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2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal's Islands of Adventure

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Published: March 16, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Sixty-three entrants are in - and, now, one to go. The final nominee for the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament, the number one seed in the Best Themed Ride bracket is...

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal's Islands of Adventure

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal's Islands of Adventure.

Spider-Man opened with Islands of Adventure in 1999 and immediately won praise as the world's most advanced theme park attraction. Blending flight simulator technology with a traditional track ride, 3-D film and stage effects, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man redefined what a themed ride could be, elevating a concept first expressed by Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure to the next level.

You're riding with the staff of the Daily Bugle in publisher Jonah Jameson's new SCOOP vehicles, tracking news that the Statue of Liberty's been stolen. (Forgive me an insider's moment here, but as a journalist, I have to give Spider-Man's designers huge bonus points for portraying the convergence of print and video journalism - something that was very cutting-edge in 1999.) The Sinister Syndicate's used its anti-gravity gun to swipe the statue, and Spider-Man's joined you in the chase.

One by one, Spider-Man fights the Syndicate's bad guys, Electro, Hydro-Man, Hobgoblin and finally, Doc Ock. In the final battle, Doc Ock attacks your SCOOP with the anti-gravity gun, setting up a 400-foot plunge off a skyscraper.

But, of course, Spider-Man saves the day.

With so much rich detail in each scene, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man rewards repeat visitors - you can't possibly catch all the detail in a single ride on this attraction. Despite the ride's immense popularity, its immense expense has kept it from being duplicated throughout the industry. A second version of the ride debuted at Universal Studios Japan in 2004. Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Curse of DarKastle (the 2005 Theme Park Insider Award winner for Best New Attraction) runs a similar system and the Transformers rides that will debut at Universal Studios Singapore in 2011 and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2012 are said to similar to Spider-Man, as well. But that's it.

The bracket's set, and tomorrow I will publish the schedule for the first-round match-ups. Let's hear your thoughts about The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, as well as your tournament picks, in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From Michael Owen on March 16, 2010 at 9:23 AM
An Absolutely amazing attraction that deserves all the praise it gets, simply the best thing Universal Creative have ever come up with and by far and away the best attraction at Universal Orlando Resort.

I do like Tower of Terror better, but I still love AAoSM and fully-expect it to go far.

From Anthony Murphy on March 16, 2010 at 9:30 AM
Ultimate Theme Park Perfection!

It blends 3D movies, motion simulators, and classic dark rides!

From Andy Darby on March 16, 2010 at 11:12 AM
Absolutely amazing.

I can't see anything beating it in this category.

From Joshua Counsil on March 16, 2010 at 11:24 AM
Spiderman is the top seed? WOW. What a surprise.

The only themed ride I would take over Spiderman is the Tower of Terror, namely because its queue and pre-show are much more absorbing. Regardless, this attraction has achieved 10-Perfection in my books.

From Don Neal on March 16, 2010 at 11:27 AM
This is an amazing ride. I haven't been to IoA in a few years and miss this guy the most. Well deserving spot. We'll see how he does against some other favorites.
From Robert Niles on March 16, 2010 at 11:34 AM
FWIW, I really had to fight the urge to do a gag post giving the "top seed" to The Dark Knight Coaster or Tuck & Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies. But I envisioned that coming back to me in a bad way, so I passed. I'm such a wimp sometimes.
From Manny Barron on March 16, 2010 at 11:34 AM
Best theme park attraction in the country. Seriously this ride has everything. Spider-Man is great and should win the tourney. I'm so looking forward to the Transformers ride in Hollywood because its supposed to be modeled after Spider-Man and thats pretty good.
From Anthony Murphy on March 16, 2010 at 11:40 AM
It would have made a great April Fool's day joke to put the Dark Knight up there. Wow, its really not that great.


Still, I see this grouping to be extremly hard with this, Tower of Terror, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates all likely to go head to head. This seems to be the "heavy hitters" of theme park attractions.

You are right, I might give Tower of Terror a bit of an edge just because its line is one of the best in the business with the scenery,fog (which doubles as a cooling mist on a hot Flordia day), and the music! Not to metion, the occasional "ex employee" who is convinced that the Hollywood Tower Hotel is haunted. But why believe that old maid.........

From Joshua Counsil on March 16, 2010 at 11:49 AM
Robert -
Please tell me that people have to be registered to leave comments this year. Voting is one thing, but I can't take any more anonymous comments.

Here are my picks:

Round 1

1. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal's Islands of Adventure
16. SeaWorld Orlando's Journey to Atlantis

8. Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
9. Disneyland's Space Mountain

4. Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom
13. Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Curse of DarKastle

5. Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean
12. Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom

2. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios
15. Soarin' Over California at Disney's California Adventure

7. Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure
10. Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

3. Universal Studios Florida's Revenge of the Mummy
14. Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges at Universal's Islands of Adventure

6. Disneyland's Haunted Mansion
11. Universal Studios Florida's Men in Black Alien Attack
Sorry, TH.

Quarters

1. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal's Islands of Adventure
8. Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

4. Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom
5. Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean

2. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios
10. Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

3. Universal Studios Florida's Revenge of the Mummy
6. Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

Semis

1. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal's Islands of Adventure
5. Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean

2. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios
3. Universal Studios Florida's Revenge of the Mummy

(I have a feeling the Disney fanboys will flood the tournament at this stage of the bracket.)

