19 For ’99: Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Everything looks good…I think…I think this time it’s…going to work!
Welcome back to Coaster101.com’s “19 for ’99” series, where we’re taking a look at 19 of our favorite coasters who are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. This week, we return to central Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where we are highlighting The Incredible Hulk Coaster.
In 1991, planning began for a new theme park adjacent to Universal Studios Florida. The original idea was that the park would exclusively a “Cartoon” theme park. By the end of 1993, it was decided that one area of the future Islands of Adventure theme park would be themed after Marvel, with the Incredible Hulk theme being selected for a thrill ride.
Early Incredible Hulk Coaster Concept Art
One of four opening day roller coasters at Islands of Adventure along with Pteranodon Flyers and the interlocking Fire & Ice-themed roller coasters that made up “Dueling Dragons,” The Incredible Hulk coaster remains an anchor attraction at Marvel Super Hero Island, one of the six (but at the time five) themed lands at Islands of Adventure.
“Marvel Super Hero Island is the place where the greatest Marvel Heroes and Super Villains all congregate and they all live,” said Scott Trowbridge, who was Show Producer for Marvel Super Hero Island with Universal Creative during the creation of Islands of Adventure. If that name sounds familiar it’s because Trowbridge now works for Walt Disney Imagineering as a Portfolio Creative Executive, overseeing all Star Wars content across all lines of business at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
Rumor has it that Marvel was not the first comic company approached for the intellectual property of the land. Universal apparently wanted DC Comics, with their Batman & Superman franchises, to anchor the area. After an agreement could not be reached, Universal signed a perpetual agreement with Marvel to anchor the land.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster was the first launched roller coaster from Swiss ride designers Bolliger & Mabillard.
The designers wanted to simulate being fired out of a cannon and subsequently set about prototyping a launch system. Universal Creative and MTS Systems Corporation had a working prototype in January 1995. The prototype consisted of a series of boxcars welded together to form a launch tunnel. A track-mounted dune buggy was then propelled inside the tunnel through the use of a weight drop launch mechanism. The designers then experimented with different rates of acceleration, each emitting between 1 and 5 G’s.
Rather than utilize a magnetic or weight drop launch, a “drive-tire” launch, featuring 230 electrical motors, was utilized for the Incredible Hulk Coaster. The drive tires that pinch the train’s underside to provide propulsion. The Incredible Hulk has several dedicated generators that feature large flywheels. Without these stored energy units, they would have had to build a whole electrical power substation and risk browning-out the local energy grid with every launch.
Following the 40mph launch out of the launch tunnel, riders are treated to a zero-G roll that immediately transitions into the 104.9′ first drop. The coaster then enters and exits a cobra roll, before taking on a vertical loop, which exits into a tunnel that goes under the pathway. To be frank, the pacing that the Incredible Hulk begins each ride cycle with is incredible.
After the tunnel, the 32-passenger trains do a 360º loop around the launch tunnel, and head into the first of two corkscrews and a vertical loop. Following a brake run, the Hulk takes riders through that second corkscrew and a low to the ground banked turn before heading back to the station. In all, the coaster features 7 inversions in its 3,700′ of track, reaching speeds of 67mph during the 2-minute, 15 second ride.
In August of 2015, Universal announced that the Incredible Hulk would close and undergo a major ride renovation that would make the ride “more immersive.” What it involved was a complete re-theme and a complete re-tracking of the coaster. The old track and trains unfortunately ended up as scrap.
Having visited Universal’s Islands of Adventure in January 2016, it was extremely jarring as a semi-regular Universal visitor to see the signature launch tunnel, but with no track launching out of it!
Incredible Hulk “Re-Construction” – January 2016.
The re-themed coaster, which opened on August 4, 2016 saw the “cartoon” comic book version of the Hulk make way for a more “live action” version, and the coaster’s signature launch tunnel was repainted from a bright purple to a more menacing black. The new trains also featured on-board audio featuring a score created by Fall Out Boy’s lead singer, Patrick Stump.
The “New” Version of The Incredible Hulk – January 2017
Take a ride on the new version of The Incredible Hulk Below!
Regardless of the iteration, the Hulk will always hold a special place in my heart because when I rode it for the first time in 1999 or 2000 (I don’t remember the exact year, but it was sometime between May 1999 and August of 2000) it was the first time where I felt like was bitten by the “coaster bug,” and my interest in theme parks and roller coasters grew immediately that day.
We’ll see you in two weeks as we take a look back at another one of our favorite “19 for 99” Coasters.
Have you ever ridden the Incredible Hulk? Let us know in the comments below!