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
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.Tweet
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:
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...
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.
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.
Those are my two pennies... Gimme yours!
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