After months of disappointed tourists being unable to ride, The Incredible Hulk roller coaster is back and more pissed off than ever. Last September, the big green giant closed for a massive refurbishment. After sixteen years of thrilling park guests, Universal Studios figured that it was about time the attraction got a face-lift. Everything from the track to the trains to even the entrance would get a fresh coat of paint and give riders a relatively new ride experience to the same track layout. So after nearly a year of fine-tuning and fixing up the ride, how do the new changes hold up? Let’s find out.
They say first impressions mean everything, and boy does this ride deliver in that regard. The moment you walk up to the ride, you are greeted with an entrance one can only describe as “spectacularly epic.” A detailed statue of the Hulk stands tall as he tears a piece of the coaster’s train from a section of track. Right off the bat, this tells riders that they aren’t just in for any old roller coaster; this is the Hulk’s ride and he’s in charge.
After storing your personal belongings in one of the free lockers provided with your ticket, you are free to enter the queue line. Unfortunately, the queue line is a bit of a step down from what it looked like before the renovations.
While the new queue line has much cooler-looking and technologically advanced effects, it lacks the vibrant colors and comic-book feel of the original one. Plus, since the ride has a new storyline, the Hulk cartoon that used to play on the queue monitors has been removed. In the original storyline, Bruce Banner is trying to reverse the effects of his gamma radiation with a new experiment that guests will take part in. Now Bruce Banner is nowhere to be seen; the concept of this new ride is General Ross leading an experiment that will turn passengers into the Hulk. So technically, the original Hulk isn’t even a part of this ride: YOU are the Hulk. As cool as that sounds, it feels like more of an attempt to save money on paying Disney the licensing fees to Bruce Banner’s Hulk.
Admittedly, this is a wise business decision by Universal; Marvel’s popularity has absolutely skyrocketed since the ride first opened in 1999, However, it’s still a bit disappointing that the queue line feels like they could easily paint over it if they don’t want to pay Disney for the license anymore. On the bright side, you’re still in for an absolute treat on the ride itself.
Upon approaching the station, you’re immediately greeted with fantastic and sleek-looking new trains. Like, we’re not even kidding; these new trains are absolute eye-gasms. The old trains looked okay, but these new ones are a perfect fit for a renovation meant to modernize the ride. Who wouldn’t want to take a high-speed thrill ride in one of these?
Anyways, upon boarding the vehicle and securing your over-the-shoulder restraints, you begin the ascent up the lift hill. From here on out, the ride plays out the exact same way as the original, but is still a massive improvement. With a fearsome roar, you shoot out of the tunnel and straight into a zero-g roll. The sudden sensation of being tossed and flipped gets you pumped for the rest of the ride, and it is only the beginning of a truly sensational experience.
After the launch, you dive into the ride’s classic cobra roll, and if you’re sitting in the front row, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Usually the cobra roll is the roughest element on a roller coaster; it can easily cause your head to bang side to side against the restraints. However, with the addition of some brand-new, freshly-painted track, the cobra roll is much more forgivable than on most coasters. Of course, the coaster still has a couple of head-banging moments, but sitting in the front row will easily bypass any roughness.
In fact, we dare even say that the front row is a 5-star ride. There is nothing blocking your view, and with such a fast-paced layout, you really do feel like the hulk leaping and smashing his way through the landscape. As the ride goes over the lagoon, through a misty tunnel, and into a mini-desert, the front row really lets you appreciate the ride experience around you. After reaching a top speed of 67 mph and twisting through seven insane inversions, you’ll be cheering and clapping as the ride hits the final brake run.
While you’re still trying to mentally process what awesomeness just happened, you’ll probably want to check out your on-ride photo to see what ridiculous face you involuntarily made during the ride. Sadly, the on-ride photos are another drawback to this ride.
When it comes to on-ride photos, it seems most appropriate to put the cameras on the scariest part of the ride. This way you and your friends could laugh at each others faces and have a memorable souvenir picture to take home. However, for some reason, the cameras on this ride are located on one of the final turns. By then, most of the adrenaline has worn off and there aren’t any remarkable elements to trigger good facial expressions from the guests. Most people will just be casually smiling instead of making memorable photos like this happen:
Fortunately, the lackluster on-ride photos don’t take away from how amazing the ride is at all. With much smoother track installed, the coaster’s layout is more exciting than ever. Sure, it has its bumpy moments if you’re not sitting in the front, but you really can’t go wrong with this ride. While its queue and reduced storyline is a bit of a letdown, this is by far one of the most thrilling attractions in Orlando. So the next time you head down to the sunshine state, pay the not-so-jolly green giant a visit and see if you’re Hulk enough to brave this ride.