The hunt is on! One of the most talked about coasters by average and hardcore fans alike, Universal Orlando’s newest coaster endeavor, the Velocicoaster, is currently soft opening before it’s official opening day on June 10th at Islands of Adventure. I was lucky enough to get several rides on it during my recent trip, and soaked up all the glorious details to share with you in this in-depth blog review about the new Jurassic experience.
This ride is truly a BEAST. I came in with high expectations that were easily met and quite possibly exceeded. Delivering multiple unique thrills and an incredibly smooth ride, the Velocicoaster lives up to its name and creates a genuine feeling of a raptor hunt. I’m impressed by Universal’s theming elements. They’ve once again proven that they’re up to the challenge of hitting Disney-level standards of immersion, even with an outdoor coaster. With great ride length, pacing, air-time, and speed, I genuinely believe that this coaster may be the best coaster in Florida. If you consider yourself a fan of rollercoasters, this is a ride that you have to experience for yourself!
The Story of Universal’s Velocicoaster
I was pleasantly surprised by the level of story in the coaster. The Velocicoaster is the newest attraction not in Islands of Adventure, but Jurassic World, offering a breakthrough new way for guests to have up-close encounters with the infamous raptors from the films. The scheme is devised by park director Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt both return to reprise their character roles) to cater to Jurassic World attendee’s desire for experiences with “more teeth”.
The coaster has been built inside the Jurassic World velociraptor paddock, with a ride train constructed by the park to supposedly make sure guests can navigate safely through the paddock without becoming raptor lunch. Of course, you’ll have to go fast. In the pre-show, Claire has a conversation with raptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) where he makes a last ditch effort to warn guests about the dangers of putting people inside the raptor enclosure. In a classic what-can-go-wrong theme park trope, Owen muses, “I tell them the raptors are dangerous, they say put a rollercoaster in the paddock. What could go wrong?”. As the coaster takes its initial launch, the raptors are released from their holding cells, and the chase begins.
Theming of Universal’s Velocicoaster
The Velocicoaster provides a new coaster facade along the Islands of Adventure lake, and it looks great. It’s super entertaining to watch the coaster make it’s thrilling peak from around the rest of the park. The raptor paddock theme can be seen on all sides of the surrounding area. Giant, jagged rock formations lie inside the paddock and are very well executed. I found myself trying to look around longer to try to catch all the awesome foliage and waterfall elements all over the place. For a coaster that moves so fast that you can barely look at anything for more than a second, I appreciate Universal still making the effort to develop such elaborate rockwork and environment in the ride.
I’m a huge fan of all the little details, and this ride certainly left me satisfied in that aspect. It is far more than just a cheap thrill. The designers hit the nail on the head when capturing a blend of modern Jurassic World architecture paired with the rugged natural environment inside the paddock. Without even riding on the ride, Universal guests can still appreciate this massive creation.
The only small theming gripe I have is the lack of cohesion with the entire Jurassic area of Islands of Adventure. While the River Adventure and surrounding land is themed to the original movies, the Velocicoaster now sports the sleek, modern aesthetic of the new Jurassic World series. I would welcome a Jurassic World facelift to the rest of the land and the River Adventure, especially after seeing what’s been done in Hollywood with their new, Jurassic World version of the River Adventure.
Queue Experience in Universal’s Velocicoaster
The queue is well-designed and effective. As someone who loves theme parks for their immersion and interesting tidbits and easter eggs, the beginning of the queue was somewhat boring. However, once you get inside there are some cool things to look out for. The queue begins in a giant room that’s a little bare, but has some great lighting elements on the ceiling that pulse and change color. They add a sense of movement and urgency. Paired with intense music, this part of the queue is a good introduction to the vibe this ride wants to portray. The coolest part of the room is a giant stylized statue with velociraptors, instantly iconic. Also making a return for the ride is Mr. DNA, the goofy cartoon DNA strand from the movie. He’s the one who explains the safety and locker details for the ride, and he’s depicted on screens throughout the queue.
Moving further into the queue, we see some cool easter eggs in shelves including books written by Ian Malcolm (Jeff Golblum’s character). Also included are some raptor toys and other fun stuff. My personal favorite easter egg is a glass of water with a ripple in it, a call back to the iconic T-Rex scene from the original. Keep your eye out for it. In the same room, there’s a neat element where you get to witness the coaster carreen through the second launch tunnel, with screen-projected raptors following close behind. Each launch that comes through has a different sequence of the raptors following, which is engaging during a long wait.
After seeing the raptors in screen-form, we come upon by far the best part of the queue: animatronic raptors being held in containment units. Although just the raptors heads are showing, the animatronics are magnificent, and incredibly lifelike. It’s super cool to get up close and personal with them. They have a variety of movements such as snarls, breathing, and they even rock the entire cage. It’s also a fun photo-op.
