Islands of Adventure
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(11/14/16) Islands of Adventure - Grinchmas Is Coming! (MORE...)
(11/9/16) More Dragon Challenge Rumors (MORE...)
(10/31/16) Dragon Challenge's Future May Not Be So Bright (MORE...)
(9/29/16) All About Hulk's New Soundtrack plus Ringtone Downloads (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - Dec. 1 through Dec. 18
Hogwarts Express / Wizarding World Expansion - All the details and the official Screamscape review for the new Diagon Alley and Hogwarts Express attraction areas can be found here.
General Park News - (11/14/16) Grinchmas will return to Islands of Adventure on December 3rd this year, where the Grinch will appear along with the Whoville Whos to perform the "Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular" show. It has also been confirmed that Doctor Doom’s FearFall has changed the seat-belt system to a new style that prevents guests from releasing the belt on their own, and now are forced to wait for an employee to come and release the belts for them.
(9/29/16) The Universal Orlando Blog has posted a fun interview with Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy about the creation of the new onboard soundtrack for The Incredible Hulk coaster as well as a track he made for the queue as well. Even better, at the end they've made the new score available in download form so you can use it as a new ring-tone.
2016 - Skull Island: Reign of Kong - (6/27/16) Greetings everyone, I'm writing this briefly from Universal Orlando where Screamscape was invited down to take a test ride on the new Skull Island: Reign of Kong attraction and I wanted to get my impressions down while they were still fresh. While the attraction is still closed to the public, they have been quietly soft-opening it in the later afternoon / early evenings lately for those lucky enough to be standing nearby. While they don’t have an official grand opening date for it yet, they did tell us that they felt it would be very soon.
With that in mind, we were led into the queue area for the attraction, which features a very impressive amount of hand carved fake rockwork to create the experience of being transported to Skull Island in the 1930’s… ahead of the expedition to the island documented in the Peter Jackson film. You arrive in the midst of an exploration effort from the Eighth Wonder of the World expedition company who has set up a base-camp and is making runs around the island with a small group of off-road trucks and a motley crew of brave explorers, each there for their own particular reasons. As mentioned before you will eventually be led on a tour of the island in one of five 72 passengers trucks (12 rows of 6), each equipped with a different driver (a complex animatronic) who will share a little of their own personal back-story in the first segment of the tour. Each has a different personality and will help create one of five different possible experiences for you by how they act and react to the perils of Skull Island all around you during the journey.
Now I’ve gotten ahead of myself a bit… so lets dive back into the queue experience which kind of reminded me a bit of the old removed “skull” section of the Dueling Dragons queue. Much like that attraction, the queue for Skull Island is very much a big part of the overall attraction experience, but taken to an entirely new level. After passing through the outdoor queue you will entire a dark gothic looking temple structure full of wicked looking rock carvings, as if someone was trying to warn you to keep away. Inside you will pass through some large ornate rooms and then into dark narrow passageways, and if you keep your eyes open you might see some special apparitions.
Clearing there is something powerful present in these caves, and you will look encounter a special figure who chants and tries to communicate to you something that is clearly very important to everyone, but unfortunately she doesn’t speak English and the exact nature of what she is saying isn’t clear, other than the word “Kong”. Is it a greeting? A warning? You aren’t sure as you move deeper inside. Here things get a little darker as you encounter a few bodies set up on display… along with some special surprises that I’ve never experienced in an attraction queue before.
Paragraph Spoiler Alert for those who want to know! The queue actually contains some live actors hidden away who will jump out and scare you as you pass by. As a fan of Halloween Horror Nights I loved seeing this aspect brought to life in the queue, and they actually did manage to “get me” soon, causing me to blurt out an “Oh $#1T!!!” along the way, so applause to them! I’m not the easiest person to scare.
With that out of the way, we eventually move into a loading dock area where large crates of supplies have been dropped off (A lot of explosives and weaponry apparently), along with some large crates with air holes and warnings about containing dangerous unknown creatures… apparently samples of the local wildlife they are sending back for study. In one large glass container they have a small but particularly nasty looking worm-like creature… a Carnictis. Surprise… it’s still alive and not too happy about being contained in a giant glass aquarium-like structure. Moving along you a given a pair of safety glasses and approach the giant truck for your expedition around Skull Island.
