Jurassic World Adventure Ride Universal Studios Beijing

You know their names. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Indiana Jones Adventure. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Journey to the Center of the Earth. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. 

For the last thirty years or so, we've found ourselves firmly in the a battle fought by dark rides with increasingly elaborate ride systems, outstanding animatronics, massive multimedia, and incredible IPs.

Though individual enthusiasts might add or subtract a ride or two from the list, for the most part, fans tend to agree on the larger pantheon of modern dark rides, and it's rare that a new one enters the conversation... 

But now, fans are turning their attention to a stunning new dark ride on the far side of the globe. Those who've ridden it say that it might just be the most impressive dark ride currently operating. Do you agree...? 

To find out, you have to understand the context. We all know that Universal's been on a substantial building streak. Powered by acquired and licensed IPs, massive, multi-year transformations have seen both Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood debut major, headlining attractions nearly every year since Comcast officially purchased the parks in 2011. Obviously, that's all set to culminate in 2025 when Universal Epic Universe opens, "changing everything" and – if Universal has its way – shifting the gravity in Orlando for good.

Image: Universal

But Universal's focus hasn't entirely been on its two U.S. destinations. Like Disney, Universal has spent the last decade or so focused on international growth... and particularly, new parks in Asia where billions of potential customers await. For the "Mouse House," that crescendoed with Shanghai Disneyland. Likewise, Universal's Asian ambition became incarnate in Universal Studios Beijing. 

Largely, Universal's Chinese outing seemed to garner far less attention than Disney's. Partly, that's because of COVID-19, which saw the Beijing park's debut delayed and then slow-walked thanks to China's restrictive COVID policies, sort of stealing the spark out of the park's premier. 

Image: Universal

Secondly, it's probably because – for the most part – Universal Studios Beijing appears far less revolutionary than Shanghai Disneyland. Instead, it looks like a "best of Universal Studios" with few surprises or revelations. Using the Islands of Adventure layout but the Universal Studios mentality, the Beijing park gives "been there done that" vibes – a Hollywood entry land; a Minion Land anchored by the same Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem you'll find in Orlando or Hollywood; a Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade with the tried-and-true Forbidden Journey; and a Transformers: Metro Base land that's essentially a clone of Orlando's Marvel Superhero Island, but with Transformers: The Ride instead of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man; a mini Waterworld land featuring the Hollywood-born stunt show; a unique, enclosed Kung-Fu Panda: Land of Awesomeness (one of the few genuinely original big ideas at the park); and, just like Islands of Adventure, a dinosaur land (here upgraded to the newer, fresher Jurassic World) across the lagoon from the park entry.

So at first glance, it's easy to feel as if Universal Studios Beijing was – to say the least – a whole lot less ambitious and "game-changing" than either Shanghai Disneyland was or Epic Universe will be. Instead, it sort of "played it safe," drawing from tried-and-true Universal Parks standards and simply cloning tested E-Tickets to a Chinese audience who's unlikely to have seen them in Orlando or Hollywood. And given that most American park fans probably view Disney and Universal's Chinese parks as the ones they're least likely to make a visit to, as well, maybe that's okay! 

Image: Universal

But upon a closer look, Universal Studios Beijing does offer at least one truly revolutionary ride... Unlike the familiar River Adventure-style rides at Universal Orlando, Hollywood, Japan, and Singapore, Universal Studios Beijing offers a next generational experience. That makes sense! As we saw in Orlando through the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, drawing on the sleek, modern, and stylish Jurassic World trilogy opens a whole new corner of the Jurassic universe – one with modern thrills, high-energy excitement, and of course, the insatiable Indominus rex.

And they all come together in a dark ride that some say is among the best in the world... Read on...


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