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The birth of Velocicoaster: A look back at Universal’s new species of coaster

New thrill ride now open at Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando's Jurassic World: Velocicoaster (McReynolds)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Universal Orlando Resort has opened its newest attraction, the Jurassic World Velocicoaster.

Thrill-seekers will have the opportunity to soar 155 feet in the air and catapult up to 70 mph alongside a ferocious Velociraptor pack.

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The attraction, located at the Islands of Adventure theme park, is Florida’s fastest and tallest launch coaster.

For Universal fans, getting to the attraction’s big opening day has felt like a million years in the making.

Research and development of the coaster has taken about four years, but overall construction took a little more than two years.

“This coaster was just a squiggle on a piece of paper,” said Shelby Honea, show producer for Universal Creative. “We wanted to make sure this was a thrill coaster. We wanted to make sure we were protecting the environment -- the lush growth we have here at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and of course, you have to have teeth at a Jurassic World attraction, which is a challenge on a 70-mile-per-hour coaster.”

(Universal Orlando)

Universal Orlando first filed permits to build the new attraction with the city of Orlando in May 2018. At the time, it was dubbed Project 791. Review of those plans by various city departments was approved.

On Jan. 17, 2019, crews begin clearing space near the long-closed Triceratops Encounter attraction, adjacent to the waterfront at Islands of Adventure.

Universal fans began to speculate what could be on the horizon for the area. A new ride or a long awaited giant churro stand? The world would have to wait.

Further fueling the speculation, Universal’s social team took to Twitter with an image of a baby dinosaur hatching, with the caption that read, “A star is born.”

The post possibly hinted at the future attraction or the success of the 2018 Warner Bro’s film, “A Star is Born,” which had just received Academy Award buzz.

Construction walls went up with a Jurassic World logo, and a short time later, merchandise kiosks were moved.

Construction walls in Jurassic Park in Jan. 2019 (McReynolds)

Universal team members were alerted the same month via internal communications that a pedestrian bridge connecting the “Jurassic Park” and the Lost Continent lands would be closing on Jan. 22, 2019.

Construction in front of Jurassic Park Discovery Center. Feb. 23, 2019 (McReynolds)

For several months, clearing began around the Jurassic Park Discovery Center in Islands of Adventure. Not only did Universal have to remove the former Triceratops attraction, but they also had to remove the former Velociraptor Encounter.

In late 2019, cranes arrived at the construction site as clearing work wrapped up.

Construction on Velocicoaster seen on November 3, 2019. (McReynolds)

Construction crews made significant groundwork on the coaster through the holiday season and into early 2020, but everything changed when Universal Orlando made the decision to close its theme parks in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 15, 2020, Universal closed its doors to guests in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but the closure didn’t stop construction on the new attraction.

Officials said work continued under health and safety protocols put in place.

In May 2020, WKMG’s Sky 6 helicopter flew over the site to see crews making significant progress with the attraction’s track layout, station and several support beams. The 155-foot “top hat” element was also in its early stages of being built.

After months of being closed, Universal Orlando was given the green light by Orange County leaders to reopen under new health and safety protocols, on June 5, 2020.

When guests arrived, they could see the progress that had been made on the new attraction during the closure.

Velocicoaster construction. June 13, 2020 (McReynolds)

When guests stepped inside the park, they were able to spot construction crews building some of the impressive immersions the coaster offers together. The raptor paddock walls were in early stages, along with some of the rock work.

Velocicoaster construction. June 13, 2020 (McReynolds)

As the theme park continued to operate under limited capacity and new COVID-19 safety protocols, progress on the coaster continued.

In August, construction crews reached a major milestone with the completion of the coaster’s 155-foot “top hat” element. During the month, guests were stopped in their tracks as giant velociraptor statues were lifted, and sometimes rolled, into the construction site.

Late one day in September, fans received the news they were waiting for. The name, the Jurassic World: Velocicoaster, was announced. During that same time period, officials showed off the first promotional artwork, details about the coaster and even shared an image of it at night at Islands of Adventure.

Prior to the name reveal, Universal had only said the new ride was opening in summer 2021.

Universal announces 'Jurassic World VelociCoaster' opening Summer 2021 (WKMG-TV)

The details came as the track for the new attraction was at, or near completion.

During September, the ride vehicles, which were wrapped in plastic, began undergoing testing on the completed coaster track.

Ride vehicles undergoing testing on the completed track. Sep. 20, 2020 (McReynolds)

In October, video began to surface showing the ride at its full potential as officials began the first test runs.

Some fans waited from afar to see the coaster speeding over its tallest point in the early morning hours.

Construction on Jurassic World: Velocicoaster on Oct. 22, 2020 (McReynolds)

By December 2020, momentum surrounding the coaster was beginning to build as Universal gave fans a first look at the ride vehicles. The coaster’s vehicles are lined in a sleek light blue and black color. Photos also showed a scratch mark on the front end of the coaster and an Ingen and Jurassic Park logo on the sides.

(Universal Orlando)

With the start of 2021, construction was being wrapped up and final details were being added ahead of the summer season.

News 6 flew over the attraction to see the final work underway.

  • January: Guests begin noticing construction crews installing additional statues of the prehistoric predators. One pair of Velociraptors could be seen on top of the attraction’s entrance, while the other set is on top of pedestals near the bridge that connects Jurassic Park to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • February: Construction walls that overlook the roller-coasters paddock came down, giving guests the first look inside. Fans were in awe as the coaster zipped and turned around the newly constructed rock work. New merchandise for the new attraction was rolled out in select gift shops.
Velocicoaster testing on March 6, 2021 (McReynolds)
  • March: A new remodeled bypass bridge from Jurassic Park to the Lost Continent opened. It gave guests a look at the roller coaster. Guests also got their first chance to see the beautiful Velociraptor statues that are sitting on pedestals.
(McReynolds)
  • April: On April 6, Universal Orlando announced that the Jurassic World: Velocicoaster would be opening to guests on June 10.
  • May: Universal began previews for its passholders on May 2. For a number of days, during select times, annual passholders were allowed to be among some of the first to ride the attraction before its official grand opening. Just a couple days following the previews, Universal began technical rehearsals for the attraction for everyday guests.
Jurassic World: Velocicoaster on May 3, 2021 (McReynolds)

On Thursday, June 10, thrill-seekers will have the opportunity to soar 155 feet in the air and catapult up to 70 mph alongside a ferocious Velociraptor pack as Universal Orlando Resort opens Jurassic World VelociCoaster – Florida’s fastest and tallest launch coaster, located at the Islands of Adventure theme park.

Jurassic World: Velocicoaster on June 9,2021 (McReynolds)

Click here more information about Jurassic World VelociCoaster and to learn more about Universal Orlando Resort.

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About the Author:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.