King Kong is coming back to Universal Orlando
Written by Robert Niles
King Kong is set to make its return to the Universal Orlando Resort. The great ape, star of movies from the 1933 Fay Wray original to the 2005 Peter Jackson blockbuster, once made a home at Universal Studios Florida, before the Kongfrontation ride closed in 2002 to make way for the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster. When Kong returns, it will be to Universal Orlando's other theme park, Islands of Adventure.Tweet
We've known for some time that Universal Creative designers have been kicking around ideas for the Return of the Kong. As a result, theme park fans for months have been spreading rumors about a new Kong ride in one of the parks or the other. But ideas are worthless until they become reality. Lots of "blue sky" attraction ideas never make it to development. When parks start filing for permits with local authorities and start hiring contractors to develop the plans, that is when an idea become a project worth reporting as fact. That is when parks are putting real money behind an idea.
We appear to be at that stage now with Kong. Universal Orlando filed a permit application with the City of Orlando this week for a demolition project to clear space for either the new Kong attraction or possibly for a fifth hotel on the Universal Orlando property. We don't know for certain which project this permit represents, but we've heard from enough other sources within the industry to confirm that both projects are happening.
In addition, multiple Universal team members have reported seeing markers that suggest impending demolition work around the old Triceratops Encounter space in Jurassic Park, which is the land next to which industry sources have said a new Kong attraction would go. Frankly, space seems tight on that side of Jurassic Park with the show building for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey encroaching into much of that land's old empty space, which is why we've been skeptical of rumors that Kong would go in on that site. (Oh, please don't let this just be a Kong-topped polercoaster.) There's more space for a new attraction on the other side of Jurassic Park, near the new Cabana Bay hotel.
Universal lost the original version of the Kong animatronic attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2008 when the soundstage that housed that encounter on the park's backlot tour burned in a major fire at the studio. Universal ultimately decided to replace that attraction with the film-based King Kong 360/3D encounter, directed by Jackson, which opened in 2010.
With demolition on schedule soon, construction on Orlando's new Kong attraction, whatever and wherever it turns out to be, could begin once Diagon Alley opens to the public this summer. And development of the fifth hotel should be expected to begin not long after Universal wraps up its fourth hotel, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort later this spring.
Expect this as the new normal at the Universal Orlando Resort. As one major new attraction development wraps up, a new one will begin. As one new hotel opens, construction will start on the next. Meanwhile, new developments continue to begin over in CityWalk, too, beyond the new restaurants and shops that Universal Orlando already has announced for this spring and summer.
What are you hoping for in a new Kong attraction — or a new hotel — at the Universal Orlando Resort?
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