This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Extinct Attraction Tributes in Universal Studios Florida. Yes, we love the awesome rides, the incredible hotels, and the mouth watering restaurants at the Universal Orlando Resort, but the more trips we take the more we appreciate all the little details throughout the theme parks. One of the details we love the most is references to extinct attractions. Walt Disney World and it’s “blessing of size” is loaded with opening day attractions, some lasting as long as 50+ years. Meanwhile Universal has to deal with size constraints, and is constantly updating its portfolio of attractions at both Universal Studios Florida (USF) and Islands of Adventure.
Today we are heading to USF, which became the first theme park for Universal in Florida, opening during the summer of 1990. Since then the park has changed out attractions multiple times, in the process losing some all-time classics. Good news though, many of those beloved attractions are still immortalized in the park, and we’ll start with one of our favorites…
# 6 – JAWS in Diagon Alley
The Universal parks will almost always be tied to the iconic character of Jaws, and the removal of the JAWS attraction in 2012 may have caused a riot if people didn’t know a “bigger and better” Wizarding World experience was coming to replace it. A beloved ride that had major problems from literally day one, Jaws holds a special place in the hearts of many Universal fans. Now, when Hogsmeade Village opened in 2010, it contained exactly zero references to any of the elements of Lost Continent that it replaced, such as the Enchanted Oak Restaurant, so not everyone was convinced that there would be any Jaws references in Diagon Alley.
Great news though, there are multiple references to Jaws in Diagon Alley, including this one at the record store in the London Waterfront façade.
Other references can be less recognizable, such as this telescope in Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment that includes elements from the Jaws ride queue. There are multiple telescopes in the gift shop, with Rumors and Innuendo telling us they have been built out of parts from the Jaws ride and queue, including one that has an actual steering wheel from a Captain Jake’s Amity Boat Tours boat.
# 5 – King Kong references in Revenge of the Mummy
Like Jaws, Kongfrontation was another opening day attraction for Universal Studios Florida back in 1990 featuring ol’ banana breath himself, King Kong. The attraction closed in late 2002 to make room for Revenge of the Mummy, a dark ride/roller coaster hybrid that opened in 2004 based on The Mummy film. Like the shark in Jaws, King Kong is a beloved character to many Universal fans and it would take one heck of a ride to allow them to forgive the park for taking away Kongfrontation. To everyone’s surprise, a coaster based on a Brendan Fraser film instantly became one of the most thrilling rides in Orlando.
While there are several Kong related Easter eggs to look for, the best one to spot is during the dark ride portion of the attraction. While your ride vehicle is going through the throne room filled with treasure, look towards the front of the room on the left and you will see a small statue of King Kong.
Now let’s check out a Kong reference that I always thought was obvious, but I found out during the course of writing this article that not many people have ever noticed this. In the Revenge of the Mummy queue and ride you will see artwork that has a cool design for a scarab beetle that, storyline wise, is the logo for The Mummy sequel that is being filmed on a hot set. If you look closely at the center of this artwork, you’ll notice that it has the face of King Kong cleverly hidden inside.
There are also several video screens in the queue and during the ride itself where you will see this artwork animated. When the artwork starts to disappear, the Kong face in the middle is highlighted. Pretty ingenious way to pay tribute to a former attraction if you ask me.
# 4 – Twister…Ride It Out! in Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
Also look for a certain blue shirt hanging up, which is referencing one of the greatest actors in American history…
# 3 – Earthquake and Disaster in Fast & Furious – Supercharged
Before Fast & Furious – Supercharged opened in 2018, two attractions operated in that same space over the years. Earthquake: The Big One, was an opening day attraction back in 1990 and ran in several incarnations until 2007. In 2008, Earthquake was officially replaced by Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride…Starring You!
Several fun references can be found in the “trophy case” that includes keys and pink slips to vehicles that the characters in the ride have won in street races.
A closer look in the case reveals one key with an Earthquake: The Big One key chain.
One cool reference are some power boxes which refer to all three attractions and the dates they opened (or in Supercharged case, seemingly expected to open.)
Another attraction that was displaced by Supercharged was Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue. In the Supercharged queue you’ll see several references to Beetlejuice himself, including a figurine.