The vehicle is very impressive as it has no track and can move along very quickly along the rough terrain, venturing outside briefly into the jungle for a proper approach to the huge 36 foot tall entry doors into a large temple structure. It is here you are introduced to your driver who tells you a bit about themselves and what’s been going on so far at Skull Island. It is also worth noting that in case of bad weather (rain, lightning, etc…) your ride experience will still go on, and there is a short-cut door that can be opened to allow the ride experience to take place, minus the small outside run, which is a fantastic bit of forethought in my opinion when you consider just how many other attractions are forces to close down in bad weather.
Entering the temple, you are instructed to put on your glasses as you enter the darkness and begin with a quick encounter with some sleeping giant bat like creatures hanging upside-down a few inches from the truck. They appears to be stirring from the light coming into the cave unless the doors close behind you and the truck moves on to find other members of the expedition group. From here things progress quickly, as your truck will pass by a couple of large scenes told through 3-D projection screen technology that are quite impressive. They set the scene and kick off the action that will drive you through the rest of your adventure, as the exploration team members are scattered by strange creatures and fighting for their lives. I enjoyed the second scene quite a bit as you quickly find yourself coming face to gaping maw with full sized Carnicnis creatures. I was mouth agape in awe and wonder as one of the heroes fought off the creatures and even managed to blow a few holes in the ones interested in getting to us inside the truck. Here is where the “mouth agape” part comes into play, as the goopy creatures are blown up I found myself getting hit in the mouth with the splatter, and I had to suppress my natural urge to spit it up. The timing and excellent 3D look of the scene unfolding before me was just so damn convincing, I was sure for a moment that I had a mouth full of Carnictis goop.
From here you move on to the next scene which is inspired by the action that takes place on the King Kong 360 attraction that opened a few years ago at Universal Studios Hollywood. For those worried that they just copied the scene entirely, this is not the case. The scene has been extended on both ends and had various elements replaced and re-animated, replacing the Hollywood park’s backlot trams with an Eighth Wonder truck and more. The end result is similar however, as your truck is surrounded on all sides by T-Rex style dinosaurs and other hungry creatures, and the arrival of King Kong who goes into battle to fight them all, keeping you safe along the way, bounding from one side of the tram and back again. Here is where you almost feel overwhelmed, because there is simply so much action taking place on both sides of the tram that you will need to ride this attraction several times before you can try to understand the full picture of what is taking place all around you. No worries though, if you only ride once I’m sure you will follow Kong around from one side to the other, but don’t be surprised if you feel something slobbering on you from behind because chances are there is indeed something there. The jungles of Skull Island are very dangerous and inhabited with hungry creatures of all shapes and sizes.
The action isn’t done as your driver manages to get you away to safety however, as you quickly find yourself in a face to face encounter with the might Kong himself on the right side of the truck. Here is where old-time Universal guests may have a brief flashback of the old Kongfrontation attraction, but this is an animatronic of an entirely new century. The movements are so much more fluid and lifelike, with facial movement that seems very realistic and entirely free from the comically memorable “banana breath” of the old attraction. This is a living breathing King Kong, live in the flesh, right before your eyes and he is inspiring to behold and a great final scene to end the attraction with.
As I said before, my initial reaction was that I wanted to jump on another truck and try it all again, but unfortunately we were only allowed to take one ride through Skull Island. The fact that I wanted to do it all again right away bodes well for the attraction and the re-rideability factor it should maintain over the years to come. The other great thing is capacity… Skull Island is a serious high capacity attraction. With the trucks holding up to 72 riders and dispatch times said to send off a truck every 2 to 2.5 minutes you are looking at an hourly capacity of between 1,728 to 2,160 passengers per hour which is fantastic.
While I was allowed to take pictures of the queue, I was asked not to take any pictures of video of the ride experience itself, which is fine, as I wouldn't want to spoil it for you all. You’ll jump have to get down to Orlando and try out Skull Island: Reign of Kong for yourself. You won't regret it.
(5/17/16) Universal released some king sized news about Skull Island: Reign of Kong on Monday. It started with the release of the last chapter of the Myth Explorer video series, as they travel inside the same massive fortress structure that has been created at Islands of Adventure.
