A 'Van Helsing' Robocoaster for Islands of Adventure?

Universal Orlando: Industry rumor mills are buzzing that IOA will counter Disney's Expedition Everest in 2006 with a Robocoaster attraction in the park's Lost Continent area.

From Robert Niles
Posted November 29, 2003 at 9:41 PM
It looks like Universal's getting ready to add a new major attraction to Islands of Adventure after all. The industry rumor mills are buzzing that IOA will counter Disney's Expedition Everest in 2006 with a Robocoaster attraction in the park's Lost Continent area.

Kuka's Robocoaster is basically a souped-up auto assembly line robot arm, with a roller coaster harness at the end. "Normally, when you're sitting on a roller coaster, you're looking forward and you can look down the roller coaster and you can know where you're going," Kuka technology manager Christon Manzella told TechTV earlier this year. "In this particular ride, you never know where you're going next."

Legoland's brought the Robocoaster to its flagship park in Denmark, and IOA's version is said to be themed to next year's "Van Helsing" film, directed by Stephen Sommers, who also directed "The Mummy" and is overseeing the production of Universal's new "Mummy" roller coasters in Orlando and Los Angeles.

From JP parking Guy
Posted November 29, 2003 at 9:59 PM
I have a hard time believing that that this has been green lighted or will ever happen. Van Helsing could bomb...hopefully it wont cuz it sounds bad a**. I think they could use the same technology but a different theme. Plus, please make sure to give props to Lance for this rumor. If it does happen that would be sweet though.

From Robert Niles
Posted November 29, 2003 at 11:19 PM
The rumor is being reported by Screamscape online (That's Lance, for those who don't know), plus I've heard through a source on the IAAPA show floor that Robocoaster was to set up, finalize or announce a deal at IAAPA Orlando with one of the "big three," Disney, Universal or Busch. Finally, I've heard through a couple sources at Universal that something's up for 2006 at IOA. Put it all together, and well, I figured it was enough to start talking about on TPI.

From Robert Niles
Posted November 29, 2003 at 11:20 PM
The (presumably) Translyvanian theme for the attraction would seem to stretch the current theme for Lost Continent a bit. But given what IOA's got, it's the best fit in the park unless Universal wanted to create a new island.

Plus, a Universal source indicates that Sommers has taken quite a bit of interest in the theme parks, and attractions based on his films. So if that is indeed the case, it follows that he'd be working with Universal to pursue something based on "Van Helsing."

From Kevin Baxter
Posted November 30, 2003 at 12:23 AM
Ya beat me. Not sure I would've done it for a Blog Flume, though, at this stage. Where would it go? In that area between Lost Continent and Jurassic Park? That's going to require a whole lot of queue. And LC already has TWO roller coasters with a long queue. Not sure how badly it would push the JP theme to put it there instead. I like the idea, but there's nothing wrong with the idea for the aviary coaster, which fits into its theme better than Van Helsing will.

That said, a Classic Monsters area would be great for IOA. IF they had the space for it. Which was supposed to be across the street where they are planning on building hotels instead. There just isn't enough space in LC to do this theme as thoroughly as the other lands in the park. Don't ruin great theming by forcing in a ride. Especially one directed by Stephen Sommers, whose birth certificate specifies "Generic" in the middle name box.

From JP parking Guy
Posted November 30, 2003 at 12:56 AM
Finally Kevin you and I totally agree here.

From mister johnson
Posted November 30, 2003 at 7:26 AM
You don't think this could be a replacement attraction do you? Is it possible this could get dropped into Poseidon's Fury? Huge existing structure to use (similar M.O. to Kong/Mummy) and beats another refurb of this show. Granted, the exterior theming would need a major overhaul to be coherent...what to do with the crumbling colossus?

I guess, maybe, there could be a way to put some of the Dueling Dragons queue to better use by building adjacent to this structure. I'm not at all familiar with the layout in this area but it seems that with entry & egress occuring at different elevations, you could widen and reconfigure paths to make something work. Dunno.

My question is how anyone could make Robocoaster work with the capacity numbers IOA needs for a new attraction? The closest thing I can equate this model to is Tomb Raider (unless the plan is to somehow move these things...in which case I'll just gag on my tongue right now). Even if each robocoaster grew into a four-butt version, how many of these would they need to crank through 1200 people an hour (or whatever they need to hit)?

From Russell Meyer
Posted November 30, 2003 at 3:08 PM
I would have to agree...The most recent info on the robocoaster concept shows it as a lower capcity attraction. Unless they were to design it as a lower speed attraction with a large number of blocks or parallel tracks, this may not be the best fit for a park that needs high capcity attractions.

I also agree that LC is not the place that needs a large ride. The space that they have is behind JP. It is possible that the queue would start in LC, but the ride itself would utilize the space behind JP.

