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Rumor round-up for January 31, 2014: Previewing King Kong at Universal, touring Orlando Eye & delaying the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train


King Kong and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

In last week’s episode of Orlando United’s podcast, rumormonger HateToFly shared a bit about the King Kong ride that is purportedly arriving at Islands of Adventure sometime next year, and if even half of what he contends is true, we’re all in for a very exciting – and possibly revolutionary – experience.

In case you don’t remember from previous reports, King Kong’s new home will be Skull Island, a mini-land that will be squeezed in between Jurassic Park and Toon Lagoon and which will constitute the park’s eighth “island.” You can expect to find it to the left of Thunder Falls Terrace, as seen here:

Will Skull Island be built in the red zone?
Will Skull Island be built in the red zone? View on our interactive map

The new information starts at the entranceway to the area: a giant gate that opens on the ruins of an ancient temple, which double as the attraction’s elaborate queue. The queue is actually located underground and is said to be just as highly detailed and immersive as that of Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure, which is widely held to be – along with Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, of course – the gold standard of pre-ride atmospheres. Guests will work their way on up through the ruins, ultimately reaching the loading platform at the very top of the temple. Yes, that’s right – you’ll board your ride vehicle outside, marking the first unusual element of the attraction.

The vehicles themselves are two tram- or bus-esque cars, one hitched to the other, with a “tour guide” in the first and extra seating in the second. It’s estimated that somewhere between four to six people can fit per row, with somewhere around five or six rows in the first vehicle and seven or eight in the second. That means approximately 50 to 85 people will be loaded per outing, making this one of Universal Orlando’s higher-capacity rides.

The first three scenes of the attraction will all be outdoors, leading up to the great wall that keeps King Kong separated from the inhabited part of Skull Island. Once guests manage to breach the wall, they’ll seamlessly transition into the show building, where they’ll be attacked from both sides by numerous audio-animatronic creatures, including gigantic centipedes, scorpions, and dragonflies, and eventually end up in a cave filled with numerous bats.

From there, the king himself makes an appearance thanks to projectors, which will be deployed on a scale that is exponentially beyond what is used on Transformers and is similar in scope to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. This particular sequence sounds like it may be similar to King Kong: 360 3D over at Universal Studios Hollywood, wherein Kong fights off a pack of dinosaurs all around the hapless tram passengers, who are immersed in the encounter thanks to air and water effects.


Once they have survived the grand finale, riders will venture back outdoors to disembark – but the experience isn’t over yet. There’s one final scene as guests work their way out of the building, the equivalent of an epilogue in the world of television screenwriting. Just what, exactly, this “tag” may be is completely unknown – does it somehow involve the mandatory gift shop on the way out? – but we’re happy to finally see Universal Creative take our advice about extending the story beyond the traditional theme park parameters.


The Orlando Eye sees all – and, now, so do we

Our friends over at Theme Park Insite treated us all to a delicious sneak preview of what the much-anticipated Orlando Eye (formerly I-Drive Live) will have in store for us as it opens in phases all throughout this year.

Thanks to the leaked blueprints they’ve published, we now have a pretty good idea of what will be populating the development. Next to the main three attractions of the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussaud’s, and the Sea Life aquarium will be Sugar Factory, Cowgirls (a country bar), and the ubiquitous Walgreens. Lining the front of this entertainment section, meanwhile, will be Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Seafood Republic, and Dick’s Last Resort. Next door, fronting the hotel area, will be Chuy’s, Bargain World, and Red Robin (a personal favorite of mine).

Orlando Eye - blueprint
Orlando Eye – blueprint
Orlando Eye - concept rendering.
Orlando Eye – concept rendering.

While none of these tenants is a particularly exciting property in and of itself, their combined presence makes for not only a cover-all-the-bases dining/shopping complex, it also makes a strong argument for how the Orlando Eye will be a major contender in Orlando’s entertainment market. When taken in conjunction with the fact that there are still several slots open for future businesses – which is not to mention that last remaining “secret” attraction that developer Merlin Entertainments has been teasing over the past few months – all vacation-goers should be keeping one very serious eye on the development.

By the way, are you curious as to what the secret attraction may be? As one of our readers commented, “My money is on The Dungeons for the Eye’s secret attraction. Merlin’s big thing is to cluster Sea Life, Tussaud’s, and Dungeons.”


Quick hits: Seven Dwarfs, Falcon’s Fury & free wifi

All those who have been looking forward to riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train across these past three or four years will, unfortunately, have to wait a bit longer. According to Screamscape’s sources, the planned opening date in February has been pushed back to late March/early April – “if all goes well.” In the meantime, landscaping is finally being installed all around the outer edge of the attraction area and the trains are cycling, which are steps in the right direction.



Okay, so the upcoming Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is beyond our Orlando purview, but we can’t help ourselves: the ride looks like it’s going to be all sorts of exciting when it opens this summer. And what makes it all the more enticing is our very first glimpse of just how the revolutionary attraction is going to operate, including its load/unload process and exact seat configuration.

