Theme Park Insider

Universal Orlando Confirms the Return of Kong

May 6, 2015, 7:58 AM · Universal Orlando Resort this morning finally confirmed what we've been telling you for more than a year now — King Kong is coming back!

Kong
Image courtesy Universal Orlando

Skull Island: Reign of Kong will open in summer 2016. Here is how Universal describes the attraction, in its press release:

It begins as guests are transported deep into a wild and mysterious world, where their mission is to discover creatures of unknown origin – but where they are soon fighting for their own survival. Their journey will take them through an ancient temple inhabited by hostile natives, a perilous jungle ruled by prehistoric creatures, a foreboding underworld of caves concealing unspeakable terrors – and face-to-face with the colossal Kong himself.

And the video announcement:

Kong
Image courtesy Universal Orlando

Universal has been building its new Kong attraction, on a parcel between its Jurassic Park and Toon Lagoon lands in Islands of Adventure. We described the blueprints for the Kong attraction last year — the attraction will blend the 3D, 360-degree imagery of Universal Studios Hollywood's Studio Tour Kong encounter with the immense animatronics of Universal's previous "Kongfrontation" attractions.

Kongstruction
Photo by Renata Primavera

Here is how our writer Renata Primavera described the "Kongstruction" site on a visit this week: "Stuck right in the middle of the Jurassic Park and Toon Lagoon areas, the new construction definitely stands out against the blue, clear sky. Even knowing that it is due to feature the classic and terrible missed Audio-Animatronic version of our beloved King Kong, I was not expecting an attraction building that big and long; big enough to embrace the better aspects from both the Californian current version and the Orlando long-gone one, and with room for a couple more surprises.

"On the far left, visitors who have been to California will definitely recognize the rock formation in the shape of claw, which is also featured in the entrance of the Studio Tour Kong encounter. Is that also the entrance for us, visitors, in the ride? If so, why such a tall rock formation? If this doesn't ring a bell, the pictures printed on the walls all around the construction feature the same skulls and artefacts from the Peter Jackson.

"Interesting enough, visitors in the Orlando are getting so used to refurbishments and construction sites at Universal that they didn't even seem to be curious about what was going on there, passing by in a hurry to get to the next attraction in the park."

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Replies (37)

May 6, 2015 at 8:26 AM · This may well end up being the best ride attraction in Orlando. Long live the King.
May 6, 2015 at 8:31 AM · Isn't this suppose to be a movie next year as well? The artwork looks out of this world. Islands of Adventure needs this last big attraction to make it more well rounded and also help die down the crowds at Harry Potter. I just hope they give Jurassic Park a very nice refurbishment soon were they fix all the animatronics and effects that have been needing repair for years... Can't wait for next year to see the finished product of Skull Island: Reign of Kong attraction. IOA equals E Ticket paradise.
May 6, 2015 at 8:33 AM · Now THIS is how you "plus" an attraction from a sister theme park!
May 6, 2015 at 8:45 AM · I am SOOOO excited about this!! Sounds like exactly the sort of attraction I was hoping for!
May 6, 2015 at 8:51 AM · It's interesting that this is using the designs from the Peter Jackson version. I figured that it would be along the same lines as the new Kong film coming from Universal next year. Unless, they're part of the same continuity...
May 6, 2015 at 9:10 AM · I have a feeling they are gonna do something special with this ride, maybe that's just my excitement. When I heard this was coming I was so happy about it. It shows Universal really does listen to its fans, not just its stockholders
May 6, 2015 at 9:07 AM · This looks AMAZING. I love the fact that I can go to Universal Orlando in 2016 (four years since my last visit) and have so many amazing new things to see (Diagon Alley, Transformers, and Kong).
May 6, 2015 at 9:26 AM · Here's some more details with other interviews with West. From Fox News, West says, "I do know it will be one of the longest rides we've ever done"..... In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times West says there will be crew member drivers but they won't be doing a comedy spiel like on Jaws....West says they didn't use actual film, they used a new media technique & new special effects never before attempted........From insider Teebin on OU, it will be 70% sets & 30 % screens.....From other insider's, it's looking like it's going to be a pure immersive atmosphere, massive sets & a 70 ft. entrance at some point, advanced AA's, and an encounter with Kong. unlike anything in the past....I'm really excited about the length of the ride. Too many attractions are only 2 to 4 minutes long, and they're over just as you're really getting into the ride. This one sounds like it will be quite long.
May 6, 2015 at 9:17 AM · That is not plussing but multiplying time 100!
Looking forward to meet the King.
May 6, 2015 at 9:22 AM · We drove by the back side of the park and the show building for this ride is massive!!! I can not wait! My wife and I decided when we go back in September we are going to purchase Universal Annual Passes and when our Disney AP's expire next May we might not even renew them! haha But we haven't been to Universal since the Feb after the original Wizarding World opened 5 years ago almost! So there are so many new experiences at Universal and IoA that we haven't got to take part in yet!.
May 6, 2015 at 10:29 AM · Very exciting news! Although Google Earth shows the ride building to be substantially smaller than Forbidden Journey. Also seems smaller than Gringott's and MIB. Still it's great news for Orlando tourism.
May 6, 2015 at 10:01 AM · It's funny that the artwork for the attraction shows ominous, dark cloud cover over the attraction, when in reality most days it will be bright and sunny in Orlando. Guess Universal hasn't yet figured out how to control the weather yet!

