I went to Universal Studios yesterday for a concert, but, as I do every time I visit that park, I did take a few minutes to ride the E.T. Adventure. It’s a ritual I have that keeps me connected to my childhood. When I was a child, growing up on a small farm in Ohio, I constantly dreamed of the bigger world. Since I was rarely off the farm for anything but school, to me the bigger world was always tied to the movies.
When I was eight years old, there was nothing bigger in the world than E.T., Stephen Spielberg’s extra terrestrial. I would have seen that movie a hundred times over, if my mom would have had any part of it. As it was, it was 1982, and the video player had yet to be available in many homes, so I only got to see it the one time at the movie theatre. It was magical.
Before Universal Studios opened in 1990, Some magazine — I couldn’t even tell you which one, just some kid’s magazine — did an article featuring the ride, as a promotion for the park. The pictures of the mushroom headed guy and the doll faced girl and E.T.’s other friends back on the green planet captured my imagination. As a budding teen in Ohio, this became the place I wanted to go to experience the bigger world. Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida became my bigger world.
Soon after, I would discover through TV ads and other magazine articles that they had a Jaws ride as well, and King Kong, the Ghostbusters, and the Phantom of the Opera make-up show. Each new revelation added to my excitement, but E.T. always remain the first and the best dream. It took years for me to get to Florida. I had to grow up and move down here on my own.
By the time I finally got to visit Universal Studios, the much anticipated Nirvana of my childhood, King Kong and Ghostbusters had already closed. I was able to enjoy Jaws, and thankfully I even got to share it with my daughter before it was closed last year to make way for more Harry Potter. We have also seen the make-up show, which remains relatively intact, though it is now renamed the Horror Make-Up Show. And, of course there is E.T., still there, holding its own as the last remaining opening day ride.
So, I make it a point to visit E.T. every time I visit the park. I figure it’s the equivalent of voting with my presence. And I hope that you do the same. The more people who visit E.T., the less likely they are to close it for some other more current, but less significant attraction.