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Orlando Sentinel : Universal Studios to replace Earthquake

 
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 7:56 am    Post subject: Orlando Sentinel : Universal Studios to replace Earthquake Reply with quote

Universal Studios to replace Earthquake attraction by December

Scott Powers | Sentinel Staff Writer
November 6, 2007

Another of the big, original attractions at Universal Studios is being replaced, this time with a ride that aims to employ the popular 21st century concepts for theme-park rides: digital and interactive.

"Earthquake -- The Big One," a subway ride through a collapsing San Francisco, has closed. The ride, which allowed riders to experience big Hollywood special effects, ranging from fire to flooding water, will be replaced within weeks by a newly themed attraction called "Disaster! A Major Motion Picture Ride . . . Starring You."

According to Universal Orlando officials, the ride, located in the San Francisco section of Universal Studios, should reopen by the holiday tourism crush in December with more of an interactive element but no specific movie tie-in.

Universal officials weren't commenting directly about the ride Monday. A news release said Disaster! would include "blockbuster celebrity talent, new ride elements, new digital technologies, interactive components and a new story line."

In the release, Universal Orlando President Bill Davis stated that Earthquake, which opened when the Orlando park did in 1990, "has been a popular attraction and a strong part of our history. But we are always looking for ways to create more compelling, more entertaining experiences for our guests."

Earthquake clearly had its fans and critics, considering Internet comments made Monday, shortly after Universal announced the news, that rated the ride everything from fun to boring.

The ride originally was based on the 1974 disaster movie Earthquake! starring Charlton Heston. Unlike many of the other movies that Universal rides are based on, such as Jaws, Terminator and Back to the Future, the movie Earthquake has not remained a popular staple of cable-TV channels or video-rental stores.

Universal's Back to the Future ride is currently being replaced with a ride based on the animated TV show The Simpsons. It's slated to open next spring.

Unlike that conversion, or a few other makeovers that Universal Studios has given its older attractions, the Disaster! overhaul will be quick, lasting perhaps no more than six weeks. Nearly two years passed between the closing of Ghostbusters Spooktacular and the opening of its successor, Twister . . . Ride it Out in 1998. Kongfrontation closed for more than 18 months before Revenge of the Mummy replaced it. The Back to the Future ride will be closed about a year before the Simpsons opens.


Scott Powers can be reached at spowers@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5441.
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