By David Sibila
King Kong has officially returned to Universal Orlando Resort and his newest attraction at Universal's Islands of Adventure is in one word, massive! Fans of the classic character and thrill seekers alike are in for a colossal treat with all of the hidden unknowns and scary surprises, from the queue to the gift shop.
We were able to walk through the attraction with Universal Creative's Executive Producer Mike West and learn some of the backstory and guest enhancements that were designed to create a one-of-a-kind ride experience from the moment you walk up to the attraction's entrance.
Spoiler alert! If you want to save some of the surprises for when you visit in person, we recommend that you don't read any further...but the pictures are still awesome to look at and the video above is super cool too.
The eerie feeling that you've walked into a world where you're not welcome begins in the immersive queue which been created with a chilling dark and dungeons design. As a throwback to Universal's annual Halloween Horror Nights a Skull Island native "pops" up to unnerve courageous guests patiently waiting for their turn on the ride.
The most impressive scene in the queue is a large room with giant skulls with flaming eyes carved into the stone work. In the center skull stands an animatronic Sharwoman, who appeared in the 2005 release of King Kong by Universal and directed by Peter Jackson. The lifelike character tells a dire tale about Kong, in her native language.
The ride technology has taken a massive leap forward for Universal's attractions with first ever trackless, mammoth ride vehicles. Although this side of the technology story has been hidden from guests, Universal's creative team has no quarrel with sharing this gargantuan accomplishment with would be riders.
Once on board the action surrounds the riders on all sides and the 4D effects puts you right in the middle of the "Kongfrontation" between Kong and the native monsters out to harm you. Universal's team recommends sitting on the left side of the vehicle to best absorb all the action. We recommend for those who want to come nose-to-nose with Kong himself to sit on the far right of the ride vehicle.
And nothing says "I survived Kong" like a souvenir T-shirt. Fans can gear up with a variety of exclusive merchandise that features the ride's marquee character and portrays the storyline of Skull Island and the Eighth Wonder Expedition Company.
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Written by David Sibila, Senior Manager of Content and Social Media for Visit Orlando. He's a TV producer turned content and social media strategist, hands-on dad and a casualty of four rescued pets.