Come with us now to a time before man
When the river flowed through a new born world
And giants walked the earth
Welcome to Jurassic Park.
Jurassic Park River Adventure, or Jurassic Park: The Ride, as it is also known, is a boat-based attraction at all of the Universal Studios parks. It is a spin-off of the Jurassic Park films, with its premise revolving around being given a boat tour of a now-completed Jurassic Park and first seeing herbivorous dinosaurs like Ultrasaurus and Stegosaurus. Things then go awry when the boat is knocked off course and into an off-limits zone, where the carnivorous dinosaurs have now escaped into. The riders are then sent face to face with the likes of the Dilophosaurus and Velociraptor before just narrowly escaping the jaws of a hungry Tyrannosaurus and then plummeting down an 85 ft drop to safety.
The ride first began development very early on, with it already being on the drawing board 18 months before the first film was released into theaters; concept art of it even appears in the background of one scene in the movie itself. The reason for its early development was simply that Steven Spielberg and the park's management could see its theme park potential straight away.
After the hurdles of figuring out how to design working and realistic-looking dinosaur animatronics for the attraction were worked through, the ride finally opened at Universal Studios Hollywood on June 21, 1996; with Spielberg and some of the movie's cast (Jeff Goldblum, Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello) being in attendance for the grand opening.
Plans to duplicate the ride for the Florida park were immediately put into action, with the initial plans to have the ride being located right next to Back to the Future: The Ride, until it was later decided that Jurassic Park was a big enough franchise to warrant its own dedicated area. It would be made into one of the several "islands" at the location's new park, Islands of Adventure. For a while, plans to duplicate the ride to Florida were thrown off the table altogether, and instead the Jurassic Park area would contain a "Jeep Safari" ride inspired by the movie, as well as a "Helicoptour" simulator attraction. Budget constrictions resulted in the idea of duplicating Hollywood's ride being revisited, albeit with a few changes made to it. The ride at last opened in Florida the same time the Islands of Adventure park did, on May 28, 1999.
A third version, which for the most part is a near-exact replica of Florida's version of the ride, opened with Universal Studios Japan on March 31, 2001, the park also containing a (slightly downsized) Jurassic Park area.
An alternate raft-ride version of the attraction that nonetheless shares the same story with the others, opened with Universal Studios Singapore on May 28, 2011, under the name Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure.
The Hollywood version of the ride closed on September 3, 2018 to be re-themed around Jurassic World, which is set to open in 2019. It will still be a raft ride. It is currently unknown whether or not the other iterations of the ride will follow suit.
Jurassic Park River Adventure provides examples of the following tropes:
- Abandoned Area: The raptor containment area was left empty due to a breakout, and it just so happens to the be the area that the riders are sent right into.
- Adaptation Expansion: When the ride was cloned to Florida, it received an entire Jurassic Park area to go along with it. The Japan and Singapore parks too received their own Jurassic Park areas, but on a much smaller scale.
- Adapted Out: Singapore's Rapids Adventure has a much more minimal cast of dinosaurs, omitting Ultrasaurus, Psittacosaurus, and Compsognathus.
- Air-Vent Passageway: In Hollywood's version, a Velociraptor pops out at the riders from one.
- Alternate Continuity: In this continuity, John Hammond decided to take a second shot at building the park after the Nublar disaster.
- Amusement Park of Doom: As usual with Jurassic Park, things go wrong real fast.
- Artistic License Paleontology: Ultrasaurus (real name Supersaurus and should be a diplodocid rather than a brachiosaurid) is shown bending its neck in a way that would be impossible for a real life sauropod.
- Bloodless Carnage:
- There's a wrecked car as well as a wrecked boat with either a Dilophosaurus or a Compsognathus pair on it...and yet there's no blood to be seen.
- Averted during Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights, when they re-name the ride Jurassic Park - In The Dark and add in a scene showing Velociraptors ripping JP scientists to pieces, with blood and gore all over the place.
- Butt-Monkey: You become this during the ride, as what was supposed to be a relaxing tour of Jurassic Park turns disastrous for you as you find yourself coming face to face with all of the park's deadliest carnivores.
- Catastrophic Countdown: Just before the final encounter with the T-Rex in Hollywood, a voice states that toxic gases are present in the building, and that life-support systems will terminate in 15 seconds. Of course, the riders plummet down when the countdown reaches 1.
- Covers Always Lie: One of the ride's promo images (which is used as the page image) features these:
- The T-Rex appearing before the riders not that far ahead from the opening gates. It doesn't show up until near the end of the ride.
- Several Pteranodons flying in the background, even though they make no appearance in the ride.
