Growing up a mere two hours from Orlando, Universal Studios was a regular attraction. There was a lot of cool stuff there, all rides for movies older than I was: ET, Back to the Future, Earthquake, Jaws, and of course King Kong. The Kongfrontation ride was a magnificent, quite the feat of animatronic engineering, but what gets less credit is how perfectly they replicated the look, feel, even smell of New York; while waiting in line you could psych yourself up by pretending you were actually waiting for an evacuation tram during a monster attack…provided your fellow tourists didn’t spoil the atmosphere.
When I later visited Universal Studios in Hollywood, I assumed that their “Back Lot Tram Tour”, taking patrons across the studio while also encountering earthquakes, Jaws, and Kong, was some sort of “best of” rides from Orlando, but actually, it came first; the Hollywood King Kong Encounter hit in 1986, in anticipation of King Kong Lives, a weird result of Universal winding up with King Kong merchandising rights despite not making any of the movies (at that point).
Both of those attractions are now sadly gone, along with most of the stuff I have nostalgia for at the park. At least Kong stuff has resurfaced recently across the Universal Studios brand. Universal Studios Hollywood has King Kong 360 3D now, featuring a CGI creature based on the Peter Jackson film projected onto a screen that surrounds the visitors, taking them across Skull Island. It’s okay, I suppose, but nostalgia or no, I think the old robots were simply more engrossing….will they ever make another one of those?
Well, Universal Florida has come to the rescue with the best of both worlds, with CG and animatronics at Skull Island: Reign of Kong! The ride starts out rather similarly to the Hollywood one, but at the end the a glorious animatronic confronts you, a creation of the same folks who did that King Kong stage musical a few years back.
So, yeah, Universal remains the home of King Kong. Heck, even Universal Studios Japan has something: