We see columns of fire and hear the sound of drums even before we enter the shrine, an imposing room carved to resemble several huge skulls. Waving her arms and shouting in a foreign language, an elderly woman looks at us with an imperious gaze. As the drums get louder, a choir joins the Sharwoman's cry of 'Kong!' 'Kong!' followed by a roar from the King himself.

Whether the giant gorilla's guardian is warning, threatening or cursing us, we're not sure, but we're not going anywhere...

The chamber is just one element of Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Universal's latest ride in the Islands of Adventure park in Orlando, Florida.

Located between Jurassic Park and Toon Lagoon, the ride's huge decorated temple gates are set against a black rugged landscape with craggy mountain peaks and thick, dense jungle.

King Kong has been captivating audiences for more than 70 years. "The King is legend," says Mike West, Executive Producer for Universal Creative, who designs the rides and attractions for the parks. "And he is back."

This attraction is based on the 1933 and 2005 films, the latter directed by Peter Jackson. West even worked with Jackson during the concept phase to develop the right look and feel for the attraction.

The result is a fabulous mix of technical 3D wizardry, special effects, animatronic characters and stunning sets that put you right in the middle of the action.

The story begins in 1931, a few years before the movie when Carl Denham's expedition arrived and took Kong away. We are guests of the Eighth Wonder Expedition Company, who have discovered unknown creatures on the island and we're here for a tour.

After meeting the Sharwoman, we walk through dark, often narrow catacombs decorated with skulls, skeletons, mummified bodies and carvings. I get a real scare when one of the natives pops his head out of a hole in the wall!

After reaching a loading bay, we climb into 40ft open trucks. Universal's first trackless vehicles, they each hold 75 people. The animatronic drivers interact with us during the drive, sharing their experiences of the expedition.

We put on our 3D glasses, and the action begins when one explorer is snatched by a giant flying Terapusmordax. There are 3D projection screens, so there's action on all sides.

We follow our explorer to a marsh and encounter several Carnictis, disgusting prehistoric worms, who begin attacking the truck. The explorer tries to fight off the creatures and even manages to shoot a few. The 3D is timed so perfectly that when a Carnictis is shot and blasted into pieces in front of me, I feel like I've been splattered.

By now, we're surrounded by dinosaurs, so the arrival of King Kong (who's on our side) comes as a relief. He saves us from a collapsing rope bridge and as he leans over the truck, he's so close, I can make out every pore on his skin.

At just over six minutes, this is one of the longest rides in the park and is now one of my favourites.

We take advantage of the Skull Island's location to spend time with other prehistoric animals in Jurassic Park, such as a nine-year-old velociraptor, who, we're told by her trainer, was hand-reared here. It's a blast posing with her for photos as she pokes people in the back with her nose and tries to nibble them.

Next up is the Jurassic Park River Adventure, which is a very fancy water ride. After encountering a T-Rex in a dark tunnel, we plunge down a vast drop into a lagoon.

Our hotel is the Caribbean-inspired Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, which has only just opened. It's mere minutes by water taxi from the Universal Parks and feels like we're staying in a big estate on a tropical island. Our rooms are spacious and have a great view of the lush gardens and cascading waterfalls. I get yet another soaking when I make a splash on the pool's water slide.

In the evenings, the CityWalk entertainment area is the place to go. I love the new restaurant NBC Sports Grill & Brew with its huge selection of beer, steaks and pulled pork burgers. The Burgushi (a combo of burger and sushi) on offer at the Cowfish is a bit odd, but it somehow works.

Our final night passes by in a blur when my group orders a three-gallon magnum glass of the Hurricane cocktail at Pat O'Brien's. Swaying on my way back to the hotel, I wish I had a helping hand - or even a gorilla paw to steer my way. Now where's King Kong when you really need him?


:: Laura Wurzal was a guest of Universal Parks & Resorts.

:: Travelbag (www.travelbag.co.uk) offers 14 nights at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando Resort from £699pp (two adults and two children) room-only, with flights from Gatwick. Book by July 31 for travel in Jan/Feb 2017.

:: Attraction Tickets Direct (www.attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk) offers a 2-Park Bonus Ticket with 14 days' unlimited admission to both Universal Studios and Universal's Islands of Adventure, plus all-club access to the live entertainment at Universal's CityWalk, from £157 per adult and £149 per child.