Music Behind the Ride: Jurassic Park

One of the more popular rides at Universal Studios is Jurassic Park. In this edition of Music Behind the Ride, I wanted to explore the ride and large update to Jurassic World as well as the musical side of the ride.

Even before the film was released in theaters, Universal began the planning phase for Jurassic Park: The Ride. Universal and Landmark Entertainment decided on a water attraction in 1991. In the original Michael Crichton novel, there is a river trip that was ultimately cut from the 1993 film. Since so much had gone into the planning stage, the water attraction idea was kept for the ride.

Built in Universal Studios Hollywood's Lower Lot, you pass through the iconic Jurassic Park gates through some jungle theming to the main queue area. There the video screens have dino facts, and information about the "park".  John Hammond (Sir Richard Attenborough) has a large part in the video before the ride safety portion.  Clips from the film are used alongside snippets of "Journey to the Island" from the John Williams score. You enter your bright yellow Jurassic Park themed boat, up the first lift to the main river journey.

As you pass a set of large doors, you hear the John Williams main theme and Richard Kiley's narration welcoming you to Jurassic Park. (Kiley is a great nod to his role in the novel and film). Large Ultrasaurus animatronics tower on both sides of the river. The boat goes under a rock tunnel and waterfall with animatronic Stegosaurus on the other side. A water spraying Parasaur comes out of the water, which knocks the raft away from the Hadrosaur Cove into the restricted area. We see the ripped Velociraptor fencing and abandoned boat. On the boat is the Dilophosaurus (the spitting one from the film) chewing on a life vest, while classic Mickey ears bobs in the water.

The boat travels towards the pump station, a teetering Jeep slides down the right wall (if the effect was properly working), and a Dilophosaurus pops out on each side to spit water on the boats. The boat goes up another large hill into a building, with a voice over describing an evacuation. Animatronic Velociraptors pop out at guests while sirens and lights go off. There's a small dip and a T-Rex smashes through the ceiling pipes. The voice over starts the countdown before the toxic gases are released. As you near a waterfall, the gigantic T-Rex appears and roars overhead. The boat goes down the signature 84 foot drop into the lagoon below.

Two main themes from the John Williams score are easily heard on the ride - the Theme from Jurassic Park and sections from Journey to the Island. For additional dramatic music and musical transitions, Landmark Entertainment turned to Gary Guttman. He recorded his own music in the Williams style with the Seattle Symphony.

The ride first opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in summer 1996. It was directly copied for Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Florida - and was an opening day attraction in 1999 known as Jurassic Park River Adventure.  Islands of Adventure would keep the same version, while Hollywood would get the big update in 2018.



Closing the ride in 2018, it would reopen in summer 2019 re-themed as Jurassic World: The Ride. After years of showing its age, new updated effects and updated ride system were included in the re-theme. Here's the description of the new ride.

The new queue videos feature Jurassic World actors Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, B.D. Wong and information on the park's dinosaurs.  Boats enter a covered aquarium with the large Mosasaurus on the large video screens. Timed splashes occur with the dino's splash and glass cracking. The boat continues into the herbivore area with Stegasaurus and Parasaur animatronics. Next is the Predator Cove, where the Indominus Rex recently escaped with ripped beams and large wall scratches. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) appears on video screens telling guests to relax before the video feed is cut off. As the boat enters the main building, Owen (Chris Pratt) next appears on the lift hill screens. The ceiling raptor pops at guests and a Dilophosaurus spits water at guests. We see the Velociraptor Blue, the large T-Rex head lunging at guests before the Indominus Rex and T-Rex roar at each other before the large drop. (The last bunch of dinos are new animatronics and apparently have an interesting time working since the ride re-opening).

For music, we hear the main theme from Michael Giacchino's Jurassic World score. In the opening aquarium scene, there is Giacchino underscoring and the main Jurassic World theme.  This sounds like 
"As the Jurassic World Turns"  from the album.  The Jurassic Park theme (Williams) is heard in the herbivore area. There is more underscoring in the Predator Cove and T-Rex Kingdom building scenes but I'm unable to recognize the film cues.  It's great to hear Giacchino's music in the park (you can much more of his at the Disney parks), and there's something still great about hearing the Jurassic Park theme piped through the entrance area.  

With the combination of dinosaur animatronics and famous drop, these rides still thrill and soak crowds.

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