Everything we know about the huge update coming to Jurassic Park at Universal's Islands of Adventure

The Jurassic Park Discovery Center at Islands of Adventure - Image via Wikia
Image via Wikia
The Jurassic Park Discovery Center at Islands of Adventure
NBCUniversal’s commitment to adding a new attraction to every theme park they own every single year has remained true, as they prepare to open a new show at Universal Studios Florida and a new Harry Potter-themed coaster at Islands of Adventure.

While much of the focus has been on these two major attractions, there are already indications of what next year will bring to the resort.

In the Jurassic Park area of Islands of Adventure, there have been rumors of an update for years, mostly pointing to a canceled plan to add a family coaster. That wooden coaster concept dates back to before the park opened. It was a primarily outdoor coaster with a short indoor scene.

Now, new permits and leaks point to Universal dusting off the idea of a roller coaster for the Jurassic Park area. The wooden coaster concept has been replaced by a high-speed steel coaster. The assumed manufacturer for the new coaster is Intamin, who did Busch Gardens' Cheetah Hunt, Universal’s Escape from Gringotts, and the still unannounced Harry Potter coaster that is replacing Dueling Dragons. Intamin has worked heavily with all three of Orlando’s major theme park operators and therefore are familiar with the high demands that rides within this market require.

Replacing the unpopular Triceratops Encounter walk-through attraction, the new coaster would stretch across the plaza in front of the Discovery Center, coming within feet of Hogsmeade.

WFTV’s Chip Skambis gave details of a leaked layout for the new coaster, which shows the first section being what fans call a “spaghetti bowl,” with multiple twists and turns all within a small area, similar to Intamin’s award-winning Taron coaster in Germany. Like both Taron and Cheetah Hunt, the new coaster will have a launch instead of a traditional lift hill. When Taron opened, it was one of the fastest multi-launch coasters in the world.

If the plans WFTV has shared are accurate, the new coaster will have two launches. One section looks to be a large ‘top hat’ feature where riders will shoot straight up then straight back down (similar to Universal’s Rip Ride Rockit coaster but without the lift hill and with a 90-degree drop) will give the theme park a new feature to its already iconic skyline. After riders race through the numerous features in the “spaghetti bowl,” a second launch will send riders into a more Cheetah Hunt-like section with straightaways and hills along the front of the Discovery Center, with a helix in the canal between Jurassic Park and Hogsmeade, before returning to the station across the waterfront.

According to other sources familiar with the plans, the new Jurassic Park coaster could see a top speed in excess of 70 mph.

The coaster will be mostly unthemed, but it’s expected that the “spaghetti bowl” area will see large amounts of rockwork. That should better tie the new attraction to the nearby Camp Jurassic area. A recently filed trademark for "Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous" could possibly be the future name for this kids play area.

While the new coaster concept isn’t anything like the previously proposed one, there is at least one item that looks to be the same. At the very beginning of the coaster layout, the ride passes through an indoor section where a dark ride scene is thought to be located. To understand the expected scene within this dark ride section, we have to look at the future of the entire Jurassic Park area.

click to enlarge Everything we know about the huge update coming to Jurassic Park at Universal's Islands of Adventure (3)
Photo via Universal
Jurassic World and its more recent sequel both heavily featured the raptors, creating a new fan base for these creatures. The breakout popularity of the raptors has caused Universal to add Blue, the most popular of the film’s raptors, to their Raptor Encounter meet-and-greet despite Blue being found in the new Jurassic World park while the land in Orlando being themed to the older Jurassic Park.

In Hollywood, the Jurassic Park ride, which is nearly identical to Orlando’s River Adventure boat ride, closed late last year as it gets an update to the new Jurassic World theme. The boat ride in Hollywood will see multiple new indoor scenes replacing previously outdoor sections.

There have been no official indications that Orlando will be changing the name or theme of its Jurassic Park area, with some even speculating that Universal’s rumored new theme park might have a Jurassic World section, while Islands of Adventure will keep the Jurassic Park theme. As the plans for the new park have come to fruition, the Jurassic World land looks to have been canned (along with the long shot Star Trek and Lord of the Rings lands).

Now it looks like Universal will, in fact, update the Jurassic Park area at Islands of Adventure to Jurassic World, but may keep many aspects of the current land intact. The updated theme will allow for better continuity between the land and the new coaster, which will be themed to the Jurassic World raptors. The indoor dark ride section will be a tour of the raptor paddocks then the coaster will burst out of the paddocks and straight into the chaotic spaghetti bowl of twists and turns.

Beyond the new launch coaster, the Jurassic Park area may see other updates if it indeed does get the updated theme. Universal is rumored to be closely watching the reviews of the updated Hollywood boat ride. If the Jurassic World boat ride receives positive guest reviews, then Orlando’s River Adventure may receive the same update.

A new carnival games area and a new raptor meet-and-greet are already in the works thanks to the upcoming coaster. Insiders have indicated that both of those will be designed to easily fit within either the Jurassic Park or Jurassic World theme. Logos on the construction fences that recently went up around where the new coaster will be going feature only the circular T-Rex logo with no name below it, allowing it to fit either of the themes. The construction fence is painted a bluish color instead of the typical khaki most construction walls at Islands of Adventure have. This has led some to speculate that these walls are a possible hint of the new Jurassic World theme.

Major construction should be noticeable on the new roller coaster by mid to late summer with the new coaster expected to open sometime next year. The full retheming of Jurassic Park to Jurassic World, if it does happen, may be timed to correspond with the upcoming third film in 2021.

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