Steven Spielberg and Jeff Goldblum light the torches on the Jurassic Park Gates (photo courtesy of JPLegacy.org)
Steven Spielberg signed his name in cement to celebrate the opening of the Jurassic Park River Adventure at Universal Studios Hollywood. June 21, 1996
Steven Spielberg signature in cement at the entrance to the attraction (April 2006)
Set used prior to opening day to advertise the coming attaction (photo by yeoh_ts, May 1995)
1996 - June 21 - Jurassic
Park: The Ride opens at Universal Studios, Hollywood.
Steven Spielberg and Jeff Goldblum were at the opening
Steven Spielberg signed his name in cement to commemorate the occasion (see below).
From CNN article about the opening of
the ride in 1996
had the idea to do a ride even before we shot the
movie," producer Spielberg explained. "Universal
trusted us and they said OK. And 18 months before
the film was in release, the ride was already on
the drawing board." In fact, some of the ride's
drawing boards were props in scenes in the movie.
Since the movie was the biggest ticket seller in
film history, making the ride was never a controversial
decision. As Phil Hettema of Universal Studios Hollywood's
attraction development department said, "Deciding
to do 'Jurassic Park: the Ride' was, as they say,
a no-brainer. We knew everybody would want to see
this come to life.
"But, making it come to life really was the
challenge. When Steven Spielberg made the movie,
he kind of raised the bar on what people expect."
The reproductions of creatures seen in the movie
were only one of the hurdles to creating a theme
park that meets Universal criteria. "You have
to understand that these are full-size animals,"
Spielberg said of the park's creatures. The movie
was able to cheat a little by using computer-generated
images, which gave the animals a fuller range of
motion than life-size models.
But, Spielberg said, "These I think -- in my
opinion -- are the most realistic animatronic actors
I have ever seen perform in any of the theme parks
of the world."
Leviathans of another type were also employed on
the corner of the Universal Studios Hollywood site,
where miles of computer cable, vast water pumping
and filtration systems, hydraulic controllers for
the dinosaurs, and lots of old-fashioned hard work
went into making the ride a reality.
Like the movie, the finished product is more than
just a jungle cruise. "You want to take your
3-year-old on the first 30 percent of it, then you
want to leave your 15-year- old at home for the rest,"
If parts are scary, other parts are soakers. The
climactic water drop at the end of the ride is one
of the biggest water drops in the world, an 84-foot
plunge at a 54 degree angle. It was specifically
engineered to make a beautiful and dramatic splash
plume at impact. Especially if you're in the front
row, you are going to get wet.
The story line may call for things to go dramatically
wrong at "Jurassic Park," but in reality,
things could hardly have gone more right on opening