It’s very appropriate that Universal Orlando is reopening The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man this Thursday with a complete HD upgrade. After all, this marks the 50th anniversary of the famed web-slinger’s first appearance. But sadly, another anniversary is being overlooked. On Jan. 2 of this year, Jaws at Universal Studios Florida ceased operation in order to make way for something new. The attraction opened in 1990, but Jaws made its first Orlando appearance much earlier than that. Thirty years ago this Summer, filming began on the third Jaws film – in 3D – right down International Drive at SeaWorld.
So although we won’t have the Jaws ride at Universal Orlando to celebrate this milestone, we can celebrate it with another film about other carnivorous fish attacking an aquatic park – in this case, the waterslides of Wilmington, North Carolina’s Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park.
Which brings us to ThemedReality’s first Obscure Trivia Break, for as hard as it may seem, the Piranha franchise can just as easily link the SeaWorld and Universal theme park chains as Jaws can. Here’s how:
- The original Piranha (1978) was director Joe Dante’s third film. In 2003, he directed a 4D film R.L. Stine’s Haunted Lighthouse for Busch Entertainment Corporation, which played at the two Busch Gardens parks and at SeaWorld parks in San Diego and San Antonio.
- The sequel, Piranha Part II: The Spawning (1981) was James Cameron’s directorial debut. It was a far cry from the work he did on Terminator 2 3D: Battle Across Time (1996) for the Universal Studios theme parks.
- In the reboot of the series, 2010’s Piranha 3D and this year’s Piranha 3DD, the character of Mr. Goodman is portrayed by none other than Christopher Lloyd, who starred in both SeaWorld’s Haunted Lighthouse, as Cap’n Jack, and as “Doc” Emmett Brown in Universal’s Back to the Future: The Ride (1991) and its replacement The Simpsons Ride (2008).
There are plenty of other theme park connections, ranging from film tie-ins to Cameron at News Corporation parks in Australia and Mexico, Everland in South Korea, and Disney parks worldwide, David Hasselhoff’s legendary work for Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and Elisabeth Shue’s performance in that Leonard Nimoy-directed thrill ride at EPCOT.
But I don’t really want to talk about all those. I guess when it comes down it, we can all learn something from Universal and SeaWorld. Don’t dismiss B-movies. After all, there might just be some good theme park talent in there. I mean, I recall a really horrible Korean-American film from 1985 called LA Streetfighters (later renamed Ninja Turf)…
…and one of the actors from that film went on to host the Thea Awards.