This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the VELOCICOASTER! This week we’re celebrating DINO-VEMBER with a look at the Golden Ticket winning VelociCoaster in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons Orlando’s newest roller coaster is the talk of the town, starting with…
# 6 – Mr. DNA
The VelociCoaster is coming off the heels of the wildly successful Jurassic World films, but one main character featured in the ride dates all the way back to the very first Jurassic Park movie. Mr. DNA was an immediate fan favorite when he made his on-screen debut back in 1993, despite only being featured on screen for a relatively short amount of time. Mr. DNA was the cartoon character used to explain the science behind Jurassic Park to the park’s guests and – more importantly – us, the audience. Who knew that a simple DNA helix with arms and legs could be so charming?
Mr. DNA made his triumphant return to pop culture in the VelociCoaster, as he meets us in the lobby to introduce us to the ride, and reappears later to show us one of the coaster’s coolest features (but we’ll get to that in due time).
The VelociCoaster is absolutely LOADED with killer details, and one of the most fun is a “blink and you’ll miss it” reference to Mr. DNA. When Mr. DNA is about to come on screen, the surrounding lights in the foyer illuminate white, blue, pink, and orange. Those are the very same colors that comprise Mr. DNA’s molecules.
Even better news? For those of us who have been longing for Mr. DNA merchandise for decades, a whole new lineup of Mr. DNA items hit Islands of Adventure along with the VelociCoaster!
# 5 – The Queue Details
To say Universal has been KILLING IT on theme park queues is the understatement of the year. With attractions like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, and Escape From Gringotts they built the first ever queues people want to spend more time in. Think about it. For 50 years all of us theme park guests have been doing everything we can to get through lines faster, and here comes Universal and builds queues that makes us want to stop and admire. The impudence! The audacity! The unmitigated gall!!
Throughout the queue for VelociCoaster we get to see the actual actors and actresses from the Jurassic World films, including BD Wong playing Henry Wu.
Keep your head on a swivel as you walk the queue, as there are a whole bunch of references for Jurassic Park fans and theme park fans.
There are several raptor animatronics in the VelociCoaster queue that are so lifelike it is downright creepy. With their eye movements and snarls, you feel like they could break loose at any moment.
You’ll notice below Echo there is a small bag.
The bag contains Echo’s favorite squirrel toy, which would be used to calm the raptor down.
The glass of water you’ll see in the queue is a clear reference to one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history.
This radar gun is reading the number 79.1. The VelociCoaster was codenamed Project 791, which means very little to most people reading this, but means a heck of a lot by people obsessed with the construction of theme park rides.
Late in the queue we are given a great sequence involving the two main characters of Jurassic World, Claire Dearing (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt). The two have some fun interplay as Owen is losing his mind about a theme park ride being built around his velociraptors. Behind Claire, we can see she is in front of the VelociCoaster.
What’s absolutely AMAZING is that when it becomes night time in real life, the background behind Claire reflects that it is night time in the ride as well.
Lots of little details everywhere you look, including what appears to be a group photo of the VelociCoaster design team on the desk and some triceratops toys paying tribute to the area’s previous resident: the Triceratops Encounter attraction.
Now remember, the theme of VelociCoaster is that you’re visiting a theme park (Jurassic World) to ride a roller coaster. Well, roller coasters have lockout stations. So naturally the queue for VelociCoaster has a faux lockout station to add to the immersive feel.
# 4 – E-Ticket Lockers
Over the last several years, Universal Orlando has done an incredible job at improving the situation of lockers for their thrill rides. When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade Village originally opened in 2010, you could make a case for the only negative in the entire land was the complete Cluster F of the locker situation for Forbidden Journey. People don’t like using lockers in the first place, but making the entire experience miserable can sour what would have been a great ride experience. In the following decade we’ve seen Universal create some amazing things at the resort, from world class attractions like the Bourne Stuntacular, to incredible hotels like Sapphire Falls, to the best water park in Florida with Volcano Bay, but the thing that has probably had the biggest impact on the most amount of guests is completely fixing their “locker situation” at thrill rides including The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Revenge of the Mummy, and Forbidden Journey. Getting in and out of the thrill ride lockers is now simple, easy, and – most importantly – stress free for everyone.
The VelociCoaster takes the locker situation to the next level, incorporating lockers into the actual ride experience. Midway through the attraction, we meet our friend Mr. DNA and he’s here to tell us how to keep our belongings safe.
The Mr. DNA videos go into great detail on what you need to put into the lockers (basically, everything on you except your park ticket) and how the lockers work.
Guests are reminded that shortly after the lockers area, they will be going through metal detectors, so make sure your pockets are empty.
The one thing you will need to have on your person is your park ticket, is that is what is used to open the locker. Don’t worry if your park ticket is only on our phone, Team Members in the area have printed out cards for you to use.
The VelociCoaster makes it as easy as possible to remember which locker you used. There are several banks of lockers, each bank is individually numbered, color coded, AND have a dinosaur as a key marker.
Here’s where the VelociCoaster goes above and beyond. Guests put their stuff into a locker before they get onto the ride, but when they retrieve their belongings it is from the opposite side of the locker bank. Just an ingenious idea that should be replicated for every single attraction going forward in the future.
The Key Markers is another brilliant, because you’re going to get many careless guests – like me – who realize after they get off the ride that they accidentally left their annual pass inside the locker with their belongings. However, because I remembered my locker, a Team Member was able to easily open it for me.
