On May 2, 1991, Back to the Future: The Ride debuted at Universal Studios Florida, which marked a major turning point in the company’s history. Out of the dozens of simulators I have ridden over the years, none compare Back to the Future: The Ride and here are my top 5 reasons why.
#5 It’s The 4th Movie
Say what you will about a sequel to the “Back to the Future” films, but I’ve always considered the ride at Universal Studios to be the unofficial sequel to the films. One of the features that sets Universal apart from the competition is their gutsy approach to storytelling. Rather than sticking to book report versions of movies, they take riders on an all new adventure building upon the universe we know and love.
Back to the Future: The Ride created a unique story where Doc Brown has now started his own institute in the present day. Biff breaking in and stealing a time machine gives us, the rider, a reason to become invested in the story again and go on an all new adventure we could only do at Universal Studios.
Go on nearly any other simulator in the world and you’ll find yourself trapped in a box or a room with dozens of other riders. For capacity sake, this is a necessity. Back to the Future: The Ride found a unique way around this issue where riders were put into eight-passenger DeLoreans and raised into a omnimax dome with 11 other vehicles all going through the same sequence. Many riders didn’t even realize that other vehicles were experiencing the same film simultaneously.
#3 Special Effects
For its time, Back to the Future: The Ride was far beyond other simulator rides. Simply having the ride vehicle on a lift and raise up into position was impressive enough. Add in rumblers in the seats, smoke coming from the hood and even in-car television screens and it was extremely impressive for a non-Disney attraction.
Scattered throughout the queue and pre-show rooms were great details as nods to the film. From hoverboards to a flux capacitor in each vehicle. A small detail, but my favorite was always seeing today’s date on the time circuits in my DeLorean every time I went on the ride.
#1 Doug Trumbull
For those unfamiliar, Doug Trumbull is a special effects genius. He is responsible for the special effects in “Blade Runner,” “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Trumbull was brought on to fix the project after it was pretty far along into development. He is the reason why Back to the Future: The Ride became an instant success and made the entire themed entertainment industry stand up and notice.
Make no mistake about it, no one took Universal Studios Florida as a serious contender until Back to the Future: The Ride came on the scene. Many of the original opening attractions were plagued with problems and the park was beat up by the media for the amount of attractions that weren’t ready on opening day. Who knows where Universal theme parks would be without this ride?
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