Vote of the Week: Should Kong return to Orlando in animatronic or digital form?
Written by Robert Niles
Universal Studios Florida closed Kongfrontation in 2002 to free its show building for the construction of the Revenge of the Mummy ride, which opened in 2004 and remains one of the park's more popular rides. However, King Kong fans haven't forgotten the Big Ape, and many long for a Kong's return to the park.Tweet
Kongfrontation recreated and expanded the original King Kong Encounter from the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood. That staged event on the park's backlot tram tour featured an encounter with a 30-foot-tall Kong animatronic, designed by Bob Gurr. (Yes, the Disney Legend who created ride vehicles for so many Disneyland attractions.) That version of Kong remained open for six years after the closure of the Orlando version, until a fire on the backlot in 2008 destroyed the attraction.
The original, animatronic Kong at Universal Studios Hollywood. Photo courtesy Universal.
After Kong's demise, Universal Studios Hollywood decided to return Kong, but in digital form. Working with filmmaker Peter Jackson, who directed the 2005 film version of King Kong, USH opened King Kong 360-3D in 2010, in which Kong saves (well, most of) your tram from attacking dinosaurs on Skull Island.
The new, digital Kong. Illustration courtesy Universal.
Kong fans in Florida have remained jealous ever since. Over the years, designers at Universal Creative have thought about several ways to return Kong to Orlando. Rumors persist about converting the Disaster! attraction to an east-coast version of King Kong 360-3D, or building a new Kong animatronic on that site, on in a new Skull Island land in Islands of Adventure.
This week on the Theme Park Insider Discussion Forum, Daniel Etcheberry asked whether you'd like to see Kong return to Orlando in animatronic or digital form. That's such a great question, I thought we'd ask it for our Vote of the Week.
Let's consider the pros and cons of each medium. You can't experience Animatronics on a big screen at home, but they're expensive and tricky to maintain, especially in Kong's immense size. (See, Disney's Yeti.) Digital's more reliable and allows for much more narrative freedom, but the form's less unique and with rapid advances in digital technology, you'll have to budget for frequent projection updates to keep the images state-of-the-art. (USH's Kong already looks a little less sharp than the park's new Transformers ride.)
And allow me to offer one more reminder that we have a new Discussion Forum on Theme Park Insider, one where registered members no longer need to wait to have new threads approved. So please feel free to use this new board share your trip reports, ask questions about an upcoming trip, and share any news or rumors you pick up from the parks or around the Internet. As always, thank you for being part of the Theme Park Insider community!
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