Thoughts on King Kong’s Return to Universal

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Shock attends the world premiere

This week, Universal Studios Hollywood welcomed King Kong onto the back lot with a new attraction that will become a mainstay of the Tram Tour.

The red carpet was rolled out. Celebrities were in attendance – well, mostly television but I did spy Christopher Lloyd and Kevin Smith weaving through the 500 people who were invited to Universal’s world premiere of King Kong 360 3D. Bob and Kathy Burns were also in attendance, lugging the original armature from the 1933 film. The studio even had some employees dressed up like tribal members from Skull Island, incessantly pounding away on drums as press and industry folk prepared to hop on the Tram and see what all of the buzz was about. But not before watching a special 3D video prepared by attraction creator Peter Jackson, who has looked drastically different over the years since his days directing cult faves Meet the Feebles and Dead Alive.

Seeing as I delved into the process of making the ride and offered a description of what occurs during an early look in a previous write-up. I’ll keep this brief in regards to what works and what doesn’t. First, the good: The ride – polished and full of sound, motion and smells – is very exciting and effective. The Tram carries you through a gigantic rock arch and into Skull Island, which is alive and all around you courtesy of WETA digital and the 3D process. It really is a shock to the system at first when you realize you’re surrounded by foliage, insects and dinosaurs. As Kong dukes it out with the T-Rexes, your blasted with spit while the Tram pitches up, down and side to side. Really fun stuff.

But it’s far too short.

Of course, that’s the purpose: To get repeat visitors. But, man, I’m talking about a short experience. You literally have to have eyes on the back of your head to fully absorb the action that’s occurring in front of you and behind you. The radius of destruction is a lot to take in and you’re constantly turning around to keep up with the battle. Technically, it works, however, the sound really needs to be pumped up more and, unfortunately due to the 3D technology, the colors feel muted with your 3D glasses on. And, perhaps this is just me, but I find whenever they try to inject “smells” into these types of attractions, it just has the pungent air of gasoline.

The attraction is definitely an achievement, however, and worth checking out. Although I do miss the tangible terrors of the original Kong ride.

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor