Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter YouTube Email Newsletter

Universal Orlando files new maps for its King Kong permit application

Written by
Published: March 23, 2014 at 7:23 PM

Some fascinating stuff hit the South Florida Water Management District website this week. Take a look at a couple of maps filed Thursday as part of the permitting process for "Universal Studios Project 340." These are public documents, originally filed on the district's website for public inspection. You can click on these edited images for larger-sized versions, if you'd like to see them in greater detail.

The first shows the location in the park for the project, which will be located between the Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park lands.

Project 340 Location

The second shows the position of the show building for Project 340 within the project site.

Project 340 Site Map

This is a building of significant size, almost as large as the show building for Hogwarts Castle. (If you'd like to examine the full collection of correspondence filed with the district on this project, the application number is 140320-17 and the permit number is 48-00103-S. Kudos to @orlando_united for tweeting about these plans yesterday, before I got around to my weekly check of the district and City of Orlando permitting websites.)

These documents connect Project 340 with a specific site within the boundaries of Islands of Adventure, effectively confirming that Project 340 is a new attraction in the park, and almost certainly the King Kong project that we've reported has been approved by Universal for development. But what will Universal fans discover inside that show building? We await the filing of additional information with local regulatory agencies or the leak of more detail from people associated with the project. Until then, your informed speculation is welcomed in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From Rob Pastor on March 23, 2014 at 8:00 PM
Yes, that's a significant size area. The project area is about 4 1/2 acres and the building is more than half that size. Orlando United has been talking about this on it's forums for quite some time and even has a rumored layout of the ride, which OI insiders are saying will be both indoors & outdoors and will include some AA's plus screens.
From 65.87.190.248 on March 23, 2014 at 8:44 PM
Could Kong return mean one day we will see JAWS the ride. Something to think about. I can't help but think the real reason King Kong return was to appease Peter Jackson so Universal can get the rights to The Lord of the Rings right later on. Something I heard Jim Hill said on a podcast. Don't get me wrong, I love the. Return of a classic ride from to Universal. I wish Disney World could do that for Mr. Toad & Horizons. But of all the rides they could be even in there own ip like Fast & Furious or the Bourne franchise. There's James Bond, Star Trek, G.I Joe, Godzilla, Robocop. This feels like trying to secure a relationship with Mr. Jackson for one day we might walk to the land of Mordor and throw a ring down a volcano
From 64.12.116.206 on March 23, 2014 at 8:55 PM
I hope they can somehow create Kong animatronics, but the fact that it's inside may indicate that it's going to be another 4D attraction. I have nothing against that, but large AAs are some of the most awe inspiring sights in a theme park.
From Json Son on March 23, 2014 at 10:58 PM
My bet is there will be some AA's because UO is smart.
From N B on March 24, 2014 at 12:03 AM
USF / Comcast / NBC Universal just keeps spending the money to improve the parks.... love it. Some people say "yawn", I say bring it on.
From Kelly Muggleton on March 24, 2014 at 4:37 AM
Welcome back ol' banana breath!
From Duncan Henny on March 24, 2014 at 5:16 AM
I would love if they ever brought back a jaws ride, but i don't think it ever will,I always thought though a good way to do it would be to have a shark fin pop up around different parts of the lagoon they could even have the myth that the shark escaped it's attraction and play the music as it appears randomly around the lagoon throughout the day
From 98.85.77.170 on March 24, 2014 at 6:02 AM
I hope the kong rumor is just to throw people off and it's the long rumored Jurassic park jeep or helicopter ride.

kong seems like a better fit in disaster or twister at universal

From Rob Pastor on March 24, 2014 at 6:28 AM
Duncan: Right with you on Jaws in the lagoon. It would be perfect during Cinemagic night show. Might still happen in the future since they tweek that show.
From James Rao on March 24, 2014 at 7:54 AM
As an older TPI groupie, I can appreciate and even celebrate the return of King Kong to Universal. But as others have noted, will the current slate of Universal fans (Potterites?) even bat an eye when this new attraction is eventually announced? Seems like expanding Jurassic Park might have been the better option for today's visitors. But as N B said, new is new, and since this expansion appears to be going up in a previously unused area (is that presumption true?) the construction walls won't be as much of an eyesore as they have been during the latest round of Orlando expansions.
From Nick McKaig on March 24, 2014 at 7:35 AM
I am curious as to how we know at this point that it is a King Kong attraction. This story mentions the building construction filing but nothing about how we know the content of the attraction. Maybe I'm just out of the loop, I'm curious how we know what it will be.
From Anon Mouse on March 24, 2014 at 7:42 AM
I just cannot get excited about King Kong. I hope the resulting attraction is much better than the version at USH.
From Sean Huckel on March 24, 2014 at 8:31 AM
James, this is indeed completely unused land.

