Did Universal Studios Used to Offer an Incentive Based on a Joke From Animal House?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Universal Studios used to offer an incentive tied in with a joke from National Lampoon’s Animal House.

National Lampoon’s Animal House was director John Landis’ big break as a director, as it was his first film for a major studio, specifically, Universal Studios.

The film was a very big hit (especially considering it was a very low budget film).

At the end of the film, there is a bit of a “where are they now” for each of the main characters.

One of the “villains” in the film is the scheming sorority girl, Babs (played by Martha Smith, who is awesome), who hates the guys at Animal House and tries to worm her way into becoming the girlfriend of the rival fraternity, Omega House.

In any event, at the end of the film, she gets her comeuppance.

And for HER “Where are they now” bit, it is said that she’s now a tour guide at Universal Studios.

Well, after the closing credits finish, there is the Universal Studios logo and an old-fashioned ad saying “When in Hollywood, Visit Universal Studios.” Then, a second or so later, the parenthetical (Ask for Babs) appears on the screen.

Landis would go on to use this end joke after the closing credits on all of his films for Universal.

Including his next big hit (also with Animal House star John Belushi), the Blues Brothers…

What happened if you DID “ask for Babs?”

At the time, if you did, in fact, “Ask for Babs,” you were rewarded with some sort of an incentive. History has been very vague as to exactly what kind of incentive you received (a discount? a free entry?), but we know that SOME sort of incentive was attached to the phrase, because in 1989, Universal Studios announced that they would specifically no longer give out any incentive for the phrase.

My thinking is that it was never a clear-cut “you get X” for the phrase, but rather an informal type of situation, determined by whoever the manager was that day. And as time went by, it was likely decided that this was probably not something they wanted to encourage or make official, as if they made it official, clearly EVERYone would just use it.

What I wish someone could tell me, if they ever experienced it, is what exactly WAS the incentive? We know that there WAS one, I just can’t tell for sure what it was, and I’d appreciate anyone’s help who actually “asked for Babs.”

Landis came back to Universal to do the Blues Brothers sequel in 1998, and he brought the in-joke back with him!

As a final tie-in to the joke, in an anniversary edition of Animal House, they showed the actors and actresses in their aforementioned future roles, and Martha Smith is shown leading a tour guide at Universal Studios. Classic!

The legend is…

STATUS: True

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8 Responses to “Did Universal Studios Used to Offer an Incentive Based on a Joke From Animal House?”

  1. […] or just a discount to Universal, but if anyone partook in the promotion, please let us know!(Source) (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Comments comments Thumblated Related […]

  2. I was a guide at that time and I don’t remember any discounts lol…but the production company was very gracious to let us visit sets and meet the cast and watch filming!!

  3. Thanks for your insight, Deb. Did anyone ever ask for Babs while you were there?

  4. As I recall, and my memory could be faulty, you would get the equivalent of what is now called a FastPass to let you skip the lines to get on rides.

  5. Thanks, Carolyn, that’s a big help!

  6. […] films featured a post-credits advertisement for Universal Studios that would suggest that you “ask for Babs,” that for a time, can grant you a discount or free entry into the theme […]

  7. I was a tour guide in the mid 80s, and sometimes worked at the Info Booth. First, sadly, no one EVER asked me for Babs! I was always disappointed in this – it’s what I would have done if I were a tourist 🙂 In fact, I made it a point to ask the more senior guides as well, and they said it was a pretty rare occurrence. Second, I was never told about any kind of discount or promotion by management. Nothing official was in place. Lastly, Until the ET ride opened in the late 80s, there were NO ride at Universal except for the tram tour. There were a bunch of stage attractions, but no other rides, and there was no real mechanism at the time to get people to the front of the line at any of them.

    Now, I worked there 6 years after the movie came out, and I’m sure they got more of a response earlier. But there was no program in place that I know of that lasted until 1989.

  8. Brian Cronin on June 9th, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks for the info, Scott!

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