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Image: Universal

If you haven't heard, things have been a little rough in the southwestern corner of Universal Islands of Adventure.

First, in early 2024, Skull Island: Reign of Kong hit a bump in the road. Maybe, literally. The ride's 66-passenger trackless vehicles have always been designed to be able to take a detour, skipping Skull Island's outdoor path in case of rain... but allegedly, an issue with the exterior roadway has caused the ride to bypass it for months now, cutting a minute from the ride time and weakening the attraction's already-flimsy guest satisfaction scores.

Image: Universal

Then, in February, Universal quietly acknowledged a trial run of removing 3D from Reign of Kong. To be fair, it was worth trying. After all, Universal has long suffered from the perception that a day at its parks largely amounts to putting on 3D glasses and being jostled in front of screens. 

Especially sensing the growing tide of Disney defectors fed up with Disney's slashed perks and new upcharges, Universal has moved to cut 3D glasses from several of its attractions (including Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey) ... but reactions online suggest that the change doesn't translate well for Kong, even further detracting from the ride's success.

Image: Universal

Unfortunately, the bad news doesn't end there. Just across the path in Islands of Adventure's Jurassic Park resides Pteranodon Flyers. Opened with the park in 1999, this suspended family coaster glides gently over the "Camp Jurassic" family exploration zone. Or at least, it used to. Pteranodon Flyers is probably best known for its abysmal capacity – so low that shortly after opening, Universal changed policies so that guests over 56" cannot ride without a child. 

That makes Pteranodon Flyers one of the more rare and sought-after "coaster credits" out there... and getting rarer given that the ride closed in April 2024 for an unspecified – but allegedly, quite serious – mechanical issue that insiders suggest might spell its end for good...

Image: Bioreconstruct (Twitter)

But for armchair Imagineers like you and I, the degradation of the already-meh Kong and the potential closure of Pteranodon Flyers should illuminate a lightbulb over our heads... After all, this corner of Universal Islands of Adventure is ripe for reimagining, and we have a just-for-fun, "Blue Sky" idea of what we dream that could look like... 

Part 1: Cretaceous Canopy Flyers

Luckily, when it comes to Pteranodon Flyers, Universal has at least pointed us in the direction of a solution... When Universal Studios Beijing opened in 2021, Universal smartly tagged in the Mack Inverted Powered Coaster, which is a very smart idea indeed in that the 12-person, 3 -rowed vehicles are continuously-loading, have on-board audio, and are capable of controlled rotation, making it a legitimate family attraction and not a kiddie ride.

Image: Universal

To be fair, the Mack coaster is much more conspicuous with thicker track and more prominent supports. I also already added an all-ages powered coaster to the park in Seuss Landing... But still, I think my CRETACEOUS CANOPY FLYERS is a reasonable way to add a useful, mid-capacity, attractive ride to the park versus the very limited Pteranodon Flyers.

Stylized as a perimeter surveillance vehicle, this attraction would task guests with soaring over the island, checking in at key outposts along the way: the Perimeter Gates, the Pteranodon Dome, the Jungle Safari Outpost, the Amber Mines, and then back to Camp Cretaceous. With its controlled, show-ready rotation and its ability to adjust speed for show moments, I think this would be awesome, zippy, winding trip over the jungle, providing unique views into other attractions.

Speaking of which, while still loading from Camp Cretaceous, this winding, twisting, zippier powered coaster would quickly hop the path beyond the Jurassic Arch and skim above another ride... Read on for a map of it all!

 
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