. FFL is going to be there for a 2 year extended stay so I’m told with regards to the contract. With that contract I am told that BnT is a no no at that venue while FFL is there.
So no Jaws, no Jaws queue = no house and no BnT venue at FFL leads my brain and my sources hinting to an 04′ HHN concept or IOA entirely and BnT for sure being in IOA.
As far as Potter and HHN go together that’s something the source didn’t have much to say about. Only thing I’m told is that Potter operates in a specific story timeline and things can only be done in that time span if that makes sense. Kinda like Marvel pretty much.
Wow that touches on a lot of ground. But let’s focus on the Potter for now. Here’s the list of rumors:
- New land will be themed to either Diagon Alley, or London with Diagon Alley and King’s Cross station
- New land will connect to the Wizarding World via the Hogwarts Express-A huge complaint about the current Wizarding World
- The new land will expand from Fear Factor Live all the way to possibly Disaster (Via Rob Alvey at Theme Park Review)
- The new land will have a time frame of being open around 2015
- Will also include an expansion in Islands of Adventure to devour all of Lost Continent and make a huge new attraction, possibly expanding on the actual Wizarding World and Forbidden Forest
- Current employee offices will be moved to where the old Hard Rock Cafe was. This will make room for the Hogwarts Express to have something to look at other than parking lots. The Old Hard Rock was demolished in October
- Diagon Alley-More shops, an expanded Olivanders wands and more clever interactions
- Gringotts-The rumored coaster could go in this area, since it fits in with the Diagon Alley area
- Number 4 Privet Drive-Since we are dealing with the London area, why not see the home of Harry Potter when he lived with Muggles?
- Kings Cross Station-Platform 9 3/4 anyone? A magical barrier that takes you to the Hogwarts Express
- Azkaban Prison-Since we’re exploring the rest of the Wizarding World…why not make Azkaban a big ride in the Lost Continent?
- Even more!-If you want a huge list check out concept art and some ideas that we drummed up a few months ago. (CLICK HERE!)
- Jaws Queue-The extended queue for JAWS has traditionally been a house for HHN. While construction may not be completely ramped up by the end of 2012, it’s likely we won’t be able to see a house in this area ever again. Solution? Put it somewhere else. The Soundstages are absolutely huge, and it’s not outside the frame of thought that four houses could go in the soundstage area. It’s also not entirely unfathomable that there could be another “tent house” where they have the other two houses. It would make the lines in those areas unbearable, but lines during HHN are anyway yet we survive.
- Disaster Queue-If Theme Park Review is correct, and a leaked blueprint shows that area of the park being converted to Potter, then that’s yet another house that is off the market. Solution? Herc and Xena building. It was used once before for “Horror Night Nightmares”-Not to be confused with the fansite that derived their name from that house. Also there was a house once before in the Sting Alley facade. There are also other possibilities such as the E.T. Queue area, Kidzone. Tons of different things could be done, and there’s all kinds of nooks and crannies that could be used that we don’t know about.
- Bill and Ted-Whether you’ve liked the shows in the past few years or not, you have to admit…it’s not Halloween Horror Nights without Bill and Ted. If Fear Factor Live is Potterized then where the hell are they going to put it? You can put it in Animal Actors Live, it’s a fairly good sized stadium, but not nearly the capacity of Fear Factor Live. There is one other alternative-
- Two Parks-Some sites are mandating that “THE EVENT WILL BE IN TWO PARKS NEXT YEAR!” Seriously? Nothing is official until it’s announced, though speculation must be taken with a grain of salt. There is no definite answer on where the event will be next year. It is becoming more likely that the event will be in two parks. You have the Toon Lagoon Amphitheater, which is larger than Fear Factor Live…so that takes care of the Bill and Ted problem. You also have a bit more room to add houses. But the problems are many. First of all, it’s a logistical nightmare running two parks. The themeing suffers, and it’s like a death march going between houses. Secondly, it’s been said that no HHN stuff can be used in Seuss Landing or WWOHP. So that would make a lot of Islands a giant dead zone. Plus, families are kind of creeped out at the studios when they see HHN stuff scattered about. Why creep them out further with both parks?
- Two events-I think it’s far more likely to see an event happening at each park. The studios will have Halloween Horror Nights…might scale it back a little, or just not expand it as much as in the past. And Islands will have a family friendly event. After all, Seuss Landing and WWOHP can’t have HHN. No one has ever said anything about Halloween. According to the TV Special, after all, “Halloween is Grinch Night”. Plus, Halloween would fit right in with the Wizarding World, and a Hogwarts Halloween would be epic! Add in trick or treating with Marvel Super Heroes, and Cartoon characters and I think you have a great Halloween event!