John Porto is a lifelong fan of Steven Spielberg and E.T. Last month he proved just how fanatical he is when he set the record for riding E.T. Adventure at Universal Studios Orlando. Porto rode the ride 56 times in one day. We spoke to John Porto about his love for Steven Spielberg and his record-breaking feat.
When did you decide to set the record for riding the E.T. Adventure ride?
I thought of it the night before I did it. My initial goal was 30 times. But, they let me use a secret passageway, the production crew entrance, and then 50 became a lot more plausible.
You didn’t have to wait in line at all for the ride?
I was actually in the E.T. Adventure shop, I was dressed as Marty McFly, and one of the employee’s said, “Come here, McFly.” They took me to the crew entrance and told me I could use it. The staff member told me I could use the staff entrance as many times as I wanted.
They let you use the staff entrance because of your Marty McFly costume?
The person in the shop knew what I was doing and told the staff. I told the shopkeeper that I was going for the record.
How did you and the Universal Studios staff know what the record was?
There is a YouTuber named World of Micah and 4 years ago he rode it 25 times. I haven’t seen any other documentation for more times than that. I saw his video and thought 25 times wasn’t that hard. I figured I could do it at least 30 times and beat him. I’m competitive like that. The only known documented record before mine was 25.
Was it your fandom for E.T. and Spielberg that made you decide to do this?
I’ve always loved Spielberg’s work. He can even make a bad movie look good. I know I am going to get a lot of hate for this…when I first saw Indiana Jones Kingdom of theCrystal Skull…I didn’t think it was that bad. It’s not as good as the previous installments, but I definitely enjoyed it. I have always loved Spielberg’s work.
I was actually introduced to Spielberg through all his Universal rides—Jaws, Twister, Back to the Future, E.T. I rode the E.T. ride before I saw the movie.
Are you hoping that setting the record will help bring more exposure to the E.T. ride? It is an older property now and Universal has replaced a lot of the other Spielberg rides like Jaws and Back to the Future?
It’s not about the record. I don’t care about the record. For me it’s about keeping the ride open. When they closed down Jaws I was extremely upset. Not just because it was my second favorite ride—but also because it was a fan favorite. But, Harry Potter was the hotter property so they had to replace Jaws with it. I just want to get more people on the E.T. ride. It’s a ride people over look a lot now. People still love this ride. I want to show Universal Studios that people still love E.T. I want my kids to be able to ride E.T. one day.