Skull Island: Reign of Kong - Reviews, Photos, and Videos | Inside Universal Forums
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Skull Island: Reign of Kong - Reviews, Photos, and Videos

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
18,602
Pittsburgh area
I'm going to apologize in advance for the length of this review, but I have a lot of points I want to touch on. :)
* First of all, due to some of the controversy surrounding this attraction, I thought it was important to apply the great Disney Imagineering legend Tony Baxter's test as to what constitutes a successful attraction. And that test requires 20 rides. Ride repeatability is the gold standard of that test. So I did 20 rides over a two week period on many different days, and would have done more if not for the hurricane chasing me out of Orlando a little early. :)
* 12 rides with the outdoor area included. 8 rides that were indoor only. 6 rides using the Stand By queue. 14 rides using the Express queue. All of my seating was middle to back since I always used the right side Stand By line (excellent advice from former OU reviews) and Express always seated us middle to back. So I didn't experience the weaker view seats of the front rows.
*The facade, queue, and Witch pre show puts this attraction's non ride aspects in the same class as Gringotts & Forbidden Journey. The Witch pre show is perhaps the best pre show in existence. Even when I went through the Express Line, I would pause & watch the Witch shows once or twice. It's that good. The amazing AA, effects, lighting and chants are utterly fantastic and really get you psyched for the ride. The Witch totally mesmerized me. I'd like to see the scare actors more since people seemed to really enjoy them. They were always there but your chance of a direct confrontation is small. And the area at the end of the queue, before you board, was very Indiana Joneish, really well themed. The Bug AA was very good and children didn't seem scared by it. And, at the end of the Express line, and the outside portion of the Stand By queue, they play the radio transmissions between the various expedition members, and that basically explains the story. Universal really hit it with this facade, queue & pre show. I rate it a solid 10, comparable to Gringotts & Forbidden Journey. Even if there was no ride at the end of this queue, I would rate it as an excellent walk through attraction. The ambiance & atmosphere are stunning.
* I timed it and it appears posters Convoluted Frippery & Joe Camel are correct. They evidently added almost 30 seconds to the original 5:50 since it now clocks in at 6:19 from the time the truck starts moving until it stops at unload. The truck pauses at the early skeleton scene fairly long and spends a long time in front of the Kong AA, so you really get to enjoy the very excellent Kong AA..
* The outdoor segment is really "crucial" to the ride. The ride really needs that slow unveil & dramatic gate opening to set up the screen scenes that speed by quickly because they have so much fast paced action. The ride is lessened somewhat when it only includes the inside portion (which is used for inclement weather and when they only run two trucks). It's so important that I rate the ride itself (not including queue, facade, Witch pre show which is a 10), as a 9 with it's outside portion. But when it's not a full ride and they only do the inside, I would drop the ride to a 7 rating {I rate the ride only portions for Forbidden Journey, Spider Man & Gringotts as 10's}
*Love the trucks. I know they had tech problems originally, but these are a winner as part of the attraction. Very realistic and jerky, and the movement becomes very thrilling when it's on the motion base. And because of the seating views, 1)left outside 2)right outside 3) middle, it's essentially three different rides, since your views of the screen action are so very different depending on where you sit. This, plus different viewing aspects depending on what row you're in, give the ride awesome repeatability, since the viewing & effects you experience are very different, some better than others. Having the drivers give different spiels also plays into that repeatability.
* The two cavern screen scenes are very good and put you right into the action. Loved the bats and the bug gut splattering effects. And the AA bats are good & creepy too.
* :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: The 360 room experience is probably the best two plus minutes I've ever experienced on a theme park attraction. Complete immersion, especially if you're not looking for screen endings (which I don't look for normally). The realism of the truck movements while on the motion base, the effects, screen projection, etc. are AWESOME. And there's so much happening at one time, from different sides, seat views, etc. that on my 20th ride I was still noticing lots of new things I had not noticed before. I can't say enough about this. It's a complete experience of alternate reality.