Another great feature of this ride in particular is a brand new locker system. Instead of putting all of your belongings in a separate locker outside of the attraction (riders have to go through metal detectors before riding), the lockers are actually accessible just before riding. It is a two-way locker system where riders place their items on one side, then pick them up directly after riding in lockers on the other side. The system lets riders have access to their phones and other necessities in line, which solves an annoying problem that Universal has where riders don’t have access to any of their belongings while in line.
The last two elements of the queue before riding is a hall where other Jurassic World attraction posters are displayed, and finally the aforementioned video pre-show with Claire and Owen. The hallway posters were a little detail that I personally loved. They show the other “attractions” in Jurassic World, including the Velocicoaster, the River Adventure, and a few more “coming soon”. The posters echo vintage Disney attraction posters in Magic Kingdom. There is a final larger room where boarding happens and riders watch the video pre-show that I discussed to build up the story.
Ride Experience in Universal’s Velocicoaster
Now it’s time to get into the real star of the show. Developed by industry juggernaut Intamin, the coaster represents the cutting-edge of roller coaster technology. This attraction is so great because even though the story and the theming is evident, the real focus is still the thrill. This success in both theming and actual coaster elements is really what’s drawn in both casual theme park fans and coaster aficionados alike. The ride delivers on both fronts.
The initial launch into the paddock is thrilling and nerve-wracking. The train starts in a fog-filled tunnel with the raptor cages on either side, where the velociraptors can be seen via screens. I almost missed this detail on my first ride as it’s rather discrete. I wish Universal could’ve taken this segment of the ride to perhaps add a larger raptor presence, even using full-body animatronics. But as you can probably tell, I’m just a sucker for some great practical effects.
I was surprised to find that the coaster actually spends more time in the paddock than I had imagined, and it really made the ride feel longer to me. Speaking of length, they got it perfectly right. Especially with such a vicious coaster like this one, I wasn’t looking for more or feeling cheated. I felt like I had gotten just enough action out of the experience to feel perfectly satisfied. Any more out of this monster would’ve been too much.
When talking general coaster analytics, the Velocicoaster features two high-speed launches (one of which takes you 0-50 in two seconds), the signature 155-foot high tophat, and several inversions (more on that later). Topping out at 70 mph, the thing is fast. It feels faster than other coasters I’ve been on. It’s perfectly intense and gives you just enough without being too much. At least for me, someone who actively rides rollercoasters.
In terms of on-ride theming, the only thing other than the rockwork and foliage is several life-size realistic looking raptor statues you quickly fly past, giving you some close encounters with the predators. I can’t even blame Universal for not making them animatronics here since the ride is so fast, you couldn’t tell if they were moving anyways.
I was able to get a ride front-row and back-row, during the day and at night. Because of this, I feel like I’ve gotten a good grasp of the ride. The thing rips. It’s super smooth, which really means a lot especially with how much is going on with the track. The back row naturally feels a bit rougher and whippier than the front. If you’re looking for G-forces, the back row is for you, if you’re looking for the smoothest ride, you need to sit in the front. I really enjoyed both ends but preferred the front row. Day and night the coaster is beautiful, you can’t go wrong whenever you ride it.
Naturally at night it’s a little more ominous and daunting, especially since the inside of the raptor paddock is not very well lit. At nighttime, it’s really hard to see anything on the coaster, I didn’t even catch the raptor statues. If you’re only planning on riding once I would recommend going during the day so you can (try) to take everything in. However, the ride train itself is the highlight of the ride at night. The lighting on it is really impressive, and seeing it race around at night is a beautiful sight.
During the ride, the coaster is essentially split into two parts. The first being the part inside the paddock where there are slightly less inversions and you can see the raptor statues and go through their rugged habitat. The second part begins after a second launch takes you out of the paddock and straight up into the tophat, where the coaster really kicks into overdrive. There’s an awesome move where the track hangs you upside down, and you soar directly over a walkway leading into the queue. After a couple more inversions, you get into an incredible full 360 inversion right above the lake that has been affectionately named the “mosasaurus roll” by fans. This inversion gives you some serious air-time and was the highlight of the track for me.
Overall, this ride is a triumph for coaster fans and average guests alike. With undeniable thrills, a fun story, and immersive theming, Universal has set a new standard in the large-scale rollercoaster department. I can’t think of another attraction with a better integration of both story-telling and massive thrills. It’s a must-ride and will be a staple of the theme park for years to come.
If you’re attending a convention and are in need of any assistance with a trade show booth, check out Everything Tradeshows! The one-stop-shop for all things trade show design and installation.
It’s in the name! Everything Tradeshows is your one-stop shop for all things trade shows, including booth purchases, booth rentals, and complete brand management services. Ready to get started? Have questions? Get in touch by calling us at (954) 791-8882 or by filling out the form below. We can’t wait to hear from you!