Home » Kong Is 2D… Pteranodon Flyers is Closed… Here’s OUR Idea For Expanding Jurassic World at Universal Orlando

Kong Is 2D… Pteranodon Flyers is Closed… Here’s OUR Idea For Expanding Jurassic World at Universal Orlando

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.

 

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.

 

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…

 

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.

 

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!

In our imaginary, “Blue Sky” project, we’re imagining that the closure of Pteranodon Flyers and the 2D downgrade to Reign of Kong signal a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to reimagine the southwest corner of Islands of Adventure, leaning into the park’s focus on stories over movies, and its timeless ride collection. So having already imagined a new, land-wide suspended family ride via the Cretaceous Canopy Flyers, let’s look at the new Kong replacement it would glide around…

Part 2: Jurassic Jungle Expedition

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a Jurassic Jeep Safari was actually on the shortlist of ideas before Hollywood’s River Adventure. As the story goes, it was decided that since you couldn’t beat the Jeep Safari seen in the film, why try? The “River Adventure” was selected instead, and a Jeep Safari was sidelined for the expansion pad. In my built-out Islands of Adventure, we finally activate on it with JURASSIC JUNGLE EXPEDITION.

One idea I loved was that – just as in Kong, we approach the huge wooden gates of an ancient stone wall – in our Jurassic Jungle Expedition, we’d enter through the towering metal gates and into the park’s jungle habitat.

 

On the outside of this perimeter wall would be a massive, full-sized, standing Titanosaur and its nearby child, being fed leaves from one of the watchtowers built into the fence. Not only would this give riders the very cool moment of passing under the dinosaur (which, just for fun, might “pee” on every 50th Jeep or something) but would finally, at long last, bring dinosaurs out of the rides and make them visible from the paths. It wouldn’t take much animation to make this dinosaur feel real, but I think it would be a significant landmark for the area.

I also made what may be a bold and disastrous idea when it comes to my version of the Jungle Expedition: I don’t want anything to go wrong. As much as possible, I wanted this to be a really fun, slightly-thrilling sightseeing ride a la Kilimanjaro Safaris.

 

Surely by now – and surely when it comes to Jurassic Park in particular – we have to be tired of “something goes horribly wrong” plots. How many times can a dinosaur attack you in one day? Between the River Adventure and my Raptor Encounter, I just feel like the land could benefit from a ride that’s a little bit physically thrilling, but not overtly scary.

I included a number of small showbuildings along the ride’s course, including a visit to the Pteranodon Dome (with the Canopy Flyer zipping by overhead among pteranodon shadows in the foliage and an animatronic or two), a cave with a nest, and a finale visit to the legendary Amber Mines from which the original amber-encased mosquito that powers the park was discovered.

 

Even if this isn’t necessarily a thrill ride or a “something goes wrong” ride, I drew up the track layout in such a way that Jeeps would need to back out (based on concept art, above, of the Jeep Safari concept in which the Jeeps slid backwards down a hill after a dinosaur encounter). So I suppose it could be a “cave-in,” basically destroying the remaining DNA and ensuring Jurassic Park is the last of its kind. But maybe you also just back out because it’s fun and unusual and it’s a tight cave system. What are your thoughts?!

A New Era

 

Altogether, I wanted to take rare opportunity presented by Kong and Pteranodon Flyers’ interruptions to imagine something different for Jurassic Park’s future. To me, the one-two punch of a high-capacity aerial gliding coaster and a jungle safari where nothing “goes horribly wrong” expand Jurassic Park’s appeal to families – a real necessity in the wake of dinosaurs’ evergreen place in pop culture and Camp Cretaceous‘ emerging family franchise.

By the way, this reimagined family expansion to the park replacing Reign of Kong and Pteranodon Flyers is just one part of a larger build-out of Jurassic Park (above) that’s included in my hand-illustrated, park-wide expansion to Universal Islands of Adventure – which also includes a Pokémon land! Be sure to make the jump to those features if you want to continue your tour of this redesigned park!