Skull Island Not a Major Attraction: Where Did the Magic Go?/ A Tribute to Robert Niles and Tim Hill

August 1, 2014, 6:58 AM

I may got a lot criticism for saying this or some of you may agree with me, but I never saw Kongfrontation as a major attraction, nor do is see Skull Island being one either. It just doesn’t do it for me and I think it doesn’t do it for many others as well. Sure, maybe it could be interesting to see and checkout, but not a big ticket seller it doesn’t make me want to come back again and again twice a year or something. We all love the idea of The Lord of the Rings coming to Islands of Adventure, but we all know that is just a pipe dream. Because Tolkien family will never give their rights up even if the offered them loads of cash. Let’s just all be honest here... that is what the movies and the theme parks have been all about these days. Don’t get me wrong the BIG attractions that bring a lot of people in I have nothing against that there is nothing wrong with trying to make money and trying to run a successful franchise. But, it does become a problem at least for me when making money is all it becomes about.

I have always considered myself to be and old soul because I may be younger than some of our writers, but I like to put myself in the category with people like Robert Niles and Tim Hillman. In the sense that I’m sure we miss the old creativity when it wasn’t just about making money; when it was about doing something new and creative and rather unique. When it was about bringing the magic into the park and bringing that into the eyes of children when it was about bringing the joy into family’s hearts. Even wondering whether we’ll ever see a time like that again seems like a fantasy but we can always hope. The only thing I worry for is it seems like Disney World is starting to take a page out of Universals book, and are losing their touch.

I am still a pretty new member to the Theme Park Insider but I have loved writing and hearing your thoughts. It is always a pleasure, and I have enjoyed conversations and comments from Robert Niles, Tim Hillman and Oscar Marquez just to name a few.

Thank You.
Alec Vergara

Replies (18)

August 1, 2014, 7:19 AM

Is Skull Island equal to Diagon Alley of course not, but it will be a major attraction if only by looking at Universal's recent track record.

As for LOTR & The Hobbit it goes beyond the Tolkien Family alone. It comes down to ROI...while the books and movies rank comfortably in the top ten for both mediums (with HP being the only other IP that can claim that). Unfortunately I can't see a way you could build an attraction for them without exceeding both HP lands in Orlando's budgets...Tolkien had quite and imagination. Then comes the second problem...outside of a great jewelry store selling rings where is the merchandise revenue come from. sure you could grab a drink at the Prancing Pony or a taste of mead at Long Lake. But there is no wands unless you count Gandalf's Staff and no butterbeer money rolling in.

August 1, 2014, 7:34 AM

Robert you have some interesting points, but dude write some more threads. I'm sure you have some good ideas and it would make an interesting read.

your pal,

August 1, 2014, 7:37 AM

but also in the case of merchandise.... they could have a picture thing from the ride. They could sell cups, t-shirts, Gandolff's robe even, Bow and arrows, swords.

Edited: August 1, 2014, 1:51 PM

I think it's all subjective. Looking at the bigger picture, adding a new land or attraction, not matter how major / minor adds to the totality of the park.

While Skull Island may not garner the media attention or "fanboy / fangirl" style excitement of Potter, Kong is still somewhat of a movie icon, so as long as Skull Island is well done, guest will still enjoy it.

While we here at TPI have a more invested interest in parks, many millions of the tourist & guest who go to theme parks are just looking to have a good time. Skull Island harkens back to the days of serial adventures, so for some nostalgic folks, this "could" end up being a land they enjoy more the could be magical to them.

When some people here list their favorite attraction, many times its not the latest & greatest, it's simpler attractions like Pirates or Jungle Cruise....

Edited: August 1, 2014, 2:25 PM

I may be in the minority but I'm actually more excited about the new King Kong attraction than the HP rides. From the description of OU insider HTF, it looks like it's going to be a fantastic experience, kind of a cross between the best of Disney's dark rides & sets and the excellent screen based technology of Universal. And reputable OU insiders rumor has it that Universal has increased Kong's budget to add extra quality to the attraction.

August 1, 2014, 4:34 PM

Another factor to consider with expansions is added capacity to the park. This is one thing Universal could still learn from Disney. When New Fantasyland opened it included a Little Mermaid ride with a very high capacity. Also when Avatar opens it will have a boat ride, one would assume also with a high capacity.

This is were two family friendly dark rides in Seuss Landing would greatly help IOA's guest experience but may not drive attendance by its on merit.

If King Kong is able to absorb even 1500 guest an hour from the balance of the park...think of the difference

August 1, 2014, 4:55 PM

I'm with Rob -- I'm really looking forward to the next Kong attraction. Kong is a classic in my opinion and I miss the old ride -- though I do love its replacement, the Mummy. If they do the bang-up job on the new Kong that they're capable of, I think it will be a very cool addition to that part of IOA.

August 2, 2014, 1:04 AM

As R.M. said, it will add needed capacity to IOA. With it's narrow pathways and shorter time attractions than the Studios', IOA will still always seem crowded, but that extra capacity will definitely help. The huge capacity at the Studios, and the larger walkway areas have made what was a operations problem at IOA when Potter opened, into a very smooth operation with the Diagon opening at Universal Studios.

August 3, 2014, 6:17 PM

What hapened with USO being about movies and IOA being about written media? As far as I know King Kong is not a book! It should be on USO.

August 4, 2014, 3:38 AM

They actually published a Kong book the same time the first movie came out, so technically it works for IOA.

August 4, 2014, 5:16 AM

Don't get me wrong now I'm excited and interested in it too, but I just didn't feel like it was a major attraction. All in all I still think it would exciting and a lot of fun hopefully.

August 4, 2014, 9:36 AM

Alec: this should make you feel better about the attraction. OU Insider Hate To Fly was the first to break the news on the attraction last year. He also gave a overall description of the ride last winter. A week ago he wrote this posting about the attraction. "Revolutionary. Game Changer. Beautiful. Inspiring. Grand. Intense. Best of both worlds. Avatar E ticket crusher."

August 4, 2014, 10:09 AM

Rob: sounds cool although... I am not sure if you are being sarcastic lol.

August 4, 2014, 11:47 AM

No sarcasm, just quoting HTF. This should be a great attraction, though it won't have the drawing power of Potter.

August 4, 2014, 11:59 AM

yeah Robert I agree with you.

August 4, 2014, 10:09 PM

King Kong 360 3D gave USH a huge attendance boost because people still love Kong (maybe more as a 3 minute attraction than a three hour movie...)

It would also been a huge way to publicize USF's 25th anniversary by bringing Kong back. But I don't think it'll hit that deadline.

August 6, 2014, 1:27 PM

I agree with the initial point that Disney has turned towards making money. I was last there in 2012, and the magic was pretty much out of the place. It all starts with Iger. He's there to make the stock price go up. Nothing else.

August 8, 2014, 6:32 AM

I don't know, Iger brought on Pixar, brought back the animation studio, and has been at the helm of some of the biggest Disney Parks expansions. I think he has righted the ship and is making some money in the process.

How is the magic gone from WDW? I have been going there for over 20 years and I feel it is getting better and better. Then again, it also is getting more and more crowded!

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