January 2012: As announced, Universal Studios’ closed the Jaws ride – its giant man-eating shark – but the axe swung farther than that. In shutting down the Jaws ride, Universal also shuttered the entire town of Amity. It closed the Nathan’s hot dog restaurant; it closed the games of chance; it even closed the beer-and-ice-cream pavilion along the lake. Guests can still enjoy the sidewalk, but eight-foot walls now cut off access to restaurants along the lake and everything on the ride side. Whatever takes the place of Amity – and rumors suggest a new Harry Potter attraction – it could cover a lot of land.
Ironically, the shark was out to destroy Amity, so, arguably, Universal succeeded where the man-killing fish failed. It’s all gone.
Still, the take-away is that the not-yet-announced Universal upgrade is more than a new ride. That section of real estate needs some kind of theme to set the mood for the ride to come, just as Amity created the Jersey Shore atmosphere for Jaws. If it is to include Harry Potter and his minions, it has plenty of real estate to accomplish that goal.