Disaster The Ride at Universal Studios

Disaster! is a ride that invites guest to participate in the filming of a natural disaster.

The ride is an updated version of the past version Earthquake: The Big One.

Earthquake was one of Universal Studios’ original rides when the park opened in 1990.

Unlike the past ride, this ride is not directly associated with any film due to people’s increasing lack of knowledge of the original 1974 classic on which the first ride was based.

The 2007 renovated version incorporates updated technology that allows attendees to watch their acting prowess post ride, as it is transformed into a mini motion picture trailer.

They have also added additional special effects to enhance the earthquake experience.

The premise for the ride is that visitors are being asked to act as extras in the making of a film.

Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken plays the movie director.

He acts as Frank Kincaid, a desperate and nearly ruined film director.

He informs park guests that the production company is going broke and is thus desperate for fresh off-the-street talent.

Prior to boarding the subway, the queue eases the wait by acting as a graveyard for many props from the soon to be bankrupt production company’s past films.

Playing off of the rides original history, there is a giant mural of a decimated Los Angeles.


Riders are encouraged to offer additional help in the production.

They are led into a screening room where select park attendees are picked from the audience, and asked to help act out scenes.

After the scenes have been shot, and the volunteers have been thoroughly thrashed with foam rocks, Kincaid comes back on the screen and informs audience members that he is almost done.

He pleads with the audience, asking them if they would be so kind as to walk next door to help him shoot the grand finale of his film.

Special Affects

Many of the ride’s special effects are recycled from the past attraction.

These special affects include abrupt shaking of the tram cart, the rushing of water as the walls cave, large portions of the roof collapsing, and, finally a gasoline truck plummets through the ceiling and bursts into flames.

While the ride sounds terrifying, riders are fully aware that they are participating in a film production.

For movie lovers this is, if nothing else, an educational experience, as they get to see firsthand the technology that goes into the creation of many cinematic natural disasters.

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