We often rely on theme park attractions to provide rich, rewarding narrative foundations for movies– but sometimes it works the other way, and movies are actually adapted into theme park attractions. Some of these adaptations, when viewed within the context of the films that they inspired, have profoundly disturbing implications…
5. Jurassic Park: The Ride– They Still Opened Jurassic Park
Remember the end of Jurassic Park– John Hammond felt really bad about all those people who died horrible, violent deaths because of him, and he swore he wouldn’t go through with his plans to open the park. Well, according to Universal Studios’ Jurassic Park: The Ride, that was all bullshit. The ride takes place inside a new Hollywood Jurassic Park. And who introduces the tour of the new park? Fucking John Hammond:
“Perhaps I should mention that the Costa Rica operation shut down back in ’93, you might recall. The wee problem we experienced was only due, I might say, to sabotage… Our Hollywood park is better than ever, and incorporates safety features that will ensure a Costa Rica incident could never happen again.”
That “wee problem” being the deaths of several innocent people, not to mention some pretty shockingly irresponsible child endangerment. At the end of Jurassic Park we were meant to believe John Hammond has learned his lesson about playing God, but apparently all of that character growth amounted to him waiting three years and saying: “aww fuck it, let’s just build another park.”
4. Ghostbusters Spooktacular—The Ghostbusters Are Illegal Arms Dealers
This Universal Studios live stage show gave fans a chance to see their favorite Ghostbusters, or at least struggling actors dressed as their favorite Ghostbusters, up close and in person. Unfortunately though, the show opens with Louis Tully, the character originally portrayed by Rick Moranis, played here by some guy who got promoted from running the JAWS ride. The reason why everyone has been gathered at Ghostbusters HQ? The Ghostbusters are selling people their weapons!
“Each of these starter kits includes these basic money-making components… you get the Neutrana Wand 2000, you get the containment unit, you get the ghost traps—but wait that’s not all!”
Then he pulls out a Proton Pack gun and accidentally fires near a crowd of mostly children. Of course, the legality of the ghost-busting equipment was always kind of sketchy, but establishing that the Ghostbusters are actually selling “unlicensed nuclear accelerators” to the public, is unquestionably criminal.
Sure, they could be assisting people who actually want to legitimately go into ghostbusting– but who’s to say that they’re not providing terrorists with the means to build a nuclear weapon. Are the Ghostbusters running background checks? Does the Second Amendment protect the right to bear Proton Packs?
3. The Star Trek Adventure– Starfleet is completely incompetent
Capitalizing on the fact that people in 1991 regarded blue screen technology as some kind of incomprehensible black magic, Universal Studios partnered with Paramount to present the Star Trek Adventure—and if your idea of “adventure” is awkwardly acting out a Star Trek episode with your parents while the images of, presumably contractually-obligated, original cast members speak to you while not making any kind of eye contact, then this is the attraction for you.
Park attendees would get to “act” out a Star Trek episode, the plot of which involves Starfleet Academy graduates being given command of the Enterprise for a “training mission”. If this seems dangerous, it’s because it is. These inexperienced recent grads fly the flagship of the Federation right into a Klingon trap. This is basically like handing nuclear launch codes to a kid who’s completed basic training.
In the world of The Star Trek Adventure, Starfleet, a once proud service of a future utopia, is basically hurling kids into space in the hope that they’ll figure out what the hell is going on before they get hundreds of people killed.
2. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride– It’s the Ride Equivalent of a Snuff Film
One of the original rides from back when Disneyland opened in 1955, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is based on Disney’s 1949 adaptation of The Wind in the Willows. The ride taps into the childlike wonder that is reckless endangerment, taking passengers on the titular toad’s dangerous journey of swerving, careening and generally almost killing a bunch of innocent pedestrians.
While that’s all well and good, the conclusion of the ride is a surreal, disturbing twist that comes neither from the film, nor the book. For some reason, whoever built this ride decided that the big finish should involve Mr. Toad (whose perspective experiencing) escaping from prison, colliding head-on with a train, and then going to Hell. Literally. In the last section of the ride you actually go to actual Hell, surrounded by fire and demons. Then the ride’s over.
With this conclusion in mind, the whole narrative of the ride functioned only to lead us to the point where we witness Mr. Toad being killed. It’s the ride equivalent of a snuff film, or a Mel Gibson movie.
Need further proof that Toad is dead? When the Disney World version of the ride closed down, a Mr. Toad gravestone was erected in the cemetery of The Haunted Mansion. Maybe he can rest, now that he’s not forced to endlessly repeat the tortured events that led to his violent death over and over again. Perhaps that is the true Hell.
1. Back to the Future: The Ride– Doc Brown is a Greedy Liar
Over the course of the Back to the Future trilogy, Doc Brown comes to the realization that the Time Machine he built is actually pretty dangerous. Think about it: the DeLorean’s first test driver almost deleted himself from history– that’s a pretty bad start. And later, when an old man got his hands on the time machine, he created a crazy, dystopian alternate timeline using only a magazine.
Naturally, Doc wants the Time Machine destroyed at the end of the series. After all, this is a device that he claims, in the wrong hands, could literally lead to the obliteration of existence as we know it, not to mention provide more white people with the means to steal credit for inventing rock and roll.
Cut to Back to the Future: The Ride at Universal Studios. The story of the ride takes place shortly after the events of Back to the Future Part III, at Doc Brown’s newly founded Institute of Future Technology. Apparently, instead of protecting the secret of time travel, Doc decided instead to provide it to the general public. You know, kind of like the opposite of what he said should happen.
Since Part II, Doc emphatically stated that the Time Machine must be destroyed, but now, for some inexplicable reason, he’s created a fleet of them, including a new DeLorean that’s been modified to hold eight passengers– that way four times as many people will be able to disrupt the space time continuum.
Riders are volunteers, Doc’s test subjects for time travel experiments that may or may not include seducing their parents. Presumably Doc weighed his moral responsibility to protect the secret of this potentially dangerous invention against the amount of fame and money he would receive by going public… Clara and his kids don’t appear anywhere in the Ride, so maybe Doc had alimony and child support payments to make, and this was his only option to get some cash. It was either this or opening some kind of cheap fast food joint, thank god that didn’t happen.