Universal hauls Jaws back from the deep
After nearly shutting down last year, the ride has been fixed up and reopened
Sentinel Staff Writer
February 16, 2006
Jaws, an expensive adventure ride at Universal Studios that has bounced from blockbuster attraction to part-time work, is making another comeback.
Universal finished refurbishing the ride and put it back on full-time operation this month, after all but shutting it down last year. In September, park officials reduced Jaws' operation to occasional after-hours events and holiday crowds.
Demand has brought it back, and visitors may cruise the perilous waters of Amity at least through the end of the summer, said Universal Orlando spokesman Tom Schroder.
"We made the decision to reopen Jaws because our guests told us, rather
passionately, that they wanted us to," Schroder said.
Based on the best-selling 1974 novel Jaws, by Peter Benchley -- who died last weekend -- and the 1975 blockbuster movie by Steven Spielberg, the ride opened with Universal in 1990.
Jaws had a bad start. After a few months, Universal closed it, blaming
mechanical difficulties. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1993. Between the
original construction and that overhaul, Universal may have spent $70 million, outside industry sources estimated.
The ride provides a boat trip around Amity lagoon, terrorized by seven robotic great white sharks that lurk and attack.
Schroder said workers replaced one shark's attack motor, modified the flame effects and did touch-up work throughout.
The ride was once a marquee attraction, but some have wondered if -- 30 years removed from the book and movie -- it has lost relevance, especially among younger visitors.
However, Steven Smith, a former Universal employee and now operations manager at Baker Leisure Group, an Orlando-based theme park consulting firm, said the ride is unlikely to lose much relevance because the Jaws brand is an "evergreen" known worldwide.
He also said the ride is valuable to Universal because its capacity -- reported at 2,500 people an hour -- is phenomenal by thrill-ride standards. A typical major ride at most theme parks would do well to handle 1,800 people an hour, Smith said.
Scott Powers can be reached at [email protected]
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