‘Jurassic Park’: Hurricane Iniki Hit Hawaii During Filming, Destroying Sets and Stranding Steven Spielberg and the Cast in Their Hotel Basement
The original Jurassic Park is still one of the most visually stunning films of all time, not to mention one of director Steven Spielberg‘s most ambitious (even if he might disagree). Things obviously can go a little wrong along the way even when making such a good movie. In an ironic twist, life decided to imitate art in Hawaii, nearly ruining the entire film.
‘Jurassic Park’ was filmed in Hawaii
Much of Jurassic Park‘s runtime involves gorgeous shots of the natural landscape. Most of this occurred on location with the Hawaiian island of Kauai serving as the film’s backdrop, according to Jurassic Park Fandom. While Spielberg had considered shooting somewhere like Costa Rica or the Dominican Republic to match the book’s locations, he ultimately settled on Hawaii due to infrastructure concerns.
Ultimately, it seemed like a good choice, especially since the island’s naturally rainy weather gave them great footage for scenes later in the film. That said, those scenes came at a cost.
Just like ‘Jurassic Park,’ a hurricane hit while filming
Midway through the movie, a hurricane hits the island. It’s what kickstarts the main conflict of the film — namely, the giant killer dinosaurs escaping their pens. Little did the cast and crew know that, while no dinosaurs would attack, something not too dissimilar would rain on their parade during filming.
In the film, the duplicitous Dennis Nedry uses the tropical storm as cover to cut power to the park. In real life, though, the weather needed no assistance in that regard. Filming Jurassic Park happened to coincide with Hawaii’s hurricane season.
Nature came to play, sending the unbelievably powerful Hurricane Iniki straight through the island. September 11, 1992, served as the final day of on-location shooting Spielberg needed for the movie.
The storm nearly destroyed the whole movie
Hurricane Iniki was nothing to sneeze at. Designated a Category 4, it had the destructive power of a T-Rex and then some. Even today, it still stands as the most powerful hurricane in Hawaiian history. According to actor Sam Neill (Dr. Grant), he and Laura Dern (Dr. Sattler) stood on the beach as the storm approached. Dern asked out loud if they would be OK. Neill admits to replying simply, “I think we might die, Laura.”
Thankfully, that didn’t come to pass. When things blew over, the cast and crew walked away unharmed. Having taken shelter in the basement of their hotel, none of the storm’s high winds were able to touch them. There was also no flooding, so everyone stayed safe during the event.
Once it passed, the island was in utter disarray. According to a Storm Stories feature that covered the event, nearly every home on the island was destroyed. The final death toll: six people. The film itself was delayed, as the sets were completely ruined and blown away.
Things weren’t all bad, though. In a touching moment of humanity persevering, the Jurassic Park crew sprang into action to help people affected by the storm. Most lacked food, water, and power. So production provided what they had on hand to the people in the area. They also helped to clear roads blocked by debris. This was all with the knowledge that planes were grounded and unable to leave the island, meaning they were all stranded until further notice.
Considering we can all watch the completed film without issue, the end of the story doesn’t need much explaining. Things eventually got back on track when a helicopter came for the cast and crew, piloted by none other than Fred Sorenson, known best for his cameo in Raiders of the Lost Ark as Indy’s seaplane pilot. All in all, it was still probably a better experience than working on Jaws.