The quest for the golden idol begins in the fire realm of Mura. It’s a land of scorched earth, lava flows, and some of Lost Island’s most extreme thrill rides. There’s the inverting Mura Fury frisbee, the Shaman’s Curse Disk-o coaster, and the Mondial Rollover Rokava. (As with each of Lost Island’s realms, there’s also an interactive “play” element – here, the Makatu Shrine, which tasks guests with collaborating to touch ancient handprints, building to create a torrent of lava and molten geysers in the pool at the volcano’s base.)
While every other realm is anchored by a thrill ride (the Nopuko air coaster and Matugani earth coaster are the park’s main thrill rides), the realm of fire is instead home to Volkanu: Quest for the Golden Idol.
The journey begins in Mura’s Temple of Fire – a ceremonial place entered via winding lava chambers beneath the volcano. Ancient cave paintings tell the story of Lost Island and its struggle against the destruction of Volkanu. When the fire demon awoke last time, his destruction was vast.
(In fact, Volkanu’s last emergence is the reason that the air kingdom of Udara came crashing back to Earth, and why – generations later – its inventors and scientists still device mechanisms meant to return their people to the skies… a story further explored in the indoor queue for Udara’s Skyborne launch tower.)
Only through the creation of the golden Ora-Tika idol was Volkanu trapped at last… But of course, ushered into a smaller ceremonial chamber containing weaponry from each of the four realms, we learn that something has gone wrong…
After centuries, the golden Ora-Tika has been stolen from its altar in the Temple of Fire. With the idol gone, Volkanu cannot be stopped. Beneath us right now, the fire demon grows in molten rage, certain to return and destroy Lost Island for good.
We have just one chance: the Island’s spirit guardians – the Tamariki – have once again brought the four realms together to create Thermal Equalizers, able to snuff out Volkanu’s fiery vengeance through a combination of all four elements.
Our mission is simple: Find the Ora-Tika. Return it to the Temple of Fire. Place it on the altar. And seal Volkanu away forever.
Having risen to the challenge, the queue proceeds through the stone chambers of the temple, where an astounding animatronic of an ancient Mura shaman offers his sage advice:
VOLKANU: Quest for the Golden Idol
With Volkanu’s power growing my the minute, our time is short. If we want to save Lost Island from Volkanu’s reemergence, the only path is forward… Our journey begins at the edge of the Temple of Fire, where molten lava flows suggest that the temperature is quickly rising…
There we encounter the Inferno Transport. Crafted by the Tamariki, these fire-proof vehicles can withstand the heat of the temple. More to the point, make no mistake: as steam hisses from cracks in the earth, ahead you’ll spot a giant stone replica of the Ora-Tika itself…
Carved with the symbols of each of the elements, the Ora-Tika depicts a Tamariki guardian. But unlike the friendly plush version you’ll find in Lost Island’s Ara Matua merchandise shop or the friendly walkaround version of these goat-horned, sprite-like creatures with unseen faces and glowing eyes, the Ora-Tika is a protector, hands clasped in prayer and adorned with a protective bodice bearing the symbols of Udara, Awa, Yuta, and Mura.
Baskets of fresh fruit, flowers, urns, and candles at its base suggest that the people of Lost Island recognize – even centuries after its creation – that the Ora-Tika is all that stood between them and Volkanu’s wrath… and now, it’s up to us to find it and restore peace.
The gates of the Temple swing open, releasing us back into the jungles of Lost Island. Once out of view of the loading area, the Inferno Transport cleverly reveals its capabilities, rumbling to life as beginning to undulate as it turns. First, riders come face-to-face with six evil tiki statues – as we learned in the pre-show, all that’s left of the foolish thieves who removed the Ora-Tika from its altar. With the thieves eliminated, the Ora-Tika appears, pulled onto the Transport.
Of course, getting the Ora-Tika was easy. Getting back to the heart of the Temple of Fire? Not so much. With Lost Island’s volcano exploding in the distance, we get out first glimpse at the shapeless, molten demon himself. We’re too late – Volkanu is free. And that means that he and his lava creatures are out for us.
Around the corner, ashes fall from the sky as soil begins to simmer and plants burn. Fiery comets seem to have impacted the rocky landscape, tossed skyward in the eruption. Another lands nearby, with smoke hissing from the impact. In an ancient stone temple ahead, flames are magically replaced by the Mura Shaman (via a wonderful Pepper’s ghost effect – the same parlor trick that brings the ghostly ballroom dancers of Disney’s Haunted Mansion to life): “Now, travel to the Temple of Fire! Place Ora-Tika on the altar and defeat Volkanu!” As we pull away, a real, searing burst of fire erupts.
The Transports pull into the teetering stone columns of the temple, guarded by a three-headed molten cerberus, roaring as steam pours from its body. The Transports back away, only to come up to a seeming dead end: now, via projection, riders blast away a stone wall, revealing a cavernous descent deeper into the temple.
Volkanu’s minions – a gigantic scorpion and snake made of volcanic rock and lava – unleash an army of bats. Blasting through them, the Transport advances, now re-entering a physical scene: a deep earth cavern where a steaming animatronic lava creature unfurls its wings, screeching as riders blast it with their Thermal Equalizers.
In an almost-abstract moment, riders pass by a projection-mapped volcanic vent with a human face; its mouth opens to reveal churning flames within.
Then, having reached the depths of the volcano, deep under the Temple of Fire, the final showdown begins. Riders blast through a pair of lava guardians who hurl flaming boulders, while flapping bats and slithering snakes offer easy points for sharp-shooters. But ahead, the golden gates of the Ora-Tika’s shrine beckon…
By way of a giant screen, the Transports at last enter the shrine. A few last baddies can’t halt the inevitable: the Ora-Tika is beamed back into its place. As for Volkanu? As riders’ victory sets in, the giant molten creature claws its way up from the lava pools below. Noticing the Ora-Tika, it makes one last effort, crawling face-first after us as we back away helplessly, back through the shrine’s gates…
Volkanu’s hand reaches after us, clawing out to the vehicle. But it’s too late. With Volkanu roaring from within, the golden gates slam closed, leaving only puddles of cooling lava dripped from the monster…
Thanks to us, Lost Island is saved…. But not without a final reminder that Volkanu will always be waiting… Now, take a ride through this unexpectedly-ambitious dark ride thanks to our friends at Attractions 360, whose unbeatable low-light ride throughs actually make the ride look even brighter and clearer than it does in real life!
The Gold Standard
Experiencing Volkanu: Quest for the Golden Idol, there’s really only one thing to say: it’s sensational. A totally unexpected triumph for a small, regional newcomer in the industry, it really is a dark ride that should leave us all salivating: bold, ambitious, creative, and original.
Does Volkanu give Lost Island an equivalent of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance? Of course not. But for seasonal park to so beautifully balance a homemade intellectual property with the big budget theatrics and storytelling of a dark ride in this way… it’s really sensational. Remember, this isn’t a park with the backing of a corporate parent like even a Six Flags, so this investment in a really-for-real headlining dark ride is just incredible. It’s exactly the kind of investment in original IP we love.
Speaking of which, as any reasonable person would want to do after experiencing a from-scratch dark ride built of homemade mythology and packed with iconic imagery you wouldn’t expect from a seasonal, regional park… you’ve gotta buy your own Ora-Tika from the Treasure Trove gift shop at the ride’s exit!
Though it may sound wild to place a newborn theme park in Iowa on your bucket list, trust us – Volkanu is the wonderful cherry on top of a sensational industry project we should all be rooting for…