Universal’s first ever King Kong themed ride, King Kong Encounter, opened in Universal Studios Hollywood park way back in 1986. The seven ton, 30 foot-tall King Kong was a massive success and it’s no wonder that Kongfrontation was ready on opening day in Universal Studios Florida. That ride has been closed for over a decade, but fans of the movie monster are about to get something even more impressive. Skull Island: Reign of King Kong opens in Universal’s Islands of Adventure in summer of 2016.
According to the ride creator, everything about this ride is going to be big. Just consider the ride vehicle: it’ll be a full 40 feet long. Or consider the length of the ride: an average theme park ride is just under four minutes long while this one will be just ten seconds shy of six minutes. Guests can enjoy a long ride through an impressively immersive environment.
While many details of the ride are still being kept under wraps, we do know a few things. First, guests will enter off the main promenade of Islands of Adventure. They’ll pass the marquee and walk through the main entrance, which is an archway topped with a huge stone King Kong skull. They’ll then be surrounded by a dense jungle and plants that appear to have seen better days. As they continue on, they’ll be faced with crates, supplies, and other items that will suggest their expedition has made it to Skull Island.
As guests work their way through the queue area they’ll wind back and forth through the base camp and get the full Reign of Kong backstory through a radio broadcast. In fact, it’s an actual 1930s NBC news broadcast, complete with musical interludes from the NBC Orchestra.
After the base camp guests will see ruins of an ancient temple, and will eventually enter those ruins. As they go deeper they’ll have a sense of the native presence on the island. They’ll meet a few characters from the expedition who will fill in some of the blanks on the backstory, and then they’ll finally make it to the load area.
The whole time guests are making their way through the queue areas they’re moving from large, open spaces into tight, confined spaces. This was a deliberate choice on the part of Universal: they’re establishing a tone and creating tension.
When guests get to the load area they hear a final radio broadcast. Somewhere deep in the jungle comes a broadcast from the base camp. The purpose is to let the driver know where they need to go when they get into the field, but it also hints at what guests can expect to encounter when they get on the ride.
Guests take their seats and their enormous ride vehicle roars out of the ruins, along a crumpled road, and then makes a hard turn. As it approaches the Great Wall drums are beating, flames are flaring up, and a set of massive temple doors open.
What happens next is anyone’s guess, as Universal has not released the details of the ride itself. What we do know is that everything is big and overwhelming. We know that Universal expects to amaze and delight guests on the ride.