I think the smaller size of the building has something to do with the fact that some of the attraction takes place outside. The whole thing looks like it will be incredible.

May 6, 2015 at 10:21 AM · Let's keep in mind that the ride won't open for another year. That should suggest the amount of work that remains to be done. That's amazing to me, given how close that this project appears to being finished right now.
May 6, 2015 at 10:33 AM · Hey, I tweeted a pic of the Kong site to TPI last Thursday. My picture was from the perspective of Thunderfalls Terrace looking back towards Kong.

It's interesting how close the ride building and facade are to Toon Lagoon. As I was walking through Toon Lagoon it made me wonder if the whole area could receive an overhaul with a theme of either Skull Island, expanding Jurassic Park, or something Godzilla inspired.

I imagine they still have a lot of construction and infrastructure that has to be completed inside the ride building, hence the 2016 date. The outside does look impressive and it is amazing to see people walk by and not even stop to take notice that it is there.

May 6, 2015 at 10:33 AM · Does anyone know when summer 2016 is? I'm there first week of June, is it likely to be open
May 6, 2015 at 12:25 PM · As much as I like UO adding another gate crashing BIG BEASTIE ("Dinos and Dragons and Apes, oh my!") wondering when Universal Creative will pursue new concepts that appeal to families with smaller children. Kris V just eluded to the possibility of expanding Skull Island pushing the happy-go-lucky Toon Lagoon off the map.
May 6, 2015 at 11:16 AM · 34" height requirement (less than Barnstormer). Most anyone can ride.....The queue will be both covered outdoor jungle and indoor jungle and caverns where you are reportedly being chased? by natives...... More info from Orlando Weekly, Unofficial Guide, Touring Plans & OU contributor Seth Kubersky, "Kong will come to life with a combination of large scale 3D projections (similar but "not identical" to the Kong 3D feature on Universal's Hollywood tram tour) and also-if rumors I've been told hold true-new Animatronics that move in surprising ways. If you've grown weary of Universal's reliance on video screens, rest assured that a substantial portion of this attraction will be based on physical sets and practical effects."
May 6, 2015 at 11:14 AM · If you all want to see lands that get up close and on top of each other, come visit Universal Studios Hollywood! Springfield and Hogsmeade literally touch one another out here.

Photo

May 6, 2015 at 11:20 AM · "ancient temple inhabited by hostile natives"

This sounds like Indiana Jones 2.0. The Indians Jones Adventure at Disneyland was a terrific attraction that hardly ever works as promised. Effects largely don't work. A few big rehabs got them working, but they broke down eventually and now it is a shadow of its former self.

I wish this King Kong attraction well. It adds another reason to visit this terrific park.

May 6, 2015 at 11:39 AM · "an ancient temple inhabited by hostile natives"

Is this really how we should portray indigenous cultures nowadays? To me, this is outdated and inappropriate. I hope they will rethink this aspect.

Other than that, the ride looks very promising.

May 6, 2015 at 1:54 PM · ^^^It's part of every single representation of the Kong Mythos. If you want to represent the Kong movies successfully, you need them.

Plus...I don't think any lost civilizations of giant-ape-worshipping natives will be riding the ride, so I dunno who would be offended.

May 6, 2015 at 1:57 PM · "Is this really how we portray indigenous cultures nowadays?"

Uuuhh...where have you been the last few centuries? This is how native cultures have been portrayed for quite some time now. And, in reality, that's probably a lot more realistic. I mean, wouldn't you be a little defensive if an entire new race of people with superior weapons and technology invaded your home?

