In today’s edition of “Legend Has It,” we wish a Happy 30th Anniversary to summer blockbuster franchise Jurassic Park, whose enduring “dino” popularity will always spell summer fun, terror, and thrills.
Fire up the popcorn maker because this summer marks the 30th anniversary celebration of Jurassic Park (1993). Debuting in 1993, and spanning six feature films and one short film, this fearsome dinosaur franchise is not for the faint of heart. Cue that iconic trembling cup of water. Gulp. We all know what that means. It’s T-Rex time.
Directed by the ultimate summer blockbuster franchise man himself, Steven Spielberg of Jaws and Indiana Jones fame, 1993’s Jurassic Park arguably surpassed Steven Spielberg’s previous summer adventures. Thanks to mind-blowing CGI, Spielberg’s renowned imagination positively leapt off the screen in Jurassic Park – just like that impressive flock of stampeding gallimimuses.
Then add in memorable actors Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Richard Attenborough, and more, and it’s no wonder that this tale of cloned dinosaurs wreaking havoc on the humans of its new twentieth-century theme park home would cause audiences to go wild. Further, it’s no wonder that this flick would win three Oscars — Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.
Visually stunning, pulse-pounding in plot, and thoughtfully moralistic (should we humans tamper with genetics just because we have the technology to do so?), Jurassic Park movies continue to thrill, terrify, and above all, entertain us. The most recent installment was 2022’s Jurassic World Dominion, and devoted fans cannot wait to see more.
But before we once again duck our heads to avoid that spitting venom and ominous frilly neck of our resident dilophosaurus, let’s look back at all the awesome trivia and fun facts of this hugely successful series. What makes the Jurassic Park movies so irresistible?
Jurassic Park’s Hidden Details
1. The Tyrannosaurus Roar Was Sophisticated – think a mix of dog, penguin, tiger, alligator, and baby elephant squeal. All these sounds were mixed to achieve the frighteningly iconic roar of the gigantic blood-thirsty tyrannosaurus dinosaur of Jurassic Park (1993).
2. Swedish Swears Abound – In the second film, The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), Swedish actor Peter Stormare of Fargo (1996) fame can be heard muttering something. But wait, it sounds foreign and not in the language of the rest of the film. Turns out it was indeed foreign. He was in dire straits with some dangerous dinos, and his character swears in Swedish.
3. Spinosaurus Broke Records – The third film, called Jurassic Park III (2001), boasted the largest animatronic ever built. Its Spinosaurus villain dinosaur was 25 feet tall, 40 feet long, and weighed a whopping 24,000 pounds.
4. The Iconic Pinball Machine – In Jurassic Park III (2001), near the start of the film, the paleontologists enter a bar, and there is a pinball machine in the background that is Jurassic Park-themed. Blink and you might miss it. Fans love this pop culture nod.
5. The Peter Pan Connection – In Jurassic Park III (2001), we can hear a puzzling phone ringing inside the stomach of Spinosaurus. This was an intentional nod to the alarm clock inside the stomach of the alligator in the beloved fairy tale Peter Pan.
6. Singer Jimmy Buffett Makes a Cameo – 1970s soft rock lovers everywhere were thrilled to see iconic singer Jimmy Buffett appear in the franchise’s fourth installment (and first of the Jurassic World trilogy) called Jurassic World (2015). He plays a “running tourist” holding two margarita drinks (referencing his 1977 hit song “Margaritaville”). Further, a “Margaritaville” restaurant can be seen on Jurassic World’s theme park promenade called “City Walk.”
7. The Awesome Recurring Book – Hugely popular character Dr. Ian Malcolm (played by Jeff Goldblum) appears and/or is mentioned in numerous Jurassic Park movies, even when he doesn’t actually have any screen time. For example, his character’s book, which chronicles his adventures from the original Jurassic Park (1993) film, is mentioned in Jurassic Park III (2001), in which Goldblum doesn’t star. Then, a photo of him is glimpsed on a book cover that character Zara is reading on the Jurassic World monorail ride in 2015’s Jurassic World. No spoilers, but this book also appears for a second time in this 2015 film. See if you can find it. Fans love fantasizing about this “charismatic scientist-turned-famous author” character that Jeff Goldblum plays so well.
Jurassic Park Behind-The-Scenes
1. Richard Attenborough Was Awesomely Tough – Hurricane Iniki struck Hawaii during the filming of Jurassic Park (1993), and legend has it that veteran British actor Richard Attenborough (who plays Dr. John Hammond, mastermind of Jurassic Park theme park), decided to stay in his hotel room and “sleep away” the storm. All cast and crew had been requested to move to the hotel ballroom for safety, but 69-year-old Attenborough opted otherwise. When asked why he rode out the storm alone in his room, he stated, “My dear boy, I survived the blitz!” Turns out a hurricane was no match for him and his tough survival skills back during World War II.
