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7 Confirmed Facts About the NEW Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Universal Orlando

Yesterday Universal finally confirmed what we’ve been telling you for more than a year now: King Kong is returning to Universal Orlando Resort after an absence of more than a decade. 

Set to debut in 2016, Skull Island: Reign of Kong will easily be the most ambitious project ever to come to Universal Orlando Resort, surpassing recent favorites like Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in both scale and technical prowess. Though Universal is still keeping some secrets about this brand new attraction, here’s everything that we know so far about this upcoming attraction:

1. The ride will feature a mix of animatronics, physical sets and screens 

There’s been some criticism levied at Universal parks recently about their reliance on screen based attractions (Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts as well as Transformers: The Ride being two fresh examples). However, it looks like Skull Island: Reign of Kong will feature a mix of animatronics and screen-based effects, with Universal Creative Executive Producer Mike West calling it “multi-experiential” in an interview with Orlando Business Journal, essentially confirming the presence of both screens and animatronics (in the vaguest way possible). 

Of course, the literal 800-lb gorilla in the room is King Kong himself. Universal executives have declined to say whether King Kong himself will be animatronic, but based on several credible sources including the alway-reliable Theme Park Insider, we’re inclined to believe that he will be animatronic in at least part of the ride. West has also said that the ride uses new technology that he isn’t allowed to talk about quite yet, which could perhaps mean that Kong could be a next-generation animatronic, which would be an exciting development indeed!

2. It will be using expedition truck-style ride vehicles

At first glance, it’s easy to mistake the open-sided ride vehicles pictured above for those in use at the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. However, it has been hinted at that some of the “new technology” that will be a part of the ride will pertain to the ride vehicles.  Based on the concept art is seems likely that there will be a human “driver” in the driver’s seat, but how much actual navigating will be done by this person remains to be seen, as some have suggested that this ride will use a trackless navigation system with the person in the driver's seat simply providing a spiel for guests. 

Regardless of the way the vehicle actually gets through the ride, these giant, high-capacity trucks should help move plenty of guests through this attraction, giving Skull Island: Reign of Kong a very high capacity (and hopefully a short wait time as a result).

3. It will be at least partially inspired by the 2005 Peter Jackson film

While not a retelling of 2005’s King Kong film, Skull Island: Reign of Kong is being developed in part by film director Peter Jackson, who is reponible for giving this attraction a similar look and feel to his own film. Although the ride will have a story all its own, it will be designed to tie in nicely both with 2005's film as well as any sequels in the same way that Transformers: The Ride ties into its respective films without directly referencing them.  

4. The queue will be heavily themed and tie into the ride experience

One of the hallmarks of Islands of Adventure attraction Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is its sprawling queue, which is considered by many to be an attraction all by itself (guests who don't wish to ride often ask for the "Castle Tour" so they can still see this amazing queue). Though more recent attraction queues at Transformers: The Ride and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts have tried to capture this experience, they have sadly come up short.

However, Skull Island: Reign of Kong is looking to return to the highly immersive queue concept, and is even looking to take this idea one step further by making the queue an integral part of the attraction experience. Speaking with the Tampa Bay Times, West said guests in the queue will "come upon dense jungles and make [their] way through temple ruins," encountering  "hostile natives" and "unimaginable giant creatures" on the way to the ride, with the goal being that "by the time you get to board the expedition vehicle, your anticipation is peaking."

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There are 3 comments.

Can we please start calling these "trackless" navigation systems rides what they actually are? They are Automated Guided Vehicles, or AGVs. Some, like Grat Movie Ride and Tower of Terror, are wire guided on one path, and some, like Mystic Manor, are guided on multiple paths (probably by RFID chips in the ground). It's more interesting to know exactly how they are guiding these AGVs, rather than just lumping them all together in some vague term.

I wouldn't call the Frozen re-theme a major addition. Especially compared to Kong. THAT is a major addition. The Mine Train, and NFL was much larger, and you called it minor.

I agree, Mine Train was a big deal, also because it was the final thing in New Fantasy Land and that really was what drew attention to it all. Plus NFL really appealed to parents as much as kids. This new Frozen ride, eh. It's a simple dark ride that will probably be just ok. This is going to be a ride that appeals to kids more than it does to adults. Frozen and boats don't even make much sense, you don't ride a boat in the winter. Keep the Norway attraction, I know children that haven't even heard of Norway.

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