Set on a soundstage of a fictitious movie company, Disaster! Studios, Disaster! comically illustrates how special effects are filmed for use in movies. The attraction's climax casts the riders as "extras" for a movie finale scene involving an earthquake in a subway station. Thanks to high-speed editing techniques, the riders get to see their handiwork in the form of a movie trailer that includes film sequences shot throughout the attraction's pre-show and main show. The attraction opened on January 17, 2008.
Earthquake: The Big One was one of Universal Studios Florida's original attractions, opening with the park on June 7, 1990. While the attraction was principally based on a portion of the original park's famous Backlot Studio Tour, its main inspiration actually came from the 1974 disaster film epic Earthquake. Over the years, however, fewer and fewer guests knew about the attraction's original heritage, so as part of a major renovation project, Universal Studios decided to detach the attraction from any existing film property and instead craft a completely fictional premise around it by reinventing its storyline entirely.
On November 5, 2007, Universal Orlando officially confirmed the refurbishment of this attraction the day that the original Earthquake attraction was permanently closed.
The attraction reconstruction itself took 1 month and 3 weeks, the fastest turnaround time for a new attraction in Universal Orlando history. Among the changes include a brand new pre-show experience, as well as new technologies never before used in a theme park. Disaster! also features new ride elements that were not in the Earthquake attraction.
The attraction started previews on December 23, 2007 after some technical problems delayed the actual opening. The grand opening took place on January 17, 2008. It was hosted by Universal Orlando Resort CEO Bill Davis, with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson making a special guest appearance.
In August of 2015, Universal Studios announced that Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride... Starring You!, would be permanently closing on September 8, 2015 to make room for The Fast and Furious: Supercharged.
Halloween Horror Nights Edit
The Disaster! queue has been used several years to make a haunted house at Halloween Horror Nights. They have used it to make the following:
- Doomsday (HHN Reflections of Fear)
- Leave it to Cleaver (HHN Ripped from the Silver Screen)
Attraction summary Edit
Disaster! is an interactive attraction following the storyline of a faux movie studio run by Frank Kincaid (played by Christopher Walken). The studio is going bankrupt and needs visitors to act as extras for key insert scenes. In helping Frank Kincaid complete his masterpiece, the visitors are then asked to be a part of the big finale sequence involving an earthquake.
Disaster's queue serves as a boneyard for many props from recent faux Disaster Studios films, including a Meteor-Struck House from Apocageddon, a torn apart plane from 300 Knots Landing, a mechanical shark from Das Schurke, and a giant tank being consumed by the tentacles from Super Mega Ultra Atomic Chaos. Guests are also greeted to Disaster Studios with a giant mural of destroyed Los Angeles, introducing Frank Kincaid as the "Master of Mayhem."
Pre-show EditGuests are introduced to Lonnie, an Assistant Director who casts
guests for scenes that he needs to be shot in the soundstages. Guest are then taken into a screening room where Frank Kincaid describes his particular brand of film-making. Frank Kincaid then pleas to visitors to help him complete his film. After a big speech, guests are ushered into another soundstage where the scenes are shot. Audience members that were pre-picked to be involved in the scenes are trotted out to perform, and the audience becomes part of the action as well, and scenes are filmed where a child jumps from one spot to another, lab workers are pummeled by foam rocks, a man in a pit, and a grandmother hoeing. Frank Kincaid appears on a screen and invites guests to take part in his big finale that is being shot next door.
Ride EditGuests enter a subway station, modeled after BART's West Oakland
Station, where they board a subway train. Small plasma screens on the train direct guests on the big reactions needed to successfully shoot the scene. Departing the station, guests travel beneath the bay and soon arrived at the Embarcadero subway station. Shortly after arriving at the station, the train is shaken by a violent earthquake. The entire station is seemingly destroyed as large cracks form in the station platforms, sections of the roof collapse, a gasoline truck falls through the ceiling and bursts into flames, another subway train enters the station and is derailed, and a flash flood of water rushes down the stairs and into the station. Following the sequence, the train heads back to the West Oakland station, and the TV monitors on the train show the trailer for the faux film "Mutha Nature". The trailer, which spoofs disaster films in general, stars an uncredited Dwayne Johnson as a park ranger who tries to save lives during a series of ecological disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. Green screen technology allows the trailer to incorporate scenes shot by guests, under the guidance of Universal Orlando staff.
Much like all the attractions at Universal Studios Florida, the attraction has specific requirements to ensure the safety of guests, including being free of neck, back, or any other health ailments.
Gift shop Edit
There is a small seasonal kiosk across from the exit called Disaster! Studios Gifts which sells T-shirts based on lines from the attraction. It replaced Earthquake: The Big One's Shakin's Souvenirs gift shop.
- Christopher Walken as Frank Kincaid The owner, CEO, Head Director, Writer, Producer etc. of Disaster! Studios. When an accident on the set of his newest film Mutha Nature causes its stars to go to rehab, Kincaid casts park guests as his new actors. Alec Baldwin was originally considered for the role of Frank Kincaid.
- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the Star of Mutha Nature Although given no official character name, Johnson is seen as a lead role in Mutha Nature where he plays a park ranger who must save the world from hordes of disasters caused by an evil corporation.
- Universal Studios Florida Actor as Lonnie The assistant to Kincaid. When all of Kincaid's actors get sent to rehab during the filming of Mutha Nature, Lonnie is sent by Kincaid to cast new actors for his film. Lonnie is the main host of the attraction's pre-show.
- Universal Studios Florida Operations Team Members as Production Crew Members the employees who work at Disaster! Studios for Kincaid. They are seen in almost every part of the attraction.
- Matthew Walker as Mikey Kincaid's assistant director for Mutha Nature.
Mikey is seen twice in the entirety of the ride; in the second pre-show room working as a projectioist in a projectionists booth, and throughout the main ride portion. Mikey is the main host of the ride. Walker had previously worked on another Universal Studios-related project, Child's Play 3.
Disaster! features new technology never before used in a theme park attraction. Disaster! uses Musion technology to bring the Frank Kincaid character to life. This technology uses techniques similar to the Pepper's Ghost effect that has been used in attractions such as Haunted Mansion and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Walt Disney World Resort. Musion projects a high definition image onto the floor and onto a giant piece of plexiglass, giving it the illusion that it is lifelike. It also gives the ability to interact with objects on stage, as can be seen in many parts of the attraction.
Disaster! also uses Real-Time Editing to help produce the movie trailer for Mutha Nature that is shown at the end of the ride. Real-Time editing captures shots and wirelessly transmits them onto the Disaster! ride vehicle, which then inserts those shots into the trailer.