* The only criticism I have of the ride, and it's a "very minor" criticism, is the blank wall area after you leave the 360 room. I don't understand why it's like that and isn't fully themed as a temple wall or decorated with foliage like the Kong AA area. This is where I experienced the only technical problem of the 20 rides, when the 360 doors didn't close and the screen bled over onto the blank wall. I was in the last row and think I was the only one that noticed it. But it was amazing, as I looked backward, to see the truck behind us on the motion base in the screen room, and realize how great Universal utilized such a small space to make you feel like it was a huge jungle area.
* The Kong AA is just amazing. That's about as realistic as an AA can appear. The foliage creates a nice jungle ambiance & atmosphere. And the truck slows to a crawl so you can experience Kong to the fullest. It's just the right amount of time. Universal really hit it with the Kong & Witch AA's :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: These two belong in the AA Hall of Fame..... At unloading, they tie the Kate loose ends up with her speaking over the radio transmissions.
* Kong fills a void at Universal. It's an excellent family attraction that can even be utilized during inclement weather. It's fun, entertaining and thrilling. It is what it is. Lots of young children always in line. But, it's not "extreme" thrills like a coaster, so that segment of the riding population may not be attracted to it. It's strength is it's repeatability. I think it will be judged like Gringotts was, where riders like it more as they ride it more. That's kind of the way good family rides are. This is an attraction you need to experience many times to fully appreciate it's merits. One, two, or even five times is not enough to get a full view.
* And to me, it met the Tony Baxter gold standard. I enjoyed it even more on my 20th ride than my first ride.
Rating:
Facade, queue, pre show.....Ride...............Total Attraction Rating
10..........................................9.....................9 1/2
Robert Niles of Theme Park Insider finally got to ride Reign of Kong for the first time last week while he was in Orlando for the theme park convention. Basically, he walked back his comments on TPI from the months before Kong opened. Previous to the opening he was very meh on the attraction and said that the attraction would just be a plussing of Hollywood's Backlot Tour version. It's great to see he changed his opinion once he experienced it and now gives a glowing review of Reign of Kong. And I now wholeheartedly agree with him. See above. :) Here's most of his review from this weekend :..."Let's forget the word "plussing". With Reign of Kong, Universal has multiplied what it did with Kong in Hollywood. Maybe integrated, if you're talking about really advanced math. Even if you set aside the well decorated queue, the impressive temple facade with it's 30 ft. doors that creak open for each ride vehicle, and the new "life sized" Kong animatronic at the end, this version still beats the Hollywood original with it's crisper, brighter and smoother projection. But you shouldn't set aside those elements. Together they help set up the encounter in an essential way.....In Orlando, on Skull Island, Kong can assume his royal position as star of the show. The walk through the dark, skull filled queue, the warnings of an animatronic shaman, the themed car and animatronic driver, and that visually impressive drive around the corner to the front of the temple, with torches blazing and unseen natives chanting 'Kong, Kong, Kong, Kong".....all that prepares us to believe what we're about to see. Once inside, Reign of Kong further rewards us with two short additional scenes that reinforce the narrative of why we are there (to deliver supplies to an exploration mission) while raising the stakes for the encounter. Once everything's gone terribly wrong, as it must on such rides, than it's time for the Big Guy to appear. With a superior projection surface and much cleaner video than in Hollywood, Reign of Kong's core action sequence delights with a clear, colorful vision of the Skull Island forest, in which Kong battles dinosaurs intent on having us for lunch. It's a wild 3D bath that takes place on both sides of the 72 person ride vehicle. You'll get sprayed as creatures spit and hiss before our inevitable near miss with death. And the animatronic at the end? Amazing. That alone provides enough reason to circle back to the front of the queue to line up and ride again. The detail in the immense beast commands your attention and 'leaves you wanting more, as any good entertainment should'.....But whatever you do at Islands of Adventure on your next visit, get on that truck. Skull Island:Reign of Kong ought to be a 'Must Do' at the Universal Orlando Resort".......Kudos to Robert Niles for re evaluating his opinion after riding the attraction.:thumbsup: Kind of the perfect example that people need to actually ride a ride to do a true review.
 

