- Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 3
Dark scenes, menacing villains, some spinning
- Location: In Marvel Super Hero Island at Islands of Adventure, part of Universal Orlando
- Ride type: Dark ride with a roving motion-base simulator and 4-D imagery
- Can you handle it? The physical ride, save for some fairly benign spinning, is not extreme. My coaster-averse mother-in-law was just fine on it; chances are, you'll be OK as well. Younger children may find some of the scenes frightening.
- Height restriction (minimum, in inches): 40
- Purchase tickets direct from Universal Orlando
A Completely Insane (in a Good Way) Ride
In addition to traveling from scene to scene, the computer-controlled vehicles are outfitted with motion bases. They move in synch with filmed action that is rear-projected on dozens of screens throughout the ride. Here's where it gets completely insane: The filmed sequences are presented in high-definition 3-D.
Spider-Man appears out of nowhere and lands with an audible and tactile ka-thunk on the moving vehicle. One of his archenemies, the Hobgoblin, hurls a flaming pumpkin, and real flames all but singe the hairs off riders' skin. (The multi-sensory effects make this a "4-D" attraction.) The final sequence, a 400-foot "sensory drop" off the top of a skyscraper, is so utterly convincing, it will completely take your breath away.
In reality, however, the motion-base vehicles never leave the ground and never move more than a few miles per hour. It's all an illusion.
The Ultimate How-Do-They-Do-That Attraction
"Everybody told us it couldn't be done," adds Scott Trowbridge, Spider-Man's original show producer. A self-described "creative person with a bit of a techno-geek streak," he and his team persevered. They included many subtleties in the attraction to reinforce the illusion. For example, when a filmed 3-D object enters a scene, a shadow of the object appears on the real wall. "It helps fulfill your brain's expectations and uses them against you," Trowbridge explains. "You can make the leap of faith."
Your Spider Senses Will Tingle More Than Ever
Because they re-animated all of the scenes, Universal's ride designers were free to add new elements. The story remains unchanged, and the ride experience is essentially the same, but there are hidden gems to discover throughout the ride. For example, Marvel legend and Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee has been inserted into multiple scenes. Eagle-eyed riders may notice rats scampering in and out of view.
The little things really seem to make a difference. The sight of the main characters, with their comic book costumes shimmering and their HD muscles rippling, is striking. I am especially impressed with the new look of background details, however. The skyscraper freefall scene, for instance, is all the more astonishing when you notice minutiae like the headlight beams that now emanate so realistically from the cars on the street below.
"The technology didn't exist in 1999 to do what we always wanted to do with Spider-Man," says Thierry Coup, senior vice president of Universal Creative and one of the attraction's original designers. After working on newer groundbreaking rides such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, he felt the time was right to revisit the Marvel attraction. "We wanted to take you into a whole new world, and now we can."