Car Thoughts: The Last Jurassic Park Ford Explorer

It’s not uncommon for theme parks that leverage movie properties to create replicas of items to put in theme parks. Often artifacts from summer blockbusters and tentpole films are too intrinsically valuable to a franchise to sacrifice to the wear and tear of theme park display, however this Jurassic Park Ford Explorer bucks that trend.

Universal Islands of Adventure Jurassic Park Ford Explorer

…this Ford Explorer from the 1993 film Jurassic Park appears to be the real deal.
Installed in Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park roughly 18 years ago (accounting for construction and soft opening), it has undergone a couple of rehabs in its time.
In its early days, it retained the original curved bubble roof and its side windows were still transparent and likely still glass. The side windows were later converted to plexiglass and painted black on the inside to discourage people from both peering in the vehicle, and smashing the glass to take home a souvenir from the film.
The bubble roof eventually succumbed to warping, discoloration, and leaking and was replaced with a hastily formed sloping roof that did not match the the shape of the original. I speculate that this is because Universal theme parks (at the time owned by the Blackstone Group investment fund and NOT Universal itself) failed to pay for the tooling or moulds used to make the roofs along with the SUVs themselves.

That’s right, there was no connection to the movie studio and the theme parks for a long time. Comcast has since bought the theme parks back from Blackstone.

Eventually, the replacement roof went tool and the truck has since had another roof put on, this time opaque fiberglass that was bonded to the body of the car (ie no longer sealed with weatherstripping), and painted black to appear tinted.

But there are way too many words, and not enough pictures here, so let’s continue:

Universal Islands of Adventure Jurassic Park Ford Explorer

The evolution of this vehicle is subtle, but noticeable . It has probably been repainted twice over the years, and the color scheme is more muted than in the original film. A decision was made to repaint the front bumper and strip (or paint black) the bumper trim. Odd to say the least.
While in the movie, the vehicles rode on BF Goodrich tires, this one has had its tires swapped for Goodyears. They are likely filled with cement to prevent leaks or flats.
Getting back to the bubble roof, it appears that Universal gave up on the transparent roof altogether, replacing it with molded fiberglass and painting it black. They also covered the hole in the roof. Perhaps these were attempts at preventing further leaks and sun damage to the interior? We may never know…

The undercarriage shows a typical level of wear, tear, and corrosion from having lived most of its life in humid tropical climates (whether its beginnings on a car lot where it was damaged by a hail storm and deemed unsellable (and thus sold to the production), to its time in Hawaii on set, to its return to sound stages and being drenched by sprinklers, to a brief respite in the arid Los Angeles climate, and finally, in 1998, Florida.

  • Jurassic Park Ford Explorer Underneath

Many question the provenance of any such prop featured in a theme park (to be fair, most are replicas…even if presented as authentic). At the Universal Studios theme park in Osaka, Japan, they didn’t try particularly hard to convince people:

  • Universal Studios Osaka Jurassic Park Ford Explorer

Getting back to Florida,  despite painting the windows black on the Florida Explorer, the paint budget apparently didn’t stretch to the tailgate, because you can see in, and you can see this (apologies for the bad photos)

 

The remnants of the crude blind drive system are still in there. That had to be exceptionally uncomfortable for the driver. In the film, you often see a hastily tossed cloth over the stunt driver. There appear to be cables on the left side that may have been for brake and throttle pedals, and I’m not sure what the torsion beam or the pulleys affixed to the wheel wells accomplished, but decision (or lack thereof) to allow a view into the Explorer was a good one as it ties this vehicle directly back to the great 1993 film.
If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.

Geek Thoughts: Here’s Why LA Comic Con is Better Than San Diego Comic Con (and also why it’s not)

This past weekend I had the good fortune to attend L.A. Comic-Con (formerly called Stan Lee’s Comikaze) at the LA Convention Center. There were things about it I liked instantly when compared to my newbie experience at San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year. I had heard profiles of it as a convention when it was referred to as Stan Lee’s Kamikaze and press was quite positive as people had tired of the intensity and shift away from comic bookiness that San Diego underwent before returning to its roots (as I have heard it has in recent years).

In fact I liked the LA con so much it got me to thinking: This convention has real potential to take over San Diego in terms of popularity with fans. And so below I’ve listed the reasons why I think it will…..followed by the reasons why I think it won’t (Oh you thought this was going to be easy?)

LA Comic Con Deadpool Cosplay Pope

Scale

The size of the exhibition hall at LA Comic Con DWARFS San Diego. Stepping into the hall space I was instantly relieved by the fact that I could see the floor I was standing on and wasn’t getting sliced up by unavoidably rubbing shoulders with the hard cut cardboard and foam core edges of hastily made Iron Man cosplay suits.

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Movie Thoughts Roundup: BlacKkKlansman, The Meg, The Happytime Murders

I know it has been a while since I’ve seen or written about movies but I have been going and loving the new AMC A-List service as an excellent alternative to the now imploding MoviePass. I’m going to hit the three major flicks that I’ve seen recently (BlacKkKlansman, The Meg, and The Happytime Murders) in this roundup or digest, or whatever you want to call it.

Movie #1: BlacKkKlansman

Okay, see here’s the thing. You can have a great true story with compelling characters and an important message and loads of talent….and still not make a good movie, as was the case here. I have to keep this short since this is a roundup, but as a movie and a story, Blackkklansman misses the mark. I humbly believe that Spike Lee’s hubris got in the way of making what could have been a truly amazing feel-good and fun movie about battling racism and winning – and YES you can have a feel-good summer movie on this topic – a passable and meandering tale that barely clings to its plot which teeters on the edge of story structure oblivion.

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[UPDATED] Thing Thoughts: The OneWheel Is For Social Media Influencers

onewheel

[7/30 UPDATE] I’ve added below info on the original self-balancing  One Wheel scooter (that I know of) that was designed back in 2007 by Ben Smither (upon which Free Motion’s design is clearly based).

…and if there’s one thing I never was or will be, it’s a social media influencers, ergo, the OneWheel was a mistake for me. I also value my knees, and my overall physical health and wellbeing, and the OneWheel does not really take any of those things into account as a means of personal short range transportation…very short range transportation that’s a pain to carry when it’s time to do that.

OneWheel+ (and its predecessor and successor the XR) have been pitched as the closest thing you can get to snowboarding in the summer. Maybe for some people this is true, but for me, notsomuch. Quite the opposite in fact. For me it was unwieldy, unstable, and unusable. I say borderline because sure, there are people who likely could find better balance on this thing that I could. But here’s the thing, what it does have in common with snowboarding, makes it significantly more dangerous – that is, you are going to fall off, and in some cases, you’ll fall off by design, and that’s simply unacceptable because unlike snow, hard asphalt and the hard packed dirt trails that Future Motion markets the OneWheel as being ideal for are just that: hard. Failling on snow isn’t going to do much to you, but hitting asphalt hurts. It hurts a lot. I know. I’ve done it without the help of a OneWheel or bicycle or anything else (although I’ve fallen from both of those too). You can do exceptional damage.

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