Falcon's Fury - Busch Gardens Tampa.
Falcon’s Fury – Busch Gardens Tampa.


Finally, a bit of small-but-nonetheless-good news: Loews, the hotel chain that runs all of Universal Orlando’s resorts, has finally entered the 21st century and started offering free wifi to all guests (and not just those who are part of Loews’s loyalty program). In addition, the new Starbucks at Islands of Adventure, which just opened Thursday, also offers free wifi. If we keep getting lucky like this, hopefully the day when free public wifi is available throughout all of Universal Orlando Resort won’t be too far away.



The propose of our weekly rumor column is to provide a window into what might be happening by collecting the latest speculation from sources across the internet (which we always link to). We take that speculation and condense it into one weekly post as a service to our readers, so you don’t have to spend hours tracking down all the stories yourself.

We rarely claim to be the source for our stories. In reality, anyone can do what we do: Google “Orlando theme park rumors” and see what the darker corners of the theme park community are chatting about. But we know you don’t have hours of free time to seek out this stuff — plus, Marc is really good at analyzing it — so we do the heavy lifting for you. Overall, this is a simple premise, and we’re happy to have been executing it every week for almost two years (this is our 97th rumor post).

View all of our Rumor Round-Ups


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January 31, 2014 1:18 pm

The Walgreens is actually at the corner of Sand Lake and International not in the Orlando Eye complex, and instead in the I-Shops

Marc N Kleinhenz
Marc N Kleinhenz
January 31, 2014 4:16 pm
Reply to  RobMorris1

According to the blueprints, there’ll be another one right in front (or so) of the Eye.
Like I said — ubiquitous. 🙂

January 31, 2014 1:35 pm

Growing up as a Kong fan and riding he origial ride I am beyond excited about this news. I have my fingers crossed that this is going to be a reality. If so, WOW, Universal is doing BIG THNGS.

Marc N Kleinhenz
Marc N Kleinhenz
January 31, 2014 4:17 pm
Reply to  Rtohara

Indeed! And if rumors hold true, 2017 to 2019 is going to be even bigger.

Dean Irvine
Dean Irvine
January 31, 2014 1:23 pm

Glad to see more news of the king, disappointed it’s seems to be more bloody screens. Wanted a full sized gorilla 🙁

James Galliford
James Galliford
January 31, 2014 1:26 pm

KK my favorite rumor of all and if this turns out to be tue there will be noone happier

Rachel Mulieri
Rachel Mulieri
January 31, 2014 1:49 pm

Hoping for a Kong ride..never got to experience Kongfrontation

julie y
julie y
January 31, 2014 2:30 pm

Hope the Skull Island rumour is true!! Also I.Drive needed something after Mercardo closed. Disney are spending too much money on Magic+,so everything else has gone to pot!!! Anyway,cant wait until December,for my next trip!!

Robie Rowley
Robie Rowley
January 31, 2014 2:58 pm

Kong sounds like a cross between the old ride and Kong3D, which is awesome because they’re both great rides. Thanks for the info.

Sophie Lewis
Sophie Lewis
January 31, 2014 4:48 pm

Wooohoooo kong is coming back!!

Erin Browning-Paine
Erin Browning-Paine
January 31, 2014 5:23 pm

I miss the old King Kong ride so much!!

Andre Somma
Andre Somma
January 31, 2014 7:19 pm

The Kong ride sounds exciting but I’m a tad disappointed since it seems a technological step backwards in regard to ride vehicle choice. Plus wasn’t the area that they are planning to build this supposed to be used for a JP jeep attraction? Also seems like Universal doesn’t have much more room to expand IOA much further.

Jack Tamagni
Jack Tamagni
January 31, 2014 8:10 pm

From what I’ve heard and read from news sources all over the world the Orlando Eye project should be opened by December 31st of this year. The Longhorn Steakhouse near the corner of International Drive and Sand Lake Road has already been opened for a few weeks. The rest of the project (The wax museum, aquarium, ferris wheel and the other restaurants and shops) will be staggering their openings between now and then.

Cassie Ryan
Cassie Ryan
January 31, 2014 11:21 pm

The rumored description sounds SO baller! As hyped as I am for Diagon Alley, I’m glad to see Universal creative aren’t taking any breaks in taking the next steps beyond it too. Keeping IoA fresh! 😀

Matthew Lynch
Matthew Lynch
February 1, 2014 4:38 am

Fingers crossed it’s open for September I would love to go on the Orlando Eye. Although I think it will be more like winter it opens.

February 3, 2014 3:43 am

how can disney take sooooo long to build a family coaster, yet universal are steaming past them and improving their parks sevenfold! Disney will fall behind at this rate!

About Marc N. Kleinhenz

Marc N. Kleinhenz is the former editor of Orlando Informer.

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