A Man Was Almost Eaten By The Shark From ‘Jaws’ ... The Ride
One of the greatest Universal Studios rides that didn’t involve helping Doc Brown monkey with the time-space continuum in a blatant disregard for his previously established scientific ethics was Jaws based on the Steven Spielberg blockbuster. For those who never got to enjoy the sadly defunct attraction, it basically took you on a pontoon boat tour of Amity Island -- one that predictably resulted in a killer shark attack, presumably because one of the passengers was secretly the target of some kind of Voodoo curse.
When the Jaws ride first opened in 1990 at Universal Studios, Florida, it closed down after just two months due to “technical problems” -- presumably after the Mayor of Universal Studios continually insisted that everything was totally fine. One early hiccup involved a guest falling into the water and almost being maimed by the robotic shark. New Jersey’s Anthony Salamone alleged that the boat’s railing broke, which caused him to tumble into the water.
While this wouldn’t be a huge deal at, say, “It’s a Small World,” this was the friggin’ Jaws ride, and soon Salamone found cinema’s most famous maneater “coming toward him.” Which was A) presumably terrifying enough to warm the water by a few degrees and B) potentially dangerous. Sure it wasn’t an actual shark, but it was an automated behemoth cobbled together with real shark teeth.
One of the guy’s kids then screamed: “The shark’s gonna eat daddy!” And when he was eventually rescued (after a failed attempt led to him falling in the water a second time), the rest of the passengers broke into applause, believing it to be all “part of the show.” He ended up suing Universal for $1 million, claiming that “the company and its employees were careless and negligent in maintaining the ride.” The attraction was overhauled, and Universal even sued the ride’s original designer due to the repeated malfunctions. Although, to be fair, they shouldn’t have been totally shocked considering that the ride’s source material famously had a major problem with faulty mechanical sharks. It’s a little like making a Maximum Overdrive ride and expecting that the staff won’t be dangerously coked out of their minds.
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Top Image: Universal Studios