This week’s BIG 5 is the top closed attractions at Universal Studios Florida. Here are the results in descending order:
#5 – The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera
The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera was a simulator ride that included many of television’s most famous cartoon characters, including Scooby Doo, the Flintstones, Yogi Bear, and the Jetsons. The story of the ride was that Dick Dastardly and Muttley kidnapped Elroy Jetson after being told they weren’t going to be the stars of Hanna-Barbera’s next film. Yogi Bear than takes the guests in his own rocket ship, barreling through several high profile HB franchise locations (Bedrock for the Flintstones, a cemetery for Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine, etc) ending with Dastardly and Muttley being caught in the futuristic world of the Jetsons.
The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera opened in June 1990 and closed in October 2002. It was replaced by Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast and is currently the home of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem.
#4 – Star Trek: The Adventure
This was a personal favorite, something I considered to be years ahead of its time and still perfect for today’s marketplace now that digital media has exploded. In the Star Trek Adventure, two guests would “act” out a scene from Star Trek (the original series) in front of a green screen and then would be put into the scene featuring all the main characters from the popular TV show/film franchise. A similar version of this concept is being used for Disaster! A Major Motion Picture Ride… Starring You.
There was a lot of humor involved in the Star Trek: The Adventure, including a pre-show featuring Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner giving tips to the guests. The 10 minute scene could then be bought on VHS tape. It had high camp factor, had legitimately funny moments, and included a spot where the guests could name a person from back at home, making it a unique piece of merchandise to show family and friends upon returning from vacation.
Star Trek: The Adventure was part of the The Screen Test Home Video Adventure that opened in March 1991 and closed in November 1996. It was replaced by the The Islands of Adventure Preview Center.
#3 – Back to the Future: The Ride
BTTF: The Ride was a simulator in which guests would help Doc Brown chase down Biff Tannen in a new 8 passenger DeLorean. Using a remote control, Doc Brown guided the guests in Hill Valley throughout history, from a hi-tech version in 2015 all the back to the Cretaceous Period (where you encounter a T-Rex). The ride itself can be seen in a bonus disc that was included on the 2010 BTTF release on Blu-Ray.
BTTF: The Ride opened in May 1991 and closed in March 2007. It was replaced by The Simpsons Ride. In a nice touch, The Simpsons Ride pays tribute to BTTF: The Ride at several points in their attraction, including explaining how Doc Brown’s Institute of Technology fell into Krusty the Clown’s hands, which you can find out about my other blog post, Top “Hidden Mickey’s” at Universal.
#2 – Jaws
In Universal’s version of the Jungle Cruise, guests would take one of Captain Jake’s Amity Boat Tours to see some of the locations where shark attacks occurred back in 1974 and Hollywood made a movie about. However, on the trip guests are visited several times by the great white himself.
I’m personally torn about this ride. Jaws is hands down my favorite movie and I love the interaction guests would be able to have with the boat skippers. That said, the queue for this ride was like stepping into a time machine, and not in a good way. It was like being taken back to a era when entertaining people was not even in the minds of the people developing the ride. Guests would watch local “news reports” that had the budget and acting ability of a local junior high school drama class (see the video below). The attraction is famous for breaking down almost the minute it opened, leading to a lawsuit between Universal and the makers of the ride.
The original Jaws attraction opened with the park in 1990 but was retooled in 1992 to be able to work consistently with guests. Several show elements were removed including what was said to be a spectacular sequence where the shark actually bit down on your boat. The ride closed for good in January 2, 2012, and was replaced by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.
One of Universal’s signature characters is King Kong, and Kongrontation was a ride like no other. Guests loaded onto an open air tram and were driven through New York as the giant gorilla was on the loose. Riding through the destruction in an elevated train is one thing, but coming up and close to possibly the biggest animatronic figures of all time is what people left talking about. Like the Twister… Ride It Out, guests witnessed electrical sparks, water effects and fire, giving a total sensory experience. Afterwards there was even a great photo-op where a guest could take a picture as if they were in the clutches of Kong himself.
Kongfrontation was an original attraction when Universal Studios opened in 1990 and was closed in September of 2002. It was replaced by Revenge of the Mummy.
What are your top former rides? Let us know in the comments below.