Scott Powers |Sentinel Staff Writer March 19, 2008

Universal Studios is about to build a new signature ride: a high-tech roller coaster full of lights, music, loops, twists and turns -- and a quick trip over the heads of people walking through the nearby CityWalk entertainment district.

The Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit is planned to be big, bright and brash enough to become the new visual symbol for the theme park when the coaster opens in about a year. Universal Orlando officials said Tuesday that it also will feature enough digital technology to appeal directly to what they refer to as the "YouTube culture."

Universal Orlando officials said the coaster will rise 167 feet into the air and feature numerous loops and corkscrew turns. Rockit -- the first big, outdoor thrill ride for Universal Studios -- is set to open in spring 2009.

It will provide another link in Universal Orlando's recent chain of big new attractions. An overhauled version of an old ride, renamed Disaster!, opened in January. The Simpsons Ride, a 3-D fantasy-simulation ride replacing the old Back to the Future, is set to open in a few weeks. And several still-undisclosed attractions are to open together in late 2009 as the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" in Universal Studios' sister park, Islands of Adventure.