Published 12:48 p.m. UTC Sep 5, 2018
HOLLYWOOD – T-Rex, old girl, it's been a wild ride.
For more than two decades, I've been a fan of the "Jurassic Park" ride at Universal Studios. The water attraction, which first opened in 1996 in Hollywood, has everything: gigantic animatronics, lush vegetation, mood lighting, a substantial drop, cool-off splashes, John Williams music and, most importantly, a seriously scary carnivore that looks as though she's about to bite your head off.
In a time when many rides have 3-D elements, often nauseatingly so, this practical-effect driven flume is a classic. It's my favorite. And that's why I joined hundreds of fans in "Jurassic Park" T-shirts, many of whom waited for more than two-and-a-half hours in line, to take a final spin on the attraction on Monday. (The ride remains open in Orlando and Osaka.) The closed attraction becomes the "Jurassic World Ride" in Hollywood, inspired by the new movies, in 2019.
On the last day to ride "Jurassic," many guests waiting to get on the ride boats were 20-30-somethings like me. One posted a video to Snapchat from the queue with the text: "Part of my childhood is over #jurassicpark #extinct." Another started a "10 more years" chant as his raft pulled in. Someone near me let out a huge sigh: "Awwwwww!"
But the teenagers seated next to me weren't quite as emotional exiting their raft. They'd never seen the "old" movies. What they knew of the dinosaur franchise has more Chris Pratt and visual effects, but less heart.
The new "Jurassic World" ride promises to be more like the "Jurassic" they know. In a press release, Universal calls the "Jurassic World Ride" an "all-new technologically-advanced epic adventure."
For someone who's more devoted to Spielberg's original animatronics-heavy movie than the reboots, the renovation is a sad milestone.
Then again, when I bid adieu to my prehistoric friends on Monday night, they were a little off. For example: The Parasaurolophus didn't emerge from underwater like she used to, an Ultrasaurus' neck didn't seem quite as flexible as it once was, a falling Jeep didn't come close to threatening our raft like it's supposed to and no panicked security guard warned us over an intercom that we needed to evacuate.
But Blue the Velociraptor was delightful. The dinosaur made famous in the new "Jurassic World" films was added this summer to Universal Hollywood's "Raptor Encounter," next to the "Jurassic" ride. In the attraction, a handler wrangles the believably aggressive Blue (played by an actor with great sound effects) so that she can take photos with guests. I hung around to experience the "Raptor Encounter" a second time, and even waited in line to take a photo with the adorable, frightened carnivore. She pleased adults, children and even a baby who offered Blue a blue lollipop.
Maybe I can get behind this new "World."
More: 'Jurassic Park' ride going extinct at Universal Studios Hollywood as new ‘World’ beckons