This week’s SATURDAY SIX steps inside Universal Studios Florida’s latest Tribute Store: The Making of Jurassic Park. 30 years ago this weekend, the original Jurassic Park was released in movie theaters and became an instant phenomenon the likes of which you just don’t see in today’s pop culture. There are movies today like Avengers: Endgame, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Top Gun: Maverick that are huge, no doubt, but none have anywhere near the worldwide dominance that Jurassic Park had. Yes, everyone saw the movie, but the Jurassic Park brand was also *everywhere* else you went too (with merchandise for both kids and adults) along with the iconic film being referenced and/or ripped off by countless other tv shows and movies. Jurassic Park was a cultural touchstone, and even included a line that brings a smile to any theme park fan…
All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked!” – John Hammond
“Yeah, but, John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.” – Dr. Ian Malcolm
The easy thing for Universal to do would just make a “Jurassic Park Tribute Store,” throw a couple movie props in and call it a day. But as we’ve seen with recent Tribute Stores from this amazing creative team, they always go the extra mile. This Tribute Store is themed to The Making of Jurassic Park and gives guests a fascinating look at the process in which this film was made. I would also make the case that this store is paying tribute to the very core of what Universal Studios Florida was when it was created back in the early 1990s, a theme park giving guests a look “backstage” at how movies and TV shows were made.
# 6 – The Making of Jurassic Park
Welcome to Jurassic Park.” – John Hammond
The theme of this tribute store is guests walking through the production areas of Jurassic Park. You’ll see departments from pre-production to post-production to get an idea of the monumental effort it takes to put a movie like Jurassic Park together outside of just filming it.
Right away you’ll be drawn to the elements which were used by filmmakers when designing the movie’s show stopping predator, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Thanks to advancements in computer graphics, we take for granted that almost everything looks real in today’s movies. That wasn’t the case back in the early 1990s when Jurassic Park came out, and thanks to the amazing collaboration between physical prop maker Stan Winston Studios and digital work from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) seeing actual dinosaurs was believable. While you’ll be immediately drawn to the larger-than-life T-Rex designs, throughout the room you will see original storyboards, concept art, blueprints, and more documenting the process of getting from the script to the screen.
You could spend an entire day just going over all the documentation in the room, it is pretty amazing.
These are actual props that have been scanned in and recreated, so we are seeing exactly what the filmmakers saw back during the early 1990s. Take this weather notice alert below, letting the production crew knew about a possible hurricane. It mentions “Jurasic” Park, with a typo. That typo is there because that’s exactly how the memo went out 30 years ago.
Like the movie Jurassic Park, throughout the store there is a bit of whimsy, including on Post-It Notes.
You’ll also see a brilliant recreation of a stop motion animation department, showing us how the Jurassic Park team would visualize an effect. For theme park fans, this is very similar to the scale models of attractions and theme park lands we have seen in documentaries such as The Imagineering Story on Disney+.
One of the most memorable scenes in movie history, laid out in front of our eyes.
There are details peppered around the room, each with a backstory. For example, near one desk you’ll see a movie poster for Pyscho II hanging on the wall. Why is it there? Well, if you look at the various pictures in this room that were taken back in the early 1990s, you will see this very poster on the wall of a CGI artist work area. ILM did the CGI for both Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park, so many artists worked on both films.
The second and third rooms are where guests will find some pretty incredible photo-op areas of locations recreated from the movie (we’ll get to those later), but also see some amazing replicas of props used in the films.
What kid didn’t want one of these after seeing the film?!
Overall the “production” part of the Tribute Store is a Must See for any fan of Jurassic Park or anyone who is interested in the process of movie making. As consumers, we often gloss over how much work goes into creating the things that we love, and this Tribute Store shows exactly how many brilliant people worked together to create something magical.
# 5 – Nostalgia
You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now [bangs on the table] you’re selling it, you wanna sell it.” – Dr. Ian Malcolm
The very final room of the store takes us through what can be called a Jurassic Park Merchandise Museum. I like theme park merchandise. I think you know I like theme park merchandise. So you can imagine, THIS was the highlight of the entire Tribute Store for me personally. What a tremendous look of items I remember having, but also a look at so many things I never knew existed!
I remember getting on my bike and peddling over to Ye Olde Comic Book Store and buying these Jurassic Park comic books (because, as many longtime SAT SIX readers know, I love comic books even more than I love theme parks or movies.)
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it’s impossible to understand if you only know today’s movies of what something like Jurassic Park was like back in the day. The film was all encompassing and everywhere you went you saw something related to the movie. In my lifetime I would put Batman (1989), Jurassic Park, and Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace on a tier that other movies can’t touch. Sure there were many incredible popular movies, including Titanic, Avatar, the MCU, Lord of the Rings, the Matrix and more, but none completely took over all of pop culture like those three.
JURASSIC PARK POGS!!!!!!
This display for the Jurassic Park VHS tape brought back some core memories.
# 4 – The Merchandise
We’re gonna make a fortune with this place.” — Donald Gennaro, Jurassic Park
As a reminder, the Tribute Stores at Universal exists for one reason…to sell stuff. I’ve been blown away recently by several brands going above and beyond when it comes to merchandise when I thought the well had been tapped dry. Disney has done a great job creating new Star Wars merchandise for Galaxy’s Edge and the Starcruiser (RIP), Universal with Super Nintendo World items, and now Universal again with a whole bunch of new Jurassic Park related merchandise.
Reminder for those of you who can’t get to the parks, the Mighty Maven of Merchandise – Hedgehogs Corner – has a personal shopping service that can get you any item you need.
Need to think of how I can creatively write-off that signed open shirt Ian Malcom photo on an expense report to TouringPlans’ own Len Testa.
