First time doing this, so here goes nothing. Please be kind. :)
KING SOLOMON’S MINES
Location: Busch Gardens Tampa
Ride Type: Dark Ride
King Solomon’s Mines is housed in the massive new Mount Solomon, a fictional mountain that runs within the Suliman Berg mountain range. It takes over the land once used for Gwazi and the brewery and the central employee parking area. It stands just over 225 ft and can be seen looming from everywhere in the park.
The show building is five stories high, with the first, third, and fifth floors featuring the show elements and two two story drops included.
The section of the park is now known as Kukuanaland after the location featured in the novel King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard. At the foot of the mountain is a gift shop (Treasures of King Solomon) and a small eatery, Haggard Cantina It also houses the entrance to Quartermain base camp, a series of archeological tents that will form the outside queue area of the ride.
Queue area - The queue passes through various tents which contain different replicas of archeological gear and African artifacts. There are also a few animal pens featuring small animals native to the Southern African countries such as Zambia, including aardvarks, hyraxes (small creature related to the elephant), pythons and a Nile Monitor. The queue also features a few televisions discussing the legend of King Solomon’s mines, the resting place of much of King Solomon’s vast fortune. Much of the novel is referenced, including Allan Quartermain, the adventurer hired by aristocrat Sir Henry Curtis to find his missing brother who was searching for the mines back in 1885. They will discuss how the original expedition included an African native named Umbopa, who turned out to be the rightful king of Kukuanaland whose power was usurped by the villainous King Twala and a mysterious African witch named Gagool.
Once you’ve reached the end of the queue, attendants will let you inside a small building on the side of the mountain. This is the head office for the camp and where you will learn about the adventure ahead.
Guests enter a small room which fits roughly 100 people. Archeological gear is scattered along the white walls. In the front of the room is a large screen with a table jutting out from the center, which is to give the illusion that what you see on the screen is just an extension of this room. The video shown on the wall is high def, shot at 60 fps to create a more realistic look. A few archeologists can be seen moving about the room on screen, placing things on tables and grabbing gear. It’s actually a loop that runs continuously while the room is loaded with guests. The archeologists disappear off screen and the film loops over. Once the room is filled, the archeologists can be seen leaving and then the pre show movie begins.
A man (played by Jon Hamm) wearing the khaki uniform of an archeologist appears and smiles at the guests.
ROGER QUARTERMAIN: You must be the interns I sent for. Excellent, excellent. Let me introduce myself, my name is Roger Quartermain. Yes, you recognize the last name. I own and operate the Quartermain Foundation, a research facility designed to seek the truth out of some of the most legendary artifacts in world history. I am also the great grandson of fabled adventurer Allan Quartermain who back in 1885 took on a quest to find the very thing that man is still looking for, the lost King Solomon’s Mines. Something that I believe we have. (shows a map) See, my great grandfather had a map, which had been passed down from each generation. When my father died recently, he left me a map, which Jose Silvestre, an explorer from Portugal drew with his own blood. I believe that this mountain, here (points to spot on map) is Mount Kukuana, today, conveniently known as Mount Solomon. This is the land of the lost Kukuana tribe. Ken, get in here.
ROGER: This is Ken Ignosi, descendent of King Ignosi, who hid out among the crew of Allan Quartermain as a man named Umbopa. My great grandfather helped his great grandfather restore his reign among the Kukuana.
KEN: And I, Dr. Quartermain, plan to return the favor. I am more than a royal descendant. I’m also an engineer who has developed a special vehicle for exploring treacherous terrain. I call it the Umbopa One, named after my great grandfather’s secret name. Drive it in.
The Umbopa, an all terrain jeep, driven by an older woman (we will know her as Gail, but she has a secret) enters the room, crashing into tables and causing some archeologists to run.
ROGER: Please be careful, Gail. Sorry, she’s a bit old, but a great assistant. Been a researcher here in Zambia for, how long?
GAIL: A long time.
ROGER: Thank you again for your help. (turning to the guests) Now, you are very important to us. See, we need the help exploring, and I know you crave adventure as much as us, so we’ve got a special Umbopa One just for you. It can climb mountains, maneuver through the twists and turns of caves and if needed, take to the waters. All terrain indeed. Well, let’s go out there and see if we can find the lost treasure of King Solomon. You’ll head out there where you’ll receive final instructions. Today, will be a good day.
An explosion can be heard past the doors of the room.
ROGER: Dale, please be careful with the explosives.
DALE (O.S.): Sorry, doctor, just wanted to make sure they were in proper working order, which they are not. Too big.
