Dining with Jaws: An Update on the Found Mechanical Shark from the Florida Universal Jaws Ride (Updated)

Way back in February, I published a post about the discovery of a mechanical shark that was used in the Jaws ride at the Universal Orlando Resort down in Florida, a ride that was shut down back in 2012. I have received many inquiries about the shark since then, the most recent one from a blogger in Japan who writes about Universal Studios Japan (USJ). You can visit her blog, L.C.A Studios USJ, here; the posts that pertain to the found mechanical shark are here and here. (L.C.A. Studios also has content on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.)

The questions from L.C.A. Studios prompted me to follow up with John Ryan, the lucky Jaws fan who made this remarkable find, to see what else he has learned about the shark and what he has done with it. Here’s what he e-mailed to me:

"It seems we've substantiated that the shark is from the earlier version of the ride. A local county clerk search of the Maryland property where 'Jaws' was sitting showed the home was previously owned by Michael Hightower, an Oceanic Corp 'shark' engineer (and later Universal executive who sold the house in the '90s). Aerial Google archive photos of the residence show that the shark has been poolside for many years. Therefore, it is believed to be one of the original Universal Orlando sharks retired in 1990. As I have been unsuccessful in contacting Mr. Hightower so far, only he knows for sure."

As you can see from the picture above, the found Jaws ride shark is huge.

For what it's worth, I have seen footage of the Jaws ride in its original version on YouTube (check it out here). Based on that footage--and what many others who are familiar with the ride have said before--the first part of the ride (from the beginning until the suspenseful stop in Captain Quint’s Boathouse) remained largely unchanged between both versions of the ride. Thus, it could very well be that this shark was from the original version and was kept around for the second version. Nevertheless, only Michael Hightower can put this question to rest.

That said, if you want to see this surviving artifact of the Florida Jaws Ride in person, you're in luck. Ryan is working on putting the shark on display at his restaurant, 494 Chicken, which is located on 3785 Victory Boulevard in Staten Island, New York. (As you can see from the pictures below, part of the display includes giving the shark a lower jaw.) Ryan said that his shark might get a spot on an upcoming episode of the Pawn Stars TV series, but he doesn’t know for sure yet. Regardless, even though you can't take a boat ride with Jaws in Florida any more, you can have a chicken dinner with Jaws in New York. Just when you thought it was safe to order buffalo wings ....

If you look at the jacket closely, you'll see a clever nod to the original shark's last meal.

Related Products:

Jaws Bruce Shark Stainless Steel Bottle Opener Jaws Amity Island Deep Sea Charters Travel Lithograph Print Cable Bites Grey Shark Cable Accessory


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