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It's undeniable that 2016 is shaping up to be quite the blockbuster year for Walt Disney World with the back-to-back debuts of major attractions Frozen Ever After, Rivers of Light, and Soarin’ Around the World. Given all this, theme park fans can be forgiven for feeling like Universal Orlando Resort isn't keeping pace with its biggest competitor in 2016, as only one new attraction is opening this year: Skull Island: Reign of Kong. However, this new ride at Islands of Adventure might actually be able to hold its own against simulated international flights and a Frozen queen, and looks like it will be one of the most ambitious theme park rides ever built in Orlando.

Several months ago we shared with you the first details about this ride, but as we get closer to the Skull Island's summer 2016 launch, new details have come to light that make us even more excited to check out this new attraction! Here's everything new we've learned over the past few days:

1. The vehicles will be HUGE, and use cutting edge technology 

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

Though we’ve seen some impressive ride vehicles in the past, the stats for the expedition vehicles that will be used in Skull Island: Reign of Kong are pretty amazing, even by our standards. Each truck will measure over 40 feet long and 13 feet high, and weigh an impressive 17 tons.  Even the wheels are super-sized, measuring an enormous 45 inches tall! Each of these mammoth vehicles will carry up to 72 people on 12 different rows of seats, which will all face the front of the cab.

Now while you might think that a vehicle this large won’t have the maneuvering capabilities to deliver an exciting ride experience, it looks like Universal has taken steps to ensure that thrill seekers are properly satisfied. Both the front and back axles can be steered independently, which means that this vehicle can still take sharp twists and turns despite its massive size. And while unconfirmed, some reports have suggested that the vehicles will be able to pitch and yaw as well, meaning that dramatic movement up and down is very possible as well. 

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

However, perhaps even more impressive than the size of the vehicle is the revelation that Skull Island: Reign of Kong will be the first ride at Universal Orlando Resort to run on a completely trackless system, which has some interesting implications for another confirmed component of the ride we’ll explore in just a moment… 

2. There’s going to be some real characters involved...

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

While looking at the ride vehicles is certainly exciting, Universal also shared a very interesting tidbit with fans yesterday as well when it was revealed that guests who board these vehicles will encounter one of five different “drivers” (you'll see why we're putting this term in quotes on the next page) who will entertain guests with personal stories during the ride. Here’s the official descriptions from Universal for each character:

Becky Callahan: The loose-cannon cowgirl who isn’t fazed by the dangers awaiting her on Skull Island.

Will Denham: The fresh-faced, adventure-seeking younger cousin of famed movie director Carl Denham.

Jinks Costanza: A hardened New York City ex-con who is wary of the island’s mysteries.

Kalana: A mystical descendent of the natives who first settled on the island.

Charles “Doc” Jordan: A PhD student in paleontology who took time off from his studies to explore the world.

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Comments

First of all, let me just say this is an awesome article full of great information, and I am exceptionally excited to see what Reign of Kong holds in store this summer! I'm also commenting to express my extreme distaste for the pro-Disney/anti-Universal sentiment expressed all over this site, which I follow daily.

I hardly think the sentence about Universal not keeping pace was necessary; This especially holds true because as a rabid Disney fan, I am NOT excited about a light show based on a movie no one cares about, an overdone franchise taking over one of the best and beloved rides in Epcot, and a refurb of another ride. I'm sick of Disney cutting corners to get more money and more Frozen fans to attend parks (Frozen Ever After in Epcot). I'm sick of them pressuring me into liking a franchise that I don't care about by basing an entire park around it (Pandora). And all I see on this site is how glorious Disney and its decisions are while commenters and article authors either explicitly criticize or unnecessarily jab Universal, who is appealing to fandoms (Harry Potter) and creating innovative ride tech (R.O.K.).

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