Back to the Future: The Ride
is a simulator ride based on the film trilogy
by Universal Studios
and produced by Steven Spielberg
You and seven other people have offered to volunteer at the Institute of Future Technology for Dr. Emmett Brown's Time Travel
experiment in his new eight-passenger DeLorean
. The original plan
was to send the eight of you one day in the future. Doc contact you through his hover-cam, as he is back in the year 2015, presumably a few hours before Doc and Marty showed up in Part II
of the films. He knows that, somehow, Biff has gone missing from the year 1955, but has no idea of where or when
Shortly after Doc returns to the present, we learn that, when some of Doc's IFT assistants were working on a time travel experiment in 1955, Biff must've stowed away to the future. Doc tries to stop him, but unfortunately, Biff managed to trap Doc in his own office.
As Doc is unable to leave his office, he decides to enlist his eight volunteers (of which you are a part of) to capture Biff and stop him by bumping into the car that Biff is in. He is able to use his remote control, though to guide you along. Biff makes his first stop in October 25 of 2015, as he leads you on a chase through Hill Valley causing you to crash into some signs. Biff then goes back by about a million years, during one of the ice ages. He tries to stop you by breaking the ice pieces and manages to succeed, momentarily. Finally, Biff goes back by a few more million years, during the time of the dinosaurs. Biff tries to sic the dinosaurs on you, but it manages to backfire on him. The same dinosaur then swallows the car that you're in, but quickly spits you back out, even as Biff is now pleading for you and Doc to rescue him. Finally, you manage to bump Biff which brings both cars back to the present.
Also shown during the lobby monitor are two short films:
- "Doc on the March" shows the journey's of Doc throughout time. First, he witness a speech given by Thomas Edison and even gets a signed light bulb from him. Then he goes to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina where he witness the first flight of brothers Wilbur or Orville Wright. He then shows up for Albert Einstein's speech on the theory of relativity and even brings his dog, named after the scientist, along. Then he shows up at a press conference for Richard Nixon inauguration speech, and looks tempted to change history. Finally, he shows up for The Beatles first appearance in the United States and takes a picture of them.
- "Doc Brown: The Inventive Years" shows some of Doc's early inventions. First, there is a quick shot of a toaster where you put in toast on one side and then it comes out the other side. Then we see a failed invention. Then we see the flap jack maker that can make 300 pancakes an hour, but the experimental sawdust batter kept it from being a success. Then we see the canine cafeteria, where pet owner can fill up a dog's food dish and then close it, until feeding time. Then we see the static-o-matic which causes the hair to stand up on end, to make for easier cutting. Doc reveals that he's been using it for years, and proudly shows off his hair. Finally, we see the bronze gun, which can turn various items to bronze.
The ride opened at Universal Studios Florida in 1991 and at Universal Studios Hollywood in 1993. Raved as an instant classic upon it's release, the ride became a major staple for both parks for years, until it was sadly and unexpectedly decommissioned in 2007 to make way for the The Simpsons Ride
. As a nice Shout-Out
to their predecessor, though, Doc Brown appears in the Simpsons
lobby monitor, in a short animation where Professor Frink's own time meddling accidentally causes Doc to sell the Institute to Krusty the Klown. Currently, the only incarnation of the attraction that is still operating today is at Universal Studios Japan, which opened in 2001 and has no plans for closure at this time.
A few years later, to rectify it's untimely closure, Universal made the ride videos available to own, on a 2-Disc DVD of the first Back to the Future
. The Blu-Ray of Back to the Future Part III
later included these as well. Fans who own both the Blu-Ray and a D-Box motion chair can recreate the ride in their own homes.
Tropes shown in the simulator ride include:
- Alternate Continuity: The ride is set in a continuity where Doc Brown has more faith in time travel and reveals his inventions to the world, eventually becoming a huge company known as the "Institute of Future Technology".
- Amusing Injuries: These happen to the "crash dummies" in the pre-ride safety check.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Some of Doc's future technology and inventions.
- Artistic License - Paleontology: The size of the Tyrannosaurus is greatly exaggerated. In reality, the DeLorean would be twice the length and width of a Tyrannosaurus' head.
