• Shona McCarthy

Jaws: The Ride, Universal Studios Japan

For some reason, one is not allowed to take pictures on the Jaws Ride at Universal Studios Japan. But Since we're not, I wasn't able to take photos of my visit. And so, I'll just have to use stock images of sharks instead.

(The Jaws Ride does involve a boat. It just doesn't look like that.) As you might have seen in an earlier post, I love the Amity or Jaws area of USJ. But it hadn't occurred to me to actually ride the Jaws ride, since it always seemed to have a long line, and I really just wanted to go through the Terminator 2:3D experience over and over again that day.

But after going through it a few times, the park said there was some technical problems with the ride and gave us free fast-passes to other rides to make up for it. Since I had loved the Amity area so much, I figured taking the Jaws ride would make the most sense. With fast-pass, the line wasn't really a problem. What surprised me, at first, was how much the boat in the ride seemed like a normal boat. And how small and cute our boat rider was. She announced everything in Japanese, so much of the time I didn't really know what she was saying. But I didn't have to.

(Yes, another stock image. Sorry.) The first part of the ride was very peaceful, and I was enjoying it very much. The boat was taking us past parts of Amity that weren't visible from the land, and the idyllic views included a beautiful little New England style church. The scene made me truly wish photography was allowed. But looking back, I don't think any photograph would have done justice to what I saw. This may be why they don't allow it.

(Imagine seeing this on a massive riverbank. But much whiter and woodier and more beautiful, and surrounded by other little rural buildings.)

I marveled at how people seemed to be enjoying the ride, peaceful as it was, and it felt very much as though that was how it should be. But then the boat driver, with a comedic amount of apathy, seemed to announce that there was trouble ahead. What followed was a series of fires, explosions and synthetic sharks which created a remarkable sense of danger and dread, even though I was largely calm. Intellectually I knew there was no way the park would put visitors in any real danger, since their insurance premiums would be impossible if they did. But still, the moments where we were in a dark boat shed, and the tour guild seemed to pretend to shoot at Jaws with a gun were spectacular in their drama. I won't tell you how the ride ends, since I don't want to spoil it for you. I can't recall whether or not I got wet at all, since it was so long ago that I was on the ride and of all the things I saw, getting wet was probably the least surprising.

But the thing that will linger in my memory is how small and apathetic the boat driver was even as she shot at that shark.

If you do find that you want to commemorate your ride, there is a plethora of different Jaws merchandise around the park, and the merchandise seems to vary and improve with each visit, meaning that by the time you go, something better than this jaws headband might be there!

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