Then we get an all new update from Universal Creative's Mike West, who finally reveals Kong himself... which they say will stand three stories tall. And Kong is waiting for you and the rest of Universal's guests to visit this summer where you will get close enough to feel his breath on your skin. But, as they ask themselves... is Kong friend or foe? Take a look at the video below and Mike West explains it for us.
(4/22/16) If you haven't seen it yet, the latest episode of Myth Explorer: The Lost Expedition, the promotional video series for Skull Island: Reign of Kong, was posted a few hours ago. Things are turning dire for our explorer team. You can watch it by clicking here.
(3/26/16) Universal Orlando has gleefully provided nightmare fuel to disturb your sleep for the next few months with their latest Skull Island: Reign of Kong update on the Universal Orlando Blog. The latest update provides detailed files (and video footage) of the "unimaginable creatures" that inhabit Skull Island that we will soon find ourselves in face-to-fang encounters with (or claw, or pincer or the gapping slurrpy doom-hole of a maw on the Carnictis that is ready to swallow you whole....)
Errrr... sorry, my brain froze from fear for a second... (shudder...)
Anyway... check out the video below for details on the Arachno-claw, Decarnocimex, Terapusmordax, Vastatosaurus Rex and the ...ewwww.... Carnictis. I think that's the most gross one of them all... just disgusting. I can't describe it anymore... you just have to see it yourself. Meanwhile I may never sleep again...
(3/16/16) A new teaser video for Skull Island: Reign of Kong just came out and we get our first up close and personal look at the giant expedition vehicles (from the Eighth Wonder Expedition Co.) that are 40 feet long, 13 feet tall, weighing 17 tons and able to carry 72 riders... all with a trackless ride system.
According to the latest blog report, each of the trucks will feature one of five different drivers as well, each who will tell their own unique story along the way. There is: Becky Callahan (wild cowgirl), Will Denham (adventure seeking cousin of director Carl Denham), Jinks Costanza (NYC ex-con), Kalana (descendent of the island natives) and Charles "Doc" Jordan (PhD student). With five different drivers, there will be five different ways to experience the ride, which is a great way to increase the re-rideability factor to keep guests coming back for more.
(3/7/16) New footage has been posted of the Skull Island: Reign of Kong trucks making test runs around the outside portion of the track. One very interesting thing is that you'll notice that the entire front of the truck is covered by a blue tarp, which means that the trucks are completely self-driving. If you watch carefully, you will also notice that the rear wheels also turn as goes around the corner.
With all that in mind, you may be wondering just why the truck has a driver compartment at all. And then, why the blue tarp covering it all? That's the really interesting part, as Screamscape's sources tell us that the trucks actually do have a "driver"... sitting in the seat... a unique and very special animatronic driver that I'm sure will play a very important part in the story they are telling.
(2/17/16) Universal Orlando is kicking off a new "web series" called Myth Explorer to promote their new Skull Island: Reign of Kong attraction. The first video, a preview episode called The Quest for Kong is now live. The host, Erin Ryder, kind of gives me a Sarah Conner crossed with Lara Croft vibe on the show preview, plus there is also a Day 1 video blog you can also find on the site.
(1/5/16) Universal’s website has quietly slipped out a bit more of a description about what we can expect to see later this year from Skull Island: Reign of Kong when it opens. According to the latest teaser page for the new 3-D attraction, “Live the brutal struggle of a 1930’s expedition that’s caught in a clash between prehistoric predators, man-eating beasts and the most colossal ape ever to walk the earth - King Kong. Around every thrilling turn, ferocious monsters fight for dominance, while you just fight to survive. It’s the multi-sensory, multi-dimensional ride for your life.”
“Enter the ruins of a primal realm and journey into the dark heart of an island filled with untold dangers. Vicious, ancient predators and unspeakable monstrosities rip into your crew and swarm from every side. Then, in an act of sheer ferocity - or monstrous bravery - King Kong charges between you and certain doom with an earthshaking fury. With each thundering roar and each chest-pounding thud, one colossal truth comes clear. This is his home, his kingdom. Only he reigns.”
2016 - Incredible Hulk Coaster - (8/5/16) A fun video from our friends at Behind the Thrills shows off the new queue for the Incredible Hulk coaster, which is now officially open to the general public as well.
