A No-Expense-Spared Review of Jurassic World VelociCoaster
After taking almost a full year off, the amusement industry is back open, and with it comes the attraction that everyone is talking about: Universal Orlando’s newest thrill, Jurassic World VelociCoaster. During my visit to Orlando last week, I got four fantastic rides on VelociCoaster, in different seats and at different times of day, and in this article I will be giving my full thoughts on the coaster.
As a big Jurassic Park/World fan, and as someone who hates spoilers (I still have not seen a Rise of the Resistance POV), I will do a spoiler-free review to start, and get into spoilers later in the article. With this being a highly immersive attraction from beginning to end, there isn’t much I can talk about without spoilers, however, as a major Intamin fan and Jurassic enthusiast, I can say that this coaster was everything I wanted it to be. VelociCoaster has taken the spot of my current favorite coaster, and while it’s not quite the best I’ve experienced, I can say that the whole experience of this ride makes it my personal favorite.
The views of this coaster, both from outside and inside the queue are simply stunning, and it can be seen from nearly the entire park. Without getting spoiler-y, I can say that there are some fantastic photo opportunities both in the queue and in the station, so leave some extra time for yourself to explore all of the easter eggs and details of the attraction.
Before we get into the exact details of the coaster, the last spoiler-free thing I will say is that VelociCoaster is the perfect addition to Islands of Adventure. It is the most thrilling ride at Universal Orlando Resort, and has further cemented the park as my favorite theme park. The coaster is probably the most intense coaster in Orlando, and depending on your preferences, in the state of Florida as well. If you are making a trip to Orlando, it simply wouldn’t be complete without experiencing this attraction.
Alright, now it’s time to get into the meat of this attraction. Consider this your spoiler warning, from here on, I will be talking about specific theming, coaster elements, and story details.
I was curious how a highly themed coaster would lend itself to the level of storytelling that Universal is now famous for, but I was missing the most obvious possibility of them all: Jurassic World VelociCoaster is themed to a roller coaster… in Jurassic World. It makes perfect sense, and now that I understand that, it’s impossible to think of any other theme this ride could have possibly had.
In the queue, guests are greeted by Claire Dearing (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), the Park Operations Manager of Jurassic World. Much like in the Jurassic World film, Claire tells guests that tourists are tired of regular dinosaurs, and that they want bigger experiences. Scarier experiences. “More teeth.” Claire goes into detail about their newest attraction, sending guests inside the raptor paddock aboard VelociCoaster to run with the raptors themselves. Chris Pratt’s character Owen Grady joins the video, and as the raptor specialist, he advises strongly against this ride, warning Claire several times that this is a bad idea. The great thing about this video is that it is presented as if it is being played in real time. Claire is broadcasting from the watchtower that sits high above the attraction, and the lighting around her actually changes depending on the time of day, just like on the Jurassic World ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Other rooms in the queue include a wall of floor-length windows fitted with artificial reality technology, so that when the real-life train speeds by on the coaster’s second launch, the raptor pack chases after the vehicle, fogging up the window glass as they do. There is also a room where InGen scientist Henry Wu tells guests about the raptor program, and guests can see the toys that the baby raptors trained with, straight out of the movies, in a display case along with some other fun movie easter eggs from throughout the entire franchise. Another great room in the queue is the raptor cages, with two fantastic lifelike raptor animatronics. Their eyes dart around the room, you can see them breathing, and they will occasionally shake their cage, startling nearby guests. These are some of the best animatronics I have seen, and you can get much closer to them than I would’ve thought.
The other room of note in the queue is the locker area. I said this on this week’s episode of the podcast, but the locker system on this ride is so genius, yet so simple, that it’s baffling to me it hasn’t been implemented before. The lockers are double-sided, so you put your items in on one side when you board, and take them out on the other side when you exit the attraction. This prevents clogging in the often crowded locker areas, and makes for a more streamlined entrance and exit process. It’s also worth noting that the locker area is very close to the station, which allows riders to hold onto their belongings for much longer than usual in the queue. Just note that like most lockers at Universal Orlando, they are very thin, and could just barely fit my over-the-shoulder drawstring bag. So if you’re coming to the park with a larger bag, there are larger lockers available, albeit for a fee.
Now onto the ride experience itself. I got two rides in the front, and two rides in the back, and while my favorite was the front for the views, the back is the better experience for the forces of the attraction. I also got a night ride on the coaster, in which every single light in the ride area itself and on the train was turned off. It was an unbelievable experience, and to hear more about the details, make sure to tune into Monday’s edition of the Coaster101 Podcast to hear some of my additional thoughts!
To start the ride, the vehicle pulls out of the station, and does a quick dip before entering the raptor paddock. Cages on either side of the ride vehicle show the four raptors inside, achieved via screen effects, and Owen Grady’s narration prepares you for the launch. Once you’re given the green light, the cages on either side of you open, and your vehicle is launched forwards at 0-50mph in two seconds. The trains fly through some rockwork, and perform a wave turn-esque element (apparently called a Jr. Immelmann) before diving back into the structure.
While the first launch is only 50mph, it feels much faster due to the terrain and theming around the trains, especially if you’re riding in the front seat. After a dive loop inversion and some twisted airtime hills, the train comes face to face with the raptors, presented in statue form. This is one area of the ride that I think could use some improvement because I would have liked the raptors to have some movement, but at the same time, the train is flying by so fast that you may not have been able to notice it, so I’m conflicted.
A few more off-axis airtime hills later, and the ride is propelled into the second launch. After my first ride, I was convinced this launch must’ve been 90mph, and was shocked to hear that the train only reaches 70mph here. Granted, 70mph is still extremely fast, but the launch is on such short of a track, and you’re being propelled so fast (40mph to 70mph in 2.4 seconds) that the forces here are nothing short of extreme. Here is where the ride hits its signature element, the 155-foot tall top hat. The train lunges down the 140-foot drop at a near vertical 80 degrees, and twists into a hundred foot long zero-g stall. In the back of the train, the whip over the top hat rivals Skyrush’s first drop, and the zero-g stall feels like you’re hanging upside down for an eternity.
At this point in the ride, the track is over the lagoon in the center of the park, and flying over the clear green water is an unparalleled experience. Some short helices and more twisted airtime lead to what is most likely my favorite element on any coaster, the heartline roll over the water. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the small airtime hill leading into this element might as well be another launch, the train enters and completes the “Mosasaurus Roll” so quickly that no matter where you are sitting on the train, you will be treated to some world-class whip. Just keep your head back, my neck was hurting quite a bit after I failed to do so on my first ride.
Two more twisted hills lead into the brake run and back into the station, and make sure to listen carefully in this section for a bit of narration that ties directly into another attraction at Islands of Adventure. And just like that, the whirlwind that is VelociCoaster is over, sure to leave you wanting to rush back onto the ride for another go, just make sure to stop inside the Discovery Center to pick up some sweet merch first.
So, what do you think of Jurassic World VelociCoaster? Have you had the chance to experience it yet? If not, let us know what you’re most excited about in the comments, and if you have, tell us your favorite element!