Welcome to Extinct Attractions. My name is Cole, and I’ll be your guide as we conquer fear today on the spookiest of days, Halloween.
Every year, Universal Studios parks around the world celebrate the spooky season with Halloween Horror Nights, with Universal Orlando doing it the longest as the 29th incarnation of the event is ending this weekend. Personally, I am a huge fan of Horror Nights, having only missed two of them in the past seven years (an impressive feat considering that I go to college in an area about one thousand miles from the nearest Universal park). I’ve been to the ones in Hollywood and Orlando, and while I enjoy the one in Florida more, our journey actually takes us to California today and an attraction that would fit in at Horror Nights by name, but not necessarily in content.
Fear Factor first debuted on NBC in 2001. Hosted by Joe Rogan, the reality show pitted contestants against each other to perform crazy stunts and eat wild things in an attempt to win $50,000. While the show sometimes struggled in the ratings compared to the competition, it was successful enough that when NBC and Universal merged, they decided to bring the show to life in the parks.
Via Backpack Boy
The show began its run in Hollywood in Spring of 2005, taking over for the panned Spider-Man Rocks. For a long time, the Castle Theater had been home to more traditional theme park shows, so it was exciting to see the space used in a different capacity for Fear Factor Live.
One of the coolest parts of the show was that it utilized guests who were at the park that day to compete following the trend of Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play It from several of the Disney Parks. Guests would sign up earlier in the day to compete on shows later that afternoon, helping to lead to some fun cheering sections if one of the contestants had a lot of friends there with them that day.
My parents were never really interested in going to the show when I was younger and frequenting Universal Studios Hollywood, so I never got the chance to watch the show in person. But when I watched it for this post, I have to say that it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be.
The show started with a high hang that was pretty anticlimactic because it was just watching people hold on as long as they could. It was a pretty dull first task, but I understand that you have to move your way up, so I can’t fault them for starting with something so simple. After each round, the two people who finished last were eliminated.
Next, the contestants would complete a task where they needed to reach into a tank full of eels and grab flags to hang them up. Once they hung up all their flags, they needed to chug a “delicious” mixture of pig guts, bugs and more. I really loved this round because it had a lot of kinetic energy and there was so much going on with everyone running around that you didn’t know where to look.
By comparison, I thought that the final round was dull in comparison. The final two contestants would spin this wheel that would shock them harder and harder as they spun more and more. I don’t know if the people I was watching were just resilient, but they didn’t seem to have that much trouble with the task, the winner barely even stopping once. Compared to the activity before, it was just lacking.
Overall though, I thought the hosts weren’t as unbearable as a lot of the other hosts you see in theme park shows. They brought a nice life to the show and helped usher the contestants off while also helping them feel at home. I don’t know, based on what I wrote, it sounds like I didn’t love Fear Factor Live, but there was some intangible feeling about the entire experience that I really found myself enjoying.
But on August 14, 2008, it was time for Fear Factor Live to come to a close at Universal Studios Hollywood. In its place, Creature from the Black Lagoon The Musical took over the Castle Theater.
At this point, the original run of the show had been over for two years, so the fact that it managed to live on past the end of the television show is impressive in itself, though not quite as wild as what has happened over in Florida.
Via Orlando Florida
Somehow, Fear Factor Live has defied the odds and is still shown at Universal Studios Florida to this day. (Well, it closes every Halloween season, so the stage can be used for Halloween shows, but come mid-November, it’ll be back in action.) Opening in Florida on June 3, 2005, this version of the show has lasted longer than two different revivals of the television show. It’s only been fourteen years since it opened, but it still feels like a piece of the past that has been preserved. We’ll have to see how much longer it lasts, but for now it seems to be doing alright.
That’s all for today, but here’s your peek at what’s coming next week.
- This attraction is based on a Universal Monster.
- This attraction was mentioned in this article.
Only two clues today because those should be enough!
Via Sunny Skyz
Thanks for reading and have a magical day!
Cole Geryak is a childless millennial making his way through the world. He has ridden every single ride in Disneyland in one day, all while wearing a shirt and tie. Imagination is his middle name, and his heart truly lies in the parks.