LJGonz

Member
Aug 11, 2016
854
Miami, FL
I'm going to apologize in advance for the length of this review, but I have a lot of points I want to touch on. :)
* First of all, due to some of the controversy surrounding this attraction, I thought it was important to apply the great Disney Imagineering legend Tony Baxter's test as to what constitutes a successful attraction. And that test requires 20 rides. Ride repeatability is the gold standard of that test. So I did 20 rides over a two week period on many different days, and would have done more if not for the hurricane chasing me out of Orlando a little early. :)
* 12 rides with the outdoor area included. 8 rides that were indoor only. 6 rides using the Stand By queue. 14 rides using the Express queue. All of my seating was middle to back since I always used the right side Stand By line (excellent advice from former OU reviews) and Express always seated us middle to back. So I didn't experience the weaker view seats of the front rows.
*The facade, queue, and Witch pre show puts this attraction's non ride aspects in the same class as Gringotts & Forbidden Journey. The Witch pre show is perhaps the best pre show in existence. Even when I went through the Express Line, I would pause & watch the Witch shows once or twice. It's that good. The amazing AA, effects, lighting and chants are utterly fantastic and really get you psyched for the ride. The Witch totally mesmerized me. I'd like to see the scare actors more since people seemed to really enjoy them. They were always there but your chance of a direct confrontation is small. And the area at the end of the queue, before you board, was very Indiana Joneish, really well themed. The Bug AA was very good and children didn't seem scared by it. And, at the end of the Express line, and the outside portion of the Stand By queue, they play the radio transmissions between the various expedition members, and that basically explains the story. Universal really hit it with this facade, queue & pre show. I rate it a solid 10, comparable to Gringotts & Forbidden Journey. Even if there was no ride at the end of this queue, I would rate it as an excellent walk through attraction. The ambiance & atmosphere are stunning.
* I timed it and it appears posters Convoluted Frippery & Joe Camel are correct. They evidently added almost 30 seconds to the original 5:50 since it now clocks in at 6:19 from the time the truck starts moving until it stops at unload. The truck pauses at the early skeleton scene fairly long and spends a long time in front of the Kong AA, so you really get to enjoy the very excellent Kong AA..
* The outdoor segment is really "crucial" to the ride. The ride really needs that slow unveil & dramatic gate opening to set up the screen scenes that speed by quickly because they have so much fast paced action. The ride is lessened somewhat when it only includes the inside portion (which is used for inclement weather and when they only run two trucks). It's so important that I rate the ride itself (not including queue, facade, Witch pre show which is a 10), as a 9 with it's outside portion. But when it's not a full ride and they only do the inside, I would drop the ride to a 7 rating {I rate the ride only portions for Forbidden Journey, Spider Man & Gringotts as 10's}
*Love the trucks. I know they had tech problems originally, but these are a winner as part of the attraction. Very realistic and jerky, and the movement becomes very thrilling when it's on the motion base. And because of the seating views, 1)left outside 2)right outside 3) middle, it's essentially three different rides, since your views of the screen action are so very different depending on where you sit. This, plus different viewing aspects depending on what row you're in, give the ride awesome repeatability, since the viewing & effects you experience are very different, some better than others. Having the drivers give different spiels also plays into that repeatability.
* The two cavern screen scenes are very good and put you right into the action. Loved the bats and the bug gut splattering effects. And the AA bats are good & creepy too.
* :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: The 360 room experience is probably the best two plus minutes I've ever experienced on a theme park attraction. Complete immersion, especially if you're not looking for screen endings (which I don't look for normally). The realism of the truck movements while on the motion base, the effects, screen projection, etc. are AWESOME. And there's so much happening at one time, from different sides, seat views, etc. that on my 20th ride I was still noticing lots of new things I had not noticed before. I can't say enough about this. It's a complete experience of alternate reality.
* The only criticism I have of the ride, and it's a "very minor" criticism, is the blank wall area after you leave the 360 room. I don't understand why it's like that and isn't fully themed as a temple wall or decorated with foliage like the Kong AA area. This is where I experienced the only technical problem of the 20 rides, when the 360 doors didn't close and the screen bled over onto the blank wall. I was in the last row and think I was the only one that noticed it. But it was amazing, as I looked backward, to see the truck behind us on the motion base in the screen room, and realize how great Universal utilized such a small space to make you feel like it was a huge jungle area.
* The Kong AA is just amazing. That's about as realistic as an AA can appear. The foliage creates a nice jungle ambiance & atmosphere. And the truck slows to a crawl so you can experience Kong to the fullest. It's just the right amount of time. Universal really hit it with the Kong & Witch AA's :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: These two belong in the AA Hall of Fame..... At unloading, they tie the Kate loose ends up with her speaking over the radio transmissions.
* Kong fills a void at Universal. It's an excellent family attraction that can even be utilized during inclement weather. It's fun, entertaining and thrilling. It is what it is. Lots of young children always in line. But, it's not "extreme" thrills like a coaster, so that segment of the riding population may not be attracted to it. It's strength is it's repeatability. I think it will be judged like Gringotts was, where riders like it more as they ride it more. That's kind of the way good family rides are. This is an attraction you need to experience many times to fully appreciate it's merits. One, two, or even five times is not enough to get a full view.
* And to me, it met the Tony Baxter gold standard. I enjoyed it even more on my 20th ride than my first ride.
Rating:
Facade, queue, pre show.....Ride...............Total Attraction Rating
10..........................................9.....................9 1/2
A bit off topic, but I LOVE Gringotts (you mentioned it in your comment). The first time I rode, I was expecting more. But the past 5 times I've been to universal this year, the ride gets better and better. It's become a thing where I go to diagon alley 2 hours before the park closes (that's extra points if it's raining) and will walk in to diagon alley and feel TOTALLY emersed. I always go to gringotts and ride back row. It just gets better and better each time I ride it. It's almost become, I think, my favorite ride. This is a super shocking thing for me considering I love the hulk, mummy, and dragon challenge, but this ride is amazing. I feel like if I keep on riding it, and it keeps on getting better, my head is gonna explode while I'm riding it. This is just an example of how this ride gets better each time I ride it.
 
