The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Iconic Spider-Man ride reopening at Universal Orlando park loaded with high-tech gimmicks

  • Print

ORLANDO, Fla. - As Universal Orlando theme park prepares to open a new and technologically eye-popping version of its iconic 3-D Spider-Man ride this week, creator Stan Lee says it's sort of a fluke that the costumed web-slinger ever came into existence at all.

Lee was a writer and editor at Marvel Comics in the early 1960s when he went to his publisher with a new idea: A superhero with the abilities of a fly or some other insect to crawl on walls and flit from place to place. Oh, and the character's alter-ego, Peter Parker, would be a shy, orphaned teenager with all sorts of adolescent problems and anxieties.

"My publisher said to me, 'Stan, that is the worst idea I have ever heard,'" the 89-year-old Lee recalled in a telephone interview from his Los Angeles home this week. "First of all, people hate spiders so you can't call a hero Spider-Man. Secondly, a hero can't be a teenager. Teenagers are only sidekicks. And three, superheroes don't have problems — they're superheroes!"

Lee, who had already dreamed up the Fantastic Four, the Hulk and other popular Marvel beings, worked up a Spider-Man story with artist Steve Ditko — "just to get it out of my system," he says — and put the new character on the cover of the last ever issue of a 12-cent magazine called "Amazing Fantasy."

"It sold like crazy," Lee says of the August 1962 comic. Spider-Man was well on his way to becoming the flagship of the Marvel Comics universe, star of TV shows, major motion pictures and more lately, a famously elaborate Broadway musical. Spidey's general appearance has changed little through the years, although Peter Parker has been allowed to grow up into a young man.

That brings us to the updated version of the Universal 3-D dark ride, "The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man," which reopens Thursday. It quickly gained popularity among theme park fans after debuting in 1999 but has only had minor tweaks since. Lately it had slipped into the also-ran category of Universal rides with the 2010 opening of the immensely popular Harry Potter attraction in another corner of Islands of Adventure.

The ride, which combines motion vehicles, a towering screen and special effects, was reanimated in digital high-definition 3-D and got updated sets, sound system, lighting and music. Universal says the clearer, brighter animation allowed the addition of loads of new details and high-tech gimmicks to the ride, in which the wise-cracking web-slinger battles villains Doctor Octopus, Scream, Electro, Hydro-Man and the Hobgoblin.

"We saw an opportunity to make it ready for a whole new generation of fans, and this was a perfect time to do so," said Mark Woodbury, president for Universal Creative, the park's design and development group. "The technology was available to us, (and) we saw the opportunity to create something really unique — more immersive, more detailed, more visual."

As Lee has done in some of the movies based on his characters, he steps into the ride for a cameo. He said he's not surprised at the enduring draw of his most famous creation, but he's quick to distribute the credit for Spidey's longevity.

"The people who are doing the stories after I stopped, and the people who are doing the cartoons and the rides and the motion pictures are doing such a fantastically wonderful job that the public seems to have a renewed interest in Spider-Man every time (something new) comes out," he said.

Interestingly enough, Universal rival Disney bought the Marvel empire in 2009 for more than $4 billion, but a licensing agreement keeps the Spider-Man ride firmly in Universal's clutches at the Florida theme park.

Universal opens another 3-D ride, based on the animated "Despicable Me" movie, this summer featuring similar 3-D technology. It will be on the other property at the Orlando park, called Universal Studios, which requires a separate admission.

___

Follow Mitch Stacy on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/mitchstacy.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

OT Glenn January and RB Nic Grigsby disappointed in loss to Riders

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Horses enjoy a beautiful September morning east of Neepawa, Manitoba  - Standup Photo– Sept 04, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A goose comes in for a landing Thursday morning through heavy fog on near Hyw 59 just north of Winnipeg - Day 17 Of Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you agree with the mandatory helmet law for cyclists under 18?

View Results

Ads by Google