Universal Studios Florida has confirmed that its Jaws ride will close permanently on January 2, 2012, in order to make way for a new attraction.
The Amity area of Universal Studios Florida, which houses the Jaws ride, will also close at 9pm on January 2. Universal Orlando is yet to confirm the nature of the new addition, with rumors pointing to either an expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or a version of the Transformers attraction that recently opened at Universal Studios Singapore.
Universal Studios Florida will host a special event on Jaws' final day of operations to mark the loss of one of the park's original attractions. Based on the classic Steven Spielberg movie, the ride opened alongside the rest of the park in May 1990, and was inspired by the Jaws segment that can be still be seen in Universal Studios Hollywood's famous backlot tour.
Along with a number of other attractions at Universal Studios Florida, Jaws suffered from persistent breakdowns during its first two years of operations. Eventually, the ride was almost completely rebuilt, with two major scenes (including one in which the shark bit the boat holding riders) being replaced. It reopened in 1993 and has been much more reliable since. A similar version of Jaws remains in place at Universal Studios Japan.
With Universal strongly expected to announce a version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for Universal Studios Hollywood this week, rumors of an expansion to the existing Florida version have peaked with the news of Jaws' demise. While it has long been assumed that the Harry Potter land would be expanded into the neighboring Lost Continent area of Islands of Adventure, the latest reports suggest that Universal could instead look to boost attendance at sister park Universal Studios Florida by adding a separate area themed around London as seen in the Potter movies.
The rumors, which are unsubstantiated at this stage, claim that the area would feature a recreation of the murky Diagon Alley. Despite the large distance (and a number of obstructions) between the location of Amity in Universal Studios Florida and the site of the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there are even claims that a version of the Hogwarts Express train could be built to link the two.
The second rumor, of a version of Transformers The Ride, also raises significant questions. The attraction, already in place at Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Hollywood, uses a near-identical ride system to The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman at Islands of Adventure.
Universal Orlando said of the Jaws closure: "We are closing Jaws and the Amity area to make room for an exciting, new attraction experience. Jaws has been an amazing attraction and an important part of our history. But we must always work to provide new, innovative, entertainment experiences for our guests. We can’t wait to share details of our plans – in due time."
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