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
18,602
Pittsburgh area
A bit off topic, but I LOVE Gringotts (you mentioned it in your comment). The first time I rode, I was expecting more. But the past 5 times I've been to universal this year, the ride gets better and better. It's become a thing where I go to diagon alley 2 hours before the park closes (that's extra points if it's raining) and will walk in to diagon alley and feel TOTALLY emersed. I always go to gringotts and ride back row. It just gets better and better each time I ride it. It's almost become, I think, my favorite ride. This is a super shocking thing for me considering I love the hulk, mummy, and dragon challenge, but this ride is amazing. I feel like if I keep on riding it, and it keeps on getting better, my head is gonna explode while I'm riding it. This is just an example of how this ride gets better each time I ride it.
I agree 100%. My exact experience & feelings (except I prefer the front rows of both cars for seating). Better & better the more I ride it. I've almost become addicted to the sensations I feel on the ride. Plus really great ambiance.....We spend countless hours in Diagon. So immersive. Even during HHN we spend most of our time in Diagon since it's so fantastic in the dark.
 

LJGonz

Member
Aug 11, 2016
854
Miami, FL
I agree 100%. My exact experience & feelings (except I prefer the front rows of both cars for seating). Better & better the more I ride it. I've almost become addicted to the sensations I feel on the ride. Plus really great ambiance.....We spend countless hours in Diagon. So immersive. Even during HHN we spend most of our time in Diagon since it's so fantastic in the dark.
Diagon alley during HHN is really nice. It's not that pact and much more quiet. I Feel the SAME exact way. I've come to love everything about this ride. The drop, the atmosphere, the spinning through the sets. It just gets more and more enjoyable.
 
