All Hail VelociCoaster, the New Queen of Thrill Rides

June 9, 2021, 11:49 PM · It takes some chutzpah to make a theme park attraction based on Jurassic World. No other entertainment franchise so mercilessly lampoons theme parks as Jurassic World does.

Even Jurassic Park could be forgiven as the naive product of a misguided entrepreneur. We can make dinosaurs? Let's charge people admission to see them! I can understand that. But Jurassic World? That's just a cynical cash grab. You know by now that "live dinos equals dead people," so the only question left is whether the people who bought tickets are stupider than people selling them are immoral. (They did Zara Young dirty in first film, and I will die on that hill like she died in the Mosasaurus's mouth.)

But none of this stops Universal Creative. So far, no animatronic or sculpted dinosaur has eaten a Universal theme park guest, so Universal's parks continue to make things go wonderfully right for the world's dinosaur fans by pretending to make things go terribly wrong.

Who wants to be a raptor's lunch?

Dr. Henry Wu might be Jurassic World's Dr. Moreau - splicing dinosaur DNA to create ever-more intimidating creatures, but nothing he crafted in this fictional universe has so throughly dominated its genus as Universal Orlando's Jurassic World now dominates the world of roller coasters. This is our ultimate, our Indominus rex... except that it thrills people rather than eating them. Which, perhaps it should be needless to say, I consider a plus.

The story goes that we are here because Claire Dearing and the team at Jurassic World have decided that adding a roller coaster to the velociraptor paddock might provide a neat new way for people to feel even more of a thrill seeing history's most prefect killing machines up close. Come on and say it with me now - what possibly could go wrong?

Wait a minute - is this a theme park making fun of a franchise that makes fun of theme parks? How very meta(saur).

Whatever it is, I love it. Jurassic World VelociCoaster presents riders with what might be the perfect combination of roller coaster elements. The two-launch, 4,700-foot Intamin production never stops as it throws one thrill after another at riders, many complemented by Universal's visually engaging production design. If you think mid-course block brakes are the devil, allow me to introduce you to your new lord and savior.

Come ride with me.

And if you prefer the front view, here ya go.

After riding, I spoke with Universal Creative Show Producer Shelby Honea about the making of Jurassic World VelociCoaster, asking her what elements the creative team thought were "must haves" for the ride.

Along with its neighbor Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Jurassic World VelociCoaster elevates Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure to a new standard for roller coaster entertainment. Other parks around the world might have more roller coasters, but none has better.

Everyone might be screaming, but this is a very happy place.

Islands of Adventure

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Replies (32)

June 10, 2021 at 1:02 AM

Can’t wait to ride this next year! Looks like this and Hagrid’s are some top tier coasters in the world.

June 10, 2021 at 7:52 AM

UO more than made up for removing dueling dragons (dragon challenge) with the addition of these 2 amazing and very different ride experiences. hagrid's is just "pure joy" (h/t to melanie howe) and JWVC is a great big thrill coaster that is a treat for the eyes with its wild layout flying close by the folks standing in line and some excellent themeing from start to finish. along with the new coasters and other attractions coming to the central florida area at sea world/busch, disney and the future epic universe, it's a great time and a great place to be a theme park junkie!

June 10, 2021 at 8:50 AM

With the latest 3 additions of Hagrids, Bourne Stuntacular and Velocicoaster i think Universal is really hitting its stride with the demographic it should be targeting. Disney excels and families and young kids. Universal is now really hitting the niche of thrills for young adults and teens. I hope Universal continues to step it up. They are doing an excellent job in excelling in that demographic.

June 10, 2021 at 10:47 AM

I had the pleasure of riding this amazing coaster recently and the hype is indeed real. If I had one criticism, it would be that the extended queue space is in direct sunlight and a real beast to stand in. Other than that, everything is excellent. My personal favorite is the mosasaur roll over the water. You literally pop out of your seat upside down and you feel like you could reach out and touch the water. 5/5 and totally worth a 60 minute wait.

June 10, 2021 at 10:51 AM

Man, the ride looks so smooth and quiet it's uncanny. I can't tell from the video--are there dinosaurs along the ride path (that is, is there theming one you get going)?

Universal is going to tempt me to Florida.