# 2 – Terminator 2: 3D at Bourne Stuntacular
Recently we did an article looking at the various Easter eggs located in windows throughout Universal Studios Florida. In the Hollywood section of the park, you’ll notice among the cans of Invader Motor Oil is a can for Terminator Motor Oil. Terminator 2: 3D left Universal Studios Florida in 2017 and was replaced by The Bourne Stuntacular. Behind the “motoring accessories” façade is The Bourne Stuntacular.
Below those cans you’ll see a different set of oil cans and one of them is marked “Skipper Retro-Ride.” As we mentioned earlier, one of the opening day attractions for Universal Studios Florida was Jaws, and – like the Jungle Cruise – it was a boat ride operated by one of Captain Jake’s skippers.
# 1 – Doc Brown and the Institute of Future Technology in The Simpsons Ride
In 2008, The Simpsons Ride replaced Back to the Future: The Ride. Throughout this article we have seen small tributes to past attractions, but The Simpsons Ride took it to the next level and actually created a backstory for the attraction change and put it inside the queue!
That’s right, if you stand in line for The Simpsons Ride, you will notice televisions throughout the outdoor queue playing classic clips from The Simpsons featuring episodes in which the family went to theme parks. However, mixed in with the older clips are several pieces of brand new material created specifically for the attraction, including one clip explaining how the Institute of Future Technology (the façade for Back to the Future: The Ride) became Krustyland (the façade for The Simpsons Ride.)
The story goes like this: Professor Frink (a science character on The Simpsons) wanted to know how the glorious Institute of Future Technology became a lowly theme park attraction, so jumped into the famous Delorean and headed into the past to find out. We then flash back to “two years ago,” and Doc Brown is about to get a small business loan to save the Institute.
Unfortunately, Professor Frink arrives in a Delorean and runs over the bank executive before the deal can be signed, forcing Doc Brown to sell to Krusty the Clown. You can watch this one minute clip by CLICKING HERE.
The Simpsons Ride queue is one of the all time theme park greats. From larger than life theme park attraction posters spoofing Disney (including Captain Dinosaur’s Pirate Rip-Off: A ride so old it should be extinct!) the new clips featuring the Simpsons family (which hilariously take down subjects such as the high price of theme park food) and the two wonderful pre-shows inside the building, this is one queue you want to spend more time in, not less.
Honorable Mention: Alfred Hitchcock references in VILLAIN-CON MINION BLAST
One of the most recent additions to Universal Studios Florida is Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast. This attraction replaced Shrek 4D (you can read our love letter to the Green Ogre by CLICKING HERE.) Now, while we haven’t found any references to Shrek in Villain-Con, we have found several references to the attraction which Shrek 4D replaced – Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies.
An opening day attraction with the park, Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies gave guests a behind-the-scenes look at how some of the most iconic movies in Hollywood history were filmed. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous films was the movie Psycho. The main character of Psycho was named Norman Bates, who you can see listed as a Villain-Con presenter in the queue.
We try to avoid spoilers here in TPEI, but to be fair the movie Psycho came out in 1960 and enough time has probably passed to go over a plot point from the film. During points in the movie, the character of Norman Bates speaks in his mother’s voice and even dresses as mother, although we find out late in the film that his mother has been dead for many years. In the queue for Villain-Con Minion Blast you’ll see an advertisement for a Cosplay Contest, and in the ad there is a character in a stroller who is dressed up as Norman Bates-as-his-mother (even brandishing a knife, referencing one of the most well known horror sequences in the history of cinema.) As a bonus, you’ll also see another reference to Jaws right below!
So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Extinct Attraction Tributes at Universal Studios Florida! 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 THEME PARK ENJOYMENT INDEX, giving a monthly recap of all the theme park news you need to know (and a lot more you don’t need to know, but we’re gonna tell you anyway). You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, Digital Maestro Scott Walker, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, artist @SonderQuest, the mighty maven of merchandise Hedgehog’s Corner, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, the permit princess Alicia Stella, master cartographer Tommy Hawkins, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Absolutely no help was added by Hyper Inflation Influencer @SuperWeenieHtJr. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.