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JoeCamel

Premium Member
May 20, 2015
5,155
Upper Lower
Robert Niles of Theme Park Insider finally got to ride Reign of Kong for the first time last week while he was in Orlando for the theme park convention. Basically, he walked back his comments on TPI from the months before Kong opened. Previous to the opening he was very meh on the attraction and said that the attraction would just be a plussing of Hollywood's Backlot Tour version. It's great to see he changed his opinion once he experienced it and now gives a glowing review of Reign of Kong. And I now wholeheartedly agree with him. See above. :) Here's most of his review from this weekend :..."Let's forget the word "plussing". With Reign of Kong, Universal has multiplied what it did with Kong in Hollywood. Maybe integrated, if you're talking about really advanced math. Even if you set aside the well decorated queue, the impressive temple facade with it's 30 ft. doors that creak open for each ride vehicle, and the new "life sized" Kong animatronic at the end, this version still beats the Hollywood original with it's crisper, brighter and smoother projection. But you shouldn't set aside those elements. Together they help set up the encounter in an essential way.....In Orlando, on Skull Island, Kong can assume his royal position as star of the show. The walk through the dark, skull filled queue, the warnings of an animatronic shaman, the themed car and animatronic driver, and that visually impressive drive around the corner to the front of the temple, with torches blazing and unseen natives chanting 'Kong, Kong, Kong, Kong".....all that prepares us to believe what we're about to see. Once inside, Reign of Kong further rewards us with two short additional scenes that reinforce the narrative of why we are there (to deliver supplies to an exploration mission) while raising the stakes for the encounter. Once everything's gone terribly wrong, as it must on such rides, than it's time for the Big Guy to appear. With a superior projection surface and much cleaner video than in Hollywood, Reign of Kong's core action sequence delights with a clear, colorful vision of the Skull Island forest, in which Kong battles dinosaurs intent on having us for lunch. It's a wild 3D bath that takes place on both sides of the 72 person ride vehicle. You'll get sprayed as creatures spit and hiss before our inevitable near miss with death. And the animatronic at the end? Amazing. That alone provides enough reason to circle back to the front of the queue to line up and ride again. The detail in the immense beast commands your attention and 'leaves you wanting more, as any good entertainment should'.....But whatever you do at Islands of Adventure on your next visit, get on that truck. Skull Island:Reign of Kong ought to be a 'Must Do' at the Universal Orlando Resort".......Kudos to Robert Niles for re evaluating his opinion after riding the attraction.:thumbsup: Kind of the perfect example that people need to actually ride a ride to do a true review.
Bobby working both ends of I-4 now? Has TDO cut the blogger budget?
 

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
18,602
Pittsburgh area
Robert Niles apprently...Perhaps I am reading it wrong and it was his second go on the ride...If so then I appologize
To be fair, Niles first comments (months before the ride opened) wasn't an actual "review" per se. They were articles he had written that described what he believed the ride was going to be and then his later comments on the You Tube video . The actual ride obviously exceeded his expectations. I give him credit for changing course and actually making fun of his own comments that said Kong was just going to be a plussing and nothing to get excited from before the opening. My comment at the very end was mostly in reference to all of those people that judge any ride according to You Tube videos. Niles did a real good job on the review once he had an opportunity to ride the attraction.
 
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shiekra38

Legendary Member
Dec 13, 2009
10,514
Florida
To be fair, Niles first comments (months before the ride opened) wasn't an actual "review" per se. They were articles he had written that described what he believed the ride was going to be and then his later comments on the You Tube video . The actual ride obviously exceeded his expectations. I give him credit for changing course and actually making fun of his own comments that said Kong was just going to be a plussing and nothing to get excited from before the opening. My comment at the very end was mostly in reference to all of those people that judge any ride according to You Tube videos. Niles did a real good job on the review once he had an opportunity to ride the attraction.
Ah, I figured he wrote a review up before...Comments are one thing I guess
 

Joel

Premium Member
Apr 14, 2016
2,337
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Kong flaws...