June 10, 2021 at 11:20 AM

This is a perfect way to open a ride in Orlando IMO. Do at least a month of daily softs so that way the local die hards can knock it out and don't completely ruin the visit for the families visiting from out of town when the ride "officially" opens. UO has a long history of bombing new attraction openings and props to them for doing it right this time.

June 10, 2021 at 11:33 AM

Jurassic World lampoons theme parks? No I think Shrek was the winner for that. Just because having live dinosaurs with people is a bad idea doesn't lampoon theme parks, in my opinion. The 'something goes terribly wrong' theme is standard in today's theme parks. Also, at least from the video, I don't get why this coaster is so great. It's a steel coaster, maybe a great steel coaster, but still a coaster.

The show producer in the video touts the theming elements - the rock work, waterfall and tall grasses??? - hey, the most important thing in my mind is the raptors! And, I'm sorry, but I don't get much of a feeling of danger with a few stationary raptors snarling as we zoom by. And the mosasaurus roll, is there an actual mosasaurus in the water, or is it a name only?

I might be more forgiving about Hagrid's, but I still feel like an exposed steel coaster is cheating. If a coaster is going to have a theme, make it totally immersive like Big Thunder Mountain or Space Mountain. The Incredicoaster is probably the worst example of a cheap cheat. But that's just my opinion.

June 10, 2021 at 11:58 AM

Does look great and get some snappy about the raptors not moving but then you barely get to see them in full so maybe avoiding the issues Disney infamously later had with Expedition Everest. This still looks terrific with great turns so a true winner.

June 10, 2021 at 1:37 PM

The dark first scene in the ride has screen raptors in cages, but there are several lifr-sized fabricated raptors along the coaster track, with accompanying audio that really makes them "pop." (You can see my reaction in the RPOV video.) I just love the production design here, but the coaster is just stupid smooth, and if you really, really want the most intense experience possible, the back row awaits you. It will whip you over that Top Hat so fierce you will think you're riding on that escaped dragon from Hogwarts next door.

June 10, 2021 at 1:55 PM

If the on-ride experience is as fluid and thrilling as the POV video would suggest, then I would be totally fine with department store mannequins staged randomly and with el cheapo raptor masks affixed to their heads haphazardly and still considered it cool theming.

@Disfan:

I think I see your point about the lack of immersion when it comes to the theming on this coaster, but all of the examples you listed are more terrain-based coasters that have notably slow-moving or static portions of the ride experience. And while it would have undoubtedly been awesome to have a “raptor mountain”-type coaster, I think that many of the speediest and most thrilling elements of this coaster might have been forced to suffer as a result. I guess what I’m saying is I’m cool with an exposed coaster being labeled a themed coaster if the ride delivers such a consistent and thrilling experience. My best example would be the first time that I ever rode the Hulk coaster I totally got that we were supposed to be transforming into the Hulk on the initial blastoff, and it worked for me. But by the time the ride was over I was contented with just having ridden an amazing coaster ride. So the marriage of loose theme and thrilling non-total immersion both work in concert together for me. My opinion of course

June 10, 2021 at 3:48 PM

“Other parks around the world might have more roller coasters, but none has better.” .... I remember a similar line from the steel vengeance first ride, and yet I don’t see SV being #1 in many people’s top 5 ??

Did you actually ride the back Robert ? I have yet to talk to anyone with multiple rides logged, that thinks the back is the best place to be. And sorry to disagree, but no, it does not whip you over the top hat “so fierce”.

Theming is only up until the top hat launch. After that it’s just a really great outside roller coaster.

And I agree with Jeffrey H .... it’s a real ‘beast’ of an outdoor queue line on a 90+ Orlando afternoon.

The last few times I’ve ridden it, they have only been running 2 trains, which tends to push that queue line outside. Not sure if they are having any timing issues, but early on when they ran 3 trains, a 60min wait time would be all under cover and you hardly ever stopped moving slowly forward. Now a 60min wait puts you outside and you are stop/start all thru the queue line.

Just to clarify .... a 3 train posted 60min wait = c45mins. A posted 60min 2 train wait = c75 mins. Be warned, the single rider line is almost always excruciatingly slow. And to make matters worse they have now stopped giving single riders the option of picking a seat !!

As I said in my review, it’s a great coaster, but Maverick is better.

