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Ride / Kongfrontation

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Oh no, look straight ahead! It's him! IT'S KING KONG!

Kongfrontation was a dark ride that was one of the opening day attractions at Universal Studios Florida, which opened on June 7, 1990. The attraction was based directly off of the 1976 remake of King Kong and also served as an expanded version of the King Kong Encounter scene on the Hollywood Studio Tour.

Guests would start off walking through the streets of New York in the 1970's, eventually wandering into a subway tunnel and then into the station for the Roosevelt Island trams, where an overhead television would be showing an emergency broadcast, revealing that King Kong has broken out into the city and is wreaking havoc. Guests would board the Roosevelt Island trams to be taken to the respective island as part of an evacuation effort, with a tour guide alongside. Things quickly turned to disaster when the trams ended up going in the same direction as where King Kong was going on his rampage. The famed ape would attack the ride vehicles, picking them up and then dropping them. After a second encounter with the beast, the trams would just narrowly escape his clutches and return to the station.

Despite the popularity of the ride with fans and guests alike, it was permanently shut down on September 8, 2002 for varying reasons, often believed to be because of the wide variety of technical issues the ride faced, and the subsequent outrageous upkeep costs that resulted from this. Revenge of the Mummy would later open in its place on May 21, 2004.

However, even long after its closure, the ride has maintained a particularly strong legacy among theme park fans and is commonly cited as one of the most groundbreaking and influential dark rides of all time.

It would later turn out that the legacy of the ride truly would live on, as on May 6, 2015, it was revealed that King Kong would make his grand return to Universal Orlando with the announcement of a brand new ride for Islands of Adventure, titled, Skull Island: Reign of Kong. The new attraction officially opened on July 13, 2016.

Tropes that were shown in Kongfrontation included:

  • The '70s: The ride depicted New York when it was in its more trashy state this decade.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The ride itself was a fully fleshed out version of the "King Kong Encounter" scene on the Studio Tour at the original Hollywood park.
  • Anachronism Stew: The ride is set in the 1970s, with the buildings and set pieces lovingly detailed. However, the queue line would frequently be updated to include modern-day movie posters and advertisements. This updating did not extend to the news reports playing on the queue line's TVs, which would show commercials for shows that were current as of the ride's 1990 opening, like Out of This World (1987) and The New Lassie (both of which were produced by Universal and aired on WWOR-TV, which Universal also owned at the time). By the end of Kongfrontation's run you were bombarded with three decades at once.
  • Artistic License Physics: The trams in the ride were shown curving to the left and right. Not only is this not how the Roosevelt Island trams work, but aerial tramways altogether don't curve, only going in a straight direction.
  • Blinded by the Light: The operator of the tram would momentarily be unable to see anything due to a light coming from a chopper.
  • Cable-Car Action Sequence: The entire ride was essentially one, with the vehicles being the Roosevelt Island trams and King Kong supplying all the action.
  • Captain Obvious: The guide as well as the police over the radio would usually explain everything that's going on, even as something as easy to tell as King Kong picking up the ride vehicle.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: A breaking news broadcast would play right at the end of the ride, detailing King Kong's attack on a Roosevelt Island tram, which just so happened to be just what the riders went through.
  • Continuity Nod: The subway train that King Kong wrecks in the movie was shown burning in flames and sprawled out onto the streets in the ride's opening scene.
  • Deadline News: Video monitors in the tram and TVs visible through apartment windows showed reporter Kelly King in a helicopter reporting on Kong's rampage. As the tram gets closer to the monster, she screams in terror and the picture starts spinning before cutting out; then a burning helicopter drops out of the sky, just missing the visitors on its way down.
  • Emergency Broadcast: One would appear on the TVs in the queue line, telling everyone in the city to remain indoors due to what was lurking outside.
  • Generic Graffiti: The subway portion of the queue line contained custom graffiti all over. Occasionally they would even allow people to add their own to the walls.
  • Hydrant Geyser: A broken hydrant could be seen shooting one off in the streets.
  • Live-Action Escort Mission: The main plot of the ride revolves around the authorities attempting to evacuate civilians away from Kong's rampage and to Roosevelt Island.
  • Militaries Are Useless: As with the all of the films, the police were shown as being ineffective against the threat, their attempts to save the riders from the ape only making things worse.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Rolland Smith appeared as an anchor in the queue line video news reports about King Kong rampaging — this was made possible by Smith then being an anchor for Secaucus NJ's WWOR-9, then owned by MCA/Universalnote . To tie in with this, promos for shows WWOR aired at the time were also integrated into the queue.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Heroes: When the police open fire at Kong in an attempt to get him away from the riders, it ends up doing nothing but making him angrier.
  • "No Talking or Phones" Warning: The ride had a period-appropriate variation of this, saying, "Absolutely no eating, drinking, smoking, or radio-playing in station or aboard tram".
  • One-Word Title: Kongfrontation
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: When the order is sent out to stop all trams, the guide finds themselves unable to do so, resulting in the guests coming face-to-face with Kong.
  • Portmantitle: Kong + Confrontation = Kongfrontation.
  • Product Placement: The queue line would include several movie posters that were constantly updated to reflect one of Universal's latest releases.
  • Pun-Based Title: Confrontation. Kongfrontation. Get it?
  • The Rival: The guides at this attraction would usually have a playful rivalry with the skippers at the Jaws attraction, sometimes challenging each other to see which attraction could get more guests.
  • Scenery Porn: Arguably had the most elaborate and detailed queue line in any ride ever, even if 70's NYC wasn't exactly the most beautiful thing.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Despite mostly being based on the 70s remake, the ride did contain several references to the original 1933 film.
    • The front facade of the ride was modeled closely after the Pennsylvania Station from Strangers on a Train.
  • Sinister Subway: Part of the queue line was set inside the New York subway, which was purposely designed to create a sense of dread in regards to what was coming.
  • Stock Animal Diet: From the way Kong's breath smelled in the ride, you could tell that he seemed to have a love of bananas.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Several parts of some of the buildings would explode, due to the damage they had taken from King Kong.
  • Take It to the Bridge: The riders' first encounter with King Kong was right at the 59th Street Bridge.
  • This Way to Certain Death: The opening scene of the ride showed a ravaged street, with cars flipped over and structures in flames, and this just so happened to be the path the tram was going in.
  • Wolverine Publicity: In the 90's, this and Back to the Future: The Ride were among the most marketed rides in the park.