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Stick a fork in Kong - he's done

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Published: June 3, 2008 at 4:39 PM

Universal Studios Hollywood confirmed today that it will not rebuild the King Kong attraction that burned Sunday.

Here's the statement from Universal:

New York Street will be rebuilt and a new attraction will replace King Kong. We expect the backlot to be completely rebuilt within several months and replacement for King Kong to be announced in the coming months.

Universal Creative's Mike West talked last month in an audio interview with Theme Park Insider about Universal's desire to keep its attractions fresh. At the time I thought to myself, "Hmm, Kong and Jaws are feeling a little stale at USH. Wonder if we'll get anything new on the west coast anytime soon?"

Well, consider this the fire that broke the big ape's back. Yes, the attractions are classics. But they don't resonate with today's movie and TV audiences the way that The Simpsons or even Jurassic Park do. If the old attraction's still standing, there's a cost incentive to let it remain until one can make a business case to replace it with something new.

But if that ride burns down, well, it just doesn't make sense to spend money to rebuild an attraction that probably was on the chopping block short list anyway. Let's see what Universal comes up with.

I know Universal people read TPI, so, let's hear it, TPI readers... what should Universal build to replace Kong on the Studio Tour?

Readers' Opinions

From J. Dana on June 3, 2008 at 5:38 PM
I just typed up a long, somewhat eloquent response, which I accidentally deleted. Arrrg. Here's the cliffnotes:

At least we know there's probably insurance money from the Kong fire that can be used on a new attraction.

Obvious choice: transplant a version of the Spider Man attraction from IOA. It's about the same size, indoors, etc.

Other than that, take a look at Universal's upcoming film slate for cues: Borne Ultimatim sequel: maybe a car chase through the streets of Europe.

Fast and the Furious 4 is on tap: Maybe a Test-Track-like attraction.

Or, since they own the Sci Fi channel, the best attraction would be based on Battlestar Galactica and it's upcoming spinoff, Caprica. Just imagine, an attraction based in the Battlestar universe could be something spectacular, to say the least.

There are rumblings around town, though, that Warner Bros and Universal might merge. It would be sad, though, because it would get rid of one of the major studios. But if this happens, the library at Warners is RIPE for theme park attractions -- such as the already announced Harry Potter from Warners; or the Looney Tune characters. I know, I know, Six Flags already has Warners characters. But don't you think they deserve a place at one of the top-tier parks?

From Robert Niles on June 3, 2008 at 5:59 PM
I assume that the new attraction, whatever it is, will need to follow the basic format of the other Studio Tour attractions, namely, it will be a drive-through for the tour trams, and visitors will not exit the trams. Nor will visitors be wearing 3D glasses.

That narrows things down a bit. FWIW, the only two Universal pictures to gross more than $200m over the past four years have been Bourne Ultimatum and... King Kong.

From Brandon Mendoza on June 3, 2008 at 7:52 PM
Of all attractions, why couldn't it just be the Fast & The Furious that was destroyed? That has to be one of the worst additions to the park. Sure, it's more up to date, but it's horrible.

Bourne would work if they could get some sort of stunt show while you're riding the tram.

Is Marvel gone from USH? I think I remember reading something about that. If not, a Marvel themed set would be great!

Kung Fu Panda somehow?

From Joshua Counsil on June 3, 2008 at 9:17 PM
They could take advantage of The Incredible Hulk film coming up, or do a scene with a slew of Marvel characters. Now, when I say Marvel characters, I mean as they appear in recent years.

I would love for them to cover a classic movie or montage of classic movies, maybe covering a certain genre. I realize the House of Horrors covers some of Universal's horror classics, but maybe they could pay tribute to the ones they missed (Psycho et al), or acknowledge a certain director's work, like Spielberg or Hitchcock.

Either way, as long as it isn't replaced with garbage, like Hellboy or Transformers, I'll be happy.

From M. Ryan Traylor on June 4, 2008 at 3:07 AM
I like the idea of a movie history tribute. Have something like at the end of Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

And I agree with Robert that the new attraction will have to be something suitable for the tram due to the location of the building being too far from the main park.

From Robert Niles on June 4, 2008 at 8:29 AM
Additional restrictions:

- It's got to be themed to a live-action shoot. So no video-game or CGI-flick themes.

- There are no live actors or human animatronics in any of the Studio Tour set piece attractions. So assume none here. I think that would make Bourne a tough fit.

I would love, love, love to see Harry Potter in here, which would work (hello Gringotts!), except for the fact that everyone know the movies are filmed in England, so there's no plausible case that part of the movies would have been filmed at USH.

From Anthony Murphy on June 4, 2008 at 8:43 AM
Call me sentimental, but I want Kong Back! I am sick of the Simpsons. Guess What, I do not like the Simpsons! True, I might be the only one, but that entire tour was a classic with Jaws and Kong. The Mummy replacing Kong at USO was premature since the movie just came out. I do not really see anything else fitting that well.

Bring Back Kong!

From John Zucchero on June 4, 2008 at 8:58 AM
I am thinking Back to the Future. :-)

I miss that ride.

