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Back to the Future: The Ride was a motion simulator ride based on the Back to the Future trilogy of films and is a mini-sequel to 1990's Back to the Future Part III.

It later was replaced by The Simpsons Ride.

It is located at Universal Studios Japan, formerly at Universal Studios Florida in the World Expo area, and Universal Studios Hollywood.

The ride story centers on a first-person adventure through time, in pursuit of the trilogy's villain, Biff Tannen.

Attraction summary[]

Following the events of Back to the Future Part III, Doc Brown and his family Clara, Jules, Verne and Einstein have moved from the Old West to the present time in Hill Valley where in 1991, Brown founds the Institute of Future Technology, a scientific Institute specializing in his inventions.

On May 2, 1991 (the opening of the Florida attraction) Brown invites tourists into the Institute as "volunteers" in order to test out his newest invention; the 8 passenger DeLorean time machine by traveling one day into the future.

Meanwhile, Brown travels to 2015 in order to make sure the space time continuum is back to normal after the events of his previous time traveling adventures, while his other Institute scientists travel to 1885 and to 1955.

However, in 1955, Biff Tannen stows away on the IFT scientists time machine, hitching a ride back to the present day Institute, which sets up the ride's main storyline.


Visitors to the Institute wait outside the facility where TV monitors showed a live video feed of Doc. Brown in 2015, as well as videos detailing Brown's inventions.


Riders enter the ride as "volunteers" for a time travel experiment at Emmett Brown's fictional Institute of Future Technology.

Brown explains that the plan is for them to travel one day into the future, but that caution must be exercised as Biff Tannen, who was graduated from the Hill Valley High School in 1955, has escaped his time period and is now running amok in the space-time continuum.

Once inside, Brown reveals some of the inventions he has been working on, including his "crowning achievement" - an 8-passenger De Lorean time machine (also a convertible), which is what the riders will be using in the experiment.

Unbeknownst to Brown, however, Tannen has infiltrated the Institute. He appears to the riders, asking for assistance in finding Brown's time machine.

The receptionist then announces that the pre-flight system checks is in progress and tells the visitors to stand by for an announcement from Dr. Brown.

Tannen traps Brown in his office, and it is revealed that he escaped 1955 when employees of Brown took the Time Train to 1955 for an experiment.

Tannen stowed away when they made the return journey. He steals the time machine and vanishes into time.

Frantic, Brown pleads with the visitors to assist him and says that the only way to bring Biff back to the present day is to accelerate to 88 miles per hour and bump him (which will open a vortex that will send both time vehicles back to their original point of departure).

They enter the 8-passenger time vehicle, led by one of Doc Brown's Assistants, after going over final safety instructions (safety tips posed by the receptionist who concludes by saying, "Enjoy your flight!").

Doc then informs the passengers with some helpful advice saying that the time vehicle Biff had stolen has a time-tracking scanner so that way whatever time period Biff may be, the 8-passenger vehicle will pin-point to that exact location. They then follow Tannen into time.


When the doors of the time machine closed, Dr. Brown uses his remote control to control the time machine, hovers it and accelerates to 88 miles per hour (with electric sparks coming from the time machine and speeding through the open door and blasting through the vortex) and the ride begins.

First, Biff leads the riders to Hill Valley in 2015, where they chase him through town. They smash into neon signs, flying over neighborhoods and the town square, the chase culminating at the iconic clock tower. He then departs for the ice age.

The riders follow, and slowly lower into the icy caverns of the ice age. Biff honks his horn, causing an avalanche that damages the riders' vehicle.

Flying out of the caverns, the car sees Biff shoot away into time, but their own engine has failed, and begins to plummet down a waterfall. Brown manages to restart the vehicle, accelerating backward and through time into the Cretaceous Period.

Upon arriving, the clock display on the De Lorean's dashboard blinks 12:00, as a reference to a videocassette recorder that has lost power. The riders follow Biff's vehicle into a dormant volcano in which a Tyrannosaurus is discovered. Tannen goads it into attacking the riders, who barely escape.

The dinosaur strikes Tannen's car, sending it flying out of control; the dinosaur then swallows the riders' car, but spits it out mere seconds later. The riders then drop down onto a lava river to see Biff's De Lorean, now damaged and unable to manoeuvre, moving down an active lava flow toward the edge of a cliff.

As both vehicles plunge over the edge, the riders' car accelerates to time travel speed and bumps Tannen's, sending both of them back to the original point of departure the present at the Institute of Future Technology where Biff gets out, thanks the riders and Dr. Brown (although it's quite obvious that he wasn't happy he was captured), but he is soon grabbed by security and taken away.

Riders exit the vehicle, as Brown thanks them and reminds them that "the future is what you make it!"

An animated logo of Institute of Future Technology flashes up on the screen with the words "Please lift lap bar and exit" and after a few seconds the voice of Doc Emmett can be heard again warning "Hurry up! Get out! Before you meet yourself coming in!"

Gift shop[]

A gift shop next to the attraction called Back to the Future: The Store sold various Back to the Future themed merchandise.

Cast and Crew[]


  • Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown
  • Thomas F. Wilson as Biff Tannen
  • Darlene Vogel as Heather, IFT receptionist
  • Douglas Trumbull as the IFT scientist
  • Michael Klastorin as the IFT security guard
  • Freddie as Einstein

Additional notes[]

  • Although Brown's wife, Clara Clayton, does not appear in the ride, a picture of her with Doc can be seen in his office in the pre-show video as well as in the pre-flight briefing room.
  • Michael J. Fox was asked to reprise his role as Marty McFly in the ride, but he turned it down. The character can still be seen in the queue video, within archive footage of Back to the Future.


