Back to the Future: The Ride in Universal Japan

As one of Universal’s most iconic properties, it should come as no surprise that Back to the Future has maintained a presence inside the parks years after the beloved trilogy came to an end. Although Doc Brown and Mary McFly are no longer traveling through time on the big screen, the adored duo continue to appear in the parks decades later. Today, we will be doing some time traveling of our own, documenting the full history of Back to the Future inside the Universal theme parks. 

In 1990, Universal Studios Orlando opened to the public for the first time. Though the Back to the Future simulator ride was planned to open a few months into the park’s operation, construction delays resulted in the opening date being pushed back to May of the following year. On May 2, 1991, the first incarnation of Back to the Future: The Ride opened in Universal Studios Orlando.

Institute of Future Technology in Universal Studios Japan
Jeremy Thompson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Two years later, the second incarnation would join Universal Hollywood’s roster. Similar to the Orlando version, the ride suffered from construction delays and finally opened on June 12, 1993. The last version of this ride was added to Universal Studios Japan on March 31, 2001.

The ride itself maintained the same storyline throughout all three of the parks and introduced guests to the Institute of Future Technology, founded by Doc Brown, that was seeking volunteers to test out new inventions.

“Volunteers” would proceed through the queue where they would be informed they were being sent a day into the future inside a newly developed DeLorean time machine that could seat up to eight passengers. Guests were then cautioned to be on the lookout for Biff Tanen, the main antagonist throughout the Back to the Future series, who had escaped from his time period and was on the loose, causing chaos in the time-space continuum.

Interior Institute of Future Technology
Jeremy Thompson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just as Doc prepares to send the volunteers on their mission, Biff arrives in the Institute of Future Technology, steals the DeLorean, and disappears into time. Doc pleads with guests to follow him and retrieve the stolen DeLorean before Biff causes irreparable damage to the timeline. The new prototype DeLorean could lock onto Biff’s location and send guests directly to his pinpointed current location in time. All guests would need to do is bump the other time machine with their own, which would send both DeLoreans back to their original time...


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