Attraction Review: VelociCoaster

Officially opening on June 10th 2021, VelociCoaster is the newest thrill ride to grace the shorelines of Universal's Island of Adventure and was one of the most eagerly anticipated additions in the park's history. A coaster whose hype was undoubtedly amplified by the agonising extended construction period as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and one who I'd mysteriously never heard a single bad word said about it. Could it really be THAT good? Is VelociCoaster the best rollercoaster in the world? Counting down the days to my Orlando trip in May, it was finally my turn to find out. 

After the devastating loss of duelling B&M inverts Duelling Dragons in late 2017, the once formidable Islands of Adventure ride line up was now tenderly nursing a gaping hole in its thrill line-up. Rumours were circulating that the park was changing direction, going for a more family market and that the days of hardcore, unencumbered thrills were over, a remnant of the audacious noughties when the park first opened its gates. However, after project documents were leaked in January 2019 it was clear the wait was over, and something unbelievable was coming to Islands of Adventure. 

I couldn't wait - we landed on the Friday, had Animal Kingdom on the Saturday and I sneakily checked the app to see that DAK closed at 7PM but Islands of Adventure was open until 10PM. Plenty of time to head down International Drive and get myself on what was one of my most anticipated coasters of all time. And cunningly, due to my planning, my first ride would be back row, and at night. Reading very top-line reviews of what others have had to saw I decided back row was where it was at and before I knew it we were parking up in my favourite parking structure in the world (anybody else? Just me?) and practically bouncing down those moving walkways, salivating at the anticipated experience that awaited me. 

Let me get this out there. I fucking LOVE Jurassic Park. The whole franchise - I love the original with its glorious SFX that still hold up to this day and masterclass in tension building, I love the weird sequels, and yes, I love Jurassic World too. I love that at this point we've moved on from horror tropes to full blown action monster movie chaos. It's kitschy and over the top and stupid and I love it. And it's probably the best IP in existence to have in a theme park because Jurassic Park literally is a theme park. It's all so perfect, and as such lends itself to seamless immersion and world-building. 


If you're a coaster enthusiast, the queueline is pretty great. The throughput of this thing is nuts, aided no doubt by the stellar job done by the Universal team hauling ass to get as many riders on as quickly as humanly possible. Which means we get a nice little mooch on the veranda engulfed in glorious Intamin track from all sides, feeling the speed and forces exuding from every train flies by. Then once inside we're deep in Jurassic Park lore. We've got Mr.DNA cleverly utilised to give us some safety information, a VERY Jurassic Park feeling sculpture of the raptors entwined with coaster track, some INCREDIBLE raptor animatronics (I was NOT expecting those!) and a kickass sneak peek at the initial launch that awaits you. It builds anticipation perfectly whilst never breaking from the immersion. 

And of course, it wouldn't be a Universal ride without cameos from our favourite movie franchise stars. In the main queue room upstairs before boarding we're treated to a great ten-minutes of banter between Claire Dearing and Owen Grady, the leads from the Jurassic World franchise, and it's as cheesy and camp as one could hope from a movie theme park cameo video. I am obsessed with it. ("They're faster than you realise, Claire!")

So yes, on I went, into the back row (left seat if you're interested), my heart all aflutter as we dispatched to await our launch. The raptors on the screens were a nice touch the first time round, and I was so excited seeing them run off knowing we'd shortly be following, but I will admit I cared less and less about this effect with every ride I had. The first launch is great - it gets you where you need to be and you're instantly out into the chaos. Here we're inside the raptor paddock, and for me the way the layout is designed emulates what it feels like to be a raptor's prey - we're twisted and turning and speeding and diving, desperately trying to escape the predator's claws yet knowing it's futile. I love how energetic this first half of the coaster is - and during daylight we're treated to tons of theming too, including some close encounters with the raptors themselves. Admittedly I didn't love these as they were static - for me I would've preferred either full blown articulated robots or for this just to be left as a metaphor. The rockwork and foliage are incredible though and you really do not know which way is up. 


And then things REALLY get going. We 'escape' the paddock via a 70mph LSM launch straight up into a tophat containing the single most intense, insane, outrageous moment of airtime I've ever experienced. Like Taron, the launch was lit up all red and intimidating at night as is accompanied by that incredible satisfying WHOOSH noise (that for some reason makes it feel even faster). I seriously can't think of a better onw-two punch combo of elements on any other coaster in the world. The tophat is simply, obscene, we get one or two seconds of eerie tranquility before plummeting back down to earth and the force with which you're dragged down with the train is exquisite. 

Though I'm not a huge fan, the zero-g stall provides a nice break from the intensity to allow you to catch your breath a little whilst still doing something fun, then it's back round on ourselves with a couple of glorious swooping corners, neat little track kinks that kick your ass out of that seat again and into the Mososaurus Roll finale that will have you grabbing for those handlebars like a damn fool as you're convinced you're heading straight into that lake. Seriously, barrel rolls taken at that speed should not be legal, absolutely incredible stuff. 

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In case I wasn't clear, I really, REALLY loved VelociCoaster, and after six or seven rides on the thing during my visit to Orlando it sits in my number two spot of my top ten rollercoasters in the world list. It's the perfect theme for the perfect thrill coaster, and does so much. It has everything one could want: incredible speed, seemingly never-ending, inspired layout, out of this world inversion moments and obscene airtime moments. It's just an absolute blast of a coaster and I'm so glad it lived up to my expectations. When I return to Orlando it'll be the first thing I'll be making a beeline for to reride. 

Have you ridden VelociCoaster? If so where do you rank it? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,

1 comments

  1. We visited Orlando in November last year and I was just as excited as you, Jurassic Park is THE BEST FILM series ever. It didn't disappoint, it is my favourite ride I don't know how anything will top it, I must have been on it at least 6 times and I can't wait to go back. Going to Alton Towers last weekend just wasn't the same at all!!

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