# 3 – The VelociCoaster Ride Experience
For the longest time it seemed there were good roller coasters in the world and Orlando roller coasters. The good roller coasters were found at the Cedar Fair, Six Flags, Kings, and Busch parks while the “well, at least they tried” coasters were in Orlando. In the early 2000s, Islands of Adventure added Hulk and Dueling Dragons to the mix, and then SeaWorld Orlando built Kraken, but those always felt a little older and not as grand as other coasters. Other parks built coasters over 400 feet tall, with a record number of inversions, having new launch technology types, along with coasters that hug the ground & speed around, mind-bending air time machines, and out-of-this-world experiences, while most coasters in Orlando you could still ride with your backpack. It was hard not to see Orlando as just falling farther and farther behind the pack.
There are a whole bunch of amazing details in the coaster part of VelociCoaster that take the entire ride experience up to an “11.” In the photo below a train is passing by the incredible detailed rockwork, but also contains several raptor eggs.
There are so many places from throughout Islands of Adventure where you can take amazing photos of VelociCoaster, including this one taken from Me Ship, The Olive in Toon Lagoon.
I love this photo below because it gets across the excitement and thrill of what it feels like being a guest on the VelociCoaster.
One of the most memorable moments of the VelociCoaster is the insanely cool Mosasaurus Roll over the water. It takes your breath away.
In a great touch, Universal has signage for guests walking underneath the VelociCoaster giving details of the Mosasaurus “in the water below.”
In fact, in the extended queue of the VelociCoaster you’ll see this park map of the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World area of Islands of Adventure, and note the Mosasaurus sillouette in the water by the VelociCoaster. Just a wonderful detail.
Lilly pads in the water, with the VelociCoaster track reflecting in the water. Did we mention you can get some pretty cool photos of this roller coaster?
When the sun begins setting, we start to see a new element of the VelociCoaster… the lighting features.
# 2 – The VelociCoaster at Night
As thrilling as the VelociCoaster ride experience is during the day, it may be even better at night. The long exposure shots used by photographers show how cool the ride’s lighting features look in contrast to the dark sky.
# 1 – The VelociCoaster INSPIRES Creativity!
At any given time there are several rides and attractions being built by Disney and Universal, but rarely do you ever see them connect in a way that the VelociCoaster has with the theme park community. People love dinosaurs, and people love roller coasters, so smashing those two ideas together was bound to create magic. As a regular, the experience of the VelociCoaster is so fun and thrilling that when the ride ends you just want to high five the person in the ride vehicle next to you. Everyone just experienced something special. Multiple inversions, speed launches, a 155 foot tall apex followed by an 80 degree drop, all combined with a #storycoaster level of theming makes for a powerful punch. For the creative people, it inspires them to create. These artists include the SATURDAY SIX’s own Michael Carelli cosplaying as Owen Grady.
Here we have @OfficiallyEmi as Claire Dearing.
Here we have @OfficiallyEmi-as-Claire looking out some windows that were faithfully recreated from the Jurassic World movie. All the “little touches” really add up!
The VelociCoaster has spawned a wave of artists putting “pen to paper” so to speak, as their creative juices started flowing!
How can you not love the passion shown in the drawing below?!
One of our favorite artists in the community is SonderQuest, a monthly staple of our sister article series: the Theme Park Enjoyment Index. Here we have Sondy drawing the VelociCoaster ride vehicle along with the raptor Blue standing on some of the coaster’s rock work.
Regular readers of this fine blog series know how much we love bringing our toys to the park for photo shoots, so you know we had to bring a raptor pack to the VelociCoaster.
In early 2021, Universal unveiled in-park signage for the VelociCoaster and it was awesome. It wasn’t just that the logo looked cool, it was because it had the same design aesthetic which was used for the rides in the film Jurassic World. When the VelociCoaster officially opened in June, we got a ton of great merchandise to support the attraction, including VelociCoaster keychains. However, none of Universal’s keychains are based on VelociCoaster’s cool looking sign. Graphic designer Jean Carlo Cancel made one of his own, and it looks fantastic!
Another user on social media took the VelociCoaster ride signage and added a touch of whimsy to it by creating the VelociToaster sign for his kitchen!
Is this incredible or what?!!!
Theme park blogger-in-the-sky @bioreconstruct used a neural filter called landscape mixer in Photoshop for this stunning photo of the VelociCoaster.
Below we have a child looking out at the VelociCoaster as a train hits the apex of the ride. The VelociCoaster brings out the wonder in all of us, the young and the young at heart.
HONORABLE MENTION: The VelociCoaster vs. Hulk Coaster CHALLENGE
Now, one of the type of artists we didn’t mention above is the one who probably have done the most amount of when it comes to the VelociCoaster: PHOTOGRAPHERS. We have been blessed with just one amazing shot after another from truly talented men and women with cameras. However, my favorite “trend” in VelociCoaster shots is the photogs who catch the Hulk Coaster and VelociCoaster in action at the same time. Here are my absolute favorites:
DOUBLE SECRET HONORABLE MENTION – The Reference to Dueling Dragons
We mentioned some of the VelociCoaster Easter eggs in this article, but there a lot more for fans of the movie franchise and theme park fans. For coaster enthusiasts, there is a brilliant audio reference to the Hulk Coaster in the VelociCoaster queue, but one of our favorite visual nods to another coaster is this one featuring a small shot out to Dueling Dragons.
So there you have it: Six Reasons We Love the VELOCICOASTER! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles covering the latest from the Disney Outlet Stores. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, digital maestro Scott Walker, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protégé Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, artist @SonderQuest, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.