‘Tis I again, Scott Rifkin with HHNU. I rode Skull Island: Reign of Kong yesterday during previews. I believe a report is now in order!
PROLOGUE: Technical Rehearsals
Currently, the ride is opening on a day to day basis between the hours of 3 and 6 o’clock as “technical rehearsals.” After a solid week of these openings happening everyday at around the same times, I officially decided to make my way to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure and wait for a chance to ride before most. I arrived at the ride’s facade at around 2:20. A line had already formed along the half height stone walls surrounding the attraction. I spotted a beautiful Passion flower growing right next to me and just had to take a picture.
Team members eventually moved the line in the same order into an area between Kong and Ripsaw Falls, where we waited patiently for them to possibly let us into the queue and attraction to ride. At 3:57 they let us into the queue and onto the ride. Myself and the other passengers were the first guests on the ride for that day.
Queue and Ride
The queue itself is one of the best parts of the ride, in my opinion. You start by walking past the moving vehicles. You then walk into an outdoor area of a skull island temple, and there’s evidence of explorers such as navigations tools, maps, messenger bags, etc. you enter the temple and there’s dead bodies set up rather ritualistically with bones and skulls everywhere.
As you go deeper into this extremely dark cave you walk into a large room with large skulls carved into the walls and a chanting witch animatronic at the far wall.
Then came the ever popular, ever revolutionary scarezone in the queue. As I’ve never walked through this queue, I wasn’t even sure when the scareactor area in the queue would be, but where it was located was effective. The entire queue is very dark and ominously creepy so it could have been anywhere to be honest. Anyhow, you pass by the chanting witch and go up a ramp. The next section of dark curvy corridors with dried human corpses lining the walls is where the scareactors lurk.
As we were moving rather quickly through the queue since there was no line in front of us, I didn’t have much time to study, but it seemed obvious that they come out of decent sized holes in the walls. I did my best to walk slowly in this area to make sure I got the chance to see a scareactor. One of them spotted me looking for him and went for the scare. He snorted like a wild pig when he appeared, grasping his hand toward my face. I found this section of the queue really awesome and not at all out of place.
After this area there’s an animatronic “live” creature you may find familiar.
For a full POV of the queue including scareactors click here. Please note, this video was taken with a special low light camera for better visibility. It may make the queue seem a lot brighter than it actually is.
RIDE SPOILERS FROM HERE DOWN
The driver of the vehicle, though advertised as a human, is an animatronic. From our research, we found that there are different drivers with different personalities. We got a male with brown hair. I missed his name as we were cheering while leaving the station. We were also cheering at all the people outside waiting to ride as we were again the first vehicle with riders in it. Anyhow you approach the huge skull island gates and tribespeople could be heard chanting “Kong Kong Kong Kong.”
Our “driver” reassured us that they were just trying to scare us and to ignore it. We drove into the cave and to the left we see giant ape skeletal remains, and to the right were huge animatronic bats.
The ongoing gimmick of this ride, and a good one at that, is that there are things happening on both sides of the jeep, creating a sense of being surrounded by chaos.
Anyhow you reach a cavern where other explorers of the expedition company are roaming the cave with an empty jeep. They reveal that they need help “setting up the traps.” One of the male drivers throws a flare down the cave. This shows us how huge the cave is as it illuminates and then disappears into the vast cavern.
This flare upsets a school of large prehistoric bats, which then fly out and grab all of the expedition staff like pterodactyls in Jurrassic World.
The driver then speeds into the next large cave where we see the female explorer dropped off by a large bat and is now alone and with an automatic firearm.
She tells us not to worry and keep moving, and then gets attacked by the toothed, tapeworm looking tentacles. Then a large sort of spider/crab can be seen lurking in the far, far distance in the caves. The woman is shooting the tentacle creatures and their blood and guts are spewing into the jeep we are seated in. Suddenly a large, crab claw looking arm comes out from an opening in the wall and takes her in for what we all assume was the kill.
At this point the driver flips out and starts speeding out of the cave. We get out of the cave and are 360 degrees surrounded by a lush forrested landscape with rolling hills and mountains as far as the eye can see with temples similar to the outdoor queue area in the distance.
As we travel the forest, we start getting chased by velociraptors on either side of the jeep. The driver starts speeding up more and more as the raptors match speed. The raptors are biting the jeep, sticking their muzzles into the Windows trying to consume us.
Then, as if it couldn’t get any worse, nearby T-Rex, 2 on the left and one on the right, spot the raptors and start chasing and eating them. Then, of course, the Rex’s spot us in the jeep and want to devour our delicious homo sapien forms.
After a few moments of being chased by the T-Rex’s, Kong jumps into the scene on the right side of the jeep and starts fighting them.
But there’s a problem. Their Kongfrontation (I just won a bet that I couldn’t find a place for that title in here) is causing our jeep to start falling off a cliff to the left.If you continue watching to the right of the jeep rather than the left, you will see Kong defeat and kill a T-Rex in the same fashion he did in the most recent Kong remake; he breaks his jaw open by opening it further than the bones will allow, and breaks it’s neck with a violent breaking sound to boot. All the while the jeep is tilting more and more to the left as we come closer to falling off the cliff.
Just like many other universal rides, we eventually fall off the cliff and to the ground below, but luckily our jeep gets caught on a vine and we start swinging. Now at this point of the ride, you’ve been looking back and forth left and right for the last 4 minutes or so, as if you’re watching an intense game of tennis very close to the players. I have to admit the 360 aspect was really cool.
So the jeep swings back and forth on the vine for a while while Kong finishes off the T-Rex’s.
Once they’re dead, Kong took us off the vine, beat his chest while roaring, hopped over our jeep one last time, and ran off as only a giant ape can on all fours.
The driver gave us a bit of a witticism about having survived the ordeal and begins driving off. He talked of how it was crazy how we all got to see Kong and that he didn’t try to kill us, but rather saved us. As he was talking of getting us back to base safe, the huge, incredibly impressive animatronic was staring us all in the face to the right of the jeep.
Each to right of vehicle
If you want a fantastic view of the animatronic, make sure you’re as far to the right of the jeep as possible. The animatronic moves in every way an actual living ape would. He sits there, breathing deeply, frequently moving his lips. He seemed angry, but not at us. Unlike the first incarnation of this ride, it was made apparent that he had no intent on our demise. Though he is definitely still intimidating.
And with that scene, the ride concludes. You turn right and are shown the exit.
For a full POV of the ride (with a different driver than described) click here
Overall I really did enjoy the entire experience from entrance to exit. It is definitely one of the more darker themed rides and it could potentially scare the little ones, the queue more so than the ride I would say. There is an amount of violence in the ride, but no humans are actually seen dying, though it is implied. I could see this ride getting more scary and violent though if HHN ever comes back to Islands Of Adventure.
I do hope that you guys get the opprotunity to ride this ride during technical rehearsals, but if you have no such luck, be sure to check it out when they open, currently slated for “Summer 2016” but there is no date yet.
From Halloween Horror Nights Unofficial, this is Scott Rifkin and I’ll see you at the parks!