King Kong’s coming!

They’ve been very busy at the far corner of Universal’s Orlando theme park Islands of Adventure constructing an enormous building to house their latest attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong.

Those with a good memory will recall that Universal Studios, the company’s first park in Orlando, had a huge King Kong ride. In fact, it was one of the signature rides on opening day in June, 1990, along with Earthquake, Jaws, and E.T.

The Universal theme parks have been sold and resold over the years, and they finally got their act together with their latest owner, Comcast, which has been pouring money into creating new attractions at the parks, including Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan.

At Disney, Walt used to say it all started with a mouse, but at Universal it all really started with Harry Potter. Obtaining the rights from J.K. Rowling was the coup of the century for Universal, and gave them the momentum against Walt Disney World they’ve been looking for. Attendance has risen by 40 percent. They’ve been building new attractions at both Orlando parks almost continuously and show no signs of slowing down.

The original King Kong attraction was fun but goofy, with riders stuck in a tramway vehicle and encountering what was at that time the largest audio animatronic figure in theme park history. He had banana breath and broke down quite a bit.

Once you watch the three videos below, you will know as much as most about what’s coming this summer when the attraction opens. Read the rest

Dinomania: The Lost Art of Winsor McCay, The Secret Origins of King Kong, and the Urge to Destroy New York

See sample pages of Dinomania at Wink.

Cartoonist Winsor McCay was best known as the creator of the hallucinatory Little Nemo in Slumberland and Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend newspaper comic strips. Fewer people know that he was also the creator of the first animated dinosaur to appear in the movies (Gertie the Dinosaur, 1914). But hardly anyone knows that when McCay died in 1934, he was at work on a new comic strip called Dino, about a dinosaur that awakens after sleeping for 65-million years and befriends a young girl and her brother in New York City.

One person who knows is McCay historian Ulrich Merkl, who has put together a massive, astounding book about McCay and his influence in depictions of rampaging dinosaurs, robots, apes, and monsters in popular culture. Every page is loaded with eye-popping art from the early 20th century, much of it never reprinted before now. People of that era were just as hungry for city-destroying cinematic behemoths as we are today, and Merkl convincingly makes the case that it was McCay who whetted our appetite for them. If you like illustrations from the 1900s, you will go ape over Dinomania.

Dinomania: The Lost Art of Winsor McCay, The Secret Origins of King Kong, and the Urge to Destroy New York

by Ulrich Merkl

Fantagraphics

2015, 304 pages, 11.9 x 15.9 x 1.2 inches

$54 Buy one on Amazon

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