The History Behind the King Kong Rides at Universal Studios

The History Behind the King Kong Rides at Universal Studios

King Kong and Universal Studios go collectively like banana splits and sizzling summer time days. The two have lengthy been related to each the Hollywood and Orlando theme parks. It’s not hyperbole to say that Kong has been an enormous deal on the Universal Studios theme parks going again to his first look as a part of the Universal Studios Tour on June 14, 1986. Since then, the key monkey has constantly appeared in a number of experiences on the theme parks together with Kongfrontation, King Kong: 360 3-D, and the Orlando unique darkish experience, Skull Island: Reign of Kong

With the nice ape celebrating his ninetieth birthday in 2023, this is some historical past about how King Kong has made his presence felt at Universal Studios for nearly 40 years. 

Inside King Kong’s History at Universal Studios

King Kong Encounter 

The first King Kong-centric expertise at a Universal Studios theme park was for the Hollywood Studio Tram Tour. King Kong Encounter was primarily based on the 1976 movie directed by John Guillermin, and the park really constructed a 30-foot animatronic ape that weighed seven tons. It was designed by legendary theme park Imagineer, Bob Gurr. Guests on the tram would get an eye-level expertise with the beast as he rampaged New York City and the Brooklyn Bridge. Just as he ripped the suspension bridge cables, the tram would jolt to security. An exhilarating cease on the tour because of the scale, pyro, movement results, and Kong’s banana breath — we child you not — the experience remained a customer favourite till it burned down within the tragic Universal Studios hearth of 2008.

RELATED: The Real Reason Kong Is Alone: The Science Behind King Kong


On June 7, 1990, Kongfrontation opened at Universal Studios Florida. It was additionally primarily based on the 1976 remake of the 1933 King Kong, and was a riff on the profitable King Kong Encounter at Universal Studios Hollywood. A full standing experience, there was no tram tour related to this iteration of the expertise. Guests would enter a queue that was themed to appear like the precise line for the Roosevelt Island aerial tram circa 1976. Everyone would ultimately load right into a Roosevelt Island tram (which was much like a tram automobile) after which make their approach on a supposedly calm commute. Guests would then float above 50 set-dressed facades modeled after Manhattan’s Lower East Side throughout the late ’70s, whereas radio visitors alerted the tram operator and company concerning the impending Kong hazard. After making it previous flames, electrical explosions, and flowing hearth hydrants on the streets, company obtained face-to-face with a furious Kong hanging on the Brooklyn Bridge. The tram then discovered itself in the midst of a helicopter assault between the ape, with photographs fired and the tram swinging in peril till everybody escaped. It turned an enormous attraction and cornerstone of the early Orlando park’s success till it was retired in 2002.

King Kong: 360 3-D

In 2005, director Peter Jackson rebooted the monster for his model of King Kong. A expertise fanatic, Jackson and WETA helped develop a brand-new Kong expertise primarily based on the Skull Island part of his movie known as King Kong: 360 3-D. The first iteration was designed for the Universal Studios Hollywood Tram Tour as an immersive two and a half minute 3-D movie that’s a part of the tour. Guests on every tram get a video introduction to the expertise by Jackson who explains the tech developments of utilizing two 200-foot extensive screens on either side of the tram with 3-D glasses to make company really feel like they’re smack dab in the midst of a prehistoric battle between a Vastatosaurus rex and King Kong. With that, the tram rolls into the traditional trying cave and the chaos ensues. Using movement, water, warmth, and the notion of really falling off the tracks, company get an exhilarating thrill from Hollow Earth. King Kong: 360 3-D continues to be a significant cease on the present Universal Studios Hollywood Tram tour. 

RELATED: Peter Jackson’s ‘King Kong’ Remains an Underrated Wonder of the World

Skull Island: Reign of Kong

With the success of King Kong: 360 3-D at Universal Studios Hollywood, the concept was expanded upon for a non-tram model at Universal Studios Orlando. Skull Island: Reign of Kong opened on June 9, 2016 as a darkish experience the place company enter the expertise by way of a full scale, historical native temple honoring King Kong. In the extremely detailed queue, company encounter a shamaness who warns the outsiders that they’re trespassing on sacred floor. As they proceed to meander inside, they’re going to see our bodies littered round as one other visible warning till they attain base camp. There is the doorway to a truck that can take you into the darkish experience hazard zone. Riders on the expedition will see animatronics blended with 3-D filmed footage of every kind of creatures like Terapusmordax attacking the riders and the expedition chief named Kate. Finally, the truck will expertise the identical display created battle between Vastatosaurus rex and King Kong, with the additional payoff of a scale animatronic head and torso of Kong to say goodbye. It’s a full circle strategy to honor the very first Kong experience and convey the massive beast into the chopping fringe of experience expertise!

Peter Jackson’s King Kong is now accessible from Universal Pictures. For extra data on the King Kong theme park points of interest, head to Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando.

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