- A Day in the Limelight: The Parasaurolophus, a dinosaur that has been mostly limited to being in the background in the films, plays a pivotal role in the attraction, as one of them bumps the boat off course and into the restricted area; unintentionally being the cause of all the mayhem the riders endure.
- Deus ex Machina: It's you and a boat full of riders up against a ferocious Tyrannosaurus that's moving in to get its meal. What saves you? A conveniently placed exit out of the building in the form of a waterfall.
- Early-Bird Cameo: The Stegosaurus and Compsognathus first appeared in this ride a year before The Lost World: Jurassic Park came out.
- Easter Egg: In Hollywood's version, you can see Nedry's Barbasol can amongst the rocks when you're reapproaching the station.
- In Hollywood's version, at Stegosaur Springs you can see two clearly-carnivorous Compsognathuses fighting over a box of popcorn, showing that the animals of the park are not as well contained as you would think...
- In Florida's version, the queue line video mentions that the carnivore portions of the tour will not be operational today, again leading you to think that something wrong is afoot.
- Halloween Episode: During Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, the ride is given some minor alterations, changing it to Jurassic Park - In The Dark - where all the lighting in it is turned down and the finale of the ride plays Welcome to the Jungle.
- Jump Scare:
- In Florida and Japan's versions, the raptor crate almost falling onto the riders.
- The Velociraptors themselves provide this, at least to the first-time rider.
- Even the second Stegosaurus popping out of nowhere can catch some people off-guard.
- Just in Time: In Hollywood, the riders plummet out of the building when the aforementioned countdown reaches 1.
- Killed Offscreen: There's a few implications that people were killed in the off-limits zone earlier.
- In Hollywood's version, a ruined tour boat can be seen, with a Dilophosaurus chewing on a poncho.
- In Florida and Japan's versions, a pair of Compsognathus are seen chewing on a torn shirt.
- Mood Whiplash: You go from looking at the awe-inspiring herbivorous dinosaurs to cowering in terror from the carnivorous dinosaurs that are out to eat you all within a span of ten minutes.
- Night-Vision Goggles: Not used, but are on display in Florida's queue line.
- Ominous Fog: In Florida and Japan, there's at first nothing but fog before the final drop, but then out emerges the T. rex...
- Our Founder: At the entrance of Japan's version, there's a statue of John Hammond holding up a small dinosaur for a child to pet.
- Recycled Soundtrack: In the Japan version, music from the The Mummy is played during the Velociraptor scene.
- Role Reprisal:
- Richard Attenborough reprises his role as John Hammond in the queue videos for Hollywood's version and again for Florida's version, the latter of which would be his final performance of the character.
- For Hollywood's version, Richard Kiley returns as the tour narrator from the first film. They spared no expense.
- Rule of Scary / Rule of Cool: How the heck did a massive Tyrannosaurus like that make it to the top of such a tall building? Doesn't matter, because it makes for such a epic finale.
- Seldom-Seen Species: Ultrasaurus and Psittacosaurus are among the dinosaurs in the ride.
- Shout-Out: The Halloween Horror Nights makeover for Hollywood's version is titled Jurassic Park - In The Dark, a reference to the lyrics, "Jurassic Park is frightening in the dark!", from Weird Al's Jurassic Park song.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Even though it only appears in one scene, the Parasaurolophus ends up launching the whole conflict of the ride when it knocks the guests off course.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The majestic Jurassic Park theme plays as the boat reaches the exit...after you just narrowly escaped being ripped apart and eaten by dinosaurs.
- Stock Footage: The queue video makes use of using clips from the first and second films throughout.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: This ride replaces Brachiosaurus with Ultrasaurus, a similarly massive long-necked dinosaur. In Hollywood's version of the ride, they even make the same noises that the Brachiosaurus makes in the first film.
- Take That!
- In Hollywood, the aforementioned wrecked boat has a pair of Mickey Mouse ears floating beside it...that have the name "Eisner" engraved on it.
- The pre-show video playing in the queue line claims that Jurassic Park's creator John Hammond wishes us to remember "that it was all started by a mosquito", mocking Walt Disney's famous line "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing: That it was all started by a mouse."
- Title: The Adaptation: As previously mentioned, the attraction is called Jurassic Park: The Ride in Hollywood and Japan.
- Understatement: It's mentioned in the queue video that the Nublar park was postponed and later abandoned due to "unforeseen complications".
- Updated Re Release:
- In 2007, several new water features were added into Hollywood's version, most notably including an additional Dilophosaurus animatronic.
- The Hollywood ride is currently receiving a massive overhaul that will transform it into a Jurassic World ride. The new version is slated to open sometime in 2019.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: After the narrow escape from the T. rex, Hollywood's version makes it seem as if all is well again as the riders approach the station... until one more Dilophosaurus appears from out of the bushes and spits at them.