Universal Studios Beijing has welcomed its first guests, and we’ve gotten our first look at the all-new Jurassic World Adventure dark ride. With incredible animatronics, and some clever screen effects that blend well with real life, this new ride looks pretty impressive, but did you know it was originally being designed as a gyrosphere attraction?
Had it stayed that way, it wouldn’t have included its most impressive sequence, where the Indominus rex chases you! Let’s talk how that they pulled off that incredible chase scene, how the original vision for the ride would’ve been different, and why we think it might’ve changed. Be sure to see the video version of this story for additional visuals.
Jurassic World Adventure features a mix of impressive practical effects and animatronic figures, as well as some screen elements. It does not utilize 3D glasses, instead opting for similar screen effects as rides like Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure at Shanghai Disneyland. (See a full ride POV here.)
While the screen elements are impressive themselves, and actually make an effort to blend with reality—for example, at the ride’s conclusion a screen-based Indominus rex falls and then transitions to an animatronic figure when it lands— but there’s a moment in the middle that has the internet buzzing.
— Upper Lot Podcast (@UpperLotPodcast) August 21, 2021
There is a scene in the middle of the attraction where the escaped Indominus rex chases the ride vehicle for 10 full seconds, (as seen above). While we move backwards along the track, she just keeps gaining on us, never relenting. Some out there initially though this must be a screen, but it is definitely a practical sequence.
The layout for this scene has us traveling around a circle of track, with the I-rex likely traveling along the inside of the circle like a murderous carousel. As we break away, the rex probably resets by completing the rotation, ready for her next attempt to make lunch out of a ride vehicle full of passengers.
Jurassic World Adventure uses the same type of ride system as The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and Transformers: The Ride 3D. It is a motion base ride vehicle that runs along a track. One of the features of this system is its ability to face the riders towards the action, no matter which way the track is facing. And this feature could’ve played a part in why they chose to use this system for the ride.
The original plan, at least according to rumors and early information, was for the ride to be based on the Gyrospheres from the Jurassic World films. When the movie came out in 2015, film producer Frank Marshall even said in interviews that Universal Studios was working on creating a real gyrosphere ride for the theme parks, but that was going to be a tall order.
A bit of Hollywood make-believe, the gyrospheres themselves don’t really exist. Special effects were used to make the sequences in the films, so they never needed the technology to actually work. But when designers were tasked to make a real gyrosphere ride for Universal Studios Beijing, how did they plan to accomplish it?
Before they settled on the Spider-Man vehicles, the attraction was going to utilize a suspended ride system instead. Riders would board a 6-person gyrosphere-type ride vehicle, which would look as though it is rolling along the ground, but in fact would be suspended by multiple cables.
The individual cables would be attached to a moving apparatus along a track on the ceiling. These cables could be pulled individually to create tilting and rocking motions for the ride vehicle, or move all at once to go up and down, as it moves forward through the ride scenes.
One of the downsides to this patented ride system, would be just how much more of a viewable area the riders could see, especially compared to the Spider-Man cars, which focus your attention to wherever it is pointed. As a result, show scenes for the original version of Jurassic World Adventure would’ve been much larger, and therefore, there would’ve been perhaps half as many scenes on the ride, even though the building would be the same size.
Another issue may have also had to do with the sight lines. With several cables suspending the ride vehicle from the ceiling, and most of the attraction’s focal points being tall dinosaurs, the supports themselves may have gotten in the way, or the track along the ceiling may have been too obvious.
Suspended rides are great for scenes where riders are looking down, like Peter Pan’s Flight or E.T. Adventure, but maybe not so much for making us believe that we’re rolling along the ground surrounded by dinosaurs overhead.
The incredible chasing scene likely would not have been possible with the original set up. Instead the ride would have us pass by the dinosaurs at different points beside the vehicle, but not be chased by them.
Capacity may have been a factor as well, with the suspended vehicles holding half as many passengers as the system they ended up going with instead.
We’re not sure exactly why, but the original ride concept was scrapped in favor of a somewhat modified version of the existing Spider-Man system. The layout was changed to account for the new ability to turn the cars to face the action. Smaller scenes were added between the larger set pieces, and of course, we got that incredible chase sequence as well.
What Universal has created appears to essentially be a modern version of Disney’s Dinosaur ride from Animal Kingdom. And just like how that ride utilized the existing motion base ride track system from Indiana Jones Adventure, so has Jurassic World Adventure reinvented the way they’ve used their “SCOOP” vehicles from Spider-Man, and to impressive results.
There were rumors that the Jurassic World land from Beijing, including this new ride, could be coming to Orlando’s upcoming new theme park, Epic Universe, before that park was even announced.
We may never know if those rumors were true or not—and if it was the cancellation of the Gyrosphere tech that may have led to the change if so—but now that we have our own Jurassic World attraction in the form of VelociCoaster, it’s certainly looking like it won’t be coming to Epic Universe.