Orlando's Jaws Ride Sails for the Last Time

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, the thrill ride that allowed visitors to experience a great white shark's surprise attacks -- and to remember the best-selling Peter Benchley book about a mammoth maneater terrorizing Long Island summer tourists and Steven Spielberg's movie adaption -- has gone silent in Orlando, Fla.

Benchley's book, published in February 1974, reportedly sold 20 million copies; it is still in print and available from Amazon.com and other sellers. Spielberg's movie debuted the following year and eventually became the first American movie to exceed $100 million in box office receipts.

Fans of the iconic Jaws ride vented their displeasure on the Facebook page of Universal Studios' Orlando theme park (http://www.facebook.com/UniversalOrlandoResort) on Jan. 2, where the ride closed permanently at 9 p.m. EST that day. Universal Studios had announced the closure just a month before on that page, and several comments among the 331 posted by 3:15 p.m. CST were from people complaining they should have had more notice.

Several people posted comments opposing the apparent reason for closing it -– to expand The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. A typical one read: "Universal, it's clear that almost everyone here hates this decision. I really don't understand why this amazing ride is being removed. Whatever replaces it will never be as good. I wish [that] you would change your mind."

At http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2MijJeShDs&feature=channel_video_title, Universal Studios posted a YouTube video of excited reactions to the ride from some of the final patrons to experience it.

A Jan. 2 article by The Orlando Sentinel's Dewayne Bevil (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/os-universal-studios-jaws-closes-20120102,0,3171161.story) includes quotes from a former employee who operated the ride for about a year.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Jan 03, 2012