2. The Cardboard Dinosaur – Steven Spielberg had to get creative when helping his actors feel genuine emotion (aka terror) with those fearsome dinos. Faced with technological advances in CGI and animatronics, which might hinder the actors’ sense of “presence” in the story, Spielberg used a cardboard dinosaur-head and roared on-set to provide context and elicit reactions. His creative thinking paid off – all the actors looked sufficiently terrified!
3. The San Diego Scene Almost Wasn’t – In the second installment, Steven Spielberg originally wanted to table the impressive “San Diego” sequence for the upcoming third film. However, he decided to keep it in, as he felt that he wouldn’t be the director for this third future movie. He was correct.
4. Soaking 200 Extras Was a Favorite Moment – Colin Trevorrow was the director for Jurassic World (2015), and his favorite filming moment was when dinosaur Mosasaurus, a fearsome aquatic creature, chomps on a shark in full view of theme park patrons. But even better, these patrons become submerged in water where they get to see this ravenous feeding take place. Splash!
5. Bryce Dallas Howard Learned Scuba – For the fifth installment, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), actress Bryce Dallas Howard (who plays “former theme park operations manager-turned-dinosaur activist” from the previous film) learned how to scuba dive. It was for the impressive “gyrosphere sinking” scene. Her scuba skills undoubtedly added a layer of realism.
6. The Magical Trio Return – The most recent sixth movie, Jurassic World Dominion (2022), marks the first appearance together of power trio Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, and Laura Dern, since the first groundbreaking 1993 film. Not only are dinosaurs famously “living alongside humans” in this latest installment, but they’re “living alongside” our beloved heroes from the original flick. Word on the entertainment street is all three accomplished actors loved reprising their roles.
Jurassic Park Cinematic Connections
1. Director Cameos – Steven Spielberg makes a few cameos in the Jurassic Park films. For example, in the original film he can be seen as the man sporting a beard and watching a raptor being unloaded in the film’s opening sequences. He’s not unlike director Alfred Hitchcock who made numerous cameos in his thriller-film heyday, notably in Dial M for Murder (1954) and The Birds (1963). Renowned director M. Night Shyamalan also made several cameos in his own films, such as The Sixth Sense (1999) and The Village (2004).
2. Mix of Directors – Steven Spielberg only directed the first two Jurassic movies, Jurassic Park (1993) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). This is not uncommon to other famous franchises such as Alien, Terminator, Jaws, and Indiana Jones, where other talented directors enter the cutting room floor and contribute their unique filmmaking flair. And noteworthy for the Jurassic Park films, though Spielberg only directed the first two 1990s films, he has remained close to the series for subsequent decades, contributing his ideas and even being executive producer on some of the most recent films.
3. The Iconic Music – Oscar-winning composer John Williams is known for his sweeping, awe-inspiring Jurassic Park score. And he wasn’t new to the movie music “scene.” He created music for other well-known Hollywood franchises, such as Jaws, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones.
4. The “Smart Hero” – Jurassic Park is credited with “making science cool.” Cue those dashing paleontologists and scientists who saved themselves and their loved ones, and whose on-screen heroics drove up interest in not only the study of dinosaurs, but of science in general. Moviegoers everywhere became interested in a field of study which, before then, might not have appeared exciting. But this wasn’t the first time Hollywood raised the intelligence bar. Another Steven Spielberg franchise shortly before, Indiana Jones, gave us a taste of the dashing archaeologist. All these characters, and their brilliant actor portrayals, proved that a “hero” can exist in any shape and form.
5. Japanese Inspiration – Steven Spielberg cites the Godzilla film franchise as a driving inspiration for making his Jurassic Park films. He notes one film in particular, Godzilla, The King of Monsters! (1956), which he watched as a boy and loved for its frighteningly “real” quality.
From its famous 1993 lines of “Welcome to Jurassic Park” and “An Adventure 65 Million Years In The Making,” the legendary Jurassic Park franchise has captured our imagination time and time again. Humans and dinosaurs together – how can that be? Mind-blowing and fantastical, these movies all make it look so real and possible. Spanning a huge array of impressive characters, actors, plots, special effects, and of course dinosaurs, there’s an appropriately “monstrous” array of Jurassic Park trivia. So, what are some of your favorite Jurassic Park facts?
I'm a published poet, travel writer, and "vintage" pop culture blogger. I love movies, and especially those dusty old classics. I "heart" the rich history of film.