Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D is currently showing in theaters but fans will know that the theme park ride and attraction T2-3D: Battle Across Time was the first 3D outing for the Terminator Franchise! Sadly the Florida version of the attraction will close its doors on October 8th 2017.
Darryl Baldwin was one of the five original T-800 Terminator Units cast in 1996’s T2 3-D: Battle Across Time at Universal Studios Florida and we got to talk with Darryl about his experience of working on the ride where 3D for the franchise all began!
How intense was the initial training for T2 3-D: Battle Across Time?
The cast started training before the T2-3D venue/attraction was even fully finished/constructed, it was still pretty much a dirt floor when training began!
The cast then all went through a mini-bootcamp held by Capt. Dale Dye or Warriors Inc. This is the same company that trained the cast of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Band of Brothers’. Their training was months–ours was three days.
Three days where we ran in formation, trained with weapons and physical combat and generally came together as a cast.
Darryl and Capt. Dale Dye
How long did you portray the T-800 for on the T2-3D Battle across Time Theme Park Ride/Attraction?
I was part of the cast from the beginning until 2002. It was me, Jeff Brosovich, Daryl Sterner, Rich Dietrich and one other guy (He quit shortly after opening) who were the originally cast Terminators.
Did you keep anything from your wardrobe or were you not allowed?
Aah, I got my wig. Who else was going to wear that?
The merchandising store at T2-3D offered a Leather Jacket and a pair of Leather pants. I snapped them up.
You had to stay in a certain level of fitness throughout your time as the T-800; what was it like maintaining the T-800 physique (Schwarzenegger)?
I was a contracted, full-time Stunt/Actor at Disney MGM Studios Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!- previous to getting cast for T2. I would do the A.M. shift at “Epic” and then run over to Universal for their afternoon T2 shift. Add in going to the gym 3 – 4 days a week, and I was able to stay in shape with no problem.
Was it cool to sit on the Harley Davidson Fat Boy; the Motorcycle was on rails right?
The Harley was one of the biggest technical problems for the engineers. It was a real Harley Davidson Fat Boy that they gutted and reworked with electronics crammed into any space that they could find. The bike rides on a sub-structure that handles the pitch, yaw and gimble effects, as well as smokers and safety gear. It all rides on a railed system, like what you would find on a Steel Roller-Coaster.
Getting the Harley mechanisms to synchronize with the 3-D film and with the safety parameters was a major job.
Early on in our training, the cast would get a few dry-runs in on stage without the Harley.
The engineers would be working furiously on the mechanical/tech problems all morning long. As I was working Disney’s A.M. Shift, I would come in around 2-3 PM. The rest of the cast would be waiting patiently in the theater.
They would be released shortly after I came in, leaving me as the only Terminator on set. Invariably, the engineers would call for a Terminator to be their “test dummy’ for the bike. There I was. I got bounced and slammed by that bucking-bronco of a Harley! We eventually got it all right (mostly).
Did you ever get to spin the Winchester Shotgun like Arnold Schwarzenegger did in the movie as the T-800- Did it have the swivel/spin mechanism,- as we have seen T-800 performers emulating a jerk to reload instead… ?
The Shot Gun wasn’t the Winchester like in the film.. they are very rare. We had an over-and-under 12 Gauge with a rigged cocking handle underneath. It looked good, until the Cocking handle broke. After that we couldn’t spin the weapon. We had to simulate cocking it!
We were loaded with “blanks” but still had to maintain safety protocols, so that we didn’t actually point at the T-1000 actor. We would aim behind the T-1000 by quite a few degrees. You couldn’t tell from anywhere in the audience that I wasn’t aiming center-mass!
Did you ever take the secret mini-elevator down under the stage for the running into the screen gags (smokescreen) etc?
Yes. the Bike would return to the show-start position, after the run through the screen. John Connor and I would jump off. The Back-Stage area had an Armory. Sarah Connor and I would trade off our weapons (She had an AR-15, modified for stage use – shooting blanks). I would pick up the Plasma Phase Rifle and Satchel Charge (a very cool billeted aluminium piece) and then run into the stage lift for scene 3.
T2 3-D Battle Across Time Trivia: Before announcing a title for the attraction the ride had the secret project name PROJECT 640, original cast cards featured an Endoskeleton smoking a STOGIE “VEEERY NICE”!
Did you wear any facial prosthetics/makeup to make you look more like Arnold?
We had Prosthetics made for us. They fit over the nose and cheeks and covered the chin.. Arnold went through the plaster, just like I did.
We got rid of those things after one run. First, because I looked more like him without the piece and second because we COULDN’T BREATHE with the damned thing on!
Were those original casts from the production of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) or did Schwarzenegger do recasts specifically for the T2-3D: Battle Across Time ride?
I believe they did the Arnold Prosthetic specifically for us.
I learned to do makeup on myself with help from Arnold’s makeup artist Dayne Johnson. Just using shading techniques to bring out his cheek features.
With news that the attraction will soon close for good at Orlando; is there anything you want to say to your co-workers who worked tirelessly to allow fans to step into the world of Terminator?
It’s sad to hear about the end of show at Universal Studios, “T2-3D: Battle Across Time.” I was there from the beginning. The cast, crew and Stage Managers were all dedicated to the finest performances for each and every guest. Thanks to all involved, from the very beginning to the final curtain!
What are you up to now?
I still act, but I have tapered off lately. I am in NC where I own Brass Balls Pawn Shop.
Thanks Darryl for this unique insight into what it was like to work on the ride as a T-800 Terminator and in looking back on one of the most prominent, successful and longest lasting 3D attractions the world has ever seen! Good luck with your future endeavors!