Bringing a (Jurassic) World of Star Power to Theme Park Queues

This summer, Chris Pratt, Tom Holland and Bryce Dallas Howard are all showing off new productions, funded by big studios and loved by co...


This summer, Chris Pratt, Tom Holland and Bryce Dallas Howard are all showing off new productions, funded by big studios and loved by countless viewers. But these projects did not make their debut on movie screens; nor do they broadcast worldwide. Instead, these stars are making a splash on the screens you watch while waiting in line for new theme park attractions.

In the queue for the new VelociCoaster ride at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Howard and Pratt, playing their characters from the “Jurassic World” franchise, update you on what you’re about to experience (a race with the raptors), while you get back to the fiery back-and-forth fans of the franchise know and love. (Comic actor Wong, from the first movie “Jurassic Park” is also featured. He, Pratt and Howard also appear in Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood and the upcoming “Jurassic World: Dominion”, slated for release. in theaters summer 2022.) On WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, Holland appears as Peter Parker, welcoming guests to the Avengers Campus Open House, warning them of the dangers of self-replicating “spider robots” and instructing them how to use the signature gesture of the merry-go-round -based on mechanics.

This current generation of queue videos extends from a trend that exploded in the 1990s, when a combination of tech and celebrity culture brought a whole sub-genre of theme park to life.

Prior to that, rudimentary movie technology, along with simplistic driving mechanics and a more understated focus on story, meant attractions that guests regularly enjoyed didn’t need further explanation. On the way up Space Mountain, everything was tacit but explicitly clear – the plunging design of the outside of the ride, with its conical shape and arrows reaching for the sky; rocket-shaped passenger vehicles – all meant you’d be roaming the galaxy.

But soon, the simplicity that previously governed theme park attractions began to change – the rides became more complex, requiring additional safety instruction, while the attractions also became more story-driven. And, frankly, the queues were getting longer. Queue videos were an entertaining shortcut that met all of these needs.

In the late 1980s, with Disney attractions like Star Tours, queued videos became commonplace. But in 1989, with the opening of Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) in Walt Disney World, queue video entered celebrity realm. This new park was meant to take you behind the scenes of your favorite movies and TV shows, and star-studded video segments were there to welcome you to the queue for the trip.

David Letterman appeared from the perspective of The monsters sound show, where guests could record sound effects for a short film. And at Magic of Disney Animation Experience, you were treated to a video where Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams described the process. But these celebrities usually played themselves rather than well-known movie characters.

That changed in 1991, when Back to the Future: The Ride opened at Universal Studios Orlando. In the queue video, Christopher Lloyd and Thomas F. Wilson appeared as their characters Doc Brown and Biff Tannen from the “Back to the Future” franchise.

Peyton Reed, the director of “Ant-Man,” co-wrote the queue video material for Back to the Future: The Ride with Mark Cowen – and they crafted a narrative that went beyond the intrigue. from the film series. “If you watch it you just see the DeLorean and you never see who is driving the DeLorean,” Reed said of the queue video. “At the time, there was a concept that it was Doc Brown’s evil twin brother who stole the DeLorean.” Reed and Cowen came up with the idea by appealing to the main antagonist of the film series, Biff. It stuck. And the queue has become a dynamic way to continue the story of the films. When The Simpsons Ride replaced Back to the Future: The Ride, Lloyd even returned to voice Doc Brown in this attraction’s queue video.

Universal has continued to emphasize the power of the stars in their lineups – from Transformers: The Ride 3D to various Harry Potter attractions, with actors reprising their roles.

Universal believes these clips enhance the overall park experience. “We’ve built our business by bringing blockbuster movies to life,” said Thierry Coup, senior vice president and creative director of Universal Creative at Universal Parks & Resort via email. “The involvement of the actors in the rides brings an incredible level of authenticity to the experience; and when we can involve both the actors and the filmmakers in the process, we can take things to a whole new level. “

While Universal helped popularize movie-faithful queue video, Disney has made strides. In 2017 Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Escape! opened at Disney California Adventure, with queue video featuring cast from the “Guardians” movies. Rise of the Resistance, the centerpiece of the Star Wars-themed Galaxy’s Edge land attraction at Disneyland, has pre-show appearances by John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac.

Amy Jupiter is a former Disney fantasy who has worked on Guardians of the Galaxy and WEB Slingers. “I love the lines, really,” Jupiter said in an interview. According to her, the queue is intended to answer questions: “Who are you as a member of the public? Where are you? And what is your role? What are you here to do?

In the case of Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout, you are in the collector’s fortress and you are going to blast the mad heroes. James Gunn, who directed the films, also directed the queue and the ride videos. “James has always been a great partner and immediately understood what we were looking for,” Jupiter said. The Mission: Breakout team flew to Atlanta, where “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” was filming and spent days capturing footage of the queue and the ride. Jupiter said Gunn had helped tremendously. “It’s a collaborative effort when you do that, and it brings in the character knowledge and intimate performances that we don’t get,” she said. “Our shots are super wide.”

Gunn recently tweeted that the filming of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, a roller coaster arriving at Epcot, is “on the agenda.” Which means that the era of queue video starring big-name actors because their famous characters are far from over – the next generation of queue videos could be even more immersive, making the translation of films even more transparent.



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