(p. 10) When Robb Alvey, an amusement park fanatic, heard that Universal Studios Orlando was shuttering its beloved “Jaws”-themed ride in 2012, he made sure to grab a front-row seat for the closing day.
Using a hand-held digital camera, he filmed the six-minute boat ride: from the skipper Jacob welcoming passengers; to the “mayday” distress call; to the first sighting of the prosthetic shark; to the grenade launchers and exploding fireballs; and, finally, to the “high-voltage” cable that fries the animatronic beast.
Mr. Alvey, 49, who lives in Orlando, Fla., and runs a website called Theme Park Review, uploaded the footage to YouTube. Seven years later, the video has been viewed more than 160 million times.
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That longing for expired rides is certain to increase in coming years, as America’s theme parks are renovated: In August, Disney announced that Epcot will undergo yet another major overhaul, while Universal Orlando recently revealed plans for a massive new park called Epic Universe.
And when parks make big changes, the charmingly antiquated rides are often first to go. In 2014, Walt Disney World shuttered its Studio Backlot Tour, a behind-the-scenes look at movie production, to make room for “Star Wars”: Galaxy’s Edge, a blockbuster attraction that opened this year.
“The backlot tour was over two hours long, and took up a big part of your day, but it showed you every aspect of filmmaking,” said Alicia Stella, 37, a journalist who covers theme parks on her website Orlando ParkStop. “I miss those kinds of attractions. A lot of the new ones are fast-paced thrill rides.”
Such expansions are a reminder that the parks are in a constant state of evolution, which makes the archivists’ efforts all the more crucial: You never know when your favorite ride could close for good.
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(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 2, 2019, and has the title “Where ‘Jaws,’ the Ride, Lives Forever.”)