Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Kong's Triumphant Return to Universal Orlando Made Official

It is official - King Kong will be returning to the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida in 2016 when an all new attraction - Skull Island: Reign of Kong - opens at Islands of Adventure.  Kong formerly could be found in his own attraction at Universal Studios Florida until his retirement in 2002, which was needed to make room for the Mummy coaster.

The new ride, which has been under heavy construction for many months now, is already at the point of having its final facade applied to the massive show building.  The ride will be located in a previously vacant space between Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park.

© Universal Orlando Resort (click for larger view)
This concept art shows off the entrance to the new attraction, with a bit of the ride building peaking above the wall in the background.  I would assume this will be what lines the walkway between Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park - talk about an imposing entrance!

The ride itself is still a bit of a mystery, with only general descriptions being given at this time.  The resort is calling it an "intense, all-new adventure brought to life in a dramatically themed environment" in press materials.  Riders will enter the queue in Skull Island and travel through ancient jungle ruins before boarding the ride vehicle.

© Universal Orlando Resort (click for larger view)
Inside Skull Island is a massive, 72 foot tall "great wall" that the expedition trucks will enter.  That is depicted in the nice concept art seen above.  This news story gives some details from Universal Creative Executive Director Mike West.  "There are beautiful wooden doors and flames shooting on each side. You then drive up through the doors and you enter a dark cavernous cave with deep chasms with other creatures within. You'll take another turn where you are submerged further into this island where it becomes a fight for survival meeting small and large prehistoric creatures face-to-face."

The press release for the ride gives a similar description.  "It begins as guests are transported deep into a wild and mysterious world, where their mission is to discover creatures of unknown origin – but where they are soon fighting for their own survival. Their journey will take them through an ancient temple inhabited by hostile natives, a perilous jungle ruled by prehistoric creatures, a foreboding underworld of caves concealing unspeakable terrors – and face-to-face with the colossal Kong himself."

The park also released this video announcement for Skull Island: Reign of Kong, which gives some additional details of the experience.  The ride designers are also quick to point out that this ride will not be the same as the Kong experience on the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood.  Florida's version will be much larger and immersive, using some of the largest ride vehicles they've ever designed and giving one of the longest ride times in the parks.

Universal is working with Peter Jackson to design the new attraction.  Jackson directed the 2005 film "King Kong," which also explored Skull Island and its various inhabitants.

For now you can sign up to stay up to date on Universal Orlando's Kong page, with more details promised down the road.