Universal Orlando is about to unleash the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, and we were among the lucky guests to get a sneak preview of this eagerly anticipated new raptor-inspired attraction, so buckle up tight for your Unofficial Guide to the wildest ride in Universal’s repertory.
On June 10, 2021, Islands of Adventure officially launches the VelociCoaster, Universal Orlando’s most extreme roller-coaster to date. The new attraction has dramatically altered IOA’s skyline by framing the iconic Jurassic Park Discovery Center with a towering pretzel of intimidating coaster tracks. It also blurs the thematic line between the original Jurassic Park film franchise and its Jurassic World follow-ups, so that guests can take high-speed tours of the maximum-security paddocks where Blue and her carnivorous pals camp out. What could possibly go wrong?
Begin this Unofficial Guide tour by watching our complete POV of the VelociCoaster queue and preshow, plus my first reaction to the ride, and then keep reading below for our detailed review:
VelociCoaster Queue and Preshow Walk-through: Spoiler Alert
Your Jurassic World VelociCoaster adventure begins as you approach the entrance plaza behind the waterfront side of the Discovery Center. Raptor statues loom overhead, and coaster trains scream past along the lagoon, setting the stage for what’s in store.
Extensive extended queueing space has been constructed, both in a mercifully shaded area alongside the main entrance, and in additional space stretching along the shoreline.
The first section that queue riders encounter features switchbacks, dramatic lighting, and a metallic sculpture of the raptor pack.
You’ll also hear information about your upcoming experience from Mr. DNA, the double-helix cartoon character from the original Jurassic Park.
Next is a spot where guests can see coasters speeding through the second launch tunnel, followed by a pack of rampaging raptors. This remarkable effect is accomplished with translucent screens that double as windows.
In the next chamber, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) welcomes guests via video and prepares them to visit the grooming stalls.
Look for Easter eggs on the shelves in this room referencing Dr. Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern), and Dr. Malcom (Jeff Goldblum), along with a scale model of the ride vehicle.
Inside the grooming room, animatronic raptors breathe, blink, and rattle their harnesses. They even smell! (We’ll leave it up to your imagination as to exactly what dinos smell like, but it’s a bit like wet dog). This is a real high point of the queue.
At this point, riders arrive at the VelociCoaster’s greatest innovation: the double-sided lockers. Unlike at the Hulk or Rip Ride Rockit, guests here can hold onto their cell phones, wallets, and other loose items until just before boarding, when they pass through a mandatory metal detector, and retrieve them immediately after disembarking.
The locker area even features sinks to empty and rinse out your souvenir drink cups!
The small lockers should be sufficient for most smaller bags. Larger lockers are available for a fee in the lowest level of the Discovery Center, which has disabled its educational exhibits and been turned into a gift shop. Be sure to stow your oversize baggage before getting in line for the ride.
Adjacent to the lockers is a family room, where non-riders can enjoy episodes of Netflix’s Camp Cretaceous animated series.
Once your possessions are secure, it’s time to climb a steep staircase (or take the accessible elevator) up for a giant-screen video briefing from rugged raptor wrangler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and his comely corporate overlord Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard).
Grady warns that a roller-coaster through the raptor habitat is a ridiculously dangerous idea, but Dearing reassures riders that their park’s latest attraction is perfectly safe.
VelociCoaster Ride Review
Finally, you’re ready to strap in and hold on! Once at the boarding station, riders board 24-passenger trains to experience two high-speed launches, an 80-degree dive down a towering 155-foot-tall “top hat,” and close encounters with realistic rock work and sculpted dinosaurs, all while being secured by nothing more than a lap bar (and Newtonian physics).
With a top speed of 70 mph and an astounding 12 seconds total of weightless air time (including a first-of-its-kind zero-g inverted stall), VelociCoaster boasts the kind of statistics that make coaster nerds salivate. However, you merely need to look at how the Intamin-built track barrel-rolls and batwings along the waterfront to know that this is one of the most intense scream machines in town, if not on Earth.
From the first burst of acceleration until you hit the final brake run, VelcoiCoaster delivers nonstop adrenaline; the first half is full of tight, surprising turns and head-chopping overhangs, while the second supplies face-peeling g-forces that make you feel like a Barbie in the hands of an angry toddler. Thankfully, the restrains rest comfortably across your hips and upper thighs, holding you securely, even as you’re flung helplessly through the finale’s heart-stopping heartline roll above the lagoon. (Loose-fitting eyeglasses or face masks may not be so lucky.)
All that may sound torturous to the coaster averse, but if your mission is to challenge the most mind-shattering scream machine in town, you can start and end your search at the VelociCoaster. Other roller-coasters may have a taller drop or greater maximum velocity, but nothing else strings together so many exhilarating elements into 70 relentlessly paced seconds.
Add in the elaborate queue, and you have an attraction that even those who normally shy away from such rides may want to attempt. Chalk this one up as another big home run for Universal Orlando.
Final Verdict: 5 Stars (out of 5)
VelociCoaster Unofficial Touring Tips
When it officially debuts on June 10, we expect the VelociCoaster to quickly overtake The Incredible Hulk Coaster as the hard-core thrill junkies’ favorite ride. Long-term, Hagrid’s is likely to continue to attract the longest lines, since it’s accessible to a wider range of guests.
As of May 4, only employees, media, and selected annual passholders have been allowed to ride VelociCoaster, but look for “technical rehearsals,” or soft openings, of the attraction in the weeks leading up to June 10. These are unannounced and could end at any time, so count yourself lucky if you happen to be in the right place at the right time!
Try to hit VelociCoaster first thing in the morning, or immediately after experiencing Hogsmeade if attending Early Park Admission at the Wizarding World. Otherwise, make it your last ride of the night, but be aware that the attraction queue entrance may be cut off before park closing if the wait time is excessive.
VelociCoaster features a single rider entrance and a Universal Express queue. The Express line experiences most of the theming seen in the standby queue, but single riders skip all the setup. They do, however, have their own locker area in the exit hallway. Be aware that these options may not be available immediately.
The boarding station features a separate line for guests wishing to wait for the front row; the unobstructed view is spectacular and worth an extra 15 minutes in line.
Be warned that the back row packs some serious bite! While the experience is intense in any seat, most of the rows are remarkably smooth; the last train, however, exhibits some lateral bumpiness that may put queasy riders over the edge.
The VelociCoaster has a minimum height requirement of 51 inches. Guests whose waistlines are 40 inches or greater may not be able to ride; test seats are available outside the attraction and in the locker room.
You’ll also find a photo kiosk in the attraction’s exit distributing digital still shots, and soon slow-motion videos, of your ride.
The VelociCoaster entrance is located on the lower level behind the Discovery Center and is not directly accessible from Jurassic Park’s main pathway; take the bridge from Lost Continent (when open) for the most direct route from the park entrance, or take the pathway in Jurassic Park near the Watering Hole.
You can get a preview of the ride’s second launch by peeking through the wall across from the Raptor Encounter entrance. Even if you aren’t brave enough to ride, the illuminated trains make for a beautiful sight after sunset.
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