'King Kong 360 3-D': On the scene of Universal Studios' newest ride

King-Kong-3dIt think it was the giant 3-D spider that put me over the top.

On Tuesday, I joined a small gaggle of invited press and VIPs at the official unveiling of Universal Studios Hollywood’s King Kong 360 3-D, the replacement for the old, animatronic studio tour Kong attraction, which was decimated in a fire two years ago. The brainchild of director Peter Jackson, the new Kong experience unfolds on two massive parabolic 3-D screens that wrap around either side of the Universal Studios Tour tram cars, inside a custom-built soundstage. Before you enter, Jackson appears on the TVs mounted inside each of the tram cars and tells you to put on your 3-D glasses (which you hopefully haven’t dropped somewhere along the line of the studio tour up until that point). Then your tour guide rolls the tram cars inside, and after plunging into eerie almost-total darkness, the screens suddenly light up, and boom, you’re back on Skull Island — i.e. the Skull Island from Jackson’s 2005 King Kong.

Here’s my best recollection of what happens next [SPOILER ALERT for those who want the experience to be a surprise]: A pack of raptor-like dinosaurs start stalking either side of the tram, so you speed up, and run smack into a pack of much larger T-Rex-like dinos — like, maybe a half dozen of them, I’m not sure — who start battering your car. (You know this thanks to the gimbals that jostle your car back and forth, and the wind guns blasting gusts of air on your face, and the sprinkler system that occasionally splashes you with drops of water.) Then King Kong arrives, and then, well, I think he starts attacking all the dinos at once, and at one point your tram car “falls” off of a cliff onto a nest of thick jungle vines. This is when that giant 3-D spider swung into my face and caused me nearly to jump into the lap of the kindly-seeming gentleman seated next to me. Then, suddenly, Kong wins? I think? And it’s over. [END SPOILER ALERT.]

So, A of all, I definitely had fun. B of all, thanks to my seat — all the way on the right side of the tram — I had a great view of the right screen, and a lousy view of the left one, hence my confusion as to what was actually going on. I’m not entirely sure how or if Universal could remedy this problem without taking Kong 360 3-D off the studio tour or completely redesigning their tram cars — if you’ve ever been on the studio tour, you know your experience of every attraction (the Psycho house, the Jaws attack, etc.) is largely dependent on your seat. C of all, the 3-D really worked well, giving the experience a nifty sense of depth without giving me a nasty headache. And D of all, the entire experience was entirely too short — I wanted more of Kong smashing things, and more time to simply take in the impressively rendered surroundings.

Overall, if I were to grade the experience — and bearing in mind that Universal Studios’ stand-alone The Simpsons ride rates a solid A – I’d likely give King Kong 360 3-D a B+, with the plus including the added value that it’s just one of many experiences on the studio tour.

Comments (17 total) Add your comment
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  • amj

    This sounds like fun! Hope they do redesign the tram cars! Cannot wait to go again.

  • DavidJ

    So no animatronic King Kong this time??? That’s kind of a disappointment.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the remake, but I would have definitely wanted to check out a huge, life-sized version of the new Kong.

    • DrBear

      The animatronic Kong wasn’t that great. I’ve been on the tour over a dozen times.It was only the head and shoulders and he only waved his arms a bit. I’m looking forward to seeing the new improved Kong.

  • ArtsBeatLA.com

    It was a fun event, tho I thought the best part was seeing a real live Bengal tiger and also the wonderful food they served.

    Running about 4-5 minutes, this “thrill ride” unfortunately proves a bit of a non-event, but probably works well as the final stage of the classic back lot tram ride, non?

    And didn’t you find the 3-D projection extremely blurry – disappointingly so…?

    Not a spider, methinks, but a “weta” — one of the most disgusting, repulsive creatures you can find in New Zealand (and also the insect that Jackson used to name his spfx post-production house).

    Also, that press photo is rather fanciful — the mighty Kong appeared so much smaller than the angry dinos, sad to say.

  • ArtsBeatLA.com

    p.s. I think you mean “annihilated” — decimated means “to reduce by 1/10th.” I figure a writer would want to be aware of that distinction.

    • Rob

      Actually, decimated means “to destroy or kill a large part of,” “to inflict great destruction or damage on,” “to reduce markedly in amount,” or “to select by lot and kill one in every ten of.” Adam was clearly using one of the earlier definitions, none of which mean “to reduce by 1/10th.” Decimate implies that something major has been destroyed. 1/10th not major. Do your research.

  • Rob

    Actually, decimated means “to destroy or kill a large part of,” “to inflict great destruction or damage on,” “to reduce markedly in amount,” or “to select by lot and kill one in every ten of.” Adam was clearly using one of the earlier definitions, none of which mean “to reduce by 1/10th.” Decimate implies that something major has been destroyed. 1/10th not major. Do your research.

  • Michael

    “It was an amazing adventure I laughed the whole time, its great to see the King back at the park again!!!!”

  • Annette

    Their would be know Orlando theme parks without California! California started it all and it’s a shame Flordians or other people don’t see that! Universal Studios Hollywood is an actual theme park where they make movies Flordia’s Universal doesn’t have that so I don’t know why people would like the Flordia one?

    • yep

      stupid, no soup for you!!!

      • Lorie

        @Annette, if you live closer to Florida, and can’t get to CA, that is what you look forward to. How snobby! And what was the point of being such a snob? Are you just jealous you don’t have “all the parks” we have in Florida? (B’c our 4 Disneys buts CA’s to shame!) Now that I pointed that out, when is this coming to Floridas park?

    • Ana170

      I’ve been to both. The Florida one pays more attention to rides and other fun things to do while, as you said, the CA one is a working studio so it’s much less fun although more educational. In general FL theme parks are bigger and more fun than the CA ones. Also, you should take some time to learn the difference between “know” and “no”.

      • Grammer Police

        And also the difference between “there,” “their,”, and “they’re!” Added punctuation can help too.

    • Liz

      *chokes on coffee” Flordians?? Sounds like an alien race from an old Star Trek episode.

  • Lorie

    “PUTS” CA’s to shame, not buts, sorry typing too fast.

  • Dawn Contreras

    All people do is complain! Kong looks cool 2 me!

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