It was 47 weeks since we’d last heard screams echoing in the entrance to Islands of Adventure. The coaster is sleaker, smoother, and has a few new bells and whistles. Most of all, we’re glad to have it back.
The Incredible Hulk isn’t much different from the previous version. Outside of on-ride audio, a new queue with a “storyline”, and a new look; it’s very much the same ride. The good thing is that The Hulk was always a good coaster. Now it’s refreshed and ready to be a great one.
The main purpose of the downtime was the replacement of all the track. All 3,700 ft of track is brand new and designed to provide a smoother ride. The layout of the track has not changed, but small differences in angles and shape add up to make a smoother ride.
There’s also plenty of attention brought to the inside of the ride building. A whole new queue is a welcome refresh since the old one was more than outdated. Gone is the gaudy purple and green color scheme. Also gone from the ride is The Hulk himself. The only thing the new ride has in common with the big green guy is the name and color of the accent lighting.
The Queue and Story
The queue is reminiscent of something you might see in a modern comic book movie. Large flat panel screens tell the story of the laboratory and why General Ross came to be. There’s a few short videos featuring people hulking out, and it’s some of the best CGI in a theme park. This is also where you’ll soon become a “Hulkified” version of yourself.
It’s sad to say that the story doesn’t jump out at you. That can be a good thing because after all, it’s just a roller coaster. With all the announcements by Universal that the ride has a new storyline; I was expecting more.
For those of you who might miss it, the idea is that YOU, the rider are the experiment. No longer is The Hulk involved, they are testing gamma radiation on volunteers like you. For a ride named after The Incredible Hulk, you’d expect The Hulk to be the center of attention.
It’s an interesting choice considering the fate of Marvel in Universal is uncertain. It might make re-theming easier in the future. Beyond the statue out front, the big green guy himself has nothing to do with the story.
The Loading Experience
At the top of the ramps is where the lines merge. The left side is for riders who want the front row. All other riders head to the right where they’ll join their assigned row.
Luckily Universal has designed these new trains with larger guests in mind. No longer are modified seats only in the middle of train. Rows 1, 3, 4, and 6 have double buckled restraints. If you find yourself in need of one of the larger seats, just let the team member know at this point. From there they will direct you to the proper row.
As mentioned before, the ride vehicles are completely new. They have a new look inspired by a stealth fighter, and the headlights are spectacular at night. It makes riding in the front row a different experience at night. You can actually see the beams of light shoot off into humidity of the night which is kind of awesome.
The vehicles also have a sound system installed. There are speakers at your feet that point towards the rider’s head. This allowed Universal’s creative team to add another layer to the ride’s experience. The soundtrack is good, but there’s an issue with having a sound system on an outdoor roller coaster. We’ll go over that in the next section.
The ride itself starts off strong. The new theming in the station is noticeable to say the least. The launch tunnel is full of LED panels and animates when a train launches. Any fan of roller coasters, or theme parks should experience the ride for this part alone.
After riding a few times I realized what was missing from the experience. THE SOUNDTRACK! Having been on it during previews, a Passholder Event, and normal operation I realized the volume is too low. In no way does it detract from the ride; the soundtrack is a bonus after all.
It’s just something that most people aren’t going to notice when they’re on a roller coaster. Even if you are listening for the soundtrack you’re going to have a hard time. Roller coasters are loud, and a soundtrack usually involves speakers next to your ears. The speakers’ placement makes it almost impossible to notice until you hit the brakes at the end.
For the ride itself, The Incredible Hulk Coaster provides a smooth ride. This is what they were going for when they refurbished the ride anyways. They hit the mark when it comes to providing a better ride experience. All the new bells and whistles are just icing on the cake.
I’m happy to say that almost everyone will find something to like about the new version of The Hulk. There’s for sure a lot more hits than misses when it comes to hitting the marks on the refurbishment.
The new launch tunnel and loading platform add a lot to how you feel going into the ride. All the little things add up to make an unforgettable experience. That’s what separates a good ride from a great one. It has always been worth riding The Incredible Hulk, and it still is.