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Waterworld, the movie, had Universal Studios executives groping for Dramamine as a tidal wave of negative publicity gathered strength in the Pacific and slammed into the media. Though its production was also frenetic, Waterworld--A Live Sea War Spectacular, the outdoor stunt show that opened at Universal Studios Hollywood last fall, is making waves with theme park audiences. The $15-million show retains the $175-million sci-fi adventure's outsized stunts I and sets but streamlines the storyline, conveving in a breathless 16 minutes the fur ther adventures of the Mariner and Helen on a return trip to the floating atoll, where the few humans left in a waterlogged future congregate. Needless to say, there are plenty of obstacles standing between our heroes and Dryland--and a number of entertainment design talents assigned to put them in their way.
"In late October 1994, we got a call that we should go to Hawaii and look at the sets and see the filming," recalls Norm Kahn, vice president of entertainment for Universal Studios Hollywood and CityWalk and proiect manager for the Waterworld show. "The problems of the film hadn't materialized at that early stage, but it was clear that this would be a perfect replacement show for Miami Vice, which was pretty outdated. The atoll, the atoll gates and the other sets lent themselves to our arena."
Back home in La, Kahn had Crockett and Tubbs pensioned off and enlisted a troupe of vendors to replicate the movie in the lagoons 23'-deep pool, which was emptied out, widened, and then painted blue for the appropriate deep-sea look. Several companies that waded into Waterworld had previosly worked, on MCA's Porto Europa park in Wakayama, Japan, where their expertise in set, sound and show control design had impressed the top brass.
Construction commenced in January 1995, in the lagoon area at the front of the park where the Miami Vice aqua stunt show was housed. The Waterworld show zoomed down the fast track to tie in with the movie, released late last July. As special effects and stunts were added to the scriptl resitating new blocking and entrances for the performers, the systems and programming had to be redesigned to accommodatc the changes. After a period of rehearsals and revamping, the show, which runs from five to 15 times per day depending on the weather, premiered last fall.
"Rather than try to tell a story, the script is formulated around the most repeatable snunts and gags from the movie--the show will run up to 2,300 times per year. We also identified the large pieces from the movie, like the atoll and the seaplane, that could serve as the main show action equipment," Kahn says.
The 40,000-sq.-ft. facility that houses Waterworld was developed by Santa Monica, CA-based Solberg and Lowe Architects, who brought in the …