Friday, June 7, 2013

The Universal Studios Jaws Ride Lives on at the Amity Boat Tours Site



Fans of Jaws and its subsequent franchise were crushed when the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida decided to close its Jaws ride back in January 2012. Yet while this piece of Jaws history is gone, it is far from forgotten. The folks behind the Amity Boat Tours Web site, a site that has been around for 13 years, are updating the site into the "Finale Edition" that will serve as an archive for all things concerning the Jaws ride.

According to the site, "(T)he Finale Edition of AmityBoatTours.com celebrates the life, and community of the JAWS World -- from the honorary JAWS Skippers to the Summer vacationers of Amity, this site was built and designed for you. We have received many questions and concerns that the site will close, and grow old, now that the attraction is gone. Quite the contrary has occurred. We have been working, since weeks before the announcement of its closure, to begin crafting a brand-new way to bring Amity Harbor to you and something that we can walk away from proud and dedicated to. The Finale Edition of the site is just that... we are extremely proud to bring this new experience to you, as well as 'bulk-up' the AmityBoatTours.com world."


A bird's-eye view of the Orlando Jaws ride. You can see the most of the places 
where the shark surfaces to terrorize theme park visitors.


I've been looking around the updated site and it appears to be on track (no pun intended) to becoming the definitive resource for anyone who is interested in the Jaws ride and its history. The Finale Edition site features a detailed history of the ride, plenty of trivia and photos, and video clips of the fictitious Amity TV station WJWS that would play on monitors in the ride pavilion to keep visitors entertained while they waited in line. The site also features photos of a similar Jaws ride that still operates in the Universal Studios theme park in Japan.

In honor of the revamped Amity Boat Tours site, I'm posting two Jaws ride video clips that I found on YouTube that are different from most others that are available on the Internet. The first is a video of the ride in anaglyph 3D (think of it as the other "Jaws 3D") and a video from 1990 that will give you an idea of how the ride functioned as it was originally designed Ride and Show Engineering, Inc. In this version, the shark would attack the tour boat and spin it to the side, shortly before the final confrontation between the shark and the boat's "Skipper". As you can see in the video, the shark that was supposed to attack the boat wasn't very convincing; however, the shark that surfaces in the boathouse (at about three minutes into the video) is very impressive with its thrashing head and snapping mouth. The ride was redesigned and re-launched in 1993 due to repeated technical problems, but it's a shame that Universal didn't keep the original boathouse shark.






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