- Big Bad: Biff, who else?
- Climactic Volcano Backdrop: The climax of the ride is set around a volcano in the prehistoric Hill Valley.
- Continuity Nod: Countless artifacts and references of Doc Brown's previous adventures are found all throughout the attraction.
- Continuity Snarl: The original DeLorean Time Machine makes an appearance sitting in Doc's garage and seems to be in mint condition notwithstanding being destroyed by a freight train at the end of Part III. Although it might be possible he simply rebuilt one.
- The Clock Tower seems to be working, even though it was still broken as of October 21st, 2015 in Part II. The ride, however, takes guests 4 days later to October 25th, 2015. Whether or not it may have been "repaired in four days" is up to you.
- Convection Schmonvection: Both DeLoreans are literally flying right above lava, with no consequences arising from this.
- Demoted to Extra: Marty's appearance in the ride is limited to just some very brief (archive footage) clips in the queue line video. Justified as Michael J. Fox wasn't interested in reprising his role.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Some of the graphical widgets seen in the Animated Series make their debut here.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: We get to see the primeval Hill Valley in the ride's finale, which includes a Tyrannosaurus that threatens both vehicles.
- Expanded Universe: Doc now has his own major research and development facility, plus we get to see more of Hill Valley in different eras. The ride serves as an unofficial "mini-sequel" to the film trilogy that you, the guest, could now be a major part of.
- Field Trip to the Past: In "Doc on the March", Doc was visiting various historical moments throughout time — and gets to meet the historical people.
- Follow That Car: On a temporal scale. The ride's premise puts guests in pursuit of Biff joyriding in Doc's DeLorean and having to do some minor Car Fu in order to return to the present.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: For the theme park environment, Doc's "Damn. Damn damn!" is changed to "Darn. Darn darn!" in the queue video when Biff cuts the power.
- Insecurity Camera: Biff Tannen spray paints over one camera lens and punches out another one during the set-up queue video.
- Lava Adds Awesome: The finale has the time machines being surrounded by lava, even going down a "lava-fall".
- Mad Scientist Laboratory: The Institute of Future Technology.
- Mythology Gag:
- Never the Selves Shall Meet: Doc warns the audience to not communicate with their other selves since "they came back just before their other selves boarded the car".
- Portal to the Past: Doc's sub-ether hover-cam allows him to directly communicate with people from another time period.
- Raygun Gothic/Zeerust: The architecture of 2015 Hill Valley.
- Retraux: "Doc on the March" was done in the style of an old newsreel, with Doc inserted into various footage Forrest Gump style. See him get an autograph from Thomas Edison! Watch him get a photo of The Beatles! Witness him resisting the urge to bump off Richard Nixon!
- Sexy Secretary: Heather; the cute, blonde IFT receptionist/hostess played by actress Darlene Vogel who also played Spike, the Dark Chick in Griff's 2015 gang in BTTF Part II.
- Snowy Screen of Death: When Biff punches out the lens of one of the security cameras, this is the result.
- Swallowed Whole: The DeLorean by the Tyrannosaurus, but it spits it out soon after.
- "It's a blast from the past, present, and future!"
- "It's the greatest ride of all time!"
- Temporal Sickness: Doc suggests that travelling more than one day into the future can be hard on your system.
- Terminator Twosome: Doc send his volunteers back (and forward) in time to prevent Biff from messing up the timeline.
- Time Travel: Just like the films, what the ride's story revolves around.
- Time Travel for Fun and Profit: Biff attempts to use time travel for this, as his older self did in Part II of the film series. Admittedly, this may also the motive of Doc and his time travel associates at the IFT — but are just more cautious about it.
- Title: The Adaptation
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: Almost literally; a 20-25 minute wait in line until you travel to the year 2015 and so on.
- Villainous Breakdown/Villains Want Mercy: Throughout the ride, Biff's his usual over-zealous Jerkass self, but once his DeLorean runs out of power while heading toward a volcanic waterfall (lava-fall?), he frantically panics and begs for Doc's help.