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PENNIES FROM KEVIN - The Good, The Bad & The Fugly™: IOA's Rumored Jeep Coaster

What's good about the rumored Jurassic Parkization of the popular Italian Job coaster? What's bad? And what's downright fugly? Here's a (hopefully) comprehensive look into the IOA's longest rumor - a JP Jeep Thang - becoming reality... maybe.

Written by Kevin Baxter
Published: August 14, 2005 at 7:22 PM

This column marks the premiere of a semi-recurring feature, where I will select some goings-on in the theme park world and approach it from every angle.

Screamscape claims Islands of Adventure may be planning on having Premier Rides, creator of Universal's highly successful Revenge of the Mummy coasters, reimagine their more recent - and also successful - Italian Job Stunt Track for their Jurassic Park island. Before this becomes reality, let's have a little look at the rumor:

THE GOOD

1) IOA's will get a new ride! A new semi-major ride! The park opened in 1999, got two minor rides - StormForce and Flying Unicorn - in 2000 and then... nothing! NOTHING! It's about time!

2) Universal will not only be getting a proven concept, with new Universal-specific theming, but they will be reteaming with Premier Rides, who did a great job with their Revenge of the Mummy coasters. Premier Rides is the unsung hero of the theme park world, without the problems plaguing other bigger names like Intamin, Arrow, Vekoma or - smirk - Disney. The last thing IOA would need after FINALLY getting a new ride would be lots of downtime.

3) It's a family attraction. One of the main reasons for the success of the Mummy coasters was their family appeal. This is especially important at IOA, which is thought by many to be solely a thrill park. Adding another Hulk-level coaster would only further that belief. Universal Orlando now has their "Space Mountain" over at USF, so their "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad" will be a perfect sister ride at IOA.

4) It'll be cheap! Maybe that doesn't seem like it should be in the Good category, but NBC Universal is still new, so if a new inexpensive ride can prove to the powers-that-are that there is good money to be made at the parks, then maybe we can get MORE rides. Like maybe FINALLY getting the six-year-old Sylvester McMonkey McBean running!

5) Location, location, location. While the former Triceratops Encounter land has been rumored to be the new ride's location, balloons were floated in the area between the River Adventure and Lost Continent's Flying Unicorn. While the lakeside location would be great for ambience - JP jeeps zooming by the main path? WOW - the back-of-the-park location is a little larger, though not as large as the empty parcel south of JPRA, which would be much better suited for a Hulk-sized coaster. The Triceratops space would most certainly require alterations of Camp Jurassic because it really is a tiny space, no matter how spacious it may seem walking through it. While the loss of the Pteranodon Flyers wouldn't be much of a loss, losing any of the rest of CJ would be. (A thrilling Pteranodon coaster has also been rumored for the Triceratops land, but certainly much of that coaster could be built over the lake, a la Hulk.)

6) Universal's being flexible with the concept. A jeep ride has always been on the drawing board - check out the island diorama in the JPRA queue - but the general impression has always been that the jeep concept would always be the park's Spidey-killer. As great as that would be, UO is probably figuring out that getting another $75M ride built is a pipe dream with newish owners. Instead of giving up on the highly-themed ride, they are changing the scope of the ride, which should work out nicely for the park. Especially since almost every rumor of the original ride made it sound a little too much like Animal Kingdom's Dinosaur ride. That said...

THE BAD

1) ... All this time for a second-tier ride? As great as this ride could be, it's still just a short coaster just one step up from the kiddie-friendly Unicorn.

2) Can this get enough theming? Honestly, this part is scaring me. I don't think anybody wants to see a JPRA remake, with lots of slow-moving dinosaurs with the coaster replacing the flume ride's drop. Part of the problem will be that most of the ride will certainly be outdoors, which may make it a little difficult to create good robotic effects. Remember that the fastest and scariest dinosaurs are INSIDE the JPRA. Italian Job does have a sewer system portion, something that could be expanded to include a realistic T-Rex "chase". Let's hope.

3) The back location may be perfect for size, but it does have problems that need to be met. It is VERY close to the Unicorn and care needs to be taken to keep the rides hidden from each other. The jeep ride should also be hidden completely from the bridge between Jurassic Park and Lost Continent since you aren't actually IN Jurassic Park until you round the corner from the bridge and head through the wooden gate. That leaves only a small area along the path to check out portions of the ride. This part of the path is easily the most boring in IOA and it NEEDS some ambience. And it should be some good ambience. The only part of JPRA we see is the drop, but what drama it adds to the Jurassic Park pathway. Creating something like this for the other end of the island is important, and I fear all we'll end up seeing is that damn "parking lot" spiral, which would make no sense here, but it's still a valid fear. Because the billboard "crash" certainly won't work here. Do your work, Universal, because you don't want to ruin one of the best-designed parks in the world.

