Welcome to Extinct Attractions. This week, we’re on a mission from God as we look to bring the good old rhythm and blues to Universal parks.
This Saturday, Universal Studios Florida will begin its Christmas celebrations and try to bring some much needed cheer to Central Florida after the wild ride that has been the year of 2020. While Universal doesn’t quite go all out for the holiday in the same way that Disney does, there are still a lot of fun ways to get in the spirit, with today’s attraction playing a role in that, too.
Via Happy Mag
In 1980, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd took their hilarious Saturday Night Live characters to the big screen with The Blues Brothers. The movie did pretty well when it came out, even amongst middling reviews, but over the years has gained an impassioned following of which I consider myself a proud member. The movie has a great blend of comedy and music that helps it stand out in history, since very few films have managed to so easily blend two different genres.
Clearly, the executives at Universal were enamored with the film since over ten years after it debuted in theaters, a show came to Universal Studios Florida in March of 1991 and to Universal Studios Hollywood sometime in 1991. Both of the shows were simple with Jake and Elwood and some of their friends coming out to sing to guests roughly 6-8 times per day.
When you first think of it, The Blues Brothers seems like kind of an odd choice of IP to become a mainstay at a few different theme parks, but I think it makes perfect sense. Most theme park shows that are more of a streetmosphere like The Blues Brothers tend to throw in a fair amount of comedy with some songs, so with a movie that does that better than any others, you can’t ask for much more.
In addition to getting to see Jake and Elwood Blues perform, guests also got the chance to see some of their friends in the Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin characters. Funnily enough, these characters actually sang a bit more than the Blue Brothers who really were there to harmonize and show off their fun dance moves (at least in the performance that I linked). No matter who was singing, it really worked as nearly all of the songs from the film and other performances are so catchy, and they actually switched out songs in their set quite often.
In Florida, The Blues Brothers have always performed in the New York area, which is a bit ironic considering their connections to Chicago, but hey you take what you can get. Over in California, they had their own stage near where the perpetual year-round haunted house is in the park, but for the last year or so of their time, they moved to the Universal Plaza as their stage had been demolished with the park undergoing a lot of cosmetic upgrades at the time.
Via Orlando Informer
Now getting back to the Christmas spirit, The Blues Brothers themselves got in the groove as you can see with the amazing Bluesmobile they drove up in every show. Now I couldn’t find any evidence of them doing a Christmas version in Hollywood, but in Orlando they’d switch to Christmas songs, all of which had a rock vibe to them.
As to my memories of the show, I loved it (in case you couldn’t tell). I went to Universal Studios Hollywood a lot as a kid, and we would always take the time to watch the show as a family. They toned down some of the more adult elements, and the show was just good, wholesome fun for the whole family.
When the attraction finally closed in Hollywood on February 16, 2015, I was very distraught, but I understood. I was still working at Universal at the time and had seen the changes over the years, so I knew that the writing was on the wall when it moved to the plaza. Still, twenty-four years is a great run, and it’s still kicking in Florida, but we’ll have to see if it makes it through whenever the next round of COVID cuts might be.
Well, that’s all for today, but here’s what you can look forward to in a few weeks.
- These shows all were related to the Disney Channel.
- These shows appeared in three different Disney parks around the world.
- These shows changed their characters quite often through the years.
Thanks for reading and have a magical day!
Also, don’t forget to check out the new interactive maps I created Disney Parks Maps Throughout the Years.
Cole Geryak is a college Disney fan 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.