Vote of the Week: Should Kong return to Orlando in animatronic or digital form?
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.
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.)
Please jump into the comments to make your best case for the return of Kong, in your preferred form. Or if you'd rather see Universal spend its money on something else, make that case in the comments, instead.
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!
I abstained as I think it should be a mix of both.
What, like a digital Kong on Skull Island in IOA, then you ride a ship between the parks to visit the animatronic Kong in NY in USF? ;^)
If I had my choice I would like to see a blending of both digital and animatronic. Use the digital to build to the real time interaction with the big guy.
Why not both? Digital to make the experience longer and more in depth. Then a climax of a real size animatronic at the end! Why not have the best of both worlds? And of course maybe it'll inspire Disney to fix its giant ape too!
This is an easy one. I'd vote for animatronic but hope for some digital backgrounds to merge the two like with the Dementors or the dragon in Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I expect Universal to go all digital, though.
I would have no issue with the (still-hypothetical) attraction utilizing projections and digital animation to some degree, but I’d be really, really disappointed if the ride ends up primarily screen-based. The Universal parks already have Spider-Man, Forbidden Journey, Transformers, Minion Mayhem, Gringotts (soon-to-be), and Simpsons as keystone rides that rely to a great extent on screens, and that’s not even counting the 3D shows like Shrek and T2. We could be getting to the point where all these simulator-style attractions start to feel less unique/more “same-y.”
Please Universal no more video screens! They make some people sick and animatronics don't. With all the technology we have, animatronics should be easy to create. I have more faith in Universal on a big AA them I do Disney. I want Universal to create their own Haunted Mansion dark ride.
I never cared for the King Kong movies whether old or remakes. Peter Jackson's remake was just horrible. Just unbelievable and unconvincing when compared with the terrific job he did with The Lord of the Rings and even now with The Hobbit.
I would love to see King Kong come back to Universal Orlando. While it would be great to have the big ape as a AA it would be near to impossible. Even Disney, the king of audio animatronics, couldn't build a huge complex AA (see the failed Yeti AA). A combination of digital and AA would be cool though.
First, I prefer animatronics. But here's three reasons I'm saying digital: first, I've ridden Kong at USH and it was quite good. Of course, it's just part of a much longer tram experience at a real working studio. But it was pretty neat, and the Kong portion is about as long as a roller coaster takes so I'm sure USO can find some way to make it work.
Here's the thing about giant AA's. Disney
I voted for digital. Universal should not spend too much money on a King Kong ride. Save the animatronics for rides that would use human sized figures. Maybe Universal could dream up more adult, more risquee versions of Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, etc. That would be worth seeing!
For about six weeks I was an operations host at Kongfrontation. I actually "broke" the attraction once on Christmas day. And then I told a supervisor that I was not coming in on New Year's Day because I was going to a New Year's Eve party. I wasn't invited back.
I'd like an AA version. It could be something like Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom where we see only glimpses of Kong until the big reveal at the end. Make it both inside and outside.
Shirley they have that big AA ape stored in warehouse somewhere. I think they should drag him out and stage him as a meet & greet.
Yes, it's not like there's a multitude of major ride systems to pull from. It's kind of coaster, screens or AA's. I really like AA's but they seem to have a bad break down rate on the attractions. So a combination of screens with maybe a few AA's may be the wisest choice.
I was listening to an interview with Gary Godard about how you can't mix 3D projections and animatronics because they would look and move so differently that it would become distracting to the audience.
I think its impossible to build an E-ticket without digital technology like simulations and projections. So I voted for AAs assuming it'd be a blend. But I want a blend that focuses more on physical sets.
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