* * * * *
Type: 3-D motion simulator ride
Time: 4.5 minutes
Short Take: An astounding spin into the comic pages
Until Harry Potter’s arrival, Universal’s publicity powerhouse trumpeted this as “the next threshold attraction,” the one that takes theme park entertainment to a new level, just as Back to The Future . . .The Ride (since closed) and T2 did when they opened over at Universal Studios Florida.
Visitors step into the offices of the Daily Bugle only to discover that the evil villain Dr. Octopus and his Sinister Syndicate have used an antigravity gun to make off with the Statue of Liberty and other famous landmarks as part of a plot to bring New York City to its knees. Since cub reporter Peter Parker and all the rest of the staff are mysteriously absent, crusty editor J. Jonah Jameson drafts his hapless guests into a civilian force with the mission of tracking down the evildoers and getting the scoop on their nefarious doings.
The vehicles are simulators, much like the ones in The Simpsons in Universal Studios Florida. Underneath they have six hydraulically operated stalks that can be used to simulate virtually any kind of motion. But these cars can also move through space, and they do, along tracks that allow for 360 degrees of rotation. The combination of forward motion, rotation, and simulator technology creates startling sensations never before possible.
Further heightening the experience is the environment through which the cars move. This is the world of Marvel comics sprung vividly to life and startlingly real. Intermixed with the solid set elements (that include enormous chunks of a cut up Statue of Liberty) are almost undetectable screens on which three-dimensional films add an extra measure of depth and excitement. Both villains and heroes seem to leap directly at you. At several points, various villains and Spidey himself drop onto the hood of the vehicle with a thud and a jolt. They are insubstantial three-dimensional cartoons, of course, but the effect is amazingly real.
As your ill-fated journey proceeds, it is your bad luck to keep interrupting the evildoers at awkward moments, and they do their utmost to destroy you, with deadly bursts of electricity, walls of flame, and deluges of water. They narrowly miss each time, sending your vehicle spinning and tumbling to its next close encounter with doom.
Finally you are caught in the irresistible force of an antigravity ray that sucks the vehicle ever upward as Spider-Man struggles valiantly to save you. The ride culminates with a 400-foot drop through the cartoon canyons of New York to almost certain death on the streets below. It’s quite a ride.
The best seats in the house. Logically, the first of the three rows in the vehicle should be the best, since you don’t have the heads of fellow passengers in your field of vision. Still, the other rows, because they are slightly farther from the screens, provide better 3-D effects.
Tip: Spider-Man usually offers a single rider line to speed your wait.
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