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What Does the Future Hold for Jurassic Park at Universal Orlando?

By Alicia Stella, Theme Park Shark Author

Updated 11:51 AM EDT, Fri February 19, 2021


Universal

With the VelociCoaster opening soon at Islands of Adventure, will Jurassic Park and Jurassic World co-exist, or will one take over completely?

As you probably already know by now, the new attraction opening this summer at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando is called “Jurassic World VelociCoaster.”

As many have noticed, however, this new attraction is going to be located within the “Jurassic Park” land at the park.

So, how is it that we’ll have a brand new ride, starring actors and characters from the Jurassic World film series, built in a land that already features iconic elements from the original 1993 film?

Does this mean the entire land will be re-themed to Jurassic World? How did we get here?

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“Jurassic World VelociCoaster” sign with torches lit

For the last twenty years or so, there have been plans to add at least one additional attraction to the Jurassic Park section of Universal Orlando.

Before Islands of Adventure opened they had a concept for a helicopter simulator ride named “HelicopTours” that was going to be put off until later but was ultimately never built.

A couple years after the park had opened they started toying with the idea of adding a roller coaster to the area, but the tourism downturn after the events of 9/11 seemed to cancel those plans.

It would be more than a decade later before they started to revisit the shelved concepts and seriously consider building a new Jurassic ride.

Rumor has it that one of the competing concepts for what would eventually become Skull Island: Reign of Kong, was to be a new version of the never-built Jurassic Park Jeep ride.

Using the same ride system that it ended up using, this could’ve been placed exactly where Skull Island is now.

In this scenario, we still might’ve gotten a new King Kong ride, but it would’ve been built next door in the Studios park, replacing Disaster.

Given its action theme, (and the fact that it has the word “Island” in the name,) they decided to bring Kong over to Islands of Adventure instead, taking up the last remaining expansion plot for Jurassic Park. (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey had taken its other expansion plot earlier.)

Luckily for Jurassic Park, there was still some real estate that had recently opened up in the land. The former Triceratops Encounter walk-through attraction had permanently closed a few years earlier, leaving a gap in the attraction lineup.

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Jurassic World VelociCoaster testing at Islands of Adventure

With a new King Kong ride under construction, designers started thinking about what type of new Jurassic Park attraction to bring into the middle of the land, on the old Triceratops Encounter plot.

It was rumored that for a little while they were considering dusting off the plans for the HelicopTours simulator, only now with a more modern off-the-shelf flying theater ride system.

Some time was spent developing a concept for the attraction, but partway through the design phase, something happened. Jurassic World was released in theaters in 2015, and it devoured the box office.

Universal
Guests can meet Blue the velociraptor in Jurassic Park at Universal Orlando

Supposedly, work on developing the new HelicopTours concept continued, but the ride film’s setting was changed from Jurassic Park to Jurassic World. But then, something else changed.

Some say that it was due to the sight line issues stemming from adding a large building so close to the lagoon in the park, while others argue Universal was concerned about adding another screen-based simulator ride to the resort, but for whatever reason, suddenly a new roller coaster concept was earning favor within the company.

What would eventually become known as the Jurassic World VelociCoaster was designed to not only fit within the allocated Triceratops Encounter plot—but also zoom out into the lagoon of the park, cross in front of the land’s Discovery Center, and back.

Forget about trying to hide an unsightly show building, this plan would embrace the beauty of twisted steel, intertwined with Jurassic’s jungle aesthetic.

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Meanwhile, things were changing over at other Universal Parks. Universal Studios Hollywood was converting their Jurassic Park water ride into the world’s first Jurassic World ride.

Plans for Universal Beijing Resort were announced, including the first theme park land designed as Jurassic World from the start, featuring the franchise’s first indoor dark ride.

Rumor has it that Orlando thought about re-theming its Jurassic Park land into a Jurassic World land, including re-doing the River Adventure into something similar to Hollywood’s version.

According to some speculation though, the resort only had enough budget to either re-do River Adventure, or build the new roller coaster, and we can see what they decided on.

Universal
Jurassic Park River Adventure at Islands of Adventure

And that brings us to today. The new roller coaster will be opening soon, and according to the official description it will feature characters like Owen, Claire, and Blue from the Jurassic World films.

The very same press release also says that you can explore the rest of the land featuring the Jurassic Park River Adventure and the Raptor Encounter featuring Blue. If you ask me, it certainly seems like they don’t mind mixing franchises.

Sure, the events of the two film series do take place on the same island, but at very different time periods.

And to the credit to the creative team working at Universal Orlando, they have done a fantastic job of mixing the two styles in such a way that doesn’t feel forced.

Alicia Stella
Jurassic World attractions within the land are connected thematically by this concrete strip

Walking through the area, you can find a Jurassic Park themed attraction across from a Jurassic World themed attraction, but it somehow works. Nondescript logos are used on the backside of the coaster to help it match the Jurassic Park area.

They’ve essentially created a Jurassic World mini-land within the Jurassic Park area.

This mini-land will even have its own entrance, as the bypass bridge that previously only opened during peak times throughout the year is expected to remain open year-round after the coaster debuts.

Soon guests will be able to meet Blue at the Raptor Encounter and ride with a raptor pack in the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, while also stepping back in time on the Jurassic Park River Adventure and playing in an amber mine at Camp Jurassic.

Alicia Stella

Of course, it is always possible that the rest of the land could someday be completely converted into Jurassic World, but it doesn’t seem like Universal Orlando is in any hurry.

At best we may get a small re-theme of the Watering Hole drink stand into the Isla Nu-Bar tiki bar as seen in Universal Hollywood, or some new food at Thunder Falls Terrace to celebrate the opening of the VelociCoaster.

For the foreseeable future however, it’s nice to be able to have both halves of the Jurassic film franchise represented in the same place… It’s the best of both worlds.


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Comments

  • Melissa
    For those of us that remember the intensity and excitement of the first Jurassic Park film and like Alan Grant seeing dinos for the first time, that will always be the best. There isn’t another first time. So Jurassic Park will always be the best for me.
    Reply · 1 week ago


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Islands of Adventure Jurassic World Velocicoaster

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Alicia Stella

Alicia Stella

Alicia is a lifelong Floridian and has been visiting the Orlando theme parks since the age of 3. Her years of experience, both working at and exploring theme parks, allows her a unique perspective for helping others plan and get the most out of their own visits to the Orlando parks.

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