The Demise of ‘Jaws’ at Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida

Florida Guide > Universal Parks

The last time we visited Universal Studios in Orlando the classic attraction, ‘Jaws’ was still up and running. Of course, we made sure we had a final ride on this old timer, which, admittedly had got rather past its sell-by date.

We joined the queue of expectant visitors, as we boarded the boat which would take us on a tour of Amity Harbour with Captain Jake’s Amity Boat Tours, to view the locations of the shark attacks which had taken place in 1974. Our captain was enthusiastic, and despite the poorly disguised rails on which the boat ran, his excitable turning of the wheel almost made us believe he was in control, rather than being transported along an automatic system. After a battle between the ferocious shark and our grenade launcher wielding captain, and a close shave with an exploding Gas Dock, which erupts into flames, the shark, thankfully, met its demise by biting on a submerged power cable, electrocuting itself in a cloud of smoke! As we sailed back towards the boathouse, we could not help but feel a sense of sadness that this historic attraction was in its final death throes, but knowing Universal, its replacement will be innovative and exciting.

Of course, things have moved on dramatically as far as theme park attractions go, and ‘Jaws’ had become somewhat twee, and definitely low-tech. I doubt whether anyone older than 3 would have been much frightened by the appearance of the huge toothy shark which exploded out of the water in Amity Harbour, towards the end of the ride. As for it looking like a real live shark, well, it was passable, but it wouldn’t have fooled anyone! Still, it was much loved, and an icon of the parks, so its demise brought mixed feelings. By January, 2012, ‘Jaws’ was no more, after more than 20 years of operation.

When we visited again in December, 2012, it was clear that huge progress had been made in demolishing the old Amity. There was little to be seen of the original area, apart from the huge shark which must have been photographed by millions of people over the years, and Universal have yet to reveal exactly what is going to replace it. However, rumour has it that it will house more Harry Potter attractions. Whilst the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is situated in Universal Islands of Adventure, the old Jaws attraction borders this park, so there could be the possible addition of a Hogwarts Exress train journey to reach the new Harry potter-themed area, thus connecting the two parks.

Whatever it is, we can’t wait to experience it, but despite all the hoardings, and the building work which is pushing along at a fast pace, we will just have to wait a little longer before all is revealed!
Rita Fraser

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