Universal Studios To Officially Close 'Jaws' Attraction

If you plan on being in Florida anytime before Jan. 2, 2012, pack some clothes you won't mind soaking.

Take a day trip to Orlando. Visit Universal Studios Florida. While you're there, bid a nearly 22-year-old attraction a fond farewell.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the theme park's signature "Jaws" ride will frighten and amuse its last boatload of passengers Jan. 2, after which the attraction will be shut down so that the park can add new features.

The ride, which takes tourists on a pleasure cruise through an area dressed like the 1975 Steven Spielberg classic of the same name's fictional beachside resort town of Amity complete with a famous boatside visit from the animatronic eating machine itself, has been in operation since the park's 1990 opening.

Unfortunately, it's now among the latest being phased out along with the "King Kong" attraction's closure in 2002 to make way for the "Revenge Of The Mummy" rollercoaster and the "Ghostbusters"-themed stage shows switch in 1996 to a "Twister"-themed attraction."

Universal spokesman Tom Schroder was mum Friday on details regarding what would replace "Jaws," but promised an announcement "in due time."

"We've got a couple of things planned to ensure we always remember and honor 'Jaws'," Universal assured fans on the park's Facebook page Friday.

It appears that the ride's closure won't affect other attractions, like Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue or or Disaster!, but a ride based on the hit 2010 3D animated film "Despicable Me" is set to open sometime during 2012. These changes come as Universal Studios Florida has been surpassed in attendance by its neighboring sister park, Islands of Adventure.

That's in no small part due to the popularity of Islands' "Wizarding World Of Harry Potter" since its 2010 opening, which recently got a $200-million commitment from NBC Universal and Warner Bros. to build a Universal Studios Hollywood equivalent and has also been targeted for a potential Disney-esque overseas expansion.

In the meantime, since I've never had the pleasure of visiting Universal Studios Florida, let me share my personal favorite memory of this not-long-for-this-world attraction . . .