This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons Universal Fans Are Gonna LOVE Sharknado 3. Unlike some other “Studios” in Orlando (wink wink), Universal Studios Florida continues to be a working production studio for film and television. What do The Godfather, Jaws, and E.T. have in common? None of them were filmed at USF, but you know what was? Bring It On: In It To Win It, Psycho IV: The Beginning, and Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective. That legacy of fine filmmaking continues this very week as on Wednesday, July 22nd at 9/8c the Syfy network will air Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! which had several scenes shot at the Universal Orlando Resort!
For this special edition of the SATURDAY SIX we had to look beyond our usual gang of theme park titans and instead pluck an expert who can not only cut his chops at Universal and Disney, but also wines and dines with the Hollywood Elite. Allow us to introduce BANKS LEE. You probably know Banks from his various duties including host of Attractions Magazine: The Show, treasured podcast guest, videographer, editor, and actor. That’s right, actor. And one of the things Banks used his thespian skills in was a little movie named Sharknado 3.
Strap yourselves in folks, as we are handing the SATURDAY SIX reigns over to Banks as he tells us exactly why Universal fans are going to LOVE Sharknado 3, starting with…
# 6 – Bruce the Shark gets a cameo
Honestly, how could you have a Sharknado film take place at Universal without having the symbol of the iconic Jaws ride and beloved Amity area make a cameo? Though there was a chance of it not happening. According to the director Anthony Ferrante, in order to film a scene at the Bruce photo-op, they had to get permission from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Thankfully Amblin gave the production crew clearance to film the world’s most famous shark, and the scene will also feature another cameo in the form of Jerry Springer playing a manic tourist.
# 5 – Cabana Bay!
Last year when Universal and Loews opened the Cabana Bay Beach Resort it immediately became one of my favorite hotels in Orlando. Not just “value” hotels, all hotels. Sharknado 3 will feature this terrific resort in several ways, including stars Tara Reid and Bo Derek meeting at the Swizzle Lounge and former N*Sync member Chris Kirpatrick being featured as a lifeguard in the Cabana Bay Courtyard pool. Former boy band singers, is there anything they can’t do?!
# 4 – Seeing scenes shot from all around the Universal Orlando Resort
Rather than Sharknado 3 place in a fictional park that just happens to look like Universal, the story takes place at Universal Orlando itself. This allows for many scenes to take place at well known Universal locations like park attractions, CityWalk, Cabana Bay and more. When interviewing the director about filming at the resort, he mentioned that he warned Universal that during the film people would be getting killed in their park. Surprisingly Universal responded that as long as it was the sharks doing the killing they were OK with it! Major props to Universal for being so open.
Sharknado 3 actually starts off in Washington D.C. before going to Orlando. One scene in particular that takes place in D.C. was actually filmed in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida. Protestors lined the streets in a traffic jam as Fin (Ian Ziering) hopped off the top of a car and ran through the crowd. This scene is one of the two which I got to be an extra in, holding a sign that reads “Too many sharks”.
# 3 – TWISTER…Ride It Out gets a scene!
Yes, an attraction about tornadoes will make an appearance in a Sharknado film. It’s actually a pretty short scene, and though we will not get an appearance by The Pax, you will get to see Fin crashing into the show scene, dodging the splitting tree and coming across a shark and his trusty chainsaw (with a modification I won’t give away). As Fin takes care of the shark, pay close attention to the reactions of the guests in the audience. I am there, front row center, wearing a bright red shirt. Crossing my fingers this scene (or that shot) doesn’t get cut!
# 2 – Rip Ride Rockit gets a major role
The biggest thing to stick out over the skyline of Universal Studios Florida is Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit. This coaster, hate it or not, is used a lot in promotional videos for the park, most notably last year when The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon filmed a bit on the ride with Kevin Hart. The short video is a MUST WATCH for theme park fans as it includes the all time best “height check” gag. From what I observed during filming, the ride gets some major scenes in Sharknado 3 as the main characters climb the structure to save people stuck in the trains. Fin may even go for a wild ride when the sharks start falling. WWE Superstar Chris Jericho also makes his cameo at Rockit, playing Bruce the ride attendant.
# 1 – The Universal Globe
The Universal Globe is the icon of Universal Studios Florida, and it being used in a main scene of the film as our heroes evade the Sharknado is the cherry on top of the sundae. One of the best parts of the film Tomorrowland was the quick moment where the It’s a Small World ride was used in a creative way. Meanwhile the movie Escape From Tomorrow just may be one of the five worst films ever made by mankind, but just seeing recognizable locations in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland gave the film at least one positive trait. Sharknado 3 promises us a lot of interaction with the Universal Orlando Resort and they delivers in every way possible. Who wouldn’t want to see the Universal Globe rolling its way through CityWalk? Well now you get your chance. The only way anyone is going to top this is if EPCOT is used in a movie and Spaceship Earth tumbles through Future World like that rock in Raiders of the Lost Ark and completely destroys Journey Into Your Imagination.
Still not convinced? C’mon…It’s Sharknado!
Nuff said. They’re horrible films, but they know that, and that’s the fun of watching them. And now, thanks to them, we get to see what happens when disaster strikes Universal Orlando. You’re welcome.
Honorable Mention: Other Florida locations to be featured
Seems that Universal Orlando may not be the only location in Central Florida featured in Sharknado 3. Filming happened at Kennedy Space Center for a couple of days, and several character descriptions mention working for NASA. Also, two NASCAR drivers are confirmed to have cameos, though we don’t know if their scenes take place at Daytona or elsewhere.
Double Honorable Mention: Derek Burgan secretly wrote this installment
C’mon. Universal Orlando? Rip, Ride, Rockit? NASCAR? I’m starting to believe that Thunder Levin is just a pseudonym that Burgan uses to write these films. If Sharknado 4 features a Disney Outlet store, we will have definitive proof.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Derek here, and Banks got me to thinking on what I would have done if I had written Sharknado 3. First thing I would do is replace Jerry Springer with another well known talk show host, Maury Povich. My scene would then have Maury reveal to Bruce the shark that he is NOT THE FATHER to the Sharknado sharks and use my CGI budget for Bruce to hop off his hook and dance around like Jabberjaw. We can all assume that at this point the CEO of Syfy would have hired a hitman to take me out, so we have no reason to get into my scene which would have Ian Ziering stop a shark eating a tourist by pushing a Coke Freestyle machine over and crushing the shark. Ziering would then discover the tourist was holding a selfie stick, so he would then pick up the Freestyle machine and then tip it back over onto the tourist. At this point Ian Ziering becomes the biggest babyface in movie history and can write his own check in Hollywood.
So there you have it: Six Reasons Universal Fans will LOVE Sharknado 3. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan)
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Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, Finding Nemo superfan Brian Carey, Jeff Kyle of Daily Disney Photo, photo wunderkind Mike Sperduto, #Millenial Trygve Nelson, Universal park Icon Hate To Fly, and – of course – Blogger to the Stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and the afore mentioned Brian Carey.
FINAL PLUG! Did you know The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. PRE-ORDER this baby now! (For every copy sold, a percentage of the profits* go towards buying a DVD of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rap video.)