THE FUGLY

1) Capacity! Paramount's Kings Island is already having huge problems with lines. Not surprising with a minute-long ride that loads twelve people per train. IOA needs many trains running at once, and to do so it will need a much longer - and slower - first act. Unfortunately, this will make the ride a lot like JPRA. That ride would be nothing but a drop if it weren't for that slow trek through the Ultrasaur Lagoon, Stegosaur Springs and Hadrosaur Cove. People have claimed this ride might remind people too much of Revenge of the Mummy, but I fear it will remind people too much of JPRA. Honestly, calm dinos and then a flight from a T-Rex! The only way to hide this is to add new dinosaurs, naturally, which will help, but improved robotics are a must.

2) 2007? Two-thousand-freakin'-seven? That's insane for a park that can usually throw together a ride in a year. And this one already exists in another form! It's especially lame to plan on opening this in 2007, which would be a year AFTER Animal Kingdom opens its long-awaited Everest coaster. With so little on WDW's plate in 2006, that would be a much better timeframe to open a family coaster, especially one that will likely have a wider age-range than the Disney coaster.


More Goods than Bads and Fuglies combined, which means IOA should have a winner on their hands. I just wish the winner would get here an hour earlier.

Those are my two pennies... Gimme yours!

Readers' Opinions

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro on August 15, 2005 at 4:37 AM
Is it a jeep coaster like Indiana Jones and Dinosaur?Is it outdoor or indoor?I think Dinosaur at WDW is a pure rival.Since both of them have the same theming,Dinasour.Also,it won't worth it.2007 after Everest open?I think the only way Universal get its attention from its new ride is to sabotate the new Everest coaster.
From Jason Lester on August 15, 2005 at 12:20 PM
I think if Universal were smart they'd keep the Jeeps inside and outside like JPRA and Italian Job. There's a site (can't remember the name) that had the original artwork for the Jeep Tour. It looked more like dodging nature obstacles (rivers, fallen logs, etc.) and then coming face to face with a T-Rex which chased you through a forest.

It looked like an interesting concept, but I'd rather see some fresh and original dinosaurs.

From Derek Potter on August 15, 2005 at 3:59 PM
Capacity would indeed be an issue. The ride would have to be a pretty sizable coaster in length to accomodate capacity needs. That means more cars per train, and more trains running. Italian Job usually only has 2 or 3 trains running with 12 riders per train. Even when they run 3 trains, the capacity still ain't that great, and the lines always are longer for a new coaster. If they are long at Kings Island (and they are), than they will be longer at IOA. To go with that, the need for the Premier family launch to be longer also presents IOA with the space issues that Kevin talked. If they want to keep the ride tucked away for the most part, it may be a little tricky to do so and properly theme 3000 or so feet of track. Surely there is a way, but hopefully not without compromising the rest of the park.

My other question is this. Don't they have anything else they can theme a new ride on? I suppose that if it's going to be built in the Jurassic Area, than it would be dino themed, but I thought Universal had a bigger bag of movies to play with. Sure Jurassic Park lends itself nicely to themes, but isn't there any other action flick or such that they can build a ride around. I guess I could be wrong there, but this would be the third Jurassic Park themed attraction, and it would seem to me that they would want to diversify a little more. One thing is for sure though....they need a new ride pronto.

From Jason Lester on August 15, 2005 at 6:06 PM
Well if it's going into the JP area, if would make more sense to theme it around JP. That's the same problem I have with it though. Maybe they can come up with something original that will suprise everyone. Who knows?

And with the capacity issue, the art I saw made the ride look pretty long. I'm not sure if this is the layout they're going with though.

From Kevin Baxter on August 15, 2005 at 11:31 PM
I think the idea of dodging falling logs and stuff would be a welcome change to the JPRA script. Or how about something more like a real safari, where we are searching for a T-Rex and finding a few others on the way, instead of going through the Apatasaur Plains or Triceratops Trough. Though, now that I mention that, it would be great if the trikes from the Triceratops Encounter were put into the ride somehow.

Here's an idea... how about instead of a JPRA-like slow safari, how about stopping stations, like at a zoo? Say five of them, at 30 seconds a stop, with the minute-or-so T-Rex ending? The ride could near the five-minute mark and there could be a minimum of seven trains on the track. This would help with both capacity AND with space, since stopped areas require less track than slow-moving areas.

From Sid Ryan on August 16, 2005 at 8:26 AM
My only question is:

Hasn't Universal done any other movies than JP that they could use in IOA?

I mean, I know its a major land in the park, but they've got to have something else to expand to than another "get chased by dinosaurs" ride.....

Maybe more expansion into the Marvel Superheroes area?

