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Kongfrontation

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Kongfrontation was a special effects ride at the Universal Studios Florida theme park, in Orlando, Florida, the main attraction in the park's New York section.

To this day, it is considered to be the landmark attraction of Universal Studios Florida, despite being defunct.

It opened as one of the original attractions at the park on June 7, 1990 and was closed on September 8, 2002.

Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride opened in its place on May 21, 2004. It was based on a scene from the long running Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood.

A King Kong themed roller coaster will open at Universal Studios Dubailand in 2012.

Attraction summaryEdit

Universal Studio's Kongfrontation06:20

Universal Studio's Kongfrontation

A video of the Queue and Ride from 1993.

QueueEdit

As guests entered the massive show building, they found themselves within a recreation of Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, New York City.

The queue line was intricately detailed right down to the graffiti covering the walls and the fully stocked storefronts. Numerous overhead television monitors displayed a special news report entitled, "Kong On The Loose."

According to the news report, the giant ape King Kong had escaped its confines and was wreaking havoc on the streets of New York City.

Kong had already destroyed two elevated trains and was rapidly approaching the East River with authorities seemingly powerless to stop him.

From Pennsylvania Station, the queue made its way up a long ramp and ended at the elevated Manhattan station of the Roosevelt Island Tramway.

RideEdit

Universal Studios Kongfrontation

Kongfrontation Interior

Upon arriving at the station, guests boarded a large, open-air aerial tram vehicle.

There, a live guide aboard the tram informed them that they were being evacuated off of Manhattan Island and over to Roosevelt Island during Kong's attack.

Leaving the station, the tram traveled above elaborate New York City street sets where guests could see the path of damage left by Kong which included broken fire hydrants, overturned cars, a derailed elevated train and an exploding power transformer. Nearing the East River, the tram encountered Kong hanging from the Queensboro Bridge.

Narrowly escaping the attack, the tram finally crossed over the river and arrived at Roosevelt Island, but just as it appeared as if everything was okay, the tram rounded a bend revealing Kong, who had waded across the river and cut the tram off.

As the tram approached Kong, he proceeded to grab, lift and subsequently drop it after being fired upon by circling police helicopters.

After escaping the enraged beast for a second time, small television monitors dropped from the tram's ceiling and guests watched themselves on the ride as part of a breaking news report.

Shortly thereafter, the tram arrived safely at Roosevelt Island station although Kong was never defeated.

Post-ShowEdit

A Kodak photo opportunity both was located in the Safari Outfitters gift shop, where guests could pose with King Kong, who appeared to grip them in front of a Queensboro Bridge backdrop.

Gift shopEdit

Guests exited the attraction and down a series of ramps and into a King Kong themed gift shop called Safari Outfitters Ltd.

Construction and designEdit

The attraction was based on the 1976 film remake of "King Kong" and was designed by Totally Fun Company and MCA Planning and Development.

Two King Kong animatronic figures were built for the attraction and were scaled to be 39 feet (12 m) tall with an arm span of 54 feet (16 m).

The one used for the "street sequence" weighed approximately 13,000 pounds (5,900 kg), while a lighter figure, that weighed approximately 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg), was used for the "bridge sequence" of the ride.

The Kongs were built to be both analog and digital, giving them the ability to perform sixty two separate functions.

A smeltzer device was constructed to give the Kong figures "Banana Breath," which was emitted during roars at the riders.

The soundstage show building covered an area of 35,000 square feet (3,300 m2). The slabs used to construct the exterior walls of the building are the largest of its kind ever used for construction.

To make the city setting appear as realistic as possible, fifty facades were modeled after Manhattan's Lower East Side circa 1976.

News reports from the TV station WWOR-TV were integrated into the ride and queue line as MCA/Universal owned the station at the time the attraction was designed.

The helicopters that were used in the ride were molded from actual helicopters and were true to size, which is why they looked as realistic as they did.

HistoryEdit

Originally a scene for the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tram Tour, Kongfrontation has been credited as being the catalyst for the Universal Studios Florida project (which has since evolved into the Universal Orlando Resort).

Universal originally envisioned the attraction as the crown jewel of the Florida park.

While the attraction drew substantial crowds, it had an unreliable track record due to the complex special effects involved.

Universal engineers attempted several times to improve reliability, which ultimately required removing functionality of Kong by limiting his movements and some of the background effects.

Kongfrontation was a signature piece of Universal Studios Florida, more than any of the attractions that remain there today, and the idea to close such an attraction struck many fans of the ride as being "unreal."

Despite many protests and complaints from fans, Kongfrontation officially closed on September 8, 2002.

There has never been a solid reason given by Universal for the closure, although it is speculated that maintenance issues, high staffing costs and the costs of repairs and upkeep are the main reasons.

The attraction joined a list of original and popular Universal Studios Florida attractions that have since been retired and replaced including Ghostbusters Spooktacular, The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, Back to the Future: The Ride and Earthquake: The Big One.

Halloween Horror NightsEdit

During Halloween Horror Nights II at the park, the attraction was turned into a "horrified attraction" titled Tramway of Doom where it was themed that Darkman was on the loose in New York.

After riding Kongfrontation, guests had to exit the tram and walk on the ground of the ride, where a haunted maze awaited.

Guests were also permitted to walk on the ground during Halloween Horror Nights XI, in a show titled The Oozone Fright Club where guests entered an employees only area of the queue line for the show, and then had to exit to the ground where another haunted maze awaited.

Universal Studios Hollywood versionEdit

The inspiration for the Kongfrontation attraction at Universal Studios Florida was taken from the King Kong Encounter at Universal Studios Hollywood.

The scene (formerly part of the Studio Tour) was housed within a large soundstage located in the studio's back lot.

The entire show building was destroyed by a massive fire in 2008 and will be replaced by a future King Kong attraction.

The attraction featured a brief encounter with a giant animatronic King Kong, who would shake the bridge that the tram drove across and destroyed a news chopper that was covering the story.

A television monitor in a New York building facade displayed breaking news updates from the chopper.

Employee mythologyEdit

Many employees who have worked on Kongfrontation reported that the ride was haunted by the spirit of a maintenance worker named Whitaker who supposedly fell to his death near the part of the ride where the video was filmed.

While these rumors are unsubstantiated, several ride operators have claimed to have refused to take empty trams through the ride, as the "ghost" would appear on the video when no guests were on the ride.

During construction on Revenge of the Mummy, an electrical fire was mysteriously ignited delaying the opening of the ride. Some have speculated that this is related to the ghost.

Subsequently; Several Revenge of the Mummy Ride and Show attendants working at the ride between its opening in 2004 and 2006 claim to have seen the ghost riding in their ride vehicles near the ride's unload station and in various locations of the queue.

They also attributed a random recurrence of Kong's banana smell to the same ghost.

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