Make us your home page

3 new things coming to Universal Studios this summer

The opening date for Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Universal's Islands of Adventure has not been officially announced, but the theme park is planning a media preview June 22 to 24. So chances are good the public will get a look at this giant primate's mammoth crib before July 4.

Reign of Kong will be the largest addition to the theme park since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in 2010. With elaborate sets and 3D effects, Skull Island will be one of the longest rides ever at Universal. A vehicle from the "8th Wonder Expedition Company" will take visitors through an island with prehistoric creatures of unknown origin, also home to Kong.

Then there's the great ape himself. King Kong will be lifelike in facial expressions, Universal has said, and 26 feet tall, with a head as big as a car and 18 feet across the chest. Riders will be "close enough you'll feel his breath sweep across your skin," Universal Creative's Mike West says in the video on the park's official blog.

The attraction looms large, with huge rock walls rising from what looks like an ancient temple in a primordial jungle setting. Universal worked with Peter Jackson, the director of 2005's King Kong, a $207 million spectacle that was at the time the most expensive movie ever filmed.

Also opening at Islands of Adventure this summer is the complete revamp of a fan-favorite roller coaster, the Incredible Hulk. The green guy's coaster is strong and fast, so hopes are high that the new queue will be slicker, in the spirit of an Avengers-style Hulk. The shape of the track and the fast-launch start — riders are shot out at 40 mph and flung upside down into a zero-G barrel roll — will be the same. But Universal says the ride vehicles and the story line will be enhanced and the ride will be smoother.

A new sound system will also blast a custom score created by Patrick Stump, the frontman for Fall Out Boy. Hulk will reopen in "late summer," according to the park.

Also opening this year is Universal Orlando's fifth hotel, Sapphire Falls, a Caribbean-themed resort with a tropical lagoon and waterfalls. The hotel is taking reservations for dates starting July 14.

Universal Orlando

Two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando

Admission: $105, $100 child (one park); $155, $150 child (one day/two parks). Florida resident deals available online. (407) 363-8000.

3 new things coming to Universal Studios this summer 05/24/16 [Last modified: Friday, May 27, 2016 5:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hip-hop artist looks to deliver music, monologues with one-woman show


    Tampa hip-hop artist and actress Dynasty takes her career into a new direction Saturday at Stageworks Theatre with her first one-woman show: A Star in Life's Clothing : Life. Love. Language. Lyrics.

    Courtesy of @JoeyClayStudio
  2. With volunteers as its heartbeat, annual Hillsborough County Fair grows larger


    DOVER — There's nothing else in the Tampa Bay community quite like the Hillsborough County Fair.

    Retired Tampa police officer Larry Henderson of Seffner sharpens a hewing ax used for squaring wood in the Hometown Hillsborough historical area of the fair. Beside him is a small sampling of the more than 7,000 tools he’s collected over the years.
  3. Mandarin Hide celebrates 7 years serving craft cocktails in St. Petersburg

    Bars & Spirits


    With its mascot, a mounted buffalo head named Manny, decked out in streamers and a shiny party hat, the Mandarin Hide celebrated seven years of serving cocktails on Central Avenue last Thursday night.

    Mandarin Hide’s mascot, a buffalo head named Manny, donned streamers and a shiny party hat as the bar celebrated seven years of serving cocktails last week.
  4. Taste test: pepper jack cheese

    Taste Test

    Even though autumn sometimes misses Florida altogether, this time of year sends our panelists searching for comfort foods. They also like to spice things up a bit while they sip pumpkin-flavored coffees and apple ciders. One thing that definitely adds a kick to meals or snacks is spicy cheese. This week, we sampled 15 …

  5. Review: Cast up to the challenge in Richey Suncoast's 'How the Other Half Loves'


    Theater has many plays where there are two completely different apartments depicted on the stage, usually split down the middle, one on the right, one on the left.

    "How the Other Half Loves" runs weekends through Oct. 29 at Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey. Cast members are Christine Stoll and  David Daly (in front) and Bob Marcela, Heather Clark, Mike Worssell and Blake Parker (in back, from left). [Photo by Jess Glass]