On an unrelated note, this new ride sounds promising. Sure, I always give Universal crap for not being Disney level of quality, but they've really improved over the last couple of years! Even though Disney still remains the King of theme parks, Universal has been catching up and Disney has been stepping up their game even more because of it! Even Seaworld has been taking notice and is now building a new E ticket ride! Truly, there has never been a better time to be an Orlando fan.

May 6, 2015 at 2:58 PM · It's a good time to be a fan of every themepark resort except Anaheim. That poor resort seems to have been abandoned by Disney. How many years can a premiere themepark resort go without a new attraction. If they started building a new attraction tomorrow, and they aren't, we would be looking at 6 years between RSR and the next attraction. That is insane, and even that isn't happening, so more than 6 years between new attractions. Poor Walts original park!!!!!
May 6, 2015 at 3:33 PM · Yes, these "hostile natives" are part of the King Kong mythos and the movies. Within the whole franchise, their representation is problematic.

It's not about them being defensive. It's about them being portrayed as repulsive human beings.

And it's not about whether people are offended or not. It's about what kind of image of indigenous cultures we instill in our minds. I think this stuff matters.

May 6, 2015 at 7:03 PM · Awesome! How many E-tickets has Universal opened since Disney built Expedition Everest? Five? Six? Way to go, Universal!
May 6, 2015 at 7:38 PM · Wow, didn't realize how there hasn't been a new Disney attraction over at the West Coast for quite a while! Kinda ironic, too. Disneyland is the original Disney park, quickly approaching its 60th birthday, and some of the franchises that Disney has under their belt are extremely popular nowadays (Frozen, Marvel, Star Wars...) and all
it's getting is a couple of refurbishments and a new parade! But have no fear, Anaheim fans! After Universal Hollywood is done with Harry Potter, it should give the imagineers some incentive to bring their attention back to their California parks. Heck, if I were an imagineer, I'd start trying to come up with an attraction to counter Potter right now!
May 7, 2015 at 12:33 AM · Unbelievable. Guess there's no off switch at Universal creative. They're bringing indiana jones ride to orlando since disney doesn't!
May 7, 2015 at 3:11 AM · I thought Universal already brought Indiana Jones to Orlando with Revenge of the Mummy. I mean, the Mummy movies were always Indiana Jones rip-offs anyway!
May 7, 2015 at 5:57 AM · I loved the original King Kong ride at Universal Orlando. This one sounds awesome. Looking forward to it.
May 7, 2015 at 8:39 AM · "And, in reality, that's probably a lot more realistic. I mean, wouldn't you be a little defensive if an entire new race of people with superior weapons and technology invaded your home?"

Not historically. Most native americans were fascinated by european people and technology. They were interested in trading and even helped the first settlers survive. They only became hostile when the foreigners put up walls, took land and forced their culture to change.

May 7, 2015 at 9:51 AM · <>

Like the people do in Kong by invading their land and trying to steal their giant monkey god?

May 7, 2015 at 10:43 AM · "the Mummy movies were always Indiana Jones rip-offs anyway"

The Mummy pre-dated Indiana Jones. The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser was a remake of the original movie made in 1932.

May 7, 2015 at 12:33 PM · Re: Daniel

Oh yeah...forgot about that...my bad!

May 7, 2015 at 12:53 PM · Re:Anon
Another mistake...thanks for fixing that one.

Even so, I'm still standing by on what I said about Universal using the Mummy to bring Indiana Jones to Orlando.

May 8, 2015 at 10:11 AM · That concept art makes me drool. Start lining up now, to avoid the 5 hour wait times in the broiling Florida sun next summer!

I'm really glad that this ride will consist mostly of physical sets and AAs. Not that I'm "weary" of the screens in Universal attractions. I think Universal has done amazing things with screens, and I love their 3D/4D rides. But variety is an important part of theme parks, and you can't have too much of the same kinds of attractions.

I've always been a sucker for 3D, but Universal parks need more AAs. This might give us the "king" of all AAs!

May 8, 2015 at 5:05 PM · Are they going to put back the Jurassic Park Gates?? we just got back and it was very disappoinng no having the gates when waliking into Jurassic Park...which land will Kong be considered, or will it be it's own?
May 9, 2015 at 9:34 AM · Looks awesome-I'm sure it will be cool. Check their track record, summer 2016? Xmas 2016 it will still be in tech rehearsal.
It will be amazing though and state of the art. They are always the industry leader for both IP and development, just a tad ambitious.

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