Over the summer, Universal Orlando unveiled the all-new version of the fan-favorite Incredible Hulk Coaster. A year in the making, the beloved roller coaster has gone through a myriad of upgrades from the queue, the track, and even the trains themselves. This attraction is the last of Universal’s grand openings for the calendar year and it certainly did not disappoint. Our team member Tyler Murillo made a trip to the resort during Hulk’s first week of operation to check out all the new features. The review will be broken up into three categories: Queue, Ride Experience, and Overall Opinion.
NOTE: This post may contain spoilers.
Anyone who knows me personally knows I am a huge fan of thrilling rides, especially roller coasters. The Incredible Hulk Coaster holds a special place in my heart because it was the first major one I had ever ridden in my life. My first ride jump-started my love for the design process and construction of these steel behemoths. I was quite curious what would happen once Universal Orlando closed the ride for what they described as “enhancements”. When I finally experienced it for myself, with my own eyes, I was beyond impressed.
Upon entering the ride plaza, quite a lot has changed. The front entrance, no longer featuring a comic book cutout of Bruce Banner’s transformation into the Hulk, now sports a colossal statue of the green monster ripping tracks in half. Talk about an incredible entrance! A nice touch is a loud bass that shakes the ground as you approach the line. The tunnel now has a launching noise that revs up and explodes like a cannon once the ride goes into its first drop. The best new feature of the outdoor queue is the new roof that was added. Now if the line stretches outside, the shade will keep guests cool in the hot Florida weather. There are still metal detectors before guests enter the indoor queue, which didn’t bother me, but I figured it should be noted for guests that haven’t experienced it. No items are allowed in your pockets before boarding, however, lockers are provided for free just off the main entrance. Now upon entering the indoor queue (now a military science facility rather than Banner’s lab), I had a breathtaking moment. Universal went all out on transforming this part of the ride. The old queue wasn’t very well themed and was showing its age. Now a gamma core resides in the middle, sending off arcs of energy throughout the building. The level of detail really made the whole area feel authentic and exciting. It may have been just me, but the indoor section did feel more open than it used to be. Once you wrap around and head to the station, a screen adds to the ride story, showing guests transforming into Hulk-like beings during a process dubbed “Hulk-a-fication”. It was a subtle touch to add to the whole experience. But, I didn’t come for the queue, I came for the coaster.
Unlike my last ride review where I journeyed on Reign of Kong for the first time in my life, I have been on Hulk dozens of times, so I was prepared for the ride ahead. While Universal did replace all of the coaster track pieces with brand new ones, they did not change the ride layout at all. They did, however, add new features to the tracks and trains (which are brand new as well). The new trains have a sleek military look to them, with headlights and a black and green color scheme. I had the fortune of sitting in front row on my first ride, so I would get the best view of the tunnel. The new restraints and chairs are comfortable more so than the old version. A new row of speakers sits at the rider’s feet, which blasts an all-new and original soundtrack throughout the duration of the ride. Once the ride begins, the station pulsates green and the ascent begins. The inside of the launch tunnel is now wrapped with a very bright screen and a new voice-over plays as the coaster continues its climb. A soft woman’s computer voice tells rides to not be afraid. The message replays over and over as the tunnel begins to glow bright, and the launch begins. The rest of the ride plays out exactly the same, although noticeably smoother now that the new tracks are in place. The soundtrack continues playing until the ride arrives back at the station for unloading.
After getting off of The Incredible Hulk Coaster, I left with great satisfaction. There were many upgrades that really enhanced the ride experience. The queue is much more convenient for guests with shade from the sun and the inside renovation makes the Hulk more mature and less like a comic book, which isn’t all a bad thing. Marvel Superhero Island is a product of its time. Being built in the 90s, much of its appearance is based on that style of comic artwork. Seeing the new queue was a departure from that, and its impressive appearance is sure to spread throughout the rest of the island over time. As for the ride itself, everything that was added didn’t take away from the coaster I love but only made it better. The new trains are very comfortable and don’t leave a rattle or too much head banging (a result of the coaster’s wear and tear over time). The soundtrack was great. The all-instrumental track actually slowed down or sped up in sync with the coaster’s position on the track which was interesting, and it wasn’t loud enough to take away from the ride. The new launch tunnel no longer has any warnings making the anticipation of taking off much more exciting.
Overall, I was highly impressed and pleased with all of the new features The Incredible Hulk Coaster had to offer. Universal took a fan favorite attraction and really created an experience that will please both long-time fans and newcomers alike. One thing I have to wonder is if the Hulk got a full track upgrade because of its age, I wonder if Dragon Challenge will one day go through a similar transformation. Only time will tell. Now that 2016’s new rides have come to a close, I will be anxiously waiting for all the new experiences Universal will offer next year.