ROGER: I’ll be right there, (to guests) load up and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime.
Ken and Roger leave. Gail turns toward you.
GAIL: (sinisterly) Yes, enjoy your adventure. Who knows, could be your last. (starts laughing)
As she laughs, the doors open to the side of the room and lead you into the loading area.
Looks very close to the room we just saw in the movie. The queue wraps around and splits into two paths. One path leads up stairs and places you on the loading area on the opposite side. There are two load areas. The Umbopa One appears like a standard open air SUV. It has five rows of four seats and a lap bar comes down to protect you.
As you queue towards the load area, monitors tell you the safety procedures about boarding the vehicles, staying seated and arms stay in the vehicle at all times. Each loading platform has two vehicles it can load at a time, allowing to load four vehicles at one time.
The vehicles are EMVs similar to Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom and Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland, the chassis moves separately from the platform that holds the tires to help simulate very movements and is able to turn completely perpendicular to the frame. The vehicle runs along a track.
Guests board the vehicle. The vehicle moves forward, waiting for its turn to traverse the course. Roger Quartermain can be heard in the vehicle’s speakers.
ROGER: Okay, we’ll catch up with you out on the field. Keep an eye out for dangerous animals as we approach the mountain.
The vehicles accelerates and heads into:
SCENE 1 - The Field
A long corridor with video screens running along either side. It will connect the vehicles to the show building. The screens will help create the illusion that you are moving through an African filed complete with various CGI wildlife running around. On the screen to the right, Roger Quartermain’s vehicle, which holds Roger, Ken, Gail, and Dale with his boxes of explosives, pulls next to you. As you drive along the corridor, Roger stands proudly.
ROGER: Beautiful, huh? Almost like looking at a movie. Okay, just through those rocks and then up the mountain. Make sure you hold on tight. Hopefully we don’t come across any dangerous creatures.
The vehicle exits the corridor and heads into:
SCENE 2 - Animal Gauntlet
Here’s where things get rough, you turn left and quickly, an animatronic Rhino appears in front of you, causing the vehicle to swerve to the right and speeds up where an animatronic lion drops down and lifts up on its hind legs and roars, whereas you swerve quickly to the left, where an animatronic hippo shoots up from the water (getting guests a little wet) and you turn quickly to the right, speed down the straightaway and see an animatronic elephant stampeding toward you. The chassis spends 90 degrees as you move forward, creating the illusion that the vehicle is doing a sort of drift, and comes to a stop just under the trumpeting elephant. Then, the vehicles speeds forward to:
SCENE 3 - The Ascent
The vehicle climbs up the mountain (it goes up to the fifth story, but a screen moving to the left of the vehicle creates the illusion that you’re climbing quite high).
ROGER: Well, that was close. I hope we didn’t lose any of you. It’s odd that you don’t normally see those dangerous animals near each other. I wonder if they are protecting something.
GAIL: Of course not, they are dumb animals.
ROGER: Look, the entrance to the caves.
The vehicle reaches the top of the ascent and turns into
SCENE 4 - Cave entrance
The vehicle turns a corner and narrowly misses hitting the close walls of the cave.
A screen fills the cave walls as we see Roger’s vehicle ahead of us, also turning suddenly to avoid some close cave walls.
GAIL: We are close, Roger. I can feel it. There, there is the entrance to the cave.
Here, the vehicle track splits off into three different paths. Each path leads to the next scene, which is a scene that is stationary, so the three separate rooms allow more guests to come through the scene instead of having to wait for the vehicle ahead to play it out before being able to move.
The vehicle enters another cave which seems to have a large boulder sitting next to it (which happens to be a door to the cave)
SCENE 5 - The trap
The vehicle moves into a room which appears to have no exits. Roger and company sit in their vehicle on a screen directly in front. However, Gail is not in the vehicle. The guest vehicle slides forward and stops and is now on a rotating platform.
ROGER: Where’s Gail?
A screen, unseen by the guests, has dropped down behind the vehicle, covering the entrance. The platform rotates and the guests see the video playing on the new screen. Gail is standing at the entrance cackling. She pulls out a small ancient statue and holds it over her head.
GAIL: I am the descendent of Gagool and I will have my revenge on all the descendants of Quartermain who killed here. You will die in here. Galanda Moot.
The stone door comes crashing down, blocking the exit.
ROGER: Well, that was unexpected. We’re trapped. We’ve got supplies, but not sure how long they’ll last. Dale, what are you doing?
The platform rotates again so that you’re facing Roger and company. Dale has his explosives out and appears to be placing them around the cave.
DALE: I’ll make us a way out.