From Robert Niles
Posted November 30, 2003 at 4:38 PM
I just don't get the theme fit here. That's why I didn't put the two and two together earlier on this one. Sure, this looks like interesting ride technology, but I don't see how it fits with "Van Helsing" (maybe a monster's throwing you around?) and I don't see how this fits in a high-attendance park that needs high capacity from its already rather limited line-up of attractions.

That said, I don't think this would need a lot of foot-space to build. But it would need a huge queue, or a mandatory rider reservation system to counter the low capacity.

From Brett Abrams
Posted November 30, 2003 at 5:13 PM
In the IAAPA section of Screamscape there is a pic of an ad for a Kuka robocoaster, one side being for a tower version and the other for a track version. Underneath of both it has there approximate riders per hour and although it's somewhat hard to read the exact numbers the track system version can take over 1000 rdiers an hour according to the ad. It looks like the second number might be an 8 a 6 or a 0 im not sure (1800+, 1600+, or 1000+) This could be an exxageration to get people interested, but i think if Universal wanted to have a capacity of over 1000 riders an hour then it probably could figure out a way to do it.
The Link: http://www.screamscape.com/html/iaapa_news.html
Another comment I have is that i agree with those who have said that the theme isn't the best fit in the Lost continent, but I think if they build it near the Jurassic Park end, in the "medievil" section, as has been suggested by a few people already, I think they could pull it off. As to the actual theme and storyline of the ride itself, I think they could kind of come up with their own storyline, much like they did w/ Spiderman. There's nothing in the movie, or the comics i believe, about a scoop(and yes I know it was built before the movie was made, but the idea of adapting the storyline was still the same)I think Universal's creative team can come up with something, I mean who here would have come up with the idea for a scoop just off the top of their head? lol

From Robert Niles
Posted November 30, 2003 at 5:24 PM
Thanks for the extra info, Brett. The track version of the ride makes more sense to me. Though at this point, are we beginning to get into a ride experience like Magic Mountain's 'X'? Don't know -- just curious.

From Brett Abrams
Posted November 30, 2003 at 6:00 PM
I'm not sure about what the ride experience will be like. I didn't get to go to IAAPA, I think there might have been a better explanation of how it works, since the picture doesnt tell too much obviously, but i had the same thought, that this might become something like a 4-d coaster. If you think about how a robocoaster works and what it does, I think the experience could be quite similar. Though, the robocoaster seems to have extra mobility (is this true?) and enclosing it as a dark ride, will surely give the attraction a completely different feel than even if it were just outside by itself. The way I've been imagining the ride it seems like it would be a whole lot of fun.
I think it would add extra intensity to some of the sudden drops and turns like in spiderman, since those dont seem, in my opinion to flow very well. They seem to somewhaat pause in the middle like the ride machine has to reset or something in order to move anymore. I think this is because of the technology of the attraction, or maybe i'm wrong, it could be that they purposely designed it like that. Does anyone know anything about what I'm talking about? (maybe i'm just crazy haha) Also would a robocoaster allow for smoother movement, or are they "jerky." I've never actually seen one in action but they seem like they would move "smoothly."

From Brett Abrams
Posted November 30, 2003 at 6:04 PM
BTW I don't mean jerky in a bad way, i just mean that the ride seems to not be able to go in a different direction with out kind of "stalling" and sometimes rearning back like a horse. I'm trying to think of a real world experience to compare it to. I'll get back to everybody if I can think of one. I guess my question really is does a robocoaster move ina constant fluid motion or in some different way?

From Kevin Baxter
Posted November 30, 2003 at 10:34 PM
Is it actually a Robocoaster in Denmark? The Legoland webpage here, under Power Builder, makes it look like just something that sits there. Which is all they basically have at robocoaster.com.

I don't see this as being anything like a real roller coaster, though. To me, it looks like the ride system for a dark ride. I'm sure it could be a coaster, but I don't see the track being able to do much.

I, like mister johnson up there, thought about it being a replacement for Poseidon's Fury. But I tend to think not. IOA can't afford to lose a big attraction, especially not an expensive one. The Trike trail, yes. Not something that would require retheming not only the huge Poseidon building, but Mythos too.

If this is a dark ride, they could easily put it in the back of JP and have it load behind the horrid should-be-removed Flying Unicorn. Just kidding, Robert. It would be nice if they moved it, though. Is there not space somewhere in the Dueling Dragons swamp for the thing? Or they could retheme it to match the Van Helsing thing. The area is far enough removed from the Arthurian courtyard to take on a different theme. Unfortunately, it won't be heaps of theming.