Finals

5. Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean
2. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Winner: 5. Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean

I have a strong feeling fanboy presence will dominate those final rounds.

From Robert Niles on March 16, 2010 at 12:02 PM
Disney doesn't turn out for these things. (Am I doing a reverse jinx here? Hmmm....) I see a massive battle between Cedar Point and Holiday World in the coaster bracket, with that winner taking the whole thing.

Over in themed ride, Spidey's 0-for-2 in tournaments so far. Since Universal PR has taken control of its Facebook page, I wonder if Universal fans will turn out for the vote this year like they did last year.

GOTV, people, if you want to see your favorites advance. GOTV.

From Kevin Smith on March 16, 2010 at 12:11 PM
Overall a great attraction, worthy of a high seed. Ultimately I believe it will be down to this and Tower of Terror in the finals. For me, the fact that the Tower of Terror does not require the use of 3D glasses really makes it more immersive and enjoyable, not to mention the unpredictable drop at the end. Overall, both the Disney AND the Universal fanboys will be out in full force in the final rounds, leading to an excellent end to the tournament.
From Anthony Murphy on March 16, 2010 at 12:50 PM
Disney does have that blog they have now!

Though, I think Disney and Universal has some pretty big supporters on this site.

I don't think Pirates will win though, but I do enjoy it fully!

From Rod Whitenack on March 16, 2010 at 12:57 PM
Am I the only one alive who doesn't really get the appeal of the Tower of Terror? I like the pre-show environment too, as long as the actual ride is the thing, but this is an incredibly brief ride with only two "real scenes" to show you before the drop and/or drops. It's a good attraction, but in my opinion, it's nowhere near the incredible experience of Spider-man. I actually like the Mummy better.

Then there is the problem of the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Carribean. Is it fair to put "classic rides" up against modern technology? Both of those rides are masterpieces, but they can't move as fast or employ the digital visuals of the modern rides.

From 68.202.71.29 on March 16, 2010 at 1:24 PM
This may be the last year for Amazing Adventures of Spiderman! Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey will now set the bar for theme park attractions.
From Nick Markham on March 16, 2010 at 3:15 PM
I wonder how Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey does next year... potential winner????
From Ryan Sanford on March 16, 2010 at 3:35 PM
Aw i thought Peter Pan's flight would get the #1
From Sylvain Comeau on March 16, 2010 at 4:06 PM
Spider-Man is an awesome ride which makes you feel like you've been plunged into the pages of a comic book. Still the best ride at either of Universal's Orlando parks. It also benefits from very high re-rideability, because it's such a visceral, in-your-face experience.

Maybe Forbidden Journey or Transformers will top Spider-Man, but the ride's technology holds up very well, even 11 years after its debut. By the way, Robert, in reference to its "immense cost"...I would be curious to hear just how much it did cost.

From Pyra Dong on March 16, 2010 at 6:26 PM
Yea Robert... I think you should put an interview with the creator of AAoSM in an upcoming post!
From James Koehl on March 16, 2010 at 7:34 PM
Spiderman is an amazing attraction. I once rode it from the singles line, and they forgot to give me the 3D glasses. It gave me the worst headache for about an hour!
From James Rao on March 16, 2010 at 8:47 PM
I give Spider-Man a 10-PERFECTION. It is my absolute favorite theme park attraction. If this ride was human, I would marry it. ;)
From Rob P on March 17, 2010 at 5:26 AM
This was state of the art back in 1999 and it still is.
So does this say a lot for Spiderman or more for the lack of anything to challenge it over the past 11 years ? We would have expected a wealth of technological advances during this time wouldn't we ? But nothing has come close to it.
My own personal view is that Spiderman pushed the envelope so far when it opened , and was so far ahead of it's time, that we may just have taken it's exceptional brilliance for granted.
Anyway despite all that, and the fact that I still don't understand why being hit by an ANTI-gravity gun would make me FALL, Spiderman remains a firm favourite with us.
Bring on the vote and we'll see if this old man can win through. I suspect, and hope, that he will.
Although Pirates lay in wait and we all know what they can do don't we ?
From 68.142.172.175 on March 17, 2010 at 4:02 AM
Where is Cedar Point's Magnum XL 200?
From Robert Niles on March 17, 2010 at 7:01 AM
Not among the top 16 coasters in the country?
From Jason Read on March 17, 2010 at 12:27 PM
@Rob P>> I've always thought that you get hit by the anti-gravity gun a SECOND time which restores gravity and makes you fall.

Given that we're talking about something as fantastic as an anti-gravity gun, I'll allow them that device.

From 143.166.255.64 on March 17, 2010 at 2:34 PM
Spiderman may never be surpassed.
From 64.237.248.16 on March 17, 2010 at 6:50 PM
I agree with Rod 100%. Spidey's number 1. But Tower of terror better? Really? Spidey's attraction it's amazing.(As the name implies) The ride part is a lot better that the Tower of Terror.

I don't get the crazy love for Tower of Terror. I like it but better than Spidey? I mean i like it i really do. I think the presentation and the quality of everything it's great. Like everything else Disney does. But once you get really moving i'd take Spidey/Mummy/Expedition Everest before i take Tower of Terror.

From Joshua Counsil on March 17, 2010 at 7:27 PM
Subtle burn, Robert. So sweet.

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