Marvel Superhero Island provides a theme park window to the pre-MCU world


The Avengers Campus opened on June 4th at Disney’s California Adventure Park, one of the parks at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. In all the glitz and circumstances around the new installation, you may not register that the Avengers Campus is not the first Marvel-themed amusement park, or the only amusement park there. The title belongs to Marvel Superhero Island on Adventure Island in Universal Orlando, Florida. Founded 22 years before the Marvel Cinematic Universe began, it redefined how the world sees Marvel characters. This is a strange time capsule in the pre-MCU world. While the rest of the words of the new WEB Slinger’s Spider-Man Ride on the Avengers Campus lined up, I revisited the Amazing Spider-Man Ride at the Islands of Adventure out of morbid curiosity.

Why are there two Marvel-themed lands in completely separate parks owned by completely different companies? What’s good about that old vehicle from 1999? Thanks to my recent trip to Universal Studios and my general knowledge of the strangeness of Universal’s Islands of Adventure, I can get those answers.

Photo: Petrana Radulovich

A little background for those unfamiliar with the complex world of Marvel theme parks: Why Marvel Superhero Island exists in Universal Studios Island of Adventure is because many of the attractions in the Island of Adventure and Universal Orlando theme parks Because it is licensed for properties in other studios. That’s why these parks have the Harry Potter Wizarding World. When the Islands of Adventure opened in 1999, Marvel Superhero Island was one of the first theme lands in the park. (Interesting details — it was originally DC Land before Time Warner acquired Six Flags and planned its own DC integration there.)

Universal’s Islands of Adventure is a collection of different properties, each on its own “island” within the park. Jurassic Park-themed island, Harry Potter Island, Dr. Seuss’s world, comic strip land, King Kong-inspired Skull Island, and vaguely medieval-Greco-Roman-Arabian-themed Lost Continent there is. These days, only stunt shows and interactive fountains are held, but there are some other attractions that don’t belong anywhere else. And then there is Marvel Super Hero Island.

I first visited the park in 2007 and returned to the park in 2021 and wasn’t too surprised to find that it hadn’t changed much. Due to various rights issues, all of Marvel Island is from pre-2009 comics when Disney acquired Marvel. The actual contract language is very specific. Disney may not use the “Marvel” name in US or Japanese theme parks (explaining the name of the Avengers Campus). Also, you cannot ride a Marvel-themed simulator within the specified legal distance of the Universal Theme.Park (it’s 60 miles for a “mini theme park” and 300 miles for an actual theme park.) Disneyland is west of the Mississippi River and is therefore exempt from these rules. As a result, Disney pushed the Avengers campus into a relatively small Disneyland rather than placing it in the larger Walt Disney World.

A human torch that plunges in front of the cafeteria

Photo: Petrana Radulovich

What is a Marvel Super Hero Island, if not an MCU?

Marvel Superhero Island clearly emphasizes that it represents Marvel Comic, Not Marvel movies.. It actually works a bit. Instead of duplicating the movie set from the MCU, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movie, or poison, The Marvel Island decoration is full of images of giant comic-style characters, and the building is stylized in large, bold, bright colors to emulate its feel.

It helps that some of Marvel Island’s most eye-catching art is from characters that haven’t yet appeared on the MCU. The main restaurant boasts a large notch in the Fantastic Four. You can take a picture with a huge image of Wolverine exposing his nails. Captain America and Iron Man art are painted on the sides of the building, but they are clearly cartoon characters, not movie stars. The retro atmosphere may be jarring, but it’s easy to overlook them as those particular characters make up only a small part of Marvel Superhero Island.