(8/2/16) Islands of Adventure began Team Member previews for the new Incredible Hulk coaster on Monday, and then started to let the general public in to give it a try as well. According to the comments sent in to Screamscape so far the new queue experience is amazing, it features some cool new sound effects off the ride and the new onboard soundtrack. While maybe the trains still need to break in a bit more, I've heard that the ride experience with the new trains is essentially about the same as it was before with the old trains... a little bumpy, which is kind of odd from a brand new ride (trains and track).
(6/27/16) During my visit to Universal Orlando you couldn't help but notice Incredible Hulk at night, as they have added a new lighing package that makes the entire ride glow green after dark, including some interesting new green lights running up and down the launch tunnel.
(5/11/16) Time to play Good News / Bad News...
The good news first... a video showing off the look of the brand new Incredible Hulk coaster trains has been posted, and these are some seriously sweet, sexy and mean looking new green trains, complete with automotive style LED headlights. The video also mentions how the storyline told in the queue will be changed and updated to tell a new story about how General Ross is testing Gamma Rays on you and your fellow volunteers as you work through the queue. Outside the building a new ride entrance archway will be built using pieces of the old coaster train and track. A new on-board sound system will also blast a new custom music score during your ride, created by Patrick Stump, the front man for Fall Out Boy. Then there is the matter of all new special effects that will take place in the launch tube.
You can also read more details on the official Universal Orlando Blog, but the images of the new train have proven many of the crazy rumors wrong, as it will feature the same style B&M restraint system as before (no vests) and these are regular sit-down trains, and not floorless trains. (Seriously, where did that Floorless rumor start anyway? We knew that wasn't going to happen because the SeaWorld parks already have two floorless coasters in central Florida.)
Oh, there is a little matter of the "Bad News". Universal is now saying that The Incredible Hulk will reopen in "late summer". So if I had to guess, we're looking at July to August.
2017-2018???? - Dragon Challenge Refurbishment - Rumor - (11/9/16) Following the Screamscape rumor that the Dragon Challenge coaster may be removed to build a new Harry Potter themed attraction, OrlandoWeekly has posted their own update claiming that it just might be something themed to the new Fantastic Beasts film series set to kick off later this month. While I'm sure a Fantastic Beasts attraction is something that WB and Universal are looking into, the rumored new Potter attraction I'm hearing they could possibly build is definitely themed to something else... another slice of the Potter universe that we have not seen in theme park form before. Of course at this point there are just too many pieces on the table to spill all the beans just yet, so stay tuned.
(10/31/16) Remember back when we first learned that Hulk was going to be torn down and rebuilt, we learned soon after that once Hulk was done there was a good chance that the two Dueling Dragons / Dragon Challenge inverted coasters would likely be next. Welll..... about that... according to the latest rumors... that may no longer be the case.
Like Hulk, it seems Universal has determined that the world famous dueling inverted coasters will soon reach the end of their projected lifespan. Unlike Hulk however, it seems that they may have changed their mind about just what to do about it. Several courses of action were apparently considered beyond just rebuilding exact copies of the Fire and Ice dragon layouts... including the idea of altering the new layout to be merged into one seriously extended length coaster, as well as scrapping the entire ride concept in order to reuse the large footprint it sits on to build other new concept attractions going forward.
While I am hoping to god that my sources are wrong on this one, the story being leaked says that before too long Universal Orlando may simply opt for the later option, and retire the Dragons forever and build another unknown new Harry Potter themed attraction instead. In short, I would find that option to be devastating, as the old Dueling Dragons coasters have a very special place not only in my heart, but I also believe them to be world famous icons of Islands of Adventure itself, just as much as Incredible Hulk and the park's iconic lighthouse out front. Removing the Dragons would be such a shame... as it would drop the number of major coasters in the park from 3 down to just 1.
So with that in mind, as you visit the park going forward, do take the time to get plenty of rides in on the old Fire and Ice dragons, and maybe drop by guest services to fill out a comment card about just how much you also enjoy them if you too would like to see them remain in the park's lineup. Plus there is plenty of room to add a new attraction to the Potter lineup right where Poseidon's Fury is sitting, or even where the Eighth Voyage of Sinbad show arena is instead.
