King Kong charges into Universal Studios -- in 3-D! -- in this exclusive first look

kong-dino-tramWhen an accidental fire torched a large section of the famed Universal Studios backlot in 2008, the giant animatronic King Kong that had terrorized countless visitors on the famed studio tram tour in Los Angeles was one of the most high-profile burn victims. But with the old-school jumbo gorilla reduced to a charred hunk of plaster and metal, director Peter Jackson lept at the opportunity to re-make the King Kong attraction in the image of his 2005 behemoth movie remake, replete with as much state-of-the-art technology as possible.

The result is King Kong 360 3-D, opening at Universal Studios Hollywood July 1. Visitors on the studio tour will be driven into a giant soundstage with two 40-foot-tall wrap-around screens, where (with the aid of 3-D glasses), they’ll visit a life-size, fully dimensional Skull Island — and find themselves in the middle of a brawl between King Kong and a massive dinosaur, visualized here in this exclusive image. “It’s all one shot,” says Matt Aitken, visual-effects supervisor at Weta Digital, the company behind the attraction. “We can’t have any cuts. The whole experience has to be continuous.” So after nine months of work on the project, has Aitken had a chance to have the full Kong experience? “It’s really all just come together,” he says. “The final motion-based programming, all the interactive effects with air, water, and smells and all that stuff, are really just locking in now. So I think, in a way, I haven’t actually had that experience myself yet. I’m looking forward to seeing it for the first time!”

EW will be getting a first look at the experience ourselves next week, but for now, what do you make of the new King Kong attraction, Popwatchers? Are you going to miss the old nuts-and-bolts giant gorilla, or are you keen on the prospect of a life-size virtual Kong peering at you in 3-D?


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  • mary q contrary

    This sounds freaking awesome. Too bad California holds no other interest for me. We’re already planning a trip to Hogwarts for next summer anyway. Too bad this isn’t at Universal Orlando……

    • Allan

      California holds no interest to you but Orlando does? I want to say something offensive but I’m afraid you would take it as a compliment.

      • mary q contrary

        What a jerk you are, Allan. No, California holds no interest for me. Orlando wouldn’t, either, but it happens to be the home of several family-friendly theme parks my kids have been begging me to take them to. My husband and I have finally given in and are planning a trip, because it’s not nearly as far a trip as, say, California. As for my personal travel preference, I would love to go back to DC and revisit the Smithsonian, which is where we spent a week last summer, or maybe take a Christmas vacation in North Carolina, or maybe Montana. Better?

  • Ceballos

    I know people complained that it was too long or that they didn’t like Adrian Brody or whatever, but I thought Jackson’s 2005 “King Kong” was fantastic and that the fight between Kong and the T-Rexes was absolutely SPECTACULAR.

    Obviously, I’d love to check out a ride based on that, but it’s clear on the other side of the country. (I won’t complain too much, since I practically have Hogwarts in my backyard.)

    • mary q contrary

      I loved it, too, saw it three times in the theater. I thought it was freaking spectacular. And that’s the same reason I won’t be able to check it out. My hometown of Louisville is a lot closer to Florida than California, so that’s where we’re headed next summer.

    • tvgirl48

      I agree about the movie. I think it got overshadowed because ppl’s expectations were too high or they were expecting different things so King Kong didn’t get the praise it deserved. Although my favorite parts of the movie were the parts that weren’t with Kong, but on the island fighting off all sorts of perils. And I liked the choice of unorthodox leading men like Brody.

  • David

    So they replaced the ride that had to scale animatronics and actual fire, water, etc. with two 40 foot tall 3D screens? How is that living the movie, Universal? I get that 3D is the inevitable next step in entertainment, but shouldn’t the rides at the parks you visit be as real as possible and not just Super 3D IMAX?

  • wg

    Sticking a pair of uncomfortable glasses on to watch 30 seconds of 3D film does not compare with the “real” animatronic thing. If you’re going to go on a “virtual” ride, you might as well only “virtually” go to the theme park.

  • Kay

    I got a sneak peak of it last night. It’s pretty cool. Just try to keep your mouth closed if you’re a screamer. I got a faceful of water. The smells are incredibly real and it really does feel like the dinosaurs are about to get you.

  • Theresa

    I am not a big fan of 3-D in general. However, I saw the King Kong 360 / 3 D and it is fantastic. The glasses are not uncomfortable, you put them on at the very last minute before the experience begins…and it is an experience. You are literally on Skull Island and King Kong is right next to the tram. I thought it was fabulous.

  • Jake

    We shall see, we shall see…

  • Jake

    Actually, I took part in the park’s survey to figure out a new attraction when the old Kong burned down. The other options were a Hellboy ride, a Stephen King haunted soundstage ride, and other stuff I can’t remember.

  • redvector

    It produces smells? What gorilla and dinosaur crap?

  • Ella

    I lived the old King Kong. I was truly sorry that he was lost in the fire. However I am excited to go see the new version. I`ll wait til Monday to see for myself.

  • Karyn

    Universal is always adding new things to their already great park. I take my teens and toddler and they always have fun. Here we come King Kong!! and I hear in a year or two they are adding Transformer the ride!! I cant wait!

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