SKULL ISLAND: REIGN OF KONG at Universal Orlando Brings King Kong Back to the Park in 2016

Update March 25, 2016

Ride vehicle and creature encounters revealed for Skull Island: Reign of Kong.  Your mission is to explore a treacherous island teeming with creatures of unknown origin.  You will face ominous terrain, impenetrable jungles – and surprises beyond your imagination.  A traditional off-road vehicle will not do.  Your expedition will require something more…colossal.

This summer, Universal Orlando Resort will bring the thrilling next generation of the King Kong legend to life in Skull Island: Reign of Kong.  Everything about the new attraction will be massive.  And Universal Orlando needed an entirely new – and revolutionary – way to transport guests into the middle of the adventure.

Guests will board a specially designed expedition vehicle that will do what no other Universal ride vehicle can do and take them where no other vehicle can go. 

Skull Island Reign of Kong Ride Vehicle

Skull Island Reign of Kong Ride Vehicle © 2016 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

The 40-foot-long, 17-ton expedition vehicle will use a sophisticated positioning system to independently navigate a rough, jungle road through unpredictable terrain. The front and back axles that support the vehicle’s 45-inch wheels can be steered individually, allowing the vehicle to take sharp turns and pull off complicated maneuvers. It will be one of the most immersive and realistic ride experiences on Earth – all within one of the most immersive and realistic theme park experiences ever created. 

As guests board their expedition vehicle, they will meet one of the five guides who will be their driver – each with a distinct personality.

  • Becky Callahan: The loose-cannon cowgirl who isn’t fazed by the dangers awaiting her on Skull Island.
  • Will Denham: The fresh-faced, adventure-seeking younger cousin of famed movie director Carl Denham.
  • Jinks Costanza: A hardened New York City ex-con who is wary of the island’s mysteries.
  • Kalana: A mystical descendent of the natives who first settled on the island.
  • Charles “Doc” Jordan: A PhD student in paleontology who took time off from his studies to explore the world.

Inside are massive winged beasts that hunt from the skies, serpentine predators that attack from below, and giant insects that infest the jungles – these are some of the creatures you will come face to face with this summer as you brave this mysterious and foreboding world.

Update February 25, 2016

Universal Orlando released a new rendering and story details for SKULL ISLAND: REIGN OF KONG, opening this summer at the Islands of Adventure theme park.

Skull Island Reign of Kong

Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Great Wall, Night time shot at Islands of Adventure © 2016 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

The adventure begins as you set out to explore an island rife with prehistoric creatures of unknown origin –and the legend of a beast still undiscovered. You find yourself at a campsite of the 8th Wonder Expedition Company, the research team leading your adventure.

Once beyond camp, the menacing terrain shows signs of a native presence; beating drums draw you toward an ancient temple. Moving deeper into the ruins reveals a lost shrine – and proof you are not alone. You ignore warnings to turn back.

You board a specially designed expedition vehicle that will take you deeper into the island. Mysterious sounds pierce the air and you hear chanting. And then – you confront an enormous temple wall, complete with carvings and images that seem to pay homage to something you cannot quite comprehend. The temple’s massive wooden doors slowly open, revealing a labyrinth of caves.

Inside the caves, you meet your expedition leader – and suddenly find yourself in the midst of a raging struggle between creatures of incomprehensible size and ferocity. Then, as those creatures turn on you, there is an even more enormous, earth-pounding presence – bigger, closer and more overwhelming than you can possibly imagine. It is Kong. But is he friend or foe?

Original post from May 6, 2015 follows below…

Today, Universal Orlando Resort officially announced the return of one of motion pictures’ iconic characters, King Kong, to its Florida theme park.  Ever since Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis let it slip to investors in February that King Kong was coming back to Universal Orlando, theme park fans have speculated what the new attraction will entail.  The signature award-winning Universal Orlando attraction style uses a combination of large-screen projections with immersive sets and animatronics, and includes The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride–3D, and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.  Skull Island: Reign of Kong debuts in summer 2016 next to Jurassic Park at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure.  Continue reading for more details from Universal Orlando’s press release, and we will continue to update as more information becomes available.

Skull Island Reign of Kong

Skull Island: Reign of Kong © 2014 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved

From Universal Orlando Resort’s Press Release

King Kong will rule at Universal Orlando Resort next year in the groundbreaking attraction, “Skull Island: Reign of Kong.” The new attraction will open in the summer of 2016 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure – and will be an intense, all-new adventure brought to life in a dramatically themed environment. Skull Island: Reign of Kong will pull guests into a powerfully told story where they become part of the next generation of the Kong legend.

Skull Island Reign of Kong

King Kong © 2014 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.


It begins as guests are transported deep into a wild and mysterious world, where their mission is to discover creatures of unknown origin – but where they are soon fighting for their own survival. Their journey will take them through an ancient temple inhabited by hostile natives, a perilous jungle ruled by prehistoric creatures, a foreboding underworld of caves concealing unspeakable terrors – and face-to-face with the colossal Kong himself.

Skull Island Reign of Kong

Skull Island: Reign of Kong © 2014 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved


Universal Creative is working closely with Peter Jackson, famed director of 2005’s blockbuster movie, KING KONG, to immerse guests in this incredible adventure.

“King Kong is a Hollywood movie legend and a huge part of both our history and our future,” said Mike West, Executive Producer, Universal Creative. “He gives us the opportunity to tap into everything that makes our film history so special and everything that makes our theme park attractions so spectacular. We can’t wait to bring him to life in such an epic way.”

Known as “the eighth wonder of the world,” Kong has been called “the experience for which movies were invented.” Since first appearing on screen in 1933, “King Kong” has been re-made twice - each time on a tremendous scale – earning seven Oscar and three Golden Globe nominations.

Skull Island Reign of Kong

Skull Island: Reign of Kong © 2014 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved

And now – in even grander and more realistic form – the Kong story continues to grow. “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” will open in the summer of 2016. More details about the mega-attraction will be released over time. Visit for more information.

So what do you think of King Kong coming back to Universal Orlando?  Are you excited about the addition?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on Twitter and “like” our Facebook page, too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.