Yesterland
at Yesterland
Twister… Ride It Out
 
Universal Studios Florida

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2012

Twister, the 1996 disaster flick, starred Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt as researchers chasing tornados. It was the movie with the iconic scene of a cow flying across the screen.

Twister had a worldwide box office gross of almost a half billion dollars. That’s a lot of money. So it’s not surprising to find a theme park attraction based on it.


Tornados cause massive damage. Tornados kill. Fortunately, this attraction won’t harm you—unless you consider it harmful to have your back pelted with water and your hair messed up by wind.

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2012

Where Production Central meets New York

Befitting its location in the park, part of the show building is themed as a Production Central soundstage and the other part as a brick New York building. For some odd reason, your Universal Studios map shows that the attraction is part of New York.

Who knew that Wakita, Oklahoma is part of New York? Wakita is where the movie took place, and that’s where this attraction takes you.

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2012

Storm damage

Look for the tornado-damaged soundstage. The billboard at its top is still readable, despite what the wind has done to it. But the tractor embedded in the wall will probably never plow a field again.

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2009

Entrance

The sign just says “Twister,” but the full name of the attraction is Twister… Ride It Out. Despite having “ride’ in its name, this is not a ride. It’s a walkthrough—or, more accurately, a walk-and-stop.

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

A cow made a big impression

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Outside queue

There’s room for a lot of people in the outside queue. Read the fun weather facts on the monitors. The good news is that you probably won’t be out here long.

The doors to Soundstage 50 open, revealing a black room with two screens for the pre-show.

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Pre-show with the stars of the movie Twister

The pre-show begins with the two screens showing some of the most terrifying storm scenes from the effects-laden movie. Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt, appearing on separate screens, tell you about tornadoes.

If there’s an Academy Award for “most wooden performance by an actor in an attraction pre-show film,” the winner would be Bill Paxton for this role. His performance has been called “monotone” and “phoned in.” It’s not clear if Paxton was trying to be dramatically resolute, or if he just really didn’t want to do it.

Helen Hunt delivers her lines well.

After the pre-show, it’s time for… another pre-show! This time, you’re in a storm-damaged corridor. Appearing on TV screens strewn throughout the damage, Paxton and Hunt tell what it was like to make the movie.

Your next stop is the main show.

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Main show

Stand on one of the tiered platforms facing Wakita’s Galaxy Drive-In Theater. This is not a movie. What you are about to see is real. Here’s how the park’s website describes the experience [captured 2015]:

What it’s like to be a real storm chaser, looking a tornado right in the eye and braving the worst nature can throw at you. Twister… Ride it Out® re-creates all the nail-biting excitement and unforgettable moments from one of the most action-packed movies of all time.

Grab onto the railing or you’ll be sucked into the swirling vortex of a tornado measuring F5 on the Fujita scale. You’ll withstand the powerful winds, deafening roar and pulse-pounding intensity of a monster storm with a mind of its own. A voracious beast, the twister will consume everything in its path… shattering windows, hurling trucks, and crushing enormous signs in a total assault on your senses – with you right in the middle. From the first flying debris to its fiery conclusion, it’ll blow you away!

Yes, there’s a real funnel cloud. Your platform and its roof are not immune from the storm, leading to the scariest moments of the show.

Oh, and a cow flies by.

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Exit to the gift shop

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Welcome to Wakita, Oklahoma

The aftermath of the storm you just witnessed is a large gift shop—called Aftermath.

There’s only one problem. There really isn’t much demand for Twister merchandise. Storm chasers Bill and Jo Harding just don’t have the appeal of the characters from Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Toy Story. (But maybe they match the appeal of the characters from AVATAR.)

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Neon sign in the center of the store

The park’s merchandise gurus have a brilliant solution.

Cows.

After all, the movie’s most famous scene features a cow.

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Souvenir shirts

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Cows, not Twister

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2012

Direct entrance to the store

If you don’t care about tornadoes and storm chasers, but you like cows, consider entering the gift shop from its outside entrance.


Twister… Ride It Out opened May 4, 1998, at Universal Studios Florida in the space that had previously been Ghostbusters Spooktacular (June 1990 to November 1996).

Twister at Universal Studios Florida

© Universal Orlando Resort

Twister… Ride it Out publicity image

The opening of this simulated tornado had been delayed a month due to real tornadoes. On February 22, 1998, seven real twisters had hit the Orlando area, killing 42 people—the deadliest wave of tornadoes in the history of Florida.

Twister… Ride it Out had a run of more than 17 years, although it was often closed during slow periods in its later years.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon at Universal Studios Florida

© Universal Orlando Resort

Replacement for Twister

On October 28, 2015, Universal announced the closing of Twister… Ride It Out and what would replace it:

The host of America’s No. 1 late-night talk show will soon get his very own theme park attraction at Universal Orlando Resort.

In 2017, Jimmy Fallon – host of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and one of today’s funniest comedians – will be the star of a brand-new hilarious ride experience at Universal Studios Florida called, “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Guests will enjoy the full “Tonight Show” experience as they’re transported to Studio 6B to race against Jimmy in a crazy adventure that only he could imagine.

Jimmy and his creative team are working closely with Universal to develop the ride’s storyline and bring his vision to life. The experience will seamlessly blend the playful and irreverent world of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” with the incredible technology and imaginative storytelling for which Universal Orlando is known.

The adventure will begin as guests step right into Studio 6B, where Jimmy will challenge them and their fellow audience members to a white-knuckle race. Guests will twist, turn and laugh as they speed through the streets – and skies – of The Big Apple – encountering everything from iconic landmarks to the deepest subway tunnels – and anything else that comes to Jimmy’s mind.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will open in 2017 at Universal Studios Florida and join the incredible lineup of experiences at Universal Orlando Resort. It will replace Twister… Ride It Out, which will close on November 2 to make way for the new experience.

As planned, Twister…Ride It Out closed quietly on November 2, 2015.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon at Universal Studios Florida

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Former Twister…Ride It Out being transformed, December 2015

Having Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon in the New York area of the park actually makes sense.


Click here to post comments at MiceChat about this article.


Diagon Alley & London
House of Future Resort
Home


© 2015-2016 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated Septemer 9, 2016.