It was just four years ago that Universal Studios Florida introduced a major roller coaster to the top tourist destination, but now the Orlando park’s skyline is about to go through a radical transformation for the first time.
Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit was revealed today as the park’s new star coaster, and indeed, this ride is far different from anything the park’s seen before.
Rising nearly 17 stories into the currently flat skyline that defines the older half of the Universal Orlando Resort complex, the Rockit will represent the dawn of the third coaster generation for a park that opened in 1990 and went its first nine years without anything resembling a roller coaster. In 1999,Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster was installed at 27 feet tall and nearly 22 m.p.h., but it wouldn’t be until 2004 that the studios would add a coaster geared for the thrill-seekers, the heavily-themed, indoor Revenge of the Mummy.
Rip, Ride, Rockit will be an “X-Car” model from the German designer Maurer Söhne –– a concept that first took off in 2004 at Skyline Park, a local German theme park. The idea behind the “X-Car” is a minimalistic, tiered ride vehicle with lap restraints only that can lift vertically into the sky before plunging into a ride capable of anything a bowl of spaghetti is.
Universal’s own ride will be the second from Maurer Söhne in the United States, the first being the X-Coaster at Magic Springs & Crystal Falls in Arkansas. This ride, however, will feature its own custom layout.
In the artwork, an exaggerated layout probably much like the final product will look is pictured, complete with a nearly-vertical lift hill, vertical drop, heavily-banked cross-under of the lift reminiscent of Maverick at Ohio’s Cedar Point, and an experimental non-inverting loop with a twist going up and twist going down.
Universal Studios’ creative designers are finding room for the coaster by threading its track between the Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast building and Blue Man Group Theater, then extending a portion of it over the park entrance and adjacent CityWalk district that joins the Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure halves of the Universal Orlando Resort.
Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit’s 2009 debut will coincide with the opening of a new themed section at Islands of Adventure based on the Harry Potter books and movies: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The park will be advertising the technological side of the attraction along with the thrill factor: video screens in the queue, LED lighting for the structure, customized audio for each experience, and on-ride videos sent to the internet.
Universal is hoping that all factors will combine to produce a crowd-drawing thrill-ride that will more than stand out in the highly-competitive Orlando theme park market.