Another one of Universal's more popular attractions from when the Orlando park first opened was the “Kongfrontation” ride, based on the 1976 Paramount remake of ‘King Kong’ starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange.
The ride was located in the "New York City" section of the theme park, inside a giant 71,0000 square foot sound stage and was constructed to simulate New York’s Roosevelt Island Tram Station in the 1970’s.
1992 map, with arrow pointing to the location of Kongfrontation
Kongfrontation had one of the most impressive line queues I had ever seen as it literally felt as though you had been magically whisked away to New York City, the very moment you stepped inside. The faux subway set was littered with graffiti murals, giant size promotional ads, maps of the city, as well as all of the dirt and grime you’d expect to find in a real life subway station.
The ride was created by the “Totally Fun Company” which was headed by the theme park’s executive producer Peter Alexander. Alexander was also responsible for the creation of some of Universal’s other flagship attractions, including “Back to the Future: The Ride” and the “E.T. Adventure”. “Kongfrontation” operated a lot like an in-door version of the “Jaws Ride” in which you’re taken on a journey through the city as it’s being attacked by several animatronic versions of King Kong... each weighing between 4 and 7 tons!
At one point you find yourself caught in the middle of a shoot out, as King Kong hangs from the Queensboro Bridge and is then fired upon by a police helicopter before crashing into the bridge itself. A few moments later, as you head back to the Tram Station, you are once again intercepted by the gigantic Kong who lifts your tram car up in the air and shakes you around before finally letting go. As you make it back to the station, a set of TV monitor’s would then drop down and display a Channel 9 Special Report, showing footage of your actual tram car narrowly escaping Kong's wrath.
For those who are interested, here is a brief 2 minute press release video from 1990 which shows several brightly lit close-up shots of the ride, as well as a short interview with Barry Upson (Executive VP of Planning and Development) who goes into further detail about the Kong animatronics.
Like most Universal attractions, as you exited the ride they would dump you into a King Kong souvenir shop. Here you could pick up a t-shirt, a stuffed animal, coffee mug or a slew of other Kong related merchandise. They also offered photo ops where you could get a cheap Polaroid taken of you and your family with the colossal Kong.
Photo Op example taken from http://neatocoolville.blogspot.com
The Kongfrontation ride was in operation for 12 years…from opening day on June 7th, 1990 until September 8th, 2002. There was no specific reason given for the ride’s closure, however from what I’ve heard it was mostly due to high operating costs and upkeep of the animatronics. The ride has since been replaced with the $45 million dollar indoor roller coaster known as “Revenge of The Mummy” which opened in May 2004.Luckily for those who were unable to ride Kongfrontation during it's reign at Universal Studios Florida, there are quite a few videos on youtube
which will give you a good sense of what it was like to be on the ride. Here is a great video from youtuber jonfromqueens
To Be Continued...