All that said, they really should use the technology for their long-rumored Jeep Safari. With the robotic arm, they could have the jeep actually lifted in a T-Rex's mouth, rolling down a hill, stuff like that.

From mister johnson
Posted December 1, 2003 at 4:34 AM
I saw the Robocoaster in action at IAAPA. It is a very beautiful thing to behold. Graceful and terrifying. Sadly, I didn't have a chance to speak with anyone about it...the line was crazy long.

That said, if a track system version of this tech existed, it has the potential to be the next Omnimover, albeit a much more aggressive version. The ability to carefully choreograph where the guest is-and-isn't looking would be pronounced, to say the very least. If you had to devise a formula, it could be Haunted Mansion+Tomb Raider=whatever the heck you'd call this thing. Add some Men in Black to it...you're just asking for trouble.

That said, this looks like expensive, expensive stuff. Someone I was talking to said they'd heard $350K for a 2 butt version of Robocoaster. No doubt there is a great economy of scale available for a mass purchase and certainly you could bump the seat number but, seriously pom-pom, this has to be seen as a big risk, along the lines of Spidey (a hit!) and X (um, cool when it works!).

I believe that Universal can pull this off if this is where they pour their energies. Even the theme can get alligned if this is what they choose to do. Heck, add some prologue to the film that ties the presence of these monsters to ancient lands and times and--despite the contrivance--you may end up with an iconic enough set piece to knuckle the theme between LC and 19th century wherever.

This is one of my favorite rumors in a long time. I'm stoked!

From gryffan westworth
Posted December 1, 2003 at 6:22 PM
could this be Universal's Islands Of Adventure's very own Haunted Mansion that i have been asking about or not and if so that's the only Disney ride that Universal IOA has to conquer
and if so how much HM like feeling would this bring?OHH I CAN'T WAIT

From Thomas Lancaster
Posted December 6, 2003 at 11:51 AM
Universal needs to team up with Disney to make the Juraqssic Park Jeep Safari. The ride vehicles in the Indiana Jones Adventure and Dinosaur would be perfect. And, no matter what people say, one of my favorite attractions will always be Poseidon's Fury.Oh! Quick thing here. On the next Halloween Horror Nights, Universal should turn Poseidon's temple into a Haunted House filled with animatronic versions of mythic monsters such as Medusa and the Chimera. ALL HAIL THE LORD OF THE OCEANS! Sorry,had to do that.

From Mr. D. T.
Posted December 6, 2003 at 10:08 PM
A fact: I believe in 'one' Lord, and He's more than just the Lord of the oceans. :)

Sorry, HAD to do that. Got ya!

From TH Creative
Posted February 25, 2004 at 1:35 PM
My Universal Creative sources tell me that the company has shelved plans for the 'Van Helsing' attraction. Apparently the cost started to soar past the original $55 million budget. This means the company is back to square one when it comes to developing a new, prototype/marquee attraction for IOA.

And it's getting to the point where the cost of building a major attraction is growing dramatically. Currently, the construction industry is facing unprecedented increase in the price of steel. Consider this letter (Dated February 12th) from the president of a major contractor in Central Florida:

"There are rapid changes unfolding in the steel industry which are driving up our prices in unprecedented ways. By summer the industry is predicting that steel will be on allocation for the first time in our history. We have been informed that steel price increases alone will exceed 65% by summer."

This means that the price of a coaster or ride concept that was developed last autumn could as much as double by this summer. Further, it puts estimators in the difficult position of having to predict the cost of steel (not to mention the availability) one or even two years out.

Beyond construction costs, Universal Creative now finds itself back on square one when it comes to an IOA concept. What is especially notable is a comment from 'Revenge of the Mummy's' Creative Director, Jennifer Sauer, who recently told a reporter that she had been working on that particular project for four years (!!!). Even I was surprised to hear that! Based on that experience, we might not see a major new attraction at IOA until (gulp!) as late as 2008!

Meanwhile, Universal Creative has directed most of its talent to the China project and may not be willing to consider any new IOA attractions until after General Electric takes over in July.

From TH Creative
Posted February 25, 2004 at 1:34 PM
In my opinion, Universal needs to swing for the fence and negotiate a deal with J.K. Rowling. Pay her whatever she wants and develop a new island based on the Potter series.

From Andrew Swanson
Posted February 25, 2004 at 2:23 PM
Amen!

The Potter series would work perfectly not only as an entire land (regardless of the park) but would fit well in IOA. The way the park is already set up, would allow for a good transition between existing islands regardless of where it is built.

There are so many opportunities for coasters, dark rides, shows, and everything else; the possibilities are endless!

From Agent R
Posted February 25, 2004 at 2:38 PM
They're balking at spending $55 million for one ride but they're gonna pony up the cash for an entire new island? I hardly think so.

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