Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man: The Legends Behind the Ride

When Universal Studios Islands of Adventure theme park opened in 1999, it contained a signature attraction that aged like a fine wine – The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. The motion-based 3D dark ride takes guests on a journey to defeat five well-known Spider-Man villains who are led by Doctor Octopus.

In an article about Islands of Adventure in September 1999, The Orlando Sentinel stated, “Leading the way is the park’s crown jewel, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – a ride that has drawn intense interest from consumers and the industry.” (Sep 26, 1999)

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man dark ride was the most technologically advanced of all theme park rides of the time, seeking to completely immerse guests into the story. 

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Experience

The book Universal vs. Disney: The Unofficial Guide to America Theme Parks’ Greatest Rivalry by Sam Gennawey describes the technology of the experience as follows:

“The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man blends the motion-base ride system with large-format stereoscopic 3-D generated imagery, theatrically lit sets, and powerful special effects. The ride is housed inside a 200-foot-by-260-foot building. A quarter-mile track passes by 13 screens blended with 1.5 acres of Hollywood-style sets… Universal paired 24 projectors with the world’s first 3-D rear-screen projection system to create the experience.”

It’s one thing to describe the technology behind it, but another to “ride it.” For those who haven’t had the opportunity, here’s a video of the ride (put on your 3D glasses now):

Video by YouTube Channel Theme Park Groupie

Walt Disney Imagineering’s release this year of Web Slingers at Avengers Campus in Disney’s California Adventure was bound to draw comparisons with Universal’s 1999 dark ride.  If anything, the comparisons show how The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man continues its domination as one of Universal Creative’s best creations ever.

“Disney had to know whatever Spider-Man ride they built would be compared to Universal’s all-time classic,” says John Gregory in a Theme Park Tribune article titled, “Review: Disney’s Web Slingers Wastes Spider-Man with Uninspired Ride. “Yet in every comparison I can imagine, Disney’s newer ride can’t match what Universal created 22 years ago.”

That’s high praise for the Universal Creative team, one that is about to reunite to talk about building the ride.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Legends Panel

Universal Creative hit a home run with The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride. For 12 years straight it won Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Award for “Best Dark Ride.” 

Some of the legendary minds behind The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man dark ride will gather together at 3:30 pm on Wednesday, November 17 at IAAPA Expo 2021 to talk about the ride. On the panel for The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride will be:

Production Designer: Thierry Coup
Show Producer: Scott Trowbridge
Senior VP of Attraction Development: Phil Hettema

The Legends Panel will be moderated by Bob Rogers, Founder & Chairman of BRC Imagination Arts. Rogers is in the IAAPA Hall of fame and Thea Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. 

“The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride astonished the industry and became one of the most imitated attraction ideas of all time,” Rogers tells Theme Park Magazine. “This is a chance to hear from three of the ride’s conceptual inventors who dared to do something untried and truly different.  What did that feel like?  Were they ever worried they had reached too far?  And most important, how did they sell this up to conservative upper management?”

The Legends Panel will share their secrets, insights, and leadership strategies that “guests can apply to their own work, regardless of their field.”

Since 1999, the three legends on the panel have continued to impress.

Thierry is the Senior Vice President, Chief Creative Officer of Universal Creative, Universal Parks & Resorts’ Research and Development division. You see his work everywhere you go in Universal Studios parks, especially The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Trowbridge took his talents to Walt Disney Imagineering where he serves as Portfolio Creative Executive. He led the efforts to create Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and Rise of the Resistance for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Rise of the Resistance is recognized as revolutionary and one of the best dark rides of the modern era. 

Hettema is now serving as the President and Creative Director for The Hettema Group which “creates stories you can touch.”

Spider-Man Ride Exterior
Exterior of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Ride (image courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort)


The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Legends Panel is a great reason to attend IAAPA Expo 2021.

IAAPA Expo 2021

Known as the largest trade show for the attractions industry, IAAPA Expo is being held in Orlando, Florida. Here are the details:

Conference Dates: November 15-18
Trade Show Dates: November 16-19
Location: Orange County Convention Center (9400 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, FL)
Legends Panel: Wednesday, November 17 at 3:30 pm
Legends Panel Location: Room S310EFGH

IAAPA was founded in 1918 and represents attraction professionals from more than 100 countries. IAAPA is headquartered in Orland, Florida, but also has offices in Belgium, China (Shanghai), China (Hong Kong), and Mexico.  


Explore More (Videos)

Behind the Scenes: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Ride

Theme Park History of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Ride

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Ride with Lights On

Ride with clear video (no 3D effect)

Ride with full queue walkthrough

Explore More (Resources)

“Web Masters” article from LiveDesign
Review: Disney’s Web Slingers Wastes Spider-Man with Uninspired Ride
The Golden Ticket Awards
IAAPA Expo 2021
Theme Park Groupie YouTube Channel
Universal vs. Disney Book (Amazon affiliate link)
BRC Imagination Arts

Images courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort

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