Speaking of open shirt Ian Malcom merchandise, a while back Universal started selling Jurassic Park “cute plush” and Dr. Malcolm now has his own version. Have to tell you I didn’t see that coming.
Open Shirt Malcolm is also the chaser for the Jurassic Park 30th Anniversary mystery pin collection.
The collectible medallion designs are On Point.
Of course, my favorite merchandise will be found at the stores two Mold-A-Matic machines.
Just a heads-up, they also recently installed a Mold-A-Matic machine over in Jurassic Park at Islands of Adventure in the Discovery Center. This design features a raptor coming out of its egg (another memorable moment from the original Jurassic Park film.)
# 5 – The Snacks
So, who’s hungry?” — John Hammond, Jurassic Park
A staple of every Tribute Store is the snack case, loaded up with themed goodies. The Jurassic Park treats have been flying off the shelves with “Rumors and Innuendo” reporting that this Tribute Store is the most popular that Universal has done to date, outselling all other Tribute Stores including those dedicated to Halloween Horror Nights, Christmas, and Mardi Gras.
Hard not to imagine tremendous sales though when you are selling a brownie featuring an open shirt Ian Malcolm.
Dino Chow (roasted glazed nuts) have been available at Universal Orlando for a couple years, making their debut at the Jurassic World Tribute Store back in 2021. The new versions are branded with the Jurassic Park 30th Anniversary logo.
We’re going to take a quick step out of the Tribute Store and head on over to Islands of Adventure again where some new Jurassic Park themed eats made their debut as well, including this amazing Prehistoric Wing Platter at Thunder Falls Terrace. This is legit one of the best food items in the park and worth going out of your way for.
That means they only eat vegetables, but for you, I think they’d make an exception.” — Tim, Jurassic Park
The Natural Selections food cart is offering the Coconut Cajeta Churro. Not as big of a homerun as the chicken wings, but always nice to have alternate flavors of churros (my personal favorite theme park snack.)
At the Watering Hole in Jurassic Park you can get a new Nublar Libre drink served in an E-Ticket souvenir cup. This is a limited edition of 5,000. The Nublar Libre is made with spiced rum, lime, grapefruit, vanilla bean, passion fruit puree, cinnamon syrup, and Colombian soda.
There is also a new Coke Freestyle cup available with the Jurassic Park 30th Anniversary logo.
There are also two exclusive Fanta flavors.
# 2 – The Photo Ops
You did it. You crazy son of a b*tch, you did it.” — Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park
With Instagram and other social media being more popular than ever, photo-ops are becoming just as important to a “theme park experience” as rides, shows, and parade. This Tribute Store delivers in a major way, including letting guests take a shot with the iconic Jurassic Park gate.
We mentioned earlier that two rooms are dedicated to elaborate set recreations, and one of them is with a raptor (who in the movie was chasing after the kids, Tim and Lex.)
The details in this room are spot on.
Another amazing set featuring the T-Rex breaking into a bathroom. In the movie Jurassic Park, this was a macabre scene sort of played for laughs because the character in the bathroom – who was soon eaten by the T-rex – was the one character that no one liked, “the bloody lawyer.” – John Hammond
There have been some awesome photos posted of people having a lot of fun with this photo-op.
The SAT SIX’s own Megan Stump…
I mean, c’mon, how GREAT is this?!!!
Nearby there is also a wonderful photo-op available with a Dilophosaurus.
Hello, nice boy. Uh, nice boy. Nice dinosaur. I thought you were one of your big brothers, you’re not so bad. You’re not so bad” – Dennis Nedry
Another photo op area involves the maintenance shed at Jurassic Park where the characters needed to turn the power of the island off, which led to a surprise raptor attack.
Clever Girl.” – Robert Muldoon, Jurassic Park
One more photo-op takes place outside the store, where a gigantic Triceratops is laying outside.
This was a particularly memorable moment in the movie because – instead of just giving us everything at once like most of today’s films do – Jurassic Park teased us seeing these dinosaurs on screen up close until the characters interacted with the sick Triceratops.
The Triceratops is actually on loan to Universal from Give Kids the World, which you can read about in this article from WDWNT. The small touch of having the purple lilac flowers nearby the Triceratops is ::chef’s kiss:: to a Jurassic Park fan like myself.
# 1 – Easter Eggs
Hold on to your butts.” – Ray Arnold
As is tradition, the Tribute Store is filled with great Easter Eggs for not just fans of Jurassic Park, but also theme park fans and those who have been going to all the Tribute Stores created over the past few years. The book below, Dinosaur Detectives – written by Dr. Alan Grant – is the book Tim is holding when they come across the sick Triceratops. This was a fictional book created for Jurassic Park.
We’re about to get a bit meta, as Dinosaur Detectives was modeled after the real book Digging Dinosaurs by archeologist John Horner. Mr Horner was also a consultant on the movie.
Keep your eyes open for an Earl the Squirrel reference…
…as well as Gerg the llama, who has made many appearances in various Tribute Stores over the years.
It wouldn’t shock me at all to see a piece of Gerg merchandise be available to purchase in a Tribute Store sooner rather than later.
Loving the new Easter Eggs that are actual Easter Eggs. That’s gotta bring a smile to anyone’s face who is looking intently for stuff like this.
However my favorite Easter Egg may be next to this clay model of a T-Rex. Look closely and you’ll see another creature standing next to the dinosaur…
…that’s right, we have E.T. himself (itself?) Steven Spielberg directed both Jurassic Park and E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.
Remind me to thank John for a lovely weekend.”— Dr. Ian Malcolm
So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Universal’s JURASSIC PARK Tribute Store! 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 SeaWorld 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.