June 10, 2021 at 5:06 PM

@DisFan - Perhaps you missed it, or perhaps you just don't care, but the story behind this ride is that "Claire Dearing and the team at Jurassic World have decided that adding a roller coaster to the velociraptor paddock might provide a neat new way for people to feel even more of a thrill seeing history's most prefect killing machines up close." So, this is a roller coaster themed as a roller coaster.
Seems to me, it's OK to have exposed steel coaster track when the theme of the ride is "a roller coaster built in a raptor paddock."

June 10, 2021 at 5:51 PM

@Rob:
I’ve yet to ride this but i wasn’t aware of that. That makes sense now considering I saw a photo of a raptor sculpture in the queue that features a pack of raptors with a scaled down coaster amongst them, as if it’s one of their tails

June 10, 2021 at 5:52 PM

Orlando is BLOWING UP! Dino-Coaster followed by Ratatouille and Harmonious -- with Guardians sitting on deck.

June 10, 2021 at 6:01 PM

@TH:
Even though it’s was mothballed temporarily, work has apparently resumed on the TRON coaster as well, and not for nothing, EPCOT seems to be plowing through many of the announced FUTURE WORLD changes and/or additions. It is indeed a gluttony of riches for area Theme Park junkies

June 10, 2021 at 6:38 PM

EPCOT is also moving forward on Moana. Between UO, WDW and SWO all demographics are covered.

June 11, 2021 at 1:39 AM

I have to say, too, that the characters on the Incredicoaster don't move around, they aren't animatronics, but they still add a lot to the ride.

June 11, 2021 at 12:03 PM

@Rob, I did catch that Claire Dearing thought it was a good idea to put a coaster in the velociraptor paddock. I just think it's a cheap cheat. So I do care, I just care about theming. Yes, I can agree with others that if the coaster gives the right thrills, it might be worth the cheat. I just don't think it's a path that Disney should go down. If Universal wants to do it, fine. The figures on Incredicoaster may add something to the ride, I wouldn't go so far to say it adds 'a lot to the ride'. but I still think it's a cheap cheat.

June 11, 2021 at 12:47 PM

@Disfan - So did Disney "cheat" with Slinky Dog Dash too? The conceit there is that you're riding on a toy track Andy built in his backyard, but it still looks like a traditional roller coaster.

Is Disney "cheating" with Tron Lightcycle Run?

The only thing I see disappointing about Velocicoaster's theming is that the initially rumored Gyrosphere (launched wing-coaster) concept was scrapped for this project, though maybe we'll see it at Epic Universe.

June 11, 2021 at 2:09 PM

@theColonel & @Russel Meyer - Very good points. I get very frustrated by people who poo-poo Universal's amazing accomplishments with such minor quibbles. Yes - we hold the Mega Brands of Disney and Universal to a much higher standard than Six Flags and Cedar Fair, but to minimize what has just opened at IOA by saying the visible coaster supports on a COASTER is doing something less just pushes all of my buttons.
I will agree that the static figures could be better, but if they are positioned along the track in spots where they suddenly appear, and there is a sound effect as well, then it's better than if they are not there at all. Now stepping down off of my soap box.

June 11, 2021 at 3:02 PM

These rides are built in the real world. Universal can’t make the tracks in the flying motorbike coaster invisible or have outdoor animatronics dinosaurs move along with a roller coaster and reset every minute.

June 11, 2021 at 3:19 PM

Russell, you will notice that I did not include Slinky in my comments, so I will give it a pass because it is supposed to be a toy that Andy put together. Tron could have been better, IMO, if it was entirely indoors, but I see the benefit of having some kinetic energy outdoors. The Tron coaster doesn't exactly follow the same physics as the movie, but again, I will give it a pass because it is totally immersive.

Rob, you consider calling out light theming minor quibbles? I'm not trying to poo-poo Universal's accomplishment, because I acknowledged that giving great coaster thrills counts for something. I actually love coasters and the thrills they provide, I recently went to Six Flags Magic Mountain, rode every coaster and had a blast.

I will stand by my assessment that "visible coaster supports is doing something less" if you are trying to convey a convincing theme. Yes, VelociCoaster's theme is that Claire had an idea to put a coaster in a raptor paddock, I just would have been more satisfied it the raptor theme was more than a screen and a few figures, if there was somehow an effect that the raptors are really chasing you. Is it a coaster that I would enjoy? Yes, probably. It just pushes MY buttons when people think that a bare steel coaster with some theming is the greatest thing ever.

