King Kong Gets A (360/3D) Hollywood Makeover

Eric Bourse

The opening for the latest attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood on June 29 was packed with celebrities on the red carpet, Bengal tigers, snakes and tribal music dancers.

However, only one thing was on everyone’s mind. “Kong is back.”

As the tram slowly made its trek through the backlot at Universal Studios Hollywood, a sense of excitement and anticipation filled the air when the new Skull Island soundstage came into view.

A video of Peter Jackson came up on the screens in the tram. The director introduced the latest attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, “King Kong 360 3-D,” based on his 2005 film, “King Kong.”

He set the expectations high as he promised total immersion into his latest endeavor.
After his short speech ended, a rousing jungle beat played as scenes of Skull Island played on the screens.

Jackson appeared once again to tell the Tram riders to put on their 3-D glasses. Seconds later, the riders were immersed in the beautiful jungle that is Skull Island. The state of the art multimedia experience was even a treat for the nose as the air was filled with an earthy smell.

The peaceful effect of the gorgeous scenery only lasted a few seconds, as the tram encountered a pack of hungry velociraptors. The tram quickly speeds away only to bump into three fearsome looking T-Rexes. The roar of an up-close Rex hits the audience with a squirt of water. King Kong appears just in time to save the tram riders from becoming dinner and fights the three beasts.

The fight is fast and brutal. Kong makes the first move and throws a T-Rex over the tram, causing it to shake. Kong climbs over the audience and throws a carnivore over a cliff while stunning another. Kong then climbs over the tram again to finish off another dino villain by snapping its jaw open.

Slideshow depicts the red carpet festivities just prior to the media premier of King Kong 360/3D attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Slideshow Media Credit: Richard Kontas

Unfortunately, the stunned Rex takes a bite out of a tram and pulls everyone over a cliff. Jungle vines barely save the riders from certain doom as Kong leaps down and kills the final T-Rex as well as saving all the riders and lets out a huge roar letting everyone know who is king of the jungle.

In 2008, a devastating fire in the Universal Studios Hollywood destroyed many locations. The most tragic casualty was the beloved King Kong section of the Studio Tour. King Kong 360 3-D was created over a two-year period and a soundstage larger than a football field was created to accommodate the screens that surround the trams. The trams rest on steel platens which result in the realistic motions.

“I have never seen anything like the technology that we bought to bear on this attraction. It’s incredibly high resolution, powerful images and sound,” said Jackson during a 3-D press briefing.

The attraction, which lasts about two minutes, is a powerful thrill ride which had the audiences cheering and screaming. Unlike the beloved original, guests can repeat the new ride again and again while noticing new things they didn’t before, such as a looming spider or a powerful Kong punch.

Jackson said that the mission was to create the largest and most intense 3-D experience on the planet. Mission accomplished. Guests to the theme park will be ecstatic for Kong’s 2010 facelift because it is a vast improvement over the original.

Universal Studios Hollywood is located 100 Universal City Plaza in Universal City. Park hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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