From Jason Moore on August 16, 2005 at 9:33 AM
of course there are other films they can theme rides to, but they set up the park with very distinct "islands" and whatever they build has to fit in somehow. Marvel island already has a significant number of popular rides, but Jurassic really only has one "major" ride at this point. Sure, it may not be the super hot franchise that it once was, but it's what they gave themselves to work with.
From Jason Lester on August 16, 2005 at 11:01 AM
Remember though, the 4th JP is set to come anywhere from late 2006 to early 2007, so opening another JP-themed ride is great publicity and promotion for the movie. If they don't make the date the movie comes out, then they still have a ride-based movie and it may sell DVD/video.

I like the idea of stopping stations where you can watch dinosaurs. That was in the movie if you remember. They stopped at each caged area.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro on August 16, 2005 at 9:36 PM
I disagree.IOA shouldn't build jeep adventure like that.Disney has so many kind-of-that rides.It won't be as good as Disney's.I say they should replace Pteranodon Flyers.Change it into jurassic-themed flying coaster.Pteranodon is designed for kids.It's time for the teens and adults(or senior)to ride the more thrilling.
From Kevin Baxter on August 16, 2005 at 10:48 PM
Jason L, I think I saw sections of II and none of III so which one had the stations? And what else might there be from the last two?
From TH Creative on August 17, 2005 at 6:48 AM
From Robert OGrosky on August 17, 2005 at 11:04 AM
If they want to increase capacity(and the overall quality of the ride)they should go with B & M instead of Premier. Four scross seating will double capacity and B & M is known for the excellant coasters the companie produces as evidenced by Hulk/dragons.
From Derek Potter on August 17, 2005 at 3:24 PM
If they go B&M (which would automatically make the ride a pure thrill ride) than they can probably forget about the launch. Hulk was the first, and according to B&M, the last launch coaster they will build....unless money talks of course. The Beemer flyer model hasn't been installed in many parks at all, but if they were to do a coaster, why not a first class wooden coaster....although I don't know how you could incorporate Jurassic Park into a wooden design
From Jason Lester on August 17, 2005 at 9:35 PM
The stations were in the first one. The jeeps would stop for a few moments to give the riders a chance to look for the dinosaurs. One of the stations featured an animal being eaten by what I think was a T-Rex. Can't remember the dino.

Ariel, I disagree with you, Disney and Universal compete for top park(s) of Orlando so if IOA can succeed in pulling off a ride you would think to find at Disney, that could put them ahead in the ride department (I already think they are BTW.)

From Kevin Baxter on August 18, 2005 at 12:59 AM
I don't think that is really disagreeing. I personally think Universal is better than Disney at many things, but I still don't think you want to create a ride too similar to a Disney ride. Remember all the hoo-ha when MIB opened? "Oh, they copied Disney!!!" Yeah, like that wasn't in the works long before Buzz Lightyear opened. They don't need to create a ride where people go, "Oh look! Universal's copying Disney again!" This rumored coaster will NOT get that response.

As for a four-wide, that completely goes against everything this ride is about. No doubt people will climb into JP jeeps, and how many jeeps seat four across? Three across would work, but Epcot has all kinds of problem with their three-wides since there are fewer threesomes or sixsomes roaming the parks. Furthermore, the ride is small. Can you imagine a four-wide on Flying Unicorn? Cuz this isn't much taller than that. Anyhow, why give them an excuse to either delay this or to go against the exact reason they are going with this? It's a proven commodity. They can go with B&M when they build at the other end of JP.

From Jason Lester on August 18, 2005 at 5:31 PM
A four-ride may feel to much like Indiana Jones. See, even the ride vehicle could spark comparisons to Disney. What about four rows of two seats?

Also, I don't think cloning Disney rides is a good idea, I meant that I don't think there will be to much comparison, but if there happens to be some, then the ride should at least be better.

From Kevin Baxter on August 23, 2005 at 2:18 AM
Exactly! The Mummy coasters sit between the Space Mountains and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, but is often compared to both because it is inside, even though it is quite different. So Universal really has to watch any perceived similarities between this and the dinosaur-themed stuff at AK.

As for the jeeps, train length NEEDS to stay small. With the ride not going very high, the trains need to stay short so everybody aboard can experience the best ride possible. The length of the ride itself is what will increase capacity. And with those trains, Universal should really shoot for five minutes. Anything less and I think it will be a huge mistake the park will quickly regret.

From Jason Lester on August 23, 2005 at 12:41 PM
I think that the four rows of two or three seats would keep the trains short enough. Anything above that would be way to much.
From Jonathan Bixler on October 4, 2005 at 10:00 AM
Thats a pretty good idea making a new ride or attraction at JP Island. The Triceratops Encounter was a pretty long wait just to see one anamatronic dinosaur. The only attraction being worked on at the present is a people mover on Dr. Suess Island.
From Ashleigh :) on December 9, 2005 at 10:07 AM
Yeh, Islands of Adventure definately need a new ride. Universal definately have disney round their finger now with the new 5 park 14 day offer. Thats like a whole new disney world..
Did you know that a 5 park, 14 day ticket for a family of four is equivalent to Two water parks and Magic Kingdom tickets for two people?

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