The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure is nearing the end of its extensive renovation and is close to reopening. In recent weeks, the ride has received plenty of attention on its exterior and along the track itself. While many guests were wondering how soon the ride would be back, Universal has remained vague, only stating that the coaster would return late summer of this year. Last week, the ride got one step closer to returning after night and daytime tests began. We will break down all the recent additions to The Incredible Hulk Coaster as well as discuss the possible time frame for the ride.
It has been over a month since the Incredible Hulk’s circuit was completed. Since then, crews have been hard at work adding different enhancements to the track that were not a part of the original ride. The most notable new feature of the ride are the long conduit lines that snake up the support beams and attach themselves near the track. At the base of just about every support beam in the lagoon lies a small electrical box with a line running from the base all the way nearly 100 feet up. Rumors for these have ranged from lighting for a night time experience to sensors that may interact with the trains passing by (whether or not it affects the on-board audio in some way has yet to be seen). Either way, they are definitely an upgrade over the old Hulk.
The other half of construction has gone towards the station/front entrance. In Universal’s official press release for Hulk, they showed off the new look for the ride’s front entrance and gave insight on the new backstory they are implementing. With the Banner Labs idea being dropped, the new queue will be a military facility operated by General Ross, a frequent adversary for Hulk in the comics and movies. The new paint scheme reflects this change, featuring more dark gray and black tones rather than the lighter shades on the previous version. A notable feature of the front entrance is the towering Hulk statue holding the broken track piece. Universal made note that the “ripped track” pieces were from the original Hulk Coaster and were saved just for this. Aerial views from as far back as late last year on Google Earth show several pieces of Hulk track sitting in a storage lot next to Men In Black. These pieces will or have likely been refurbished and repainted before installation in the front of the ride.
Just last week news came in that The Incredible Hulk Coaster had begun its long awaited testing. Dan from Mako Madness on YouTube caught footage of the coaster going through its circuit at night after the park had closed. Several things to take away from the video were the lack of lights on the front of the train, the presence of water dummies (used to approximate the weight of guests on the ride before guests can ride) and most importantly, the lack of a “roar” (the roar effect appears to be much less piercing versus the original coaster).The original Hulk coaster was famous for its thunderous roar that could be heard from outside the park. The noise was achieved by making the track itself hollow. While it is odd to watch Hulk pass by in far more silence, the quieter track (most likely filled with sand like Dragon Challenge) is likely a result of the new on-board audio for the trains. Much like Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit next door, the track may need to be quieter to hear the music on the ride. Don’t expect the roar to go away forever though, as Universal has advertised that the Hulk will “roar back” in 2016. Perhaps they will fill the void of the lost roar with speakers hidden along guest pathways. This goes back to the conduit lines mentioned earlier. Do they have something to do with audio activated by sensors? Guests will know soon enough.
Since the night time video surfaced on YouTube, the park has now begun regular testing during the day with trains full of water dummies. This is a good sign as employee testing may begin soon. If Universal is to follow SeaWorld’s level of progression with Mako, then the Hulk should begin soft openings in about a month. Summer does not officially begin until late June and with Universal’s expected “late summer” opening it is unclear as to when the coaster will officially reopen.