Jaws- This time it’s personal…

Neptune’s Follyin dry dock. Universal. Being prepped to withstand a special effect hurricane
There’s a tram over there-watching us work!”
Boo– scared ya!
This should workMario, just a little farther!”
Where did Mario go?
Let’s just get back to shore for more cocktails”…
A shark disguise-he’s a fake- halibut dressed up as a shark.
Jet engines create hurricane conditions and deafening noise aboard the Neptune’s Folly. Dump tanks tower in the background, behind the Champion cranes. These tanks allow a mass profusion of water for stormy conditions. Sound has to be dubbed in later due to the ear-splitting noise. Three Musco lighting towers, parked behind the Big Sky attempt to illuminate our storm. This was an overcast summer day- at the backdrop.
Calm before a hurricane…the clouds never move, they’re painted on.
The Star– a tourist favorite
Shark Profile…
All our lakes have sharks…there’s money in it!-The Orca is docked here.
Fire was added when it was felt we needed to- scare kids worse!
Bruce spits hydraulic fluid as he snaps his jaws…
Each car gets attacked, 4 attacks per tram. This is the hardest working employee on this lot.
Who’s next?…The most terrifying shark of all- greets kids!
My son Hudson (foreground) and our friend David with Bruce, the shark. Named after Spielberg’s accountant, according to the tour spiel. This is how our tour shark sits after hours… “Can somebody put me back in the ocean please ?”
The shark at the backdrop- hydraulics bring to life the the frightening attack sequences.
What a cool jet ski...

Released in 1987…

The film that is, the shark is still in captivity. Every tram that circles Cabot Cove is attacked by this creature that lurks just below the surface. In my experience driving trams, this is the most popular animation still going on the tram tour. I’ve seen children cry when finding out the ride is closed for repairs. To attack trams as rapidly as need be, this shark moves both forwards, then backwards. It has to reset itself and the amount of moving parts that creates this tram attack is a constant work in progress. This old Great White is very high maintenance…

In the sequel to Jaws- Mr Spielberg handed the job to another director, Joseph Sargent. Sidney Sheinberg, who discovered Steven, put his wife in this remake. Lorraine Gary starred in this sequel with Michael Caine and Mario Van Peebles. This was the sequel to Jaws 2. The joke on the set is Lorraine is on a paid studio vacation. She’s getting paid a lot of money to sip cocktails on the beach.

The cast was mentioned by every tour guide, about 80 times a day, since trams actually could watch scenes filmed at our backdrop. This is one location on the tour where filming is often seen by tourists. It’s because the Ice Tunnel- or Mummy’s Tomb in more recent times- is adjacent to our giant backdrop. You have to pass this set to experience the last tram animation on your tour.

This was the first set I ever witnessed jet engines create wind effects. The electrical department (40 shop) handles Ritter Fans that require DC power to operate. We also power the wave makers; those are used to create a choppy water surface rather than a calm pond you could skip pebbles on. But Special Effects operate gasoline blowing devices including the jet engines used on this shoot. The sound created is like a jet plane taking off. Hearing protection only goes so far, no sound is recorded when under these conditions.

The buzz around the lot was this edition of Jaws was lacking something, besides just Spielberg. The cast was so so at best. The shark delivered its part well. We knew it was a flop before it flopped. I’m surprised this shark hasn’t resurfaced, pardon the pun, into another Shark box -office attempt. Like a Jurassic Park of the ocean, where sea creatures rule.

Considering sharks date back over 420 million years, it’s amazing we only did three of these…not counting the 3-D version. Steven Spielberg was busy focusing on land sharks -kinda- with Jurassic Park ready to replace the Great Whites.

Fear sells tickets, if you don’t think so, every animation on the tram tour is framed with fear. It’s not just a small world at Universal- it’s an extremely violent world- also.

Keep your arms and legs inside the tram at all times…

Written and lived by Donnie Norden

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