(11/24/15) I've been told that once the rebuild of The Incredible Hulk coaster is complete, we can expect to see a large refurbishment performed on the Dragon's Challenge coasters as well,
though it isn't expected to be as extreme as the Hulk's. According to one source, we will be all new coaster trains brought in, but we can expect to see the existing track get refurbished (though some sections may need replacing) as well as a complete repaint of the entire attraction.
So far the timeframe hasn't been locked down, but they expected it to take place sometime within the two years following the completion of the Hulk rebuild, which would mean sometime between mid 2016 to mid-2018. As always, there is always the constant rumor that Universal just might allow the dragon's to "duel" once again... but no one can confirm if this will happen for sure.
2017/2018/???? - Jurassic Park Enhancements - Rumor - (2/26/16) While I don’t have an exact time for these, as I’m told the projects are still in flux, it sounds like Universal has been tasked with enhancing and adding some smaller new attractions to the Jurassic Park area. Of course this means that the current Camp Jurassic playland area, the new Raptor Encounter area, all the way down to the Discovery Center building could either be repurposed or leveled completely to fit in new attractions. It is too early to say exactly what is coming, but rumors of two small to medium sized coasters (wood and steel) were mentioned, and I assume this will likely see the removal of the low-capacity Pterradon Flyers coaster. There was also talk of some kind of flat ride, some kind of family car/jeep ride, and rumors of a Dinosaur Vet Paddock that would become an enhanced and permanent home to an upgraded version of the Raptor Encounter concept, but this one will feature a number of different species.
Depending on just how expansive a budget they get however, I have heard early rumored that suggested that a Jurassic World style Gyrosphere attraction concept was also in development. With so many possibilities and projects being talked about, this could be a multi-year expansion effort as well to enhance the overall Jurassic Park theme, which only makes sense given how popular the brand has become since the Jurassic World film, which has a sequel on the way as well.
2019 - The Secret Life Of Pets Dark Ride - Rumor - (2/26/16) Look for a copy of the same new dark ride experience planned for the Hollywood park in 2018 to open in Orlando in 2019. This will be a major new family dark ride expected to feature a good number of classic animatronics. The location for this attraction is still up in the air between replacing Shrek 4D in Universal Studios Florida or to take over the Toon Lagoon theater space at Islands of Adventure.
Where it opens will depend on how other projects in development turn out, as well as where they think it will receive the best impact and improve that park’s experience. Currently, the attraction is said to be leading more towards using the Toon Lagoon theater site than taking over Shrek. It is a bigger space and USF will have opened two new attractions already nearby Shrek by then (Race Through New York and Fast & Furious) and IOA is most likely to be the park that could use the boost of a new attraction at that time. Of course, this also depends on how much of the rumored Jurassic Park enhancements get green lit and built by this point in time as well.
(1/16/16) If you've read our rumor for Universal Hollywood, you know that Universal Creative is working on a new dark ride concept themed to the upcoming animated film, "The Secret Life of Pets", from the team behind the Despicable Me film series. Fans of the Universal Orlando Resort were quick to write in to ask, “What about us?”.
This question comes with good reason behind it, as most of the new attractions we’ve seen added to one coast have made their way to the other within a few years such as Despicable Me, Simpsons themed restaurants, Transformers, and construction under way to build a new Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Fast & Furious Supercharged and least we forget the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that will open in Hollywood in a few months. So what about Universal Orlando?
After doing a little digging I’ve been told that the loose plan right now is to build a copy of The Secret Life of Pets in Florida, provided that the Hollywood version proves to be a hit when it opens first. This means we won’t likely see a clone open until 2018 or 2019, which seems just about right as the Orlando resort will have their hands full with already announced projects through to 2017. As for the location of the ride, I’m told they have their sights on a possible location within each of the Florida parks right now.
Over at Islands of Adventure, I’m told that the current site of the Toon Lagoon Amphitheater is being considered for a number of new projects, including this one. With that in mind however, another BIGGER project is hoping to land that site first, but we’ll discuss that story at another date. At the Studios park however, the site of choice is a little more interesting and would see the Shrek 4D attraction close to make way for the new dark ride. This would also put the Secret Life of Pets right across the street from that park’s Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction, creating a nice little themed zone for the Illumination Entertainment properties. Since this project is still several years out, if approved at all, anything can still happen to change it, but I’m leaning towards this going to USF myself over the Islands of Adventure site, which has another important project also wanting that particular site.