What Made Universal Orlando's Spider-Man Ride So Amazing?

October 9, 2021, 2:08 PM · The biggest event in the theme park industry is celebrating one of the industry's all-time best attractions, next month in Orlando.

I just bought my plane ticket to attend the IAAPA Expo at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center next month. The industry's largest annual gathering returns in person this year, with a full line-up of educational sessions in addition to its massive show floor with displays from ride manufacturers, designers, and suppliers.

The highlight of the event every year, at least for me, is Bob Rogers' Legends panel, which offers an insider's view into the creation of some of the world's most enduring theme park attractions. This year, it's "The Legends Behind The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man."

The 3D motion-base dark ride at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure won our Theme Park Insider Award for Best Attraction for the first four years we gave out that honor. It dominated so much that we actually retired the award for several years, since it became a foregone conclusion that Spidey was going to win it anyway.

How did The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man hit so big? IAAPA Hall of Fame member and two-time Academy Award nominee Bob Rogers will lead the discussion with three members of the attraction's creative team:

Obviously, there was some talent on that crew, since it included the future leaders of Universal's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Disney's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. I've submitted some questions to Bob to ask the panel, but I would like to hear from you, too.

What would you like to ask these three about The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and its influence on themed entertainment design? Submit your questions in the comments below and I will forward the best ones to Bob.

If you are attending IAAPA this year, do not miss the The Legends Behind The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at 3:30 pm Wednesday, November 17. After the panel, check back here on ThemeParkInsider.com for my coverage.

See you on the show floor!

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Replies (12)

October 9, 2021 at 2:28 PM

"What Made Universal Orlando's Spider-Man Ride So Amazing?"

Screens.

And by the way, BRAVO!

October 9, 2021 at 2:57 PM

How do you continue after creating the most perfect dark ride?

October 9, 2021 at 4:29 PM

OT: "How do you continue after creating the most perfect dark ride?"

Me: You take it to the next level with MIB, Mummy, Forbidden Journey and the best DR of them all, Rise.

October 9, 2021 at 3:31 PM

Still a mind-blower over two decades later. The combo of screens, live-action effects, simulator, dark ride and more would be tricky today, let alone in 1999 yet they pulled it off. A reason why, aside from a few adjustments to the CGI, they don't mess with near perfection.

October 10, 2021 at 7:20 AM

Still the greatest dark ride ever created - 20 years later. A perfect balance of screens, motion, practical sets and sound. That balance is what makes Spider Man such a flawless ride.

Transformers, by contrast, is just a great ride. It can be loud and over the top with too much stimulation happening all at once.

Sometimes less is more ...

October 10, 2021 at 9:47 AM

Best balance of screen vs practical effects, immersing you right into the story and adventure, with the "pulled up the side of the building" portion being the biggest stand out. Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey was a close contender, but somehow (for me) didn't blend the two styles as effectively. However, it gets extra points for the original ride system. Rise of the Resistance, though I haven't had a chance to ride it yet, does look like it did really well with the balance as well.

It really goes to show that when they pull out all the tools, and blend them perfectly, it makes for the best ride experience.

October 11, 2021 at 5:28 AM

@ B Goodwin: You have something to look forward to. "(Disney) met the ridiculous standard ... Rise of the Resistance ... the world's best theme park ride."

October 10, 2021 at 7:39 PM

@TH Creative lol not close.

October 11, 2021 at 5:27 AM

@ OT: You need to direct that post to its author: the guy who runs this site.

October 11, 2021 at 1:06 PM

You know it's a good Universal ride when it gets this high engagement from TH.

hehe

October 11, 2021 at 2:52 PM

Spidey is easily in my top 10.

October 12, 2021 at 2:02 PM

This is where TH and I will wholeheartedly agree, because Spiderman has been so successful because of SCREENS. Never before had screens been used so effectively and cleverly with images so vividly presented (even more so following the recent upgrade to the projection systems). In 1999, Spiderman was mostly known as a comic book and cartoon character as Sam Raimi's original live-action film wasn't released until 2002, so utilizing screens with animated images was the best way to bring the characters to life. When Spiderman broke box office records, it made IOA's ride even more successful, because it still existed within Sony's Spiderman canon while connecting the characters from the original comic sources. If UC had instead relied predominantly on practical effects and animatronics, I think the popularity would have waned shortly after Raimi's Spiderman Trilogy.

The other aspect of the ride that makes it so successful is that Universal runs the attraction near the practical limits of the ride system. When Busch Gardens Williamsburg debuted Curse of DarKastle in 2005, they used similar motion base vehicles from Oceaneering, but dialed back the intensity from what Universal did. DarKastle relied more heavily on the visuals to create the sense of motion, while Universal split the reliance between the vehicles and the visuals more evenly. The more intense motions of the SCOOPS on Spiderman make a HUGE difference in the excitement of the attraction, but also undoubtedly necessitate more rigorous maintenance, which ironically was the reasoning for why BGW closed DarKastle in 2017.

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