Anyone who has visited the Reign of Kong construction site in recent weeks can spot distinct tire marks along the ride path in front of the wall of Skull Island. The ride has gone through regular cycles of testing away from the eyes of guests, until now. Just last week, videos on social media and YouTube have circulated featuring the first real glimpse of the ride vehicles running constant circuits outdoors, which until previously, had only been shown in official concept art.
In said concept art, a safari truck leads onward into the fiery gates of Skull Island. As with most concept art, it is not a one hundred percent accurate representation. In this case, it is for the better. The trucks are actually much larger than the initial artwork. They seem to be closer in scale to the Kilimanjaro Safari trucks at Disney’s Animal Kingdom than they do standard size off road automobiles. This size allows for many rows of seats, much more than the typical theme park attraction. The trucks are also very well themed, sporting vintage truck driver cabins and rust along the body. Videos of the testing clearly show a multitude of seats, which is rumored to be over seventy per truck. With a ride capacity this high, and having multiple trucks in the fleet Reign of Kong’s lines should be much more tolerable on opening day than smaller capacity rides at the resort.
Eagle-eyed guests will also notice that all throughout the construction site are small white sensors along rock work and the gates. These sensors are also secured to the roof of the trucks. This is because the ride vehicles are actually driverless and wirelessly driven along the ride path indoors and outside. One thing to note, however, is that the roofs of each truck aren’t covered. This will likely change by the time the ride opens, and it should hide the sensors. Another feature the safari trucks have is crab steering. This allows both axles to turn, allowing maximum movement throughout the ride, especially in tight spaces, like the outdoor portion of the ride. The driver cabins for each truck have been covered with blue tarps as well. This not only confirms the driverless technology but also creates some intrigue. Could these “driver cabins” actually be screens (technology similar to the Hogwarts Express windows/doors)? If so, what kind of interactions could the “driver” have with guests and the environment? Mako Madness’ channel on YouTube, which posted the video also spotted a construction worker applying some form of adhesive to the tire marks present on the ride path. This seems to help the tires stick to the concrete and also keep the ride from deviating from its predetermined course.
These details are certainly exciting and certainly provide more questions than answers for Kong. Anticipation keeps building for what will certainly be one of the most exciting new additions to the resort in years. We will continue to follow Skull Island’s progress and be on the lookout for more testing in the near future. Skull Island: Reign of Kong opens this summer at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
UPDATE (4/17/16): A recent video update of Skull Island: Reign of Kong features an on-board driver. Rather than using screens as earlier predicted, it appears that the resort is using animatronics to play the part of a driver.