The 8 Best Jurassic Park Attractions At Universal Studios Parks, Past and Present

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Universal Studios Parks has had quite a few attractions based on the Jurassic Park franchise, but these 8 are the best.

The Jurassic Park franchise depicts a failed attempt at creating a theme park-type zoo featuring dinosaurs brought back from extinction. However, things go wrong, the dinosaurs escape and wreak havoc, and the theme park creators realize building it was a huge mistake. Released in 1993, the movie grossed over a billion dollars and has become a classic.

Naturally, director Steven Spielberg wanted to bring a ride version to the Universal Studios Theme Park, which seemed inevitable and appropriate since the film already takes place at a theme park. Ever since Jurassic Park: The Ride opened in Universal Studios Hollywood in 1996, the film and attraction have continued in popularity, which has prompted the construction of more rides based on the film throughout Universal's parks around the world, which allow guests to live the thrilling classic film.

8 - Discovery Center

The Discovery Center opened with Orlando's Universal Studios Islands Of Adventure in 1999 and is a recreation of the iconic main hub from the first Jurassic Park film. Notably, Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and others enter the building and pass by two giant dinosaur skeletons the T-Rex later throws the raptors into during the film's exciting finale.

The recreation features a nursery where guests can see real dinosaurs (actually puppets) born from eggs and hear scientists educate and answer questions on Jurassic Park's dinosaurs. A burger restaurant sits on the top floor and the bottom floor features gift shops and now the start of the VelociCoaster queue.

7 - Triceratops Discovery Trail

The Triceratops Discovery Trail opened with Islands Of Adventure in 1999 and took guests up close and personal with a triceratops. The trail, aimed mostly at children, was a walkthrough attraction that featured an encounter with a veterinarian and a life-size animatronic Triceratops.

The veterinarian would explain all about the triceratops to guests and the dinosaur was able to breathe, sneeze, and make other slight movements and sounds. The attraction closed in 2005 but reopened in 2010 before being shut down permanently in 2012.

6 - Raptor Encounter

Taking its cues from the extinct Triceratops Discovery Trail, the Raptor Encounter attempted to take that concept to a much more thrilling level. Opening in Universal Studios Hollywood in 2015 to capitalize on the success of Jurassic World, the Raptor Encounter is a live show with a raptor trainer parading around a velociraptor in front of park goers.

The raptor is an impressive use of person-in-a-suit puppetry that can walk around the guests, make realistic movements, and roar. The trainer explains the raptor, makes jokes with guests, and is also available for photo ops. A similar version where a raptor puppet, from behind a cage, roars and snaps at guests taking photos or selfies is featured at Orlando's Islands of Adventure.

5 - Rapids Adventure

Inspired by the Jurassic Park River Adventure at Universal's other parks, the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure opened in 2010 at Universal Studios Singapore. Similar to the version that inspired it, the ride takes guests on a circular river raft, instead of a boat, through areas featuring peaceful herbivore dinosaurs made from animatronic puppetry.

However, the raft turns into rougher waters and velociraptors can be seen before guests enter a show building where the raft spins around in the dark as alarms sound. The raft is then lifted up an elevator where a T-Rex snaps at them before descending down a 40-foot drop.

4 - Pteranodon Flyers

The aptly named Pteranodon Flyers opened with Islands Of Adventure in 1999. The ride is a short, steel suspended roller coaster that flies at low speeds over the Jurassic Park section of the park. The coaster mimics the Pteranodon flying dinosaur with wings on the sides of each car.

Since its opening, guests have enjoyed Pteranodon Flyers for being a tame-yet-high flying ride, allowing them great views of the park. However, wait times for the rides are notoriously long due to the attraction's extremely low-ride capacity, since each car only holds two passengers.

3 - River Adventure (Jurassic Park: The Ride)

Originally opening in 1996 at Universal Studios Hollywood as Jurassic Park: The Ride, the Jurassic Park River Adventure, a clone of the earlier attraction, opened in a Jurassic Park-themed section of Islands Of Adventure in 1999. Steven Spielberg actually had ideas for the ride before the movie was even released and based the eventual attraction on a river scene from Michael Crichton's original novel.

In the ride, guests board a boat and travel through a lagoon filled with gentle herbivores before getting knocked off course. The boat then enters a show building and travels up a long lift hill where shadows of raptors can be seen following alongside. Suddenly, the raptors appear and dilophosauruses spit water at the guests. Then a life-size T-rex emerges from the darkness roaring, just before the boat plunges down an 85-foot drop. When the ride first premiered, Spielberg requested the ride stop before the big drop so he could get off.

2 - VelociCoaster

Inspired by Jurassic World, the new VelociCoaster is located in the Jurassic Park section of Islands Of Adventure. It is the first brand new Jurassic Park ride since 1999. The ride's story is that guests are going on a roller coaster through a velociraptor paddock in the real Jurassic World.

The ride's queue has many nods to the films and features two muzzled animatronic raptors that breathe and snort. Jurassic World actors Bryce Dallas Howard, B.D. Wong and Chris Pratt appear as their characters in the preshow, with the latter warning this is a bad idea. The ride itself is an intense roller coaster with a top hat, several inversions, and goes at a max speed of 70 Mph while passing raptors along the way. Guests have enjoyed the attraction but criticized its lack of theming while saying the coaster itself is one of the best ever built.

1 - Jurassic World: The Ride (Formerly Jurassic Park: The Ride)

Originally opening at Universal Studios Hollywood in 1996 as Jurassic Park: The Ride, 2019's Jurassic World: The Ride is a rebranded version inspired by the recent film series. The ride layout is the same but is now overlaid with characters and theming from Jurassic World. Legendary actor Richard Attenborough as John Hammond is no longer a part of the pre-ride queue and the color scheme has been updated to reflect Jurassic World's black, grey, and dark blue aesthetic.

The ride itself passes through a new aquarium with a mosasaurus on screens before entering the same show building. The boat travels up the lift hill like before but now guests receive warnings from Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard's respective characters Owen Grady and Claire Dearing. The biggest difference is the finale which features not only the original T-Rex but a life-sized Indominous Rex that lunges at guests. Guests have lamented they miss the old version but praised all the long-overdue and much-needed new elements, such as the brand new Indominous Rex, which is one of the most realistic animatronics ever built for a ride.