Universal Studios launches surprise opening of Jurassic World ride
Jurassic World, the newly overhauled attraction that replaced a 23-year-old version of the ride, opened Friday at Universal Studios Hollywood with little notice and a month into the peak summer tourist season.
The replacement for the Jurassic Park ride includes new out-of-control dinosaurs and state-of-the-art technology that creates what resembles an aquarium that contains a massive Jurassic sea creature.
The original ride closed Sept. 3 for reconstruction work and in April the theme park launched an advertising campaign to promote the new ride, saying only that it would open this summer but offering no exact date.
Park representatives declined to say why Universal Studios Hollywood did not previously announce an opening date to let out-of-town fans plan a visit, as is common practice among theme parks.
“Universal Studios Hollywood worked at an accelerated pace to transform Jurassic Park to Jurassic World and always intended to open the new ride this summer. After a week of successful technical rehearsals, we decided to open the ride today,” park spokeswoman Audrey Eig said Friday.
Universal Studios Hollywood may face tough competition to win the attention of theme park fans this summer. Less than two months ago, Disneyland opened its new $1-billion expansion, the much-hyped Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Disneyland announced Thursday that the second attraction at its new Star Wars land will open Jan. 17 — after previously promising that the new Rise of the Resistance ride would launch this year.
At Universal Studios Hollywood, “technical rehearsals” of the Jurassic World ride have been ongoing for the last week, which has allowed theme park fans to ride the attraction and post videos on social media.
On social media sites, many theme park fans cheered the opening of the attraction but some expressed frustration at how long the ride has been under construction.
Industry experts say it is unusual for a theme park to open a major attraction this late into the summer and with little notice or fanfare. But they note that rushing a ride before it is ready to operate at full capacity can lead to delays and frustrated visitors.
“You want to have rides open early in spring, during the beginning of the season when the parks start to see an influx of visitors,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services.
He noted that the Universal Orlando Resort opened a roller coaster in June at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter called Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Because the ride was not quite ready for full operation, the park has been running it for only limited hours each day.
“They want to get it as properly tested as they can before they open the flood gates,” Speigel said. “I think that is the approach in the industry. Everybody is being overly cautious.”
Eig said it is not unusual for Universal Studios Hollywood to open new attractions in the midst of the busy summer season, noting that the 3D adventure attraction Fast & Furious: Supercharged opened in late June 2015.
The previous Jurassic Park attraction was a flume ride that opened in June 1996 and featured animatronic dinosaurs, some of which stood by docilely while the ride vehicle floated past. But other prehistoric creatures in the ride threatened to eat the visitors shortly before the vehicle plunged 85 feet for the attraction’s final splash.
Universal Creative, the branch of the theme park company that designs the attractions, collaborated with the visual effects firm Industrial Light & Magic to create one of the newest features of the ride: a glass enclosure filled with what appears to be 3.5 million gallons of water, holding a 60-foot-long Mosasaurus.
The technology to create the giant aquarium includes enormous high-definition screens that use motion parallax, a technique that shifts the parkgoer’s perspective of the dinosaur as the creature moves through the tank.
The ride also introduces several new dinosaurs that were featured in the 2015 “Jurassic World” film, which has drawn nearly $1.7 billion in gross revenue.
Adjacent to the ride, the theme park added a new Raptor Encounter area where visitors can meet Blue, a somewhat friendly 12-foot tall Velociraptor, featured in the 2015 movie. Nearby, visitors can also meet face-to-face with a life-sized triceratops and a baby raptor in the arms of her handler.
To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.
Your guide to our new economic reality.
Get our free business newsletter for insights and tips for getting by.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.