After a fire devastated the Universal Studios backlot two years ago, the studio enlisted Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson to recreate the destoyed King Kong ride at its Hollywood theme park. In July 2010, the beast will re-emerge as King Kong 3D 360.
Based on Jackson's 2005 remake of King Kong, with Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody and Jack Black, the new ride re-launches the tour's signature attraction as a 3D spectacle with a Surround Digital projection system and motion simulation.
Visitors on board the tram will enter a soundstage transformed into Skull Island's jungle, suddenly getting attacked by a swarm of raptors. After surviving that encounter they are confronted by 35-foot tall dinosaurs and then a 30-foot tall 6,000-pound Kong gorilla. The tram jolts and shudders, caught in the middle of a battle between these prehistoric foes as the tram edges toward a bottomless chasm.
More realistic than the previous animatronic King Kong ride, the special effects are synchronized to roll, pitch and vibrate with the action, including the impact of Kong hurdling atop the tram. The 360-degree wrap-around view is provided by eight 187-foot by 40-foot tall curved screens, using 16 film projectors and 12 clusters of speakers to create an immersive experience in 3D.
King Kong is being "reintroduced as a new, groundbreaking, thoroughly over-the-top experience that will thrill new generations of Studio Tour guests," said Larry Kurzweil, President and Chief Operating Officer, Universal Studios Hollywood, in a statement.
Peter Jackson's new King Kong 360 3D on the Universal Studios Hollywood Tour is the largest 3D experience - fit for the "the eighth wonder of the world' - a popular monster since it first appeared on film in 1933.
The Kong ride will open after completion of extensive backlot reconstruction that includes the re-creation of legendary Hollywood sets, including New York City streets as well as the introduction of a new modern cityscape of glass and steel façade structures for productions.
Other enhancements to the behind-the-scenes tour include trams equipped as "mobile movie theatres" with state-of-the-art technology and high-def monitors featuring film and television clips with commentary from directors Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Peter Jackson.
"As a filmmaker, you're hoping to have the audience step inside your movie and become part of the experience," said Peter Jackson. "To create the illusion of reality in a way that is much more tactile and profound than can be done in a cinema environment of a normal theatre. It's only within a theme park attraction like this that you have the opportunity to do that."
Jackson is currently writing screenplays for The Hobbit with Guillermo del Toro ( Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy) and collaborating with Steven Spielberg on the 3D Tintin film.