ROGER: I thought you said there were problems with the explosives.
DALE: Well, they’re boom is a bit too big.
KEN: I think we should find another option, these Umbopas are quite versatile.
DALE: So’s my dynamite. Fire in the hole!
The cave shakes as smoke erupts from different vents throughout. The room becomes bright red and the platform begins to shake. Suddenly, the platform drops straight down to the third story, quickly, with the video screens helping create the illusion of a huge drop. When the platform lands, water canons shoot water at the vehicles, creating the illusion that you’ve landed in a an subterranean river.
SCENE 6 - The river
A screen next to the vehicle appears. The vehicle moves forward as we see Roger’s vehicle moving along the suddenly fast moving river. Only Roger and Ken are in the Umbopa. There are water troughs surrounding the track, creating the illusion that we are in the river. The three tracks will combine into one track again.
ROGER: I’m glad these things can swim.
KEN: I think we’ve lost Dale.
ROGER: A moment of silence for our fallen comrade.
KEN: I’d like to interrupt that moment of silence with some loud screaming.
From a waterfall, another huge elephant emerges, spraying water on the vehicle, loud trumpeting. The vehicle takes a hard turn into:
SCENE 7 - The snake room
A dark cave. The sounds of slithering can be heard, and dark snake like shadows can be seen against the walls. Roger and Ken drive in.
KEN: Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?
ROGER: Be careful, Ken. We haven’t found the treasure yet, so we can’t afford a copyright infringement trial.
KEN: Ugh, there in the car.
A tube in the seats inflates and creates the illusion of snakes moving under the guests.
ROGER: Ken, move toward that glittering gold light.
KEN: Yes, Dr. Quartemain.
The vehicle veers left into a:
SCENE 8 - The Treasure Room
A large room filled with treasures, gold, silver, bright gems. A screen appears behind the treasure, and Roger’s vehicle can be seen driving amidst the gold.
ROGER: Beautiful, just beautiful.
GAIL: (O.S.) Feast your eyes on the last thing you’ll see. Grandimal Gazoo!
Suddenly, animatronic skeletons with spears and swords pop up from the treasure. CGI skeletons attack Roger and Ken. The vehicles speed away from the skeletons whose swords come close to the guests. The vehicles turn the corner and see a large screen showing a video of a large staircase with a mighty gold statue of King Solomon. Gail stands beneath the statue, shrieking, moving her hands as if controlling the skeletons. The vehicle chassis turns to see the Roger’s vehicle. Roger is holding a lit stick of dynamite.
ROGER: Sorry, King Solomon, but we’ve got our lives to think about. I’m sure you’ll think it the wise move.
As Roger tosses the dynamite, the vehicle turns and sees it hit the statue, with a loud explosion, causing flames to erupt from the treasure room and the skeletons disappear. The floor falls from underneath, creating a slope that the vehicle speeds down to the ground level as video shows rocks falling, indicating that the treasure room is collapsing under the cave in. The vehicle vibrates as it hits the bottom of the slope.
SCENE 9 - The field
The vehicle turns down the tunnel similar to the beginning. Roger’s vehicle pulls up next to the guest vehicle.
ROGER: Well, the mines are lost forever, but at least we survived. We will never be able to share with the world its riches.
KEN: That’s not entirely true, doctor. The Umbopa is a special vehicle that while we were in the treasure room, it was gathering treasures. We can return with the beautiful remnants of King Solomon’s Mines.
Roger reaches into the trunk and pulls out a King Solomon’s Mines t-shirt, snow globe and key chain.
ROGER: Amazing artifacts. Ken, let’s set these up in the shop next to base camp so that everyone can see what we found here. (looking at the guests) You can see what great riches your quest helped find. And if you want to take some of them back with you to give to your family as a sort of souvenir, we can make arrangements. I’d adventure with you any day. Enjoy the rest of your own adventure.
Roger’s vehicle pulls off and you round the corner into the:
It’s a separate room from load. Once guests disembark, signs point down a corridor, reading Treasures of King Solomon, which as you’ve probably guessed by now, is a gift shop.
The attraction will be massive with the new land connecting to Morocco, Bird Gardens, Stanleyville, Pantopia, and Nairobi, so access to the area will be easy from various points in the park. It will be something that’s never been seen in a park outside Disney and Universal which should bring guests to witness something truly unique in the park. Also the theming of King Solomon’s Mines keeps with the African theme of the park. The ride will also reacquaint visitors with the novel that started the Lost World genre that inspired classics like The Lost World (Arthur Conan Doyle’s version), The Land That Time Forgot, and of course, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Indiana Jones.