King Kong—that name may ring a bell, and that’s because he is conceivably the most popular gorilla character in the entertainment industry. To many, the closest one has ever been to this colossal creature is at the movie theater; they’ve never seen him in person. But to those who visited Universal Studios Florida during the 1990’s and early 2000’s, they may have come face-to-face with the ape while on a cable car in New York. And that’s only if they went on the Kongfrontation ride. Ever since 2002 when Kongfrontation closed at Universal Studios Florida, King Kong was rest at Universal Orlando. His thunderous roar could no longer be heard at the resort and his banana breath could no longer be smelt, but all that will change when the giant ape returns this summer. This time at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Universal has been long at work on a new King Kong ride for their Florida destination. After King Kong 360 3D opened at Universal Studios Hollywood, many wondered if Universal Orlando would develop its own version. Rumors about a King Kong themed ride began popping up just a few years ago and evidence was later proved with the construction seen just between the Jurassic Park and Toon Lagoon area of Islands of Adventure. The project was known as Orlando’s worst kept secret. In fact, Comcast accidentally announced the project in an earnings report before the resort made the news official. It wasn’t until May of last year that Universal Orlando officially announced the project and the name for the attraction — Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
Now, the ride is just weeks away from an official opening (an opening date has not been announced at this time but the ride is expected to officially open in July). While Universal Orlando employees received an exclusive preview of the attraction on Sunday, June 5th (team member preview continued on Monday, June 6th and will take place today as well), fans were hoping for a #ChanceofReign (the hashtag being used for possible soft openings), and with walls now down soft openings are becoming more likely. But what exactly should fans/guests look forward to the most? Should they be looking forward because it’s a brand new ride? Well yes, but that’s not the only thing they should be excited about. Those eager to experience the ride should get excited because of the queue (yes, the queue), the revival of the colossal gorilla, and because it’ll be the longest ride at the resort. Why? I’ll break it down for you as this may possibly be one of the most innovative rides yet.
Universal may have just hit it out of the ballpark with Skull Island: Reign of Kong’s queue! Now you may be thinking, why get excited about a queue? Well, not only is the attraction’s queue highly detailed as widely expected, but it also includes animatronics and according to reports… “scare actors.” As described in USA TODAY’s article during their exclusive preview, you will encounter natives who will pop out from dark corners to “scare the beejeebees out of you, Halloween Horror Nights style.” The attraction won’t be a Halloween Horror Nights style ride in any way but with scare actors popping out in the queue, it may be the closest Orlando will get to a year-round HHN-type experience. This will also mark one of the first times a queue of this kind has ever been utilized for a standard theme park attraction.
Please note: The use of scare actors in the attraction’s queue may be entirely eliminated or toned down in the future. Regular park guests have not yet experienced the attraction; feedback from guests may affect the use of scare actors.
The Revival of King Kong
King Kong has ‘virtually’ been nonexistence at the resort ever since the closure of Kongfrontation in 2002. But fear no more! The ape is returning in just a few weeks with an all-new ride — Skull Island: Reign of Kong. Though the setting and story won’t be the same as the original ride, Reign of Kong will bring the ape back to life in perhaps an even better way. Unlike the original ride which was set in New York, the new ride will take place directly in the ape’s home, Skull Island, providing more than enough creative ability for Universal’s Creative team to take guests through many different areas of the island.
Many embraced Kongfrontation for its focus on practical effects, animatronics, and sets. Some believe Reign of Kong’s use of 3D screens will demote the ride but that may not be entirely true. The new ride will use 3D technology as well as a massive three-story tall animatronic that is about 18 feet wide and has a head as large as an automobile. While animatronics may provide a more lifelike display, 3D technology allows Universal to make the creature do whatever they wish for it to do.
The Longest Ride
According to Mike West, executive producer with Universal Creative, Skull Island: Reign of Kong will be five minutes and 50 seconds in length, making it the longest ride at Universal Orlando. What could this extra time frame mean for the ride? It means that it will include a highly developed storyline and a longer experience, which further proves that it will not be a replica of King Kong 360 3D at Universal Studios Hollywood.
This lengthy duration may have given Universal the ability to truly immerse guests into Skull Island. It may have given them the ability to put guests into an environment that they may have been unable to do with any of their other attractions. Beginning your journey in the queue, you will then board a revolutionary ride vehicle and enter the massive temple (pictured above), where you will then face a maze of caves. But that’s not the only part of Skull Island you’ll explore! Right after the caves, you’ll enter a jungle that holds a vital challenge. Eventually, you’ll face King Kong like never before.
From what has been gathered, it seems to be true that the main 3D scene of Reign of Kong will be very similar if not the same as Hollywood’s version but overall Orlando’s ride will be entirely different.