Welcome to Captain Jake’s Amity Boat Tours. We’re the best – and only scenic cruise on the island.
In 1994, I moved out of dad’s house after two years sporadic fun at my local community college and ventured into the “real world.” He moved to Georgia and I moved to Orlando, Florida where I got my first full time job to pay my own damn rent… I became a Ride & Show Operator for Universal Studios Florida on the Jaws ride.
That’s me directly behind the red head.
I regularly hear folks talk about the friends you have in life that you keep along the way in that you made in high school and college. Working at that theme park ride was such a strange and similar sense of family that (to this day) I miss the people in that photo with a touch of nostalgia.
You see, Jaws was THE ride to work for at Universal Studios back then. It was the springboard for stepping into management because it presented all of a theme park ride’s challenging elements in one package for the employees:
- You had to spiel (meaning you talk practically all day.)
- It was an outside ride at a theme park open year round. (Ah, those cold winters on the outside water ride!)
- It was a ride where (like it or not) you were going to get drenched with water.
- It was a ride where you had to show up at the crack of dawn and clean show elements (the boats) with soap and scrub brushes.
- It was a popular ride and had a long line which gave way to a ton of upset park guests and an ample number of chances for outstanding customer service.
Jaws was the boot camp for the best of the best when it came to running a theme park ride. I made dozens of friends that I still keep in touch because of my experiences there. As a matter of fact, over 10% of my Facebook friends were met via “the mistake on the lake” (an affectionate nickname given to the ride by skippers.)
That’s my friend Karine. I met her when she rode as a guest on my boat in 1995. She’s from France and we have remained pen pals ever since then. As a matter of fact, she, her mother and her daughter met up with my wife and I last year for dinner and we remain in touch via Facebook.
Some experiences transcend entertainment, and my time spent at the Jaws ride at Universal helped define a large part of who I am today.
Thus, when I heard the news today that Jaws is closing at Universal Studios Florida on January 2, 2012 – I couldn’t help but be saddened a bit. The silliest things can sometimes be the most important in our lives, and we often don’t realize it until it’s time for those things to fade off into the sunset.
So I’m going back to ride Jaws… one last time.
Saturday, December 17th, 2011. Meet me out at the hanging shark between 1:30 PM and 2:00 PM. At two o’clock, I’ll enter the queue line and go searching for Gordan one last time.
Here’s the details on Facebook. It’s an open invite, so send it to everyone you’d like to see join us:
Also feel free to post a reply of your memory of Jaws the Ride on my blog here. I’d love to share in the nostalgia.