Animatronic King Kong image

New details have been revealed of the King Kong 360 3-D addition to the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, after journalists were given a preview of the new attraction.

The King Kong section of the tour is due to debut this summer, and will replace the Kong soundstage which was destroyed in a 2008 fire. With the 3-D replacement now nearing completion, Universal invited media outlets including the LA Times to take a sneak peek at the technology in use.

The updated version of Kong is based on the 2005 Peter Jackson remake of the original film, and Jackson himself has been involved in its production. As with all parts of the Studio Tour, guests will remain seated on trams throughout the experience. In order to see the action, they must don 3-D glasses before the tram enters the soundstage. They will then be completely surrounded by two 180-feet-long, 40-feet-tall screens - making Kong the largest 3D attraction in the world.

Once inside, guests will experience a cave full of giant bats, before witnessing a showdown between Kong and two T-Rex dinosaurs. The scene will be created using a mixture of life-size animatronics and digitally projected images - with Hugo Martín of the LA Times describing a T-Rex "climbing over" the tram during the show.

The 3-D effects have been developed by Weta Digital, the special effects company which Jackson co-founded. The company worked on James Cameron's smash-hit movie Avatar, and Universal claims that many of the technological advances developed for the film have been applied to the Kong attraction.

In addition to the 3-D and animatronic action, Universal plans to use a range of other effects to add to the impact of the Studio Tour section. These include wind and water effects, "authentic" Kong smells and ground that vibrates in time with the on-screen action. King Kong himself is based on the model used in the Jackson film, and sets and creatures from the movie will also make an appearance.

The footage seen by the previews last week was taken from the movie itself, but Universal claims that all-new material will feature in the attraction when it opens to guests.

Universal Studios Hollywood suffered a huge blow in 2008 when a fire devastated large areas of its famous backlot. Visitors suffered as well, as the park’s Studio Tour lost some of its most famous sights, including the New York Street set and the King Kong soundstage. The park reopened some of the lost sets (plus a few new ones) back in June, and announced the Kong soundstage to replace the original, which was built in 1986.

The previous Kong attraction featured one of the largest animatronic characters in the world, with the robotic Kong standing at some 30-feet-tall. Universal claims building the updated version was six times more expensive than it would have been to reconstruct the previous one.

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