Location: Universal Studios Florida – San Francisco
Height Restriction: None
Age Appropriateness: Any; small children should be able to handle loud noises, darkness and fire
Attraction Description: Disaster is part ride and part show with lots of engaging technology to keep things interesting. When you enter the pre-show, you’ll meet Lonnie, the Assistant Director. He’s in charge of casting so if you want to really be part of the action, this is your chance. The pre-show room also helps set up the plot for the rest experience. Lonnie explains that you’re all going to be part of the upcoming blockbuster “Mutha Nature” produced by legendary (and fictional) Frank Kincaid and starting Dwayne Johnson (AKA The Rock).
In the next part of the show, you meet director Frank Kincaid himself, played by Christopher Walken. Kincaid is projected onto the stage using “Musion” technology (also seen in Forbidden Journey) which makes him look shockingly real. He even interacts with actual props on the stage and the assistant director, Lonnie. After Kincaid has hammered home the importance of this upcoming movie, you’re ushered into the third part of the show.
In this theater, the volunteers selected in the beginning get to show off their acting skills. These bits are short and incredibly random, but you may get a kick out of watching how fellow guests react to their strange instructions. If you’re selected as a volunteer, play along and give it your all. Nothing is worse than watching a lackluster performance from someone who’s embarrassed to scream, jump and over-act in front of others.
Finally, you enter the ride portion of Disaster. Here you’re loaded onto subway cars, each equipped with a flat screen television in the front. In this part of the ride, everyone gets to be an actor. The car is equipped with cameras to film your reaction to the disaster you’re about to witness. The car leaves the dock and moves into a subway set where you’re trapped during an earthquake.
The cars tip from side to side and special effects take place all around. The ground above you collapses and a tanker slides down into the subway and explodes with lots of pyrotechnics. On the opposite side, 65,000 gallons of water pour down. Throughout the entire experience, you’re given cues on how to react, making it clear that it’s all still a movie set – something that may be reassuring to small children.
At the end, you’ll screen the finished preview for “Mutha Nature.” The clips filmed earlier in the show are interspersed with those starring Dwayne Johnson for an overwhelmingly corny and fairly hilarious finished product.
If you’ve experienced this attraction in its former incarnation as “Earthquake,” you’ll notice that much of it is the same. The subway scene, especially, is nearly identical. If you enjoyed it before, you’ll find it has a little extra entertainment value added, especially in the theater scene with Christopher Walken. If you didn’t like it as Earthquake, however, you may want to skip it this time around.
Getting Ready: The Disaster show lasts about 25 minutes, not including time spent in the queue, so plan accordingly if you’re going to meet up with others in party your later, or have dinner reservations at CityWalk.
Worth the Wait: Considering that the attraction lasts nearly half an hour, a wait of 30 to 45 minutes isn’t bad. If you’re visiting during off season, however, look for something closer to 15 or 20.