Universal Studios Florida
(June 7, 1990 - September 8, 2002)
Photos of the extinct Kongfrontation King Kong aerial tramway ride in New York at Universal Studios Florida.
Opening with the rest of Universal Studios Florida on June 7, 1990, Kongfrontation was one of the star attractions in the theme park.
Unfortunately, the ride was initially plagued by numerous technical problems during those first few months. The ride may have opened in the morning only to have it temporarily close a few hours later and possibly re-open later that day. Some days the ride was closed all day, much to the frustration of park visitors. Earthquake: The Big One and Jaws suffered from similar problems. Alas, the problems were eventually solved and Kongfrontation was able to thrill visitors all day and every day.
Kongfrontation was inspired by the success of the King Kong Encounter on the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tram Tour. While the Studio Tram Tour was a lengthy ride that took park guests through movie sets along with "encounters" with popular Hollywood movie characters (such as King Kong and the Great White shark from Jaws), Universal Studios Florida's version of King Kong was designed as a standalone five-minute attraction.
Based on the 1976 remake of King Kong, Kongfrontation was themed as an evacuation from part of New York City as the mighty King Kong is on a rampage destroying the city. We entered a massive building themed as an early 1900s version of the Pennsylvania Station in New York City. Inside the building we go along a line queue that resembles a New York City subway station before transforming into Manhattan's Roosevelt Island tram station. Graffiti covers the walls and television sets are playing WWOR-TV's special coverage of King Kong's attack, a broadcast titled "Kong on the Loose." As we proceed through the line queue, we continually hear about King Kong's location along with his path of destruction.
Upstairs in the Roosevelt Island tram station we board an open-air tram vehicle. A lap bar lowers and the driver informs us that we're being evacuated to the tram station on Roosevelt Island. The tram driver is pretty sure that Kong is staying in a different part of the city, but just to play it safe the driver tunes the radio to the police emergency frequency.
The ride begins and we glide over part of New York City. There's an incredible amount of detail down to the garbage cans and fully stocked stores. We round a corner and see some of Kong's destruction from overturned cars to broken fire hydrants spraying water into the air. A police helicopter warns the riders that Kong is near us and we see a spotlight illuminate Kong's shadow on the wall. Kong pulls on power lines and yanks a power pole onto the tram, causing a minor explosion and rocking the tram. We recover and round another corner in New York City.
Up ahead is the East River and Queensboro Bridge. Hanging from the bridge and directly in our path is King Kong. A police helicopter on our right fires a machine gun at Kong, angering the great ape and putting us in danger. The tram's driver uses the radio to tell the police to stop firing. Kong knocks the chopper onto the bridge and then swats the back of our tram as we try to slip past him. His fist hits the tram (a simulated hit, of course) and again our vehicle is almost knocked to the ground.
Things seem fine as we round another corner and head for the Roosevelt Island tram station. Suddenly, a police helicopter is shining a bright light at us, blocking our view and nearly blinding us riders. The light finally turns off and we see that King Kong is standing to the right of the tram's path. Somehow he has cut us off from the tram station. We're helpless as we pass by Kong and he lifts the tram into the air. The mighty beast lifts us to his eye level and we can smell bananas on his breath. Suddenly he drops us and tries to smash us into the ground. The tram driver recovers before we hit the ground, and we make an escape from Kong. The Roosevelt Island tram station is just ahead and we're safe. TV monitors lower from the vehicle's roof and we see a special news report of Kong's recent attack. Hey, that's us on TV! Cool.
We glide into the Roosevelt Island tram station, the lap bars lift, and we exit the ride vehicle. As we're leaving we can hear the tram's driver switching roles and talking to the next group of riders, telling them about the evacuation to Roosevelt Island. It sort of ruins the theming for a ride like this when the vehicles share the same loading and unloading station. Oh well. Kongfrontation was still a fantastic ride.
The exit ramps led directly to a store where we could pick up the latest King Kong-themed souvenirs. A small spot in the store had a section where we could pose for a picture with King Kong on the Queensboro Bridge.
Kongfrontation was a massive ride that used a six-story, 62,000 square foot building. Each of the King Kong animatronics stood 39 feet tall and had an arm span of a whopping 52 feet. All of the police helicopters were full-scale helicopters, giving more realism to the attraction.
Kongfrontation closed for good on September 8, 2002. It was replaced with Revenge of the Mummy, a thrill ride that opened on May 21, 2004. A small tribute to Kongfrontation exists in Revenge of the Mummy. When you're in the treasure room in the beginning of the ride, quickly look to the left to find a small gold statue of King Kong.
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