King Kong Ride - Bob Burns with original model for King Kong with Judy © Margie Barron

At 4:43 on the morning of June 1, 2008, an accidental fire erupted on New York Street on the back lot at Universal Studios, destroying many blocks, the courthouse square from Back to the Future, the King Kong exhibit and a vault containing hundreds of videos of Universal films and TV shows.

At the time, Ron Meyer, the Chief Operating Office of Universal Studios said, ‘The video library was affected and damaged, but the main vault of our motion picture negatives was not. We have duplicates of everything. Nothing is lost forever.’

And he was right, nothing is lost forever – on June 18, 2009, the courthouse square reopened, on May 27, 2010, New York Street was unveiled, and on July 1, 2010, the mighty King Kong returned. This time the exhibit is re-imagined by Peter Jackson, who directed the successful remake of King Kong in 2005, on which the new attraction is based.

Producer Peter Jackson on screen at the press launch © Universal

I’ll let Larry Kurzweil, the President of Universal Studios Hollywood, unfold the legacy. “It was in 1933 that the classic King Kong film was launch. Today’s generation totally knows about King Kong and tomorrow’s generation and all the generations going forward (will too). King Kong is one of these living large legacy brands that will forever last.”

“In the two years since the fires, we’ve worked very closely with our creative team, as well as Peter Jackson. Peter has showed an unrivaled, unprecedented interest in taking the time and helping us to bring a living movie brand to life like we have here.”

Judy with her Producer brother on the ride © Margie Barron

Today is the first day that you will ever be inside a 3D story, as opposed to viewing the story from a seat. You will literally be as deep inside a battlefield on Skull Island as you could possibly imagine. It’s riveting, it’s intense; it’s perilous.”

Okay, that sold me – I was raring to go. But before I could enter the ride, I had to go through the dangerous journey of meeting a few of Kong’s good friends, brought in from the Wildlife Waystation, which this event benefited. There was a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Drifter, a 13 foot long albino Burmese python named Banana, and an adorable Macaca monkey who practically beat his stuffed toy to pieces.

So join me on my video adventure into the new King Kong ride!

Judy’s King Kong Ride – Video

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.