From Mark Hollamon on June 4, 2008 at 9:33 AM
Even though the Backlot Tour is a mainstay at the park, it really limits the possibilities when considering a replacement. I am a HUGE fan of well designed dark rides and, of course, coasters. I guess whatever ends up being designed will fall a little short for me.
From Mike West on June 4, 2008 at 9:38 AM
Wow I've seen a few good ideas here! My first impulse was to mention Battlestar Gallactica. If anyone is old enough to remember when the OLD B.G. Scene was part of the tram tour, I always thought it was the best, because it did have live actors & droids. the laser battle inside the stage was pretty awesome, before you entered, the tram was ordered to halt by a centurion patrol that had just fired upon it. It was an immersive experience that worked so much better than most on that tour. Roberts point about the movies that grossed $ led me to think that a new Kong might be the way to go, though not as current as B.G. Either way, since Hollywood is so keen on redoing the classics, pehaps they'll do the same with attractions. What they should NOT do is ruin the old concept with a paint job.(I.E. the ice tunnel from the bionic series, trying to be volcanic completely ruined the spiral mindbending effect)Oh, & no car attraction at ALL should ever be considered, that fast & furious is so bad it hurts. Watch the guests faces , everyone is thinking "wow, but so what!" I do think its a shame that they let attractions diminish until they are a faded remnant of what they once were. Both Jaws & Kong are examples of this.
From David Sutter on June 4, 2008 at 9:39 AM
Well lets see..ill go with the old movie montage ...King Kong..the Birds...And such were a tram could ride thru it use the left overs from US Orlando..that were removed to make way for new attractions.....
From Joshua Counsil on June 4, 2008 at 10:04 AM
Harry Potter would be great, but unlikely.

The odd thing about Kong was that he didn't fit in. Most of the other movies are classics, like Jaws and Psycho. Kong was crap. The newer Kong movie, and the original 1933, were far superior to the 1976 film on which the tram attraction was based.

Harry Potter is the best choice at this point, despite that there are better movies around. It would give USH a taste of Harry that the east coast is getting, and there are still two movies to come.

I'd much rather a Hitchcock montage, or something of the like. I miss the Hitchcock attraction.

From Dan Rosenberg on June 4, 2008 at 11:50 AM
Universal probanly wants to base it off of something that was actually filmed at the studio so I don't think Harry Potter will make it. My best bet on what they'll do is an Incredible Hulk attraction.
From Ty Mullins on June 4, 2008 at 12:44 PM
They're opening the Simpsons Ride, so I doubt it'll have anything to do with The Simpsons. But a Harry Potter or SpiderMan/Hulk addition would be very cool.

However, I do not understand why they don't rebuild Kong in a newer version, with the newer Kong still only a few years old. It could be more visually stunning.

From Tonya Gaddy on June 4, 2008 at 1:15 PM
The replacement for the King Kong section of the Tram Tour should include a massive animatronic as the former section had. I would not mind seeing the scene from Spiderman 3 where the Sandman and Venom attack Spiderman and the New Goblin. The tram could enter through a tunnel and watch a broadcast of the fight, having the tram shake and rumble. When the tram turns out of the tunnel, the audience would be near the construction site where the Sandman was smashing Spiderman. Inside this room, the gusts of wind could synchronize with the Sandman blows. The tour guider would stop the tram, exclaim what a tragedy this is, and then proudly announce he knew what could stop the Sandman. At this time, the guider could pull out a water gun and attempt to squirt the Sandman. Failing to destroy the Sandman, the guider wishes he would have brought the supersoaker. The Sandman gets angry at the tram and trys to push it over, resulting in the tram shaking and having wind gusts whenever the Sandman swung at it. Perhaps even the tram itself could bend alittle to look like it was being hit at. However, while the Sandman is distracted by the tram, Spiderman pulls a move onto the Sandman tripping him and making him appear to fall. The guide thanks Spiderman, and adds that he wishes they could stay. But while seeing the Sandman begin to rise, says we need to stick to schedule and flooreds out of the section.

This would be fun in my eyes, but it may not fit the theme of showing the tram tourists the methods of making films.

From Terry Hofer on June 4, 2008 at 1:53 PM
It is disappointing that the Kong set is off the drawing board - you would think they would still have a full "Kong" set in mothballs somewhere from the full ride shut down years back in Florida. If Universal really feels in needs something new in California, then bringing something from the Harry Potter movies to CA would seem fitting since it will be soon arriving at Florida on a much larger scale.

If not Harry Potter, I would recommend a "Lord of the Rings" theme brought to life Universal Style. With a "Hobbit" in the works...this should be good way to go for years to come.

From Kathy Barr on June 4, 2008 at 5:03 PM
i think they should replace the attraction with something up to date, and universal studios in Orlando should too . I think the new attraction should be Transformers. THat would be so cool something the way terminator 3d is.
From Steve Smegner on June 4, 2008 at 9:16 PM
How about a Towering Inferno ride? It sounds like they are mostly there already. :-)
From Phillip Florendo on June 4, 2008 at 11:36 PM
Whatever goes in its place, I think it would be cool if it dropped the tram suddenly, kind of like what the "Collapsing Bridge" used to do... I wish they would bring that bridge back on the tour.

Also, the new attraction should have water and fire. And loud noises. And robots.

From Rob P on June 5, 2008 at 2:13 AM
Like one or two fellow contributors I'm really disappointed that Universal appears to have dismissed any prospect of rebuilding the Kong set.

It worked really well as part of the tram tour and , whether you are old enough to remember the movies or not, it still had great appeal. I mean......where else can you experience the thrills of a gigantic ape wreaking havoc in the big city ? ( a rhetorical question by the way ! ).

No......it was still a thrilling fun ride-through and warrants rebuilding for future generations to enjoy. I still miss the longer dedicated ride at Orlando and I think Universal made a mistake in removing it. ( Although I do like "The Mummy" too. Wasn't there room for both ? )

Anyway for my money. Kong should return to Hollywood and , while I'm at it, BTTF should be resurrected in some shape or form at one of the Parks too.

Whatever next ? Will they be pensioning off " Lucy " and repacing her with J-Lo ?? Newer does not mean better.

The defence rests.

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