Universal Studios Florida
(June 7, 1990 - January 2, 2012)
History and photos of the former Jaws boat ride in the Amity section of Universal Studios Florida.
What began as a frightening scene on the Studio Tram Tour ride at Universal Studios Hollywood became an independent attraction for the new Universal Studios Florida theme park.
On June 7, 1990, the Jaws boat ride opened in Amity with the rest of Universal Studios Florida. Like Kongfrontation and Earthquake, the original version of Jaws was plagued with technical problems and would only be open off-and-on for the first couple of months. And then in a move that surprised many people, Jaws was closed for an extensive refurbishment that would include changing a few scenes and rebuilding the ride from scratch.
The "official" version of Jaws opened in the spring of 1993 to much fanfare.
The Jaws attraction began with walking past a large great white shark hanging from a wooden stand. It's a scary reminder of the real predators that prowl the ocean's waters. It also served as a great place to pose for a souvenir photograph.
The line queue begins upon entering the Captain Jake's Amity Boat Tours building. The story behind Captain Jake's Amity Boat Tours is that back in 1974, Police Chief Brody, marine biologist Matt Hooper and experienced fisherman Quint set out to kill a massive great white shark that was terrorizing the islanders. Chief Brody was ultimately able to kill the shark and Steven Spielberg decided to turn the story into the 1975 blockbuster, Jaws. Unfortunately from the success of the movie, tourism on Amity Island shrunk because of the fear of sharks. Amity sailor Jake Grundy decided to capitalize on this and create a boat tour which took guests to the famous spots depicted in the movie. Captain Jake's idea worked and tourists returned to Amity Island.
Entering Captain Jake's Amity Boat Tours, we go through a series of boathouses full of fishing gear, nautical supplies, and even an artifact or two from the shark incident back in '74. Overhead television monitors play the WJWS13 local television network. The main show on the network is a low-budget talk show called "Hey There, Amity!" At the end of the line queue the riders are assigned a row and then board one of Captain Jake's tour boats.
The Jaws ride begins with a tour through Amity Harbor. Along the way the tour guide points out various sights including the home of police chief Martin Brody, the man who defeated the great white shark depicted in the movie Jaws. As we approach the lighthouse there's a distress call on the radio. It sounds like another tour boat, Amity 3, is sinking close to our position. We circle around the lighthouse and see an eerie sight as the tour boat sinks. There aren't any signs of survivors. What could have caused the terrible boat accident?
A massive shark is spotted off to the left side of the boat. It swims underneath us and we feel its dorsal fin hit the bottom of the boat. The shark reappears off to the far right and the tour guide tries to fire a grenade at the shark. The guide misses and the shark swims away. The tour guide drives the boat into a boathouse. Hopefully it'll protect us until help arrives.
The inside of the boathouse is a dark and creepy place. Suddenly the shark hits the wall, knocking stuff into the water. The guide tries to start the engine and get us out of there, but the engine won't start. The guide keeps trying and trying until the engine finally catches and roars to life. Just as the engine starts, the shark bursts through the wall and makes a close pass on the right side of the boat, scaring those riders.
Outside the boathouse, we find ourselves next to a fuel station. The shark makes a sudden appearance on the left side of the boat and the guide fires another grenade at it. Unfortunately, the grenade misses the shark and instead ignites fuel at the station. There's a towering fireball that makes riders back away from the intense heat. A second explosion follows and fire creeps across the water, blocking our exit. Our guide tells us we have to chance it, so we ride forward and cross the small wall of flames just as they're extinguishing.
Chief Brody finally answers our guide's calls for help on the radio and says he'll be there in ten minutes. That'll be nine minutes too late the way this shark keeps attacking us. There must be a way for us to escape from the menace from the deep.
Up ahead is an old boat dock right next to a power cable that supplies power to Amity Island. The tour guide begins telling us the unload procedure, making sure to warn us about the power line. But we don't get the chance to leave the boat. Just as we arrive at the dock the shark swims up and attacks the left side of the boat. The shark snags the power cable in its open mouth and accidentally electrocutes itself just like in Jaws 2. Its remains slip beneath the waves as we slowly move forward.
The charred remains of the shark float to the top of the water and drift close to the boat. As we lean forward to see the disgusting sight the shark suddenly attacks. The guide fires one last grenade and finally kills the shark. The tour guide makes a radio call exclaiming our victory as we ride forward to the unloading station. As we disembark, the tour guide asks us to keep this shark incident to ourselves. If word leaked out that there was another big shark around Amity Island, the tourists would never return.
This was the version of Jaws that the vast majority of guests were able to experience. It operated from 1993 to the end of 2011. But for the first few months of operation in 1990, there was a slightly different version of Jaws in the theme park. The fuel station explosion scene after the boathouse originally had the shark grab the boat with its mouth and turn the boat 180 degrees. After that the ride ended with the tour guide firing a grenade into and killing the shark in a bloody explosion, similar to the ending of Jaws.
Jaws closed for good along with Amity on January 2, 2012. The entire area has been demolished to make way for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley.
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