Exterior queue audio introduces the characters and the storyline. Sadly, most rarely spend much time there and when they do, it's often not in what I've come to call "exposition corner" which is the wedge of queue by where the vehicle exits the building and the interior queue begins. There is explanation for what's going on. Almost no one is ever in line there. That's poor design.

The interior queue is just boring for the first part and for all their "immersion" it has the ugliest stock Home Depot ceilings.

Aesthetics. There are rules to aesthetics. There's a reason we're like "omfg xenomorphs!" and totally meh on most of the critters in Kong. The character/creature design aesthetics are way off.

Let's be honest - the exterior portion serves no purpose. Being trackless serves no purpose. The natives serve no purpose in the storyline.

A whole lotta no purpose being served.

Think of it this way.. put the exterior portion inside. No change, but maybe some better lighting effects and certainly better control of the 3D transition.

Put a ride track? No change in how the ride is experienced. Same for the AA drivers versus a cardboard cutout.

Now take out the natives. Sure, there's a lot less to do in the queue but they serve no purpose in the story of the ride. That's why the Express pass line doesn't encounter them. There's no reason to.
While I don't necessary agree with the brash way you voice your opinion, I tend to agree with the underlying sentiment. I love kong for what it is, but after reading this, I agree with you especially regarding turning the outdoor portion into indoor and using a ride track. Money saved could have gone towards a great, real-set first scene.
 
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JoeCamel

Premium Member
May 20, 2015
5,155
Upper Lower
Good ride on Kong today :)

Was at the studios and saw 10 mins wait about 10:30 so caught the HE over. By the time I got there it was 35. Went in and the line started right at the inside portion.

I was behind a couple with a 2 (boy) and 3 (girl) YO and she was wearing a Princess race shirt. We went through and spent quite a bit of time with the witch, they had no fear but when we left the room the girl looked at me and pointed back to proclaim "Bad Witch"! It was classic. All the fears of scaring little kids is overblown. They know what is real and what is not. I said "right - but great animatronic" she agreed:clap:. I don't know if she understood but it looked like she did.

The scare actors were in rare form, many around us got startled and they were reaching out touching the older kids and younger women. Really playing it up to screams and smiles. Best thing is no one stuck out a camera and ruined it!

The ride was good, went outside and everything worked - lots of chanting and cheers. To me it looked like they changed the program on the big guy. He seemed more animated and menacing. All in all it was good. Needs single rider for me though
 

sjago13

Premium Member
Feb 26, 2014
1,357
Kissimmee
I was there presidents day weekend and they had single rider going but i think we waited almost as long as the regular line. They are routing it to the left the covered queue area and down a sidewalk that goes to a backdoor to the final room. You walk though the facade and see the underside of it all unfinished plus drainage pipes and the beige underbelly of the actual building. If they want to use this they need to finish the area off because it is really ugly.
 

Joel

Premium Member
Apr 14, 2016
2,337
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
couple things.. my brother who's been on the ride before asked on the 360 scene if we were actually moving

Second, we didn't didn't go outside and I asked why.. the TM said the actual RV we were on was having difficulty with the wireless positioning outside but the other ones weren't. He said sometimes they don't sync up well. Interesting if true
 
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Coasted

Rookie
Jan 28, 2017
492
They're loading express to the back half of the RV and normal line front half. Double screwed, unless you ask for a row like we did
Morning! Please could you recommend approx row(s)? I guess not too close to the front? First time Kong at Easter. (Realise ride will be packed so may be no choice) Thx
 

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
18,602
Pittsburgh area
Morning! Please could you recommend approx row(s)? I guess not too close to the front? First time Kong at Easter. (Realise ride will be packed so may be no choice) Thx
Middle to back is best. When you get to the end of the boarding line it splits & goes left & right. Go RIGHT, that way you'll be seated in the middle or back. (People that go left get seated in the front, and that's a lesser experience).....Welcome to the OU Forums:thumbsup::cheers: