Back to the Future 4 Exists (Sort of): An Official Sequel Was Released in 1991, but Almost No One Has Seen It

One of the most beloved movies in sci-fi history was shown in amusement parks.

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Ah, yes, amusement parks. In the U.S., they’re a significant part of the entertainment industry and hold financial importance comparable to that of movies. Because of this, some films are shot just for a ride in an amusement park, featuring actors and directors from the original movie franchises. As such, these movies made for rides can be seen as more or less canonical sequels.

Some examples include the rides Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout! at Disney California Adventure, which features a film with Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel (as Groot). Additionally, Universal Studios parks offer Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, where Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson reprise their famous roles. However, none had the ambition or achieved the success of Back to the Future: The Ride.

The ride’s accompanying half-hour film works as the fourth part of the saga. Its events take place after Back to the Future Part III, when the saga’s villain, Biff Tannen, steals a DeLorean from Doc Brown. The ride opened in May 1991, just one year after the third film's release, which premiered four months after the second movie because they were shot simultaneously. Specifically, "Back to the Future: The Ride" premiered on May 2, 1991, at Universal Studios Florida, a couple of years later at Universal Studios Hollywood, and finally, in 2001, at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.

Back to the Future: The Ride features Christopher Lloyd and Thomas F. Wilson reprising their roles as Doc and Tannen. The story takes place in 1991, which was the present time for the ride’s passengers when it opened. In the storyline, Doc Brown establishes the Institute of Future Technology. When Biff steals a DeLorean, Doc seeks the help of the park’s guests. Together, they embark on a chase using an eight-passenger DeLorean, traveling to the Jurassic period, the year 2015, and the Hill Valley of 1955.

One of the main attractions of Back to the Future: The Ride was the motion simulator, which created the sensation of riding in a DeLorean for up to eight people. The experience involved a huge IMAX dome-shaped screen that surrounded the guests with a 180-degree view. Special effects such as wind, smoke, and strobe lights enhanced the sense of speed and motion, making the ride more realistic.

After Back to the Future’s popularity declined, it was replaced by a Simpsons-inspired ride. The creators included several references to the previous ride, such as the Comic Book Guy wearing Marty’s futuristic jacket, an animated Doc Brown voiced by Lloyd himself, and mentions of the Institute of Future Technology, which Doc has to sell to Professor Frink.

In addition, the film Back to the Future: The Ride was restored and re-released in various home editions of the saga starting in 2010.

Image | Universal Pictures

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