Now open at Universal Studios Hollywood.

By Carlye Wisel
July 15, 2019
Courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood

What’s old is new this summer at Universal Studios Hollywood — and much, much scarier.

The transformation of Jurassic Park: The Ride into 2019’s Jurassic World: The Ride, opening soon at Universal Studios Hollywood, has made the attraction into the kind of experience it was always intended to be.

You’ll see tons of dinosaurs, the velociraptor Blue, and even Chris Pratt, and even if you’ve never watched the latest “Jurassic World” film (or any of them, for that matter) you’ll still get a water-drenched, fear-filled ride. That’s because on this dinosaur-surrounded dinghy, there’s nothing to fear but fear itself.

SPOILER ALERT: If you want to be completely surprised on the new Jurassic ride, turn back now.

The biggest fright on Hollywood’s “Jurassic World”-themed ride isn’t the 84-foot drop, but an unexpected moment at the beginning. A new aquarium observatory with semi-realistic screen “portals” lets guests see the crocodile-like Mosasaurus whip by them on both sides of the would-be tank. What happens once the massive apex predator smashes into and cracks the window is better, as water blasts down upon the 25-passenger boat. It is a brilliant trick that leaves you shivering and wondering what's around each bend, even as you pass docile stegosauruses, the only scene of the original ride that remains intact.

There's no derailed vehicle to let you know something has gone awry in this newly reimagined dinosaur enclave — instead, it's the familiar voice of Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Claire Dearing in the film series. “Please remain calm,” she says from a monitor, assuring passengers that help is on the way despite the Indominus Rex escaping containment.

It’s at this point in Jurassic World: The Ride that things get real. The attraction’s concept is that you’re in a park where things have gone awry, and Jurassic World no longer serves the cartoonish theme park trope of doomsday, but instead what would actually happen.

Gone are the derailed rafts, falling Jeep, and gimmicky effects of yesteryear, and in their place are realistic, modern security warnings helmed by Chris Pratt as Owen Grady. Screens cut to static as the star of both “Jurassic World” and its sequel, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” commands you to keep your hands inside the boat, as containment alerts flash warnings signs of danger. You know it’s all part of the ride — dinosaurs no longer exist, after all — but somewhere between the bloody scratch marks surrounding a clawed-open Indominus Rex cage and hearing panic-stricken announcements about containment failures, a small part of you, just for a second, thinks — could this actually be happening?

Once you’re fully enveloped in darkness, the dinosaurs start to appear. Some are from the previous iteration, but others, like the film’s Blue, pop against the pitch black interior before you plunge back into the park by way of an eight-story drop.

Jurassic World: The Ride is scarier and wetter than the original, and the design itself is better, too: ‘90s-era yellow boats have been replaced by modernized grey vehicles, steel gates stand in place of old wooden ones, and sleek on-screen diagrams make it feel less like a boat ride through a nature preserve and more like a tech-science start-up with unlimited funding. (It’s also said the aquarium portion of the ride will change depending on weather, making visiting more than once even better.)

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