Take a Ride on the VelociCoaster

The VelociCoaster, a thrilling new ride at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, was inspired by the Jurassic World movie series. 

Imagine hurtling through the cinematic universe of Jurassic Park, encountering ferocious predators at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. The coronavirus pandemic did not stop Universal from creating the VelociCoaster, a unique attraction with maneuvers designed to give riders the ultimate thrill. The rollercoaster opened to the public on June 10 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.

Fans interviewed on opening day called the VelociCoaster “the best rollercoaster of my entire life” and “the best rollercoaster in the world right now.”  

To better understand the process of bringing a movie to life, I emailed questions to Gregory S. Hall, an art director at Universal Creative. Hall collaborated with Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg to bring the VelociCoaster to life. He has worked on more than 20 of the park’s famous experiences, including the Incredible Hulk Coaster and TRANSFORMERS: The Ride - 3D.

Here are Hall’s emailed responses, which have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Can you share the process by which an attraction is created to complement a movie?

The Jurassic Park film franchise has always been one of my favorites. Getting the incredible honor of bringing the DNA of the epic films to fans worldwide, as an attraction, is truly amazing. The entire team studied the books and films on a much deeper level to ensure we were creating an authentic experience. 

We divided the key components into three major categories: Thrill, Teeth (dinosaurs), and Environment. We made sure that every component for this attraction laddered up into one of those core categories. We also worked closely with the filmmakers from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment. 

What is the narrative of the VelociCoaster?

The story takes place before the first Jurassic World film. Claire Dearing’s attempt of adding more thrill to the park results in building a new coaster that sends riders through the “Raptor Paddock.” Owen Grady introduces the realistic outcome of attempting such an insane idea when he says, “What could go wrong, right?”

As guests begin the high-speed chase, they’ll race alongside the ferocious Velociraptor pack—Blue, Charlie, Echo, and Delta—at speeds of up to 70 mph. In terms of musical composition, visitors will recognize the scores from the film franchise. 


“Challenges are part of the fun,” says Gregory S. Hall, an art director at Universal Creative. 

What engineering specifications on VelociCoaster are you most proud of?

The first half of the ride includes several near misses, where riders speed through incredible rockwork in the Raptor Paddock, and even encounter the Raptors themselves. The second half is more open and begins when guests catapult 155 feet in the air during our towering “Top Hat” maneuver, and then directly into an 80-degree drop.

Guests experience a total of 12 seconds of airtime. The thrilling sensation of weightlessness riders feel when they’re lifted from their seats is my favorite part. We’re also proud of VelociCoaster’s signature “Mosasaurus Roll” —a one-of-a-kind, 360-degree barrel roll right over the Islands of Adventure lagoon that has been leaving our guests speechless and serves as an unforgettable finale to the coaster.

Were there any struggles during the process of the build, beyond the pandemic?

Challenges are part of the fun. When creating an attraction with so many “firsts,” you’re bound to run into challenges. We used different methods of communication from conceptual renderings and drawings to on-the-job meetings every day. Each person on the team must cross the finish line together as each role is just as important as the next. Start together, stay together, end together.

Are there any "behind-the-scenes" secrets you’d be willing to share?

There are many to look for so keep your eyes open.Here’s a hint: There may or may not be Raptor chow bags and dinosaur eggs in the paddock.

For fans everywhere, which spot is best to ride in — the front or back?

Both—and every seat in-between. Every spot has a slightly different view, sound, and memory to it. You can’t go wrong. The front row gives amazing views, while the back row can amplify the thrills. Guests will have to experience VelociCoaster a few times on their own to make that decision for themselves. I can’t wait to hear what they think.



Photos courtesy of Universal