Universal Studios Hollywood Update: Jurassic Park Goes Extinct

Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, CA

Happy Thursday, folks!  Today we're throwing it back... way back... not just back to the days when we visited Universal Studios Hollywood more regularly, but back to the age of the dinosaurs.  You see, this past Monday, the venerable Jurassic Park: The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood operated its final day before shutting down to make way for the Jurassic World ride makeover.  

This was a day 65 million years in the making--or maybe just 22 years, 2 months, 14 days in the making.  Either way, a thrilling attraction that has played a part in many of our childhoods closed its final chapter, and to mark the occasion, we sent Dan over to document the final day.  Because when you think of water rides, you think of non other than our friendly, neighborhood DiabetItalian, right?  Yup.   Definitely Dan, and his endless love of water rides.  Yes.  Love.  Totally.

(All photos by Dan Angona, as pretty strongly implied above.)

Around the Park

Before we get to the dinos, though, lets take a look at some of the more recent additions to the park.  I'd say since the last time we stopped by, but there was kind of a whole magical land added that I never got around to posting photos of, so... we're sticking with recent things.

Halloween Horror Nights Construction

In spookier news Halloween Horror Nights has been under construction for quite some time now.  This year features 8 new IP-based mazes, a Terror Tram with clowns, scare zones that may or may not end in -z, and of course, plenty of water effects and strong odors of various types.  You know what you get with Horror Nights--immersive recreations of famous film and horror franchises.  And while the park itself hasn't gotten its Halloween theming quite yet, the mazes have definitely been in progress all summer.

Future Super Nintendo World

Universal Studios recently demolished some soundstages in the lower lot to eventually make way for Nintendo World once it comes to the States (after debuting in Japan first).  In the meantime, the space will be used as staging area for the Jurassic World ride makeover.  

The End of Jurassic Park

And now we come upon our feature attraction, the final operating day of Jurassic Park: The Ride.  In retrospect, this was the precursor to the modern Horror Nights maze.  Lush, immersive theming recreating iconic scenes from a popular Hollywood franchise, copious water effects that got guests wet, and one of the most powerful startle scares in theme park attraction history.

But I digress... Like probably a lot of you, this attraction has made its mark on my own theme park fandom.  I remember going to Universal Studios during its opening year and waiting a couple of hours to ride this new thriller, only to be thoroughly terrified by the final, climactic, steep, 85-foot drop and ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex pop-out.  The experience left an indelible impression on 12 year-old me, but I would return on many subsequent visits to ride again.

It's left its mark on plenty of guests too.  You might have even seen this recent surprise marriage proposal of a superfan couple who marathoned the ride to break the record for most cycles on Jurassic Park: The Ride.  So to be sure, this veteran attraction is embedded in the hearts of plenty of theme park enthusiasts.

Cute, right?  Or gross disgusting.  Or both.  Sometimes, they go hand in hand.

In any case, in tribute to this Los Angeles theme park institution, lets take one more trip to John Hammond's legendary experiment gone wrong.  We'll certainly miss it more than that other creature-inspired theme park thing at the other park a little ways down south...

And with that, we bid farewell to an iconic ride.  But fear not, because as we've already mentioned, this attraction is simply evolving, not ending.  Jurassic World (the ride?) is coming next year.  So there will be more chances to ride boats and face off with dinosaurs.  All you'll need is time.

Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.