Jaws Universal Studios Florida

Legendary author Stephen King once wrote, "Sooner or later, everything old is new again."

It happens in fashion. In music. In life. And yep, also in theme parks. "If only they'd held out a little longer," fans say, "then that old, Space Age Tomorrowland would be retro-cool! It would be nostalgic and timeless!" But, of course, they didn't. Instead, when time began to turn, Tomorrowland changed – for better or worse. 

And especially in a theme park stylized as a movie studio, you can imagine the weight put on the shoulders of designers to keep new, exciting, blockbuster brands rotating into those interchangeable beige soundstages. So as the '90s gave way to the 2000s, you can imagine that the park's list of E-Tickets themed to movies from the '70s and '80s began to look a little creaky. Millennials weren't engrained with the same allegiance to films like Jaws and King Kong that defined the childhoods of their parents; and their children would be even further removed.

Image: Universal

So is it any surprise that one-by-one, the Lost Legends: Kongfrontation, Back to the Future, Earthquake, and Jaws all fell in favor of hotter, more modern box office properties? Perhaps even more than its "studio" cousins at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris, Universal Studios Florida became a park where no ride – no matter how beloved – was safe.

That's a lesson that lots of "studio parks" learned in the '90s – that dedicating your park to "movies" means committing yourself to lots of updating, rearranging, and replacing. But particularly for Universal Studios Florida, time hasn't always been kind. Just one single ride remains from its opening day

Image: Universal

The rest of the park ranges from the well-executed and fairly timeless (Escape from Gringotts, Men in Black: Alien Attack, Revenge of the Mummy) to the fun but dated (Transformers: The Ride, The Simpsons Ride, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit) to the downright depressing (Fast & Furious: Supercharged, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon).

Especially in the shadow of modern parks like Islands of Adventure and Epic Universe – which both gravitate toward timeless, intergenerational IPs versus more timely, fleeting, blockbuster ones – Universal Studios Florida looks like a park that's falling behind... and more to the point, one that needs a new, stable, anchoring philosophy. So if Islands of Adventure embodies stories (think: Dr. Seuss, Marvel cartoons, Sunday comic strips, myths and legends) and Epic Universe contains modern, super-saturated multimedia worlds (video games, animated films, etc.), then couldn't Universal Studios' anchoring idea be... classic films?

Image: Universal

What if Universal Studios Florida brought back the greats... What if Fast & Furious moved out to make way for a new Kongfrontation? If Springfield became Hill Valley, with a completely refreshed version of Back to the Future: The Ride? If Fear Factor Live was replaced by a new, waterfront village of Amity with a reborn Jaws? If E.T. Adventure became enveloped by a new Green Planet land of family-friendly flat rides? If the Ghostbusters returned to the park's New York in a high-energy new E-Ticket ride? A Hitchcock land? What if Dark Universe joined this park? What if this was the park that kept the classics alive?

What do you think? Could Universal Studios Florida become the "classics" park, celebrating the true classics in Universal's archive? Or do you prefer that this park remains in a state of catch-up, always tuning to modern audiences' expectations and interests? Let us know in the comments below!


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