Aaron, I will give Hagrid's a pass also, but I just feel it would have been better if the ride was indoors so you don't notice the track. It would be like Forbidden Journey, when you don't really notice the Kuka arm. I know it's a trade-off, it's nice to have the coaster outdoors.

About having animatronic dinosaurs chasing the track, here's an idea - why don't you put then on a turntable or something so they somehow look like they're chasing you? The coaster moves fast, but having the raptors having some chasing-type of movement might work.

June 11, 2021 at 3:38 PM

Disney fans will be Disney fans. Not much that Universal does will ever impress them because it isnt Disney building it. @Disfan youre argument is contradicting itself. Why does Slinky Dog get a pass for seeing it's coaster track but a Velocicoaster gets criticized for it? I cant help but think that if Disney built Velocicoaster then you'd be all about it. At the end of the day we just can appreciate something one or the other does without bringing out the Universal vs Disney debate

June 11, 2021 at 8:32 PM

Sorry, you're either not carefully reading or understanding my posts. I give Slinky a pass because it's supposed to be a toy that Andy built. I'm criticizing VelociCoaster because I don't think the theme is executed completely enough. Yes, I may have started sounding like I'm against all steel coasters, but I do get the theme for VelociCoaster, I just don't think it deserves the praise because I don't think the theme went far enough. If it had raptors that chase you in a convincing way, I would be all for it. I actually love Universal, and recognize where they have kicked Disney's behind, like with Harry Potter and Spider-Man.

June 11, 2021 at 8:40 PM

I feel you Disfan. It's like Grizzly River Rapids at CA. If they added even a single friggen bear the ride would be 50 times better (it would be worth riding at all). And we have high expectations these days after Hagrid and the Dwarves minetrain. Imagine if the Everest Yeti actually moved, haha.

This coaster looks totally amazing, but if a raptor jumped up at your car or even reached out to grab you, it would be better.

June 12, 2021 at 12:38 AM

Thank you thecolonel, I agree as a coaster it looks amazing, I just feel it doesn't deliver on the raptors. I watched the pre-show with Claire and Owen, and they build it up for you to expect real danger from the raptors, but it seems like the only real thrill comes from the coaster itself.

June 12, 2021 at 2:34 AM

@thecolonel: I feel sorry for folks who couldn't ride Everest in early 2006 and see just how amazingly impressive the Yeti really was.

June 12, 2021 at 6:53 AM

@Aaron McMahon, Amen! and @MikeW, also amen on the yeti. it was a great and thrilling exclamation point on an already amazing ride. hopefully, it's scheduled for a major rehab soon...and also if they'd replace primeval whirl with a whole new land instead of that carnival sitting on a hotplate, DAK may finally be worth a full day's admission.

June 13, 2021 at 9:48 AM

Disney can't fix the yeti unless they shut down the whole ride, since the yeti is built into the mountain. I do wish they would, though.
As I said before, I think the Velocicoaster would be much better if it was a true themed coaster rather than a high speed thrill ride zooming past stationary raptors. One or two AAs during the ride would've made a huge difference.

June 13, 2021 at 11:54 AM

Every ride could have been better if more money was spent. That is true for every ride ever created, they could have always spent more and added this or added that or added a couple AA's during the ride. Attractions shouldn't be judged on what they could have been, because we all know that what is built is not the full design and creativity that Attraction Designers envision, they should be judged on what they are. Is this an ok ride? good ride? great ride? I personally don't know as I have never been on it. Ride it first and then judge it based on what you see and feel. So far, from what I have read from people that have experienced the ride, this is a great ride and no one is complaining (except for maybe some people on an internet theme park discussion board).

June 13, 2021 at 2:06 PM

I’ve spent some time thinking about this and after reading these thorough and well-reasoned arguments I’ve come to the conclusion that the coaster is a thinly-themed romp that would be better served if the occasional tourist were eaten alive every so often.

June 14, 2021 at 3:20 AM

Disney fans can be so unaware and persnickety - this is an extraordinary ride with great theming and the same can be said for Hagrids. Dwarves isn’t even close to the same level of a ride and it’s theming doesn’t remotely compensate for the lack of thrill. We shall see when Tron and Guard of Galaxy rides open on how they compare.

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