Saturday, August 6, 2011

What If Disney Built Universal Studios Jurassic Park (the ride)?

In July 2005, a large contingent of my family went down for a 6 day stay at Disneyland, splitting up the cost of a 3 bedroom suite at the Disneyland Hotel. We were going to make this a trip of the ages and it was Disneyland's 50th Anniversary. We didn't have annual passes at the time so we got 5 day parkhoppers and decided to take a 1 day trip to Universal Studios Hollywood at the mid point of our trip.

This was my first and only trip to Universal Studios. I'm glad I went but I never plan to go back again. The historic tram ride was fun. At the time there was Backdraft, The Mummy, the Waterworld stunt show, Back to the Future, and other rides and attractions. Easily the best ride in the park (if you can call it a park - it's really built kind of weird) is Jurassic Park based on the Steven Spielberg films. It's a rafting water ride, that meanders through the Jurassic world of dinosaurs that caps off with an heart pounding plunge that I think is right up there with Disney's Splash Mountain and Grizzly River Run. Yes, this was Universal Studios at its best. But as I recall going through the ride, something seemed be missing. I was looking at the sets and scenery but didn't feel connected to it. It felt assembled, set up, rather than drawing you into the ride for a heightened experience. What was missing? It was the details.

Details are what Disney excels at. Think about the Jungle Cruise, cheesy as it may be. From the loading dock, to the rustic boats, to the trip around the river with your skipper, you feel part of the ride and not just a passenger. There's a connection there. Disney tries to make their park guests "connect" with some kind of emotion to most of their rides and attractions and its what makes Disneyland more than just a theme or amusement park.

What if Disney built Jurassic Park The Ride? Think about how much more detailed (and greater) it would have been. We've made numerous trips to Disneyland since 2005 and from what I can recall, other than a trip to Knott's Berry Farm to get the chicken dinner, we have never left the Disneyland Resort. It just isn't worth it. The imitators just come up too far short.

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