Jurassic World | 2015
Can it really be 22 years since John Hammond was so determined to open his groundbreaking theme park? Yes, it can. And with nary a mention of Site B, the park is not only up but has been running for several years.
1993’s technology looks as quaint as steampunk, and kids hold a stegosaur in no more awe than a captive elephant, so it’s time to create a new attraction for the park. InGen is not making the same mistakes again.
Jurassic World is essentially a rerun of Jurassic Park with about 20,000 extra visitors and one extra dimension, but director Colin Trevorrow delivers the most enjoyable fun ride in the series since the original.
Once again, Hawaii stands in for the fictitious ‘Isla Nublar’ but the production followed the current trend, being lured away from Hollywood to New Orleans.
Jurassic World was based at the Big Easy Studios, opened on the campus of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Campus, which was left vacant after the cancellation of the space programme. The snowbound ‘Wisconsin’ home of Karen Mitchell (Judy Greer) and her two sons, Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins), was thus filmed on a sunny New Orleans street.
Likewise the airport, at which the two boys are seen off on their trip of a lifetime, is Louis Armstrong International Airport, 900 Airline Drive, Kenner; and New Orleans’ Audubon Zoo, 6500 Magazine Street, was used for scenes of evacuation, when things don’t go quite as planned.
The hub of Jurassic World is Main Street, a bustling commercial stretch that offers various shopping, dining and entertainment options, not entirely unlike Disneyland or Universal Studios. The detail is convincing enough – guests can take in a showing of the film Pterosauria at ‘Main Street’s IMAX theatre’, stay at the ‘Hilton Isla Nublar’, or eat at Nobu, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville or even ‘Winston’s’ (no, that franchise doesn’t really exist – it’s a shout out to the late FX maestro Stan Winston, who brought Jurassic Park’s creatures to life in the Nineties).
In fact, the huge ‘Main Street’ set was constructed at the closed and abandoned Six Flags New Orleans theme park, severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and never reopened.
Six Flags has also been a filming location for Killer Joe and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes but, rather than renovating the atmospherically derelict rides, ‘Main Street’ was built from scratch in the park's vast parking area.
Away from ‘Main Street’, the little tropical isle “off the coast of Costa Rica” is largely a conflation once again of the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Kauai, where the crew discovered that many of the original locations were relatively untouched, affording the ability to step seamlessly back into the same visual world.
The boat full of excited visitors arrives at Makai Pier, Waimanalo, on Kalanianaole Highway (State Route 72), just north of Sea Life Park Hawaii, southeastern Oahu. A long, concrete pier built by the State of Hawaii to facilitate marine research in the Hawaiian Islands, it houses several commercial marine engineering firms and HURL (Hawaii Underwater Research Laboratory) though, at certain times, areas are open to the public for fishing.
Not far away in Honolulu itself, ‘Isla Nublar’s’ welcome centre and hotel is the Hawaii Convention Center, 1801 Kalakaua Avenue, at Kapiolani Boulevard in the heart of the city and at the gateway to Waikiki.
Honolulu Zoo, 151 Kapahulu Avenue, became Jurassic World’s 'Petting Zoo' where the kids can get up close to the smaller, cuddlier – and vegetarian – dinos.
Jurassic World returns to Kualoa Ranch, 49560 Kamehameha Highway, Ka’a’awa, on the eastern coast of Oahu a few miles to the north. On the ranch were built the mountainside helipad of owner Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the rundown bungalow of raptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and the secure octagonal paddock in which the super, new, genetically modified Indominus Rex is housed. For the time being.
Kualoa Ranch, site of the Gallimimus stampede in the original Jurassic Park, provided the rolling green hills and valleys where – uh-oh! – a couple of adventurous kids can go AWOL in a two-seater Gyrosphere.
I don’t need to flag up spoiler alert to reveal that the creation of a super-intelligent giant predator turns out not to have been the best idea – and this from the company whose previous ventures involved a theme park overrun by raptors and a T-Rex tearing up San Diego.
Fleeing for their lives, Jake and Gray leap 150-feet down Oahu’s Manoa Falls (not recommended unless you really do have Indominus Rex on your tail). The Falls is back toward Honolulu, at the end of Manoa Road in the neighborhood of Manoa. From Waikiki you can take the city bus No 5 all the way to the last stop, and from there it’s a relatively easy hike of less than a mile (around 45 minutes). Once you arrive, don’t be tempted to swim or – worse – drink the water which, despite its beauty, may expose you to leptospirosis.
Along the trail, you’ll pass the abandoned Paradise Park, 3737 Manoa Road, once a bird sanctuary, which has laid in ruins since 1994. This was used as the remnants of the old 1993 park, where the boys get one of the old jeeps in working order.
The spectacular skyline of the island seen from the sea, is the magnificent Na Pali Coast on the north shore of Kauai. Smaller and less commercially developed than Oahu, the ‘Garden Isle’ of Kauai, all jagged peaks and steep valleys, provided the more rugged landscapes of ‘Isla Nublar’, with filming at and at Lawai on the south of the island, as well including glimpses of sites used in the first film including Olokele Valley, a few miles northwest of Waimea (where the ‘electrified fence’ was built), Blue Hole (the tyrannosaur paddock area) and Manawaiopuna Falls in Hanapepe Valley (where Hammond’s ‘copter first touched down all those years ago).