Universal Studios Florida has certainly changed over the years since its opening in 1990. There are some beloved rides from the opening or near opening of the park that remain imprinted on long term fans hearts and minds. Many of those original attractions have been replaced by newer attractions more recently, but the love and luster of those rides have never faded.
I was lucky enough to have worked at several of them including Kongfrontation, Earthquake: The Big One, ET Adventure, and Jaws. Jaws was by far my favorite attraction to work at in my thirteen year tenure at Universal Orlando. However, I also treasured my time, albeit short, at Kongfrontation.
I remember begging to be cross trained at attractions from Guest Services specifically to a spieling attraction where I could use my acting skills. Finally, I was granted the opportunity to cross train at Kongfrontation. I believe that my New Jersey accent assisted me in getting this opportunity as the attraction was set in New York City. I started training at the attraction and was given a script to memorize. I was told to look at the motivations behind my character on the attraction and really dig into the fear and intensity that the script called for. In order to travel with guests on your tram, you had to pass a spiel test where you performed the show with a trainer and supervisor on board. You were given notes and perhaps asked to complete it more than one time to get the show down with all the right nuances that it called for. You also had to pass a test to operate the attraction and the many different positions that you may have to operate or handle. A trainer would guide you through each position having you job shadow them followed by them watching you perform the same job.
Kongfrontation was a suspended open-air tram that was directed on a track on the ceiling. Attraction operators had the ability to raise and lower the vehicle if needed, but it mostly operated on its own with some minor button pressing. Operators had to memorize a script that went from suspicious, to frightened, to heroic in saving the passengers on the tram. The tram encountered Kong two times and narrowly escaped each time. The set below the tram echoed the destruction that Kong left in his path. The attraction was based on the 1976 King Kong film and modeled off the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Thanks to the Universal Studios Florida Wiki for some of this information as it has been quite a bit since my time at Kongfrontation.
A vivid memory that I have from working at the attraction was coming home smelling of Kong’s banana breath. The smell of the banana lingered with you. It stayed on you and with you. I remember the smell of the banana breath smelling like how Yellow Laffy Taffy tastes. The smell was pumped out through the last Kong’s mouth.
Working at Kongfrontation was fun, but it didn’t last long for me because it was announced that the attraction was to close on September 8, 2002. I had only been cross trained for several months. Alas though, I was one of the lucky ones that can say that they safely rescued tram loads of passengers from Kong’s wrath. I received a closing team member shirt when the attraction closed. I remember being bummed at the closure because being a member of the Kongfrontation team was fun and almost seemed a notch above the rest of the attraction team members.
Kongfrontation was used after its closure for Halloween Horror Nights XI, and it was odd to walk the ground of the attraction when you’d be aloft on the tram when the attraction was in operation. It was called the Ooze Zone Fright Club, and I remember there being a foam party, a ground up look at Kong, a DJ, and no banana smell to be had.
Revenge of the Mummy opened in its place on May 21, 2004. Mummy has little nods to its previous occupant in different areas of the attraction. It’s also said that the track from Kongfrontation is still up on the ceiling of the building as it would cause damage to the integrity of the building with its demolition. I love Revenge of the Mummy as much as the next guy, but it doesn’t hit the nostalgia note that Kongfrontation hit.
Working at Kongfrontation was a true pleasure. I was able to heighten and use my New Jersey accent to really act in a role that was challenging and fun.
I love reliving the experience through Youtube videos. Please enjoy this ride through from MouseSteps:
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