As for wondering whether Universal's new set of fans will care, the success of Springfield and Transformers (which will be reflected in this past year's attendance) show that as long as it's quality, the people will come.

From Tim Odom on March 24, 2014 at 8:55 AM
Normally, I would think that this would not be ready for my next trip down to Florida (next January), but really, it could. I know, it seems insane, but look at how fast Universal has been building stuff. They are going at lightning speed on some of these things, even Diagon Alley is taking no time at all considering the amount of work they need to complete.

So, while I don't think this (whatever it is) will be open by January, I fully expect it to be open by next May. Which, in a way, is kinda insane.

From Robert Niles on March 24, 2014 at 9:02 AM
If I had to guess, I'd put this project more on a Potter-like construction timeframe than a Transformers one -- so, 30 months (more or less) from construction start to finish.
From Gabriel Schroll on March 24, 2014 at 9:42 AM
I can't really tell from the map what this area is replacing. I read it's unused land, but is it? No storage facilities or parking?

I'm all for an expansion, especially when it means adding and not just replacing. I know Universal doesn't have that much room to play with, but this seems like a pretty good way to use it. I'm not in love with King Kong, but I'll still give it a thumb's up for the investment.

From 173.227.104.102 on March 24, 2014 at 10:36 AM
I'm surprised this isn't new Jurassic Park content, especially with the new film coming up. That island badly needs another big ticket attraction.
From Rob Pastor on March 24, 2014 at 10:47 AM
Insiders on Orlando United have echoed what Robert is saying, namely Kong opening in 2016. Rumors are that there will be a Jurassic Park expansion where the Trikes were and that would be ready sometime in 2015.
From 132.170.175.255 on March 24, 2014 at 11:17 AM
As much as like seeing kong come back, I would really prefer to see it replace Twister, than wind up in Jurassic Park. JP's island should be left exclusive to JP.
From James Rao on March 24, 2014 at 11:43 AM
Sean, appreciate the info. I would argue, however, that both the Simpsons and Transformers are far more grounded in the minds of today's visitors than King Kong. So, Kong won't drive attendance like Potter, Transformers, or the Simpsons, but it won't kill it either. Sometimes parks build new stuff just to give the already established crowds something more to do (like Disney's New Fantasyland expansion). I have no problem with those kinds of decisions. The more attractions in a park, the more there is for folks to do, and the less crowded it will seem.

@Rob If IOA is expanding Jurassic Park for 2015, shouldn't that work be underway now? And, is it? Also, what are "they" saying is going to change? I am much more excited about JP expansion than the addition of King Kong, fo' sho'.

From Rob Pastor on March 24, 2014 at 12:43 PM
James: Insiders are saying construction will begin soon. They've already put some survey markers up. The rumored expansion is much less ambitious, so an earlier completion date, and probably timed for the release of the Jurassic World movie. The area is not very large. So far the talk has a small themed family coaster around the size of 7 Dwarfs but not that highly themed, a flat family ride and perhaps another themed element (food or merchandise). The thought is that Universal wants to expand it's family offerings. Kong too is rumored to be a family attraction, in that the vehicles will be similar to the Great Movie ride cars and have a large capacity. Lots of good info on the OU forums.
From James Rao on March 24, 2014 at 2:11 PM
Rob, are you suggesting I leave my beloved TPI and seek my news and rumors elsewhere??? Perish the thought! Hopefully, Jeff Elliot's next Blog Flume Filter column will fill me in on the latest JP rumors without me having to sully myself by tramping into other cyber-hoods! ;)

However, if the rumors of what's coming are true, I am not excited. There are other ways to pull the family crowd without dumping in some spinners and a lightly themed, off the shelf youth coaster. Universal need only look at the Gringott's Family coaster they are building at US for an example of something they should be doing for a Jurassic Park expansion! A 40" height requirement should help get more kiddies into the park. In this one case, I hope the rumors about what is coming to the JP expansion are wrong and Universal is going to continue the trend of bringing innovative new attractions to their parks, not a bunch of themed carnival rides.

