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Comments for Exposed Shots Show Extinct Universal Attraction Construction On Hillside Edge

back to the future

Credit: The First Drop (left) Jim Shull (right)

1 Comment

  1. Tom Tait

    Sorry, no. Back to the Future the Ride opened in Florida in 1991, but it didn’t open in California until May of 1993.

    The photo you have during construction is from mid summer of 1992, about a year before opening, taken from near the top of the Starway Escalator.

    What you don’t see in that photo is the truly exceptional engineering of the building. The deck in front of the building is actually like a concrete bridge out into space that helps to hold the building from toppling backwards down the hill behind, crushing the tram route to the lower lot. The steel you see above the deck helps to support the massive ride vehicles and motion bases, all on scissor lifts, and moving in unison to try and destroy the building if they can. Remember physics class when they taught you about why soldiers walk in different cadence across bridges to they don’t collapse, imagine 24 motion bases all working (worse case) in perfect unison with both high and low frequency massive forces on that steel and concrete.

    Below the deck is even more steel, holding the building up off the sloping hillside below, and then huge pilings going into the soft hillside to great depths, through former landfill leaking methane, until they finally hit bedrock sometimes more than 100 feet below ground. The entire structure is like a mechzilla version of a tahitian hut out over the ocean.

    To see the “below the scenes” view take the elevator at the top of the Starway Escalator down to the alternate transportation station below the building. From that level you can see the roadway under the queue where Champion Crane of the valley brought in a massive mobile crane through the loading doors on the side of the building to drop in the ride systems one at a time. The blue and yellow behemoth still cruises the highways of southern California, and clears the columns, curbs, doors, and the steel inside the building by less than an inch in many places.

    Kudos to architects Solberg + Lowe, and Bernard’s Brothers Construction, and project leaders Steven Marble and Bill Whitcomb for a fantastic accomplishment. Doug Trumbull deserves huge credit for the Ridefilm.

    BTTF- The Ride was one of the greatest accomplishments Universal ever created. It’s a shame it was taken down for a Fox property that never got the audience or love that the original ride had.

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