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Ride / Jurassic Park River Adventure

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Time, the ever flowing river…
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 Jurassic Park 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. It helps that the idea behind the ride predated the movie itself—several chapters in the original novel by Michael Crichton featured the protagonists traveling by raft along the river in Jurassic Park, where they were threatened by both dilophosaurs and the Tyrannosaurus.

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 opened on July 12, 2019. It is currently unknown whether or not the other iterations of the ride will follow suit.

Not to be confused with Jurassic World Adventure at Universal Studios Beijing, which serves as that park's Jurassic Park dark ride but has a completely different ride system and story.

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.
  • Aquatic Hadrosaurs: Parasaurolophus play an almost entirely aquatic role, with the one that (according to the ride narrative) bumps the riders' boat off course being seen neck deep in water when it briefly surfaces after bumping against the boat. It being portrayed as aquatic to the extent in which its portrayed for the ride is for the sake of practical reasons regarding hiding the machinery of the animatronics.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: Ultrasaurus in the Hollywood version is shown bending its neck in a way that would be impossible for a real life sauropod. Its also aquatic and submerged, reflecting a long-outdated hypothesis about behaviour that even the film series knew enough to avert.
    • Parasaurolophus is too portrayed as being semi-aquatic, reflecting a long-outdated hypothesis about hadrosaur behaviour that even the films knew enough not to do.
  • Big Bad: The main threat of the ride is a giant carnivorous dinosaur that has broken out of its enclosure and is now stalking the boat, hoping to eat the guests. In the original version, it's a T. rex. In the Jurassic World update, it's the Indominus rex.
  • 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.
    • Was averted at some point during Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights, when they re-named the ride Jurassic Park - In The Dark and added in a scene showing Velociraptors ripping JP scientists to pieces, with blood and gore all over the placenote . The Jurassic World retheme has the dead Pteranodons with slashes in them in Predator Cove, and there's blood on the wall.
  • 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.
  • Canon Immigrant: Trevor Hayes and Monica Baird in Jurassic World's queue videos are this, as neither have appeared in any media in the Jurassic World series. The former also briefly shows up in the ride on a monitor once the boat reaches Predator Cove.
  • 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.
  • Demoted to Extra: The T. rex in the Jurassic World retheme. In the original Jurassic Park version, she effectively served as the Big Bad, stalking the riders offscreen for much of the latter half of the ride, attempting a sneak attack, and being treated to one near full-bodied appearance for the finale. In the new version of the ride, the Indominous rex takes her place as the Big Bad and makes three physical appearances with each one depicted as more dire than the last. The Tyrannosaurus still shows up at the end, but it feels more like a cameo.
  • 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 (or the Indominus after having escaped in Hollywood's retheme). What saves you? A conveniently placed exit out of the building in the form of a waterfall (alongside the T-Rex appearing, again in Hollywood's retheme).
  • Developer's Foresight: The 2021 update to Hollywood's Jurassic World retheme has one. In the event of the ride vehicle stopping before the final drop, the Indominus will lean up and sniff the air alongside gradually being cast in shadow. This is likely a nod to how she can camouflage in the film. Even once the boat starts moving again, she'll stay that way until the T-Rex appears.
    • This same motion profile is used should another boat arrive into the finale before the Indominus animatronic can reset. This gives the impression that the Indominus was lying in wait before spotting the riders.
  • Dramatic Irony: In Hollywood's Jurassic World retheme, as the boat enters the ransacked Predator Cove, Trevor Hayes (the security director in the queue videos) orders all boats to be held in safe zones. Unfortunately for them, when another worker detects the boat the riders are in, it's already past where they could stop it by the time he gives the order.
    Trevor Hayes: Hold all boats in safe zones!
    Worker: Sir, we have one boat in the cove just past the return point! Sir, Blue is out of containment!
  • 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.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • 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 was 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 Guns N' Roses' "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.
    • Hollywood's version exclusively had the T-Rex (now the Indominus) try to snap down on the riders moments before the final drop.
  • 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.
    • A pair of dead Pteranodons appear in the rebranded Hollywood version, strongly implied to have been killed by the Indominus rex.
  • 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.
  • Motion Parallax: The Mosasaurus tank's screen has its scenery rendered by motion parallax to create a "seen through a camera lens" effect.
  • 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.
  • Rule of Scary: 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. This is touched upon in the Hollywood re-theme, as the building is now the T-Rex enclosure.
  • Sequel Escalation: The climax of the original Jurassic Park ride involved the T. rex swooping in to attack the riders. In the Jurassic World retool, the tourists are instead cornered by the T. rex, Blue the Velociraptor, and the Indominus rex at the same time!
  • Shout-Out: The Halloween Horror Nights makeover for Hollywood's version was 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.
  • The Stinger: 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.
  • 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."
  • Terrifying Tyrannosaur: The Tyrannosaurus rex is always reserved for the terrifying ride finale, lunging at riders as they plummet down the 85-foot drop to safety.
    • In the Hollywood version, there are subtle indications that the T-Rex has broken free from its enclosure and has been stalking the off-course boat, from the pushing a jeep off a cliff to breaking the ceiling of a water treatment facility to finally charging through a waterfall in a last-ditch attempt to eat the riders.
    • The refurbished Jurassic World ride added Indominus rex as the Big Bad, but still keeps the Tyrannosaurus as the last dinosaur you see before the fall.
  • Title: The Adaptation: As previously mentioned, the attraction is called Jurassic Park: The Ride in Japan. The same also applies to Hollywood's re-theme.
  • 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 was refurbished and re-themed around Jurassic World as noted above. When the park closed during the COVID-19 Pandemic, further refurbishments to address criticisms of the finale were made, with a full-size Indominus debuting for the attraction's 2021 reopening, with the older figure being moved back to a gap in the wall at the start of the indoor lift-hill.

This concludes your tranquil journey through the world of the dinosaurs. Please join us again soon on your next visit to Universal Studios.

Alternative Title(s): Jurassic World The Ride