First Look at the Massive 'Reign of Kong' Ride Vehicles

[Updated with video] Universal has officially revealed the innovative ride vehicles for Skull Island: Reign of Kong via the Orlando Sentinel.

The massive trackless ride vehicles will be 40 feet long, 13 feet tall and weigh in at 17 tons. 72 passengers in 12 rows will take the journey led by a live actor.

Those live actors will take on five different roles. "Drivers include Becky (a cowgirl), Will Denham (adventurous cousin of a movie director), Jinks Costanza (ex-con from New York City), Kalana (descendant of the island's natives) and Doc (paleontology student)."

While a trackless ride vehicle on such a massive scale is extremely impressive, my initial reaction to the large 72 passenger capacity was how the views from various seats in the vehicle will be. Seating like this is similar to the safari vehicles at Disney's Kilimanjaro Safaris. In that attraction, depending on which side of the truck you are sitting on, your view could be massively obstructed.

What do you think of the latest generation of ride vehicles at Universal Orlando?

Skull Island: Reign Of Kong's Story Revealed

Skull Island: Reign Of Kong's Story Revealed

Universal revealed the official story for their 2016 attraction, Skull Island: Reign Of Kong. The tale revolves around the 8th Wonder Expedition Company. A research effort to uncover the island's gigantic secrets. 

You'll begin by attempting to make your way to the ruins, then to the 8th Wonder basecamp, being lead by the radio transmissions of the explorers ahead of you. You'll hear the first signs of life as native drums begin to get louder as you make your way toward the heart of the island. Your group will then be met by the massive temple that dominates the land. Inside are a labyrinth of caves. Once you escape you'll be right in the middle of a T-rex fight, and that's were Kong comes in.

The ride sounds about what we expected. Universal released a new video with a few new pieces of concept art and another look at the T-rex that will be in the screen portion of the ride. It still looks identical to 2005's Peter Jackson King Kong film, bright and saturated. As much as I liked Jackson's Kong film, I don't think that aesthetic fits with everything else we've seen thus far.

I also don't know how they are going to trick guests into thinking the large temple that dominates the land's skyline is deep in the heart of the island when you can clearly see it from well outside the land. I am loving the red glowing lights that will illuminate the temple at night.

The first episode of Myth Explorer (the viral marketing videos for the ride) is out now. Some great production value went into this campaign. I find it a little too meta that this fictional show know and talks about Universal's Skull Island attraction. What do you think of the new Reign of Kong news?

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Top 5 Things to Look Forward to in 2016

Top 5 Things to Look Forward to in 2016

2015 is a distant memory now. Onward and upward into 2016. Nearly every year for the foreseeable future will bring a noteworthy addition to the Orlando theme parks. Here are some good reasons to be excited to visit in 2016.

#5 Disney Springs expands
The transformation from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs wasn't an easy or a short one but the long nightmare is soon to be over. 2015 saw great additions like The Hangar Bar, Morimoto Asia and the Ganachery. 

2016 will see the opening of the Town Center area of the expansion. It will bring with it loads of new shops like Pandora, Lilly Pulitzer, Edison, Sprinkles, Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza and many more. 2016 will be a great time to check out Disney Springs as most of the walls will be down and plenty of new storefronts will be open for business.

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Universal Finally Reveals 'Skull Island: Reign of Kong'

Since construction began on the plot of land adjacent to Jurassic Park in Universal's Islands of Adventure, everyone has known that the mystery project would be a King Kong attraction. It seems Universal has worked tirelessly to erect this structure which in just months has gone from a steel skeleton to detailed building now receiving rock work on its exterior.

Today, finally, Universal has revealed what we already knew. Skull Island: Reign of Kong will be coming to Islands of Adventure in Summer 2016. The secrecy for so long was a bit puzzling considering the internet had already figured out it was Kong, and a Universal executive even let it slip in a conference call months ago. I had assumed the silence was caused by the potential movie tie-in for Kong: Skull Island. The film was delayed so that could have affected Universal's announcement plans. That might not entirely be the case however. But more on that later.

Universal announced the ride without revealing much of anything. We know Kong will be in there along with other creatures from the Island. You'll be boarding a "revolutionary ride vehicle", which, from the looks of it in the concept art could be a lot like the ride vehicle in Dinosaur in Disney's Animal Kingdom. 

The themeing of the land looks incredible. Just from the construction photos I've seen the scale is indeed massive. From the concept art and Universal's recent reputation of complete immersion in its lands, this should be an incredible experience and one you have to do at night.

What threw me for a loop is that this new attraction appears to have nothing to do with the new film which will star Tom Hiddleston, opening around 9 months later in 2017. Instead the attraction is based on Peter Jackson's 2005 King Kong film. There is already a part of the tram tour ride in Universal Studios Hollywood dedicated to Jackson's film. The Orlando attraction will be taking parts of that film and expanding it out further than just the Kong vs T-rex scene.

I love Peter Jackson's Kong film more than most. It is overlooked and underrated. So I welcome a ride based on that great movie but it seems like a huge missed opportunity not to have this ride be based on the new film. The new Kong is one of the first collaborations with Legendary Pictures. The studio that brought us Christopher Nolan's Batman films, 300, Inception, Pacific Rim and more. So it might have been a safe bet to base this ride on the new film.

What do you think of the latest land going into Universal's parks?

Metal Detector Madness

Metal Detector Madness

In case you haven't seen the news, Universal has begun to test, and what now seems like permanently implement, metal detectors at the front of their three major roller coasters. Riders of Hollywood Rip Ride RockitDragon Challenge and the Incredible Hulk coasters will be subject to screening before being allowed entry to these attractions.

Why is this happening?

Roller coasters have never been the safest attractions around. Seems like coasters are getting stuck in precarious positions for hours on end all the time. Many injuries have been sustained from the ride itself and even deaths. Even Disney's seemingly more "tame" coasters aren't immune to these unfortunate malfunctions.

...will you think you or your child being struck in the face by a cell phone at 60mph is worth not having to pass through a metal detector?

The need for metal detectors on these rides stems from another, outside risk of injury: falling/flying debris. When you're traveling upwards of 60mph in an open air vehicle, anything that hits you is going to hurt, if not kill you. That could be anything from a quarter falling out of someone's pocket to their phone, keys, and especially a selfie stick getting loose while the vehicle is in motion.

Universal previously placed signs before these attractions warning passengers to not bring any loose articles on the coasters and apparently that did not work. Before metal detectors were placed, the "dueling" aspect of the Dragon Challenge coaster was no longer offered after riders complained about being struck with falling objects. One guest, who previously only had one functioning eye, was hit by an unidentified object in his one good eye while on the ride, thus losing his sight. Universal tried what they could, but ultimately they feel that metal detectors are the way to go.

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