  • Ride Film Directed by: Douglas Trumbull
  • Based upon characters created by: Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale
  • Creative Consultant: Steven Spielberg
  • Produced by: Peter N. Alexander, Sherry McKenna and Steven Spielberg
  • Pre-Show Directed by: David DeVos
  • Written by: Peyton Reed and Bob Gale
  • Music Composed by: Alan Silvestri and Michael Stearns
  • Distributed by: Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment


The original attraction opened on May 2, 1991, at Universal Studios Florida, after having been delayed from opening with the park in 1990.

Back To The Future: The Ride also opened on June 2, 1993 at Universal Studios Hollywood and on March 31, 2001 at Universal Studios Japan.

The ride was actually planned to open in Orlando and Hollywood at the same time but due to foundation problems, the Hollywood version opened 2 years later.

The original ride in Orlando enjoyed almost sixteen years of constant operation before its final closure, to little fanfare, on March 30, 2007, after operating at half capacity for over three months.

The Hollywood ride publicly closed on Labor Day, September 3, 2007. In commemoration of its final month of operation, a special event was held with Christopher Lloyd and Bob Gale beginning the countdown to the ride's closure in early August of 2007.

Additionally, a contest was announced with the grand prize winner receiving a classic 1981 De Lorean DMC-12 vehicle. The ride at Universal Studios Japan is still open, with no plans for closure at this time.

Back to the Future: The Ride became a staple attraction, let alone one of the most popular and favorite attractions in the park's history.

Many believe it ties with the also missed Kongfrontation as one of the best rides in Universal Studios Florida's long history.

A new attraction based on the animated sitcom The Simpsons, known officially as The Simpsons Ride, replaced the ride at Universal Studios Florida on May 15, 2008 and at Universal Studios Hollywood on May 19, 2008.

One of the queue video clips in that ride cameos Doc Brown as tribute to Back to the Future: The Ride.

At Rock the Universe 2006, an annual Christian rock festival held at Universal every September, Relient K lead singer Matt Thiessen asked the fans to ride Back to the Future while it was still open, as they learned earlier that day it was closing. Each band is taken on a tour through the park every year.

The modified DMC that was outside of the BTTF giftshop (Now a Kwik-E-Mart) was being used at the Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure at Universal Studios Florida's Halloween Horror Nights in 2007.


When the ride footage was made, there was no computer animation, so all the special effects, sets and other things in the ride footage were actually very detailed miniature sets recorded in stop motion filming.

The miniature sets were actually quite large, with the replica 2015 buildings as large as half a grown man, and the T-Rex model being about 7 feet tall.

The Institute of Future Technology that the riders crash into at the end of the ride was actually a model of the Florida's version of the building.

The ride in Florida and Hollywood were supposed to open at the same time in 1991 but due to foundation problems with Hollywood's building, it had to be rebuilt and the ride in Florida opened up without its west coast cousin while the Hollywood one opened up nearly 2 years later.

Although Back to the Future creators Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale had no involvement with the ride, they were consulted as to whether they "got Doc right". The two responded with a "yes".

They have also commented that "it's a great ride." In addition, references are made to a "Zemeckis-Gale diagram" and "Gale-Zemeckis Coordinates."[4]

Ride mechanics[]

The ride was a motion simulator with the cars located under a 70-foot (21.3–m) IMAX Dome screen. Each of the 24 cars (12 per dome) was mounted on three pistons, allowing it to rise, fall and tilt, following the motion on the screen.

The cars were arranged on three tiers and were staggered to prevent riders from seeing the other vehicles in the theater. The front section of the cars rose eight feet (2.4 m) out of the "garage" when "flying."

The actual range of motion from the simulator base was about two feet (0.6 m) in any direction. The motion and the visual input from the screen images combined to make the riders feel as if they are in a high-speed pursuit.

The ride was actually composed of two IMAX Dome screens with cars arranged around them. The experience of both was identical, but the ride enjoyed a very reliable in-service record as a result.

If one screen or "dome" is shut down by a mechanical problem, the other ordinarily remains in service.

This increases wait times, but essentially eliminated a complete shutdown of the ride as a whole.


In homage to the attraction, on the previous construction walls of The Simpsons Ride, the Comic Book Guy wore Marty's futuristic jacket from 2015 from Back to the Future Part II.

Also, in the line video for the new ride, an animated Doc Brown (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) attempts to borrow money from a loan office to save the Institute of Future Technology.

However, Professor Frink crashes back in time in a DeLorean and crushes the banker, and Doc is upset that he must "sell the Institute of Future Technology to that mercenary clown!" (referring to Krusty the Clown).

The Hill Valley clock tower also makes an appearance in the ride portion for the Simpsons Ride, and a part of the ride where a giant sized Maggie Simpson almost swallows guests was made to parody the part in the Back to the Future ride when riders are almost swallowed by a dinosaur.


In keeping with the theme of the ride, many prop-replicas from the "Back to the Future" films are on display as guests line up.

Notable items include the hover boards from the second and third movies and letters from Doc Brown to Marty McFly. The locomotive from the third film and one of the modified DeLoreans were on display outside the rides.

The DeLorean outside the Orlando ride was removed in September 3, 2007, later to be seen with the Doc Brown character driving it until it was put on display outside of Soundstage 44.

The Jules Verne time train from the third film was also on display outside the Orlando ride until it was removed on July 24, 2007.

After being sighted in various prop warehouses, it is now back on display, freshly painted outside of Soundstage 44 with the DeLorean.

The queue video features clips from the Back to the Future trilogy, as well as new footage featuring Dr. Brown.

It features diagrams for other innovations, ostensibly created by Brown; newsreel footage of Doc with Albert Einstein and other historical figures and a "live" video feed from 2015 in which Brown explains the experiment.