When Back to the Future The Ride first opened in 1991, the BTTF Trilogy had just concluded. While the sequels were sort of viewed as disappointments when they first opened in theaters, a perspective that has changed over the years, there weren’t many properties that were more suited for a thrill ride. The idea of being able to ride in a flying DeLorean was mind blowing for me as a kid in 1991. I was desperate to go to Florida and ride the attraction. I was born and raised in California, so I didn’t get to ride it until shortly after it opened in Universal Studios Hollywood. I can remember being absolutely blown away by the experience when I finally rode it. It has always bothered me that Michael J. Fox wasn’t part of the production, but when I think about what made the ride so great, his absence might have actually been a blessing in disguise. By Fox not taking part, the riders, like myself, were able to put themselves in the shoes of Marty McFly. Looking back, part of the reason why I adore the ride so much, is because it’s the closest I will ever get to feeling like Marty McFly.
Opened: May 2, 1991 (Universal Studios Florida), June 12, 1993 (Universal Studios Hollywood), March 31, 2001 (Universal Studios Japan)
Closed: March 30, 2007 (Universal Studios Florida), September 3, 2007 (Universal Studios Hollywood), May 31, 2016 (Universal Studios Japan)
Where: Universal Studios Florida, Hollywood & Japan
Description: Back to the Future was first discussed as possibly becoming a ride in 1986. When Steven Spielberg first rode Star Tours with his best friend George Lucas he instantly wanted to try and bring something similar to Universal Studios. Spielberg has been a consultant for Universal Studios parks for decades. When he shared with Lucas he wanted to make something similar to Star Tours – Lucas told him Universal could never top the Disneyland attraction.
At first the ride developers were planning a roller coaster for Back to the Future. They quickly realized the storytelling element wouldn’t be possible with a fast-moving roller coaster. Ultimately a ride simulator was chosen, which was the same approach Star Tours used. The ride was being developed as a signature attraction for Universal Studios Florida. The Florida park opened in 1990.
The ride sort of serves as a sequel to Back to the Future III. Christopher Lloyd and Tom Wilson returned to their iconic roles for the attraction. Reportedly, Michael J. Fox was asked to return but declined the offer.
Vintage Press Release For Back To The Future The Ride From The Official Back To The Future Website:
UNLOCK THE MYSTERIES OF THE SPACE/TIME CONTINUUM TRAVELING BACK TO THE FUTURE…THE RIDE AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA
ORLANDO, Fla.–Imagine the most intense and enveloping multi-sensory motion picture experience possible. Engulfed in cold fog. Blasting through the space/time continuum. Breaking into an other-worldly dimension. Free falling down volcanic tunnels aflame with molten lava. Cascading over glacial ice fields. Colliding with prehistoric dinosaurs. Catapulting and careening through the past, present and future in a Time Vehicle to stop a villain and prevent him from changing destiny. BACK TO THE FUTURE…THE RIDE, officially premiering to the public at Universal Studios Florida on Thursday, May 2, defies the imagination.
“BACK TO THE FUTURE…THE RIDE brings together the most dynamic motion base with sophisticated hydraulics, multi-channel sound, live effects and a groundbreaking OMNIMAX® film to create a total sensory impact experience never before achieved in any media or studio attraction,” said Terry Winnick, the ride’s producer and vice president of special projects for Universal Studios Florida.
“Whatever you see on the screen you will also feel,” adds Winnick. State-of-the-art special effects give the illusion of time travel. “This is a new dimension of thrills and excitement that must be experienced to believe,” said Douglas Trumbull of Berkshire Ridefilm, who directed the four-minute, multi-million dollar special effects ride film which is a pivotal part of this cutting-edge simulator “ride experience.” Trumbull’s other special effects directorial credits include “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
BACK TO THE FUTURE…THE RIDE continues the record-breaking movie trilogy, “Back To The Future,” about time travel, directed by Robert Zemeckis, scored by Alan Silvestri and starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown and Thomas Wilson as Biff Tannen, the nastiest villain of all time.
In this chapter, the eccentric Doc Brown, master of time travel, is at home conducting experiments in his new laboratory, the “Institute of Future Technology.” Doc has just created his most futuristic invention yet — a convertible, eight-passenger Time Vehicle that’s faster and more energy efficient than his earlier time machine. But what’s this? Jumping jigowatts! Biff Tannen is loose in the “Institute of Future Technology” and threatens to end the universe as we know it. With no time to lose, you’ll jump into the driver’s seat on the most mind-blowing, pulse racing, barrier-breaking journey of your life. Doc will guide you by remote control as you careen your way through time in pursuit of the evil Biff.
The chase is on. Engulfed in three-dimensional images, you fly into the futuristic Hill Valley of “Back To The Future II,” circa 2015, and blast through the eons to the chilling Ice Age. With dizzying speed, you thunder through caverns, crevasses and canyons of sheer, jagged ice, collide with a glacier and explode into the Volcanic Era. Up, up you fly, propelled through the immense open mouth of Tyrannosaurus Rex, erupting through a volcano and plunging over the edge of a molten lava fall in a sheer vertical drop.
“BACK TO THE FUTURE … THE RIDE is one of the most spectacular and sophisticated ride experiences ever created,” said Tom Williams, president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios Florida. “One of seven new blockbuster attractions being added to the studio this year, BACK TO THE FUTURE…THE RIDE gives thrill-seekers a reason to return to Universal Studios Florida,” he adds.
BACK TO THE FUTURE…THE RIDE, with creative direction from Steven Spielberg, is the result of extraordinary and unique breakthrough technology, which combines OMNIMAX® 70mm film projected on seven-story high hemispherical screens, multi-channel sound and powerful hydraulically activated dynamic motion. Every aspect of the film, simulator vehicle motion, live effects and sound has been integrated to send you time-traveling into the stratosphere of cinematic excitement. It’s never been done before. And there’s only one place on earth that it can be experienced–Universal Studios Florida.
Universal Studios Florida is equally owned by MCA INC. and The Rank Organisation, which became MCA’s joint venture partner in 1989. MCA INC., recently acquired by the Japanese consumer electronics giant — Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., is the parent company of Universal Studios, Universal Pictures, Universal Television and the MCA Music Entertainment Group, which recently acquired Geffen Records.
Universal Studios Florida is a registered trademark of Universal City Studios Inc. Back to the Future is a registered trademark of UCS & Amblin ©1991 Universal Studios Florida. All rights reserved.
Thoughts: Back to the Future The Ride is probably my favorite theme park attraction of all time. The ride really made you believe you were a part of the fourth Back to the Future adventure. Even though it was modeled after Star Tours, there really hasn’t been anything quite like it. It’s understandable why Universal retired the ride, there hasn’t been a BTTF movie in 30 years, but it still feels wrong that the marvel attraction can’t be properly experienced ever again.