From Rob Pastor on March 24, 2014 at 2:48 PM
James: The JP rumored expansion does lack excitement. It is what it is, supposedly there to increase capacity and add some family friendly attractions. Universal though, does a decent job with some of their spinners. I generally don't ride amusement park spinners, due to my age induced motion sickness. But Kang & Kudos & Red Fish Blue Fish are blasts with their theme & interactivity, plus mild enough that I don't get motion sickness.Good rides on really small plots of land. Everything doesn't have to be an E ticket. But then, I like Dumbo too. The coaster, though, is supposed to be a family coaster not a kids coaster, so with mild theming it may work out OK. The former Trike area is small so they're kind of limited to rides with a small footprint. But then again, until they actually start construction, plans might change. I, myself, never went to Universal when Kong was there, but I'm actually very excited about the new attraction.
From James Rao on March 24, 2014 at 7:50 PM
Just to clarify, Rob, as an old man who vividly remembers with great fondness the rebirth of King Kong in 1976 (not so much the Peter Jackson reboot in 2005), I too am looking forward to the return of Kong. However, I am not looking forward to the rumored Jurassic Kiddie Land.

Still, Universal is on a roll attraction-wise, so until TPI snags the official expansion plans and posts them six months before Universal actually announces them, I will withhold judgement.

From Sean Huckel on March 25, 2014 at 5:52 AM
James, you're discounting the coaster they're building for JP. A themed wooden roller coaster isn't something you see every day. Not everything can be Gringotts, especially when you're getting Kong in 2016.
From James Rao on March 25, 2014 at 6:42 AM
Hi Sean, I am really not discounting anything since nothing has actually been announced. My opinion of the JP expansion is simply based on the rumored info Rob was kind enough to provide me. Those rumors pointed to some kiddie rides and a lightly themed youth coaster. If the coaster is a GCI youth woody like the one at Fun Spot, with a bit of a theme, then my opinion would definitely be changed.

Again, Universal Creative has been on a roll, so I am not discounting anything. My only real point is that I wish Jurassic Park was getting the BIG expansion in 2016 instead of King Kong. While King Kong has sentimental value to me, I doubt many of the Potterites driving the attendance at Universal will plan repeat visits just to see a giant ape. King Kong does not seem to be a character that resonates with today's youth. Even the 2005 Peter Jackson film which amassed $550M world wide (at a $300M cost) has an AUDIENCE rating of only 50% on Rotten Tomatoes (a "C"). Critics generally liked the film, and it made some good DVD money for Universal, but it would seem JP with its $2.1B in world wide success and its upcoming new movie (Jurassic World) is the stronger candidate for a major new attraction.

From Sean Huckel on March 25, 2014 at 11:18 AM
The coaster is not a junior coaster. It is a wooden coaster lite CGI's Splinter or Wooden Warrior concepts.

As for a JP major attraction, the problem comes from the property itself. What else can you do that hasn't already been done with Jurassic Park River Adventure? Head through the gates? Check. See herbivores in their environment? Check. Something goes horribly wrong? Check. Approaching sense of danger? Check. Raptors attacking? Check. Dilophosaurus spitting? Check. T. rex attempting to eat you? Check.

All the boxes for Jurassic Park are checked off in River Adventure. A jeep ride that everyone wants would basically be the same ride without the water.

From James Rao on March 25, 2014 at 12:24 PM
One man's "lite" coaster is another man's "youth" coaster (which is not the same as a "kiddie" coaster, mind you). It is rumored to be a compact, short ride, designed for families, right?

Also, whatever they are planning for Kong can be done with JP... just substitute a T-Rex or some other dino for Kong. If I remember correctly, in JP2 the T-Rex was running amok in some major city (maybe even New York), so you could even have him climb the Empire State Building or the (RIP) Twin Towers. =)

Regardless, we'll just have to wait for TPI to break the news before we can get too excited or disappointed about what is or is not coming.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Previous article: Insider's Update: Luke's going to Disney World, Small World at 50, and the fishes are organizin'!



Planning a trip to Walt Disney World?

Family vacation

Insider's Pick: Don't try to do Disney without the ever-entertaining and informative Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2014. Save time and money with these tested tips and strategies for getting the most from a Disney World vacation. It's a great investment in happiness for you and your family.

Get it! In paperback | For Kindle | For iBooks