Visitors who are strangely unaware of the legal restrictions of a particular Marvel theme park may be expecting to see the MCU counterparts in the park. However, in most cases, the attractions (Doctor Doom’s Fearfall, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, and Storm Force Accelatron (X-Men’s Storm-themed Rotating Tea Cup Ride)) are not or are included in the MCU. Touch no character. Disneyland Park still has a presence. It also helps Marvel Island jump off the Toon Lagoon. Toon Lagoon is an island of adventure dedicated to comic strips and old-fashioned cartoon characters such as Popeye and Dudley Dwright, allowing visitors to seamlessly transition from a single pen. And-put ink in another world. In most cases, the Marvel Superhero Island feels like a small pocket universe, completely different from the MCU Jaguar Note we know and love today.

Except for Spider-Man Ride.

It’s pretty interesting that both Marvel Superhero Island and the Avengers Campus were held at Spider-Man Ride — Spider-Man’s Amazing Adventures at the Island of Adventures, and WEB SLINGERS: Spider-Man Adventures at Disneyland. Both of course have Spider-Man, but they also have a blend of physical motion sets and virtual screen environments. Spider-Man’s rights continue to be a strange legal gray area when it comes to Marvel’s properties. Nice guy Tom Holland is said to have saved the ancient contract between Sony and Marvel in 2019, but the rights to the hero’s film still belong to Sony.

But when it comes to The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Ride, there was no modern Spider-Man movie. Like the rest of Marvel Superhero Island, this vehicle is designed to remind you of comics and is more visible in the 1994 anime series than imitating a movie featuring the Netherlands, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield. Is similar. For the last 22 years, coasters have maintained the same look. Temporarily refurbished in 2012, But it only included updating it to 4K and 3D, adding some Stanley cameos. When Spider-Man’s Amazing Adventures was released, it was one of the most cutting-edge vehicles around and won the highest awards at industry events.

Can you hold on today?

Waiting for Spider-Man’s Amazing Adventures will take you to the back of the Daily Bugle’s office. In vehicle lore, the Sinister Syndicate, which here consists of Dr. Octopus, Scream, Electro, Hydroman, and Hobgoblin, stole the Statue of Liberty. An animated version of J. Jonah Jameson, voiced by Chris Edgerly, invites me and other guests to ride in a special luxury reporter car to take a picture of Spider-Man (… Chris Edgerly). Lee also made a voice). The cue goes around the Daily Bugle office. Brick is intermittently drawn on the bright outside building, creating a cartoon-like atmosphere. It’s not as detailed as some of the other waiting areas in the park (think of the Hogwarts line), but the small sign on the Daily Bugle cashier is nice.

Inside, a line goes around the newspaper. This was done in 1999, so Daily Bugle reporters use typewriters and rotary phones. Everything is grayish and will continue to look like a comic book and will evoke newspaper comics, but it looks a bit faded. On television scattered in the queue, reporters provide a “live update” of the Sinister Syndicate’s plans.It was all done in the same old 1994 Spiderman A pretty attractive animation style.

Some gray fruits

Photo: Petrana Radulovich

Desk with typewriter

Photo: Petrana Radulovich

J. Jonah’s introductory video details what we’re waiting for while showing off a “scoop” vehicle. We grab some “night vision goggles” (3D glasses) and then load them into the car. It takes us to the backstreets of Manhattan, painted in the style of comic books.

The vehicle is a hybrid of a set piece and a video screen, showing that an animated version of the Spider-Man character threatens the scoop vehicle and is being pulled away from us by the Spider-Man web. In most cases, these cartoon encounters don’t look terribly outdated, as they aren’t specifically intended to look photorealistic. The graphics look jerky when the video pans in for close-up. But that doesn’t happen very often, and when it happens, the villain is almost always masked. The flowing hair-like elements of scream may look a bit stiff, but when the actual fire is blown off the wall and the water splashes on the rider, it’s not what you really pay attention to.

Scoop vehicles seamlessly transition from set to screen for Universal Rides to work very well. The effect is similar for Harry Potter and Forbidden Journey rides, but Spider-Man rides are notable for doing it first and are still just as fun. Despite the occasional stilt graphics, it’s still exciting, full of sudden dangers and reversals every few seconds. The scoop vehicle hits Dr. Octopus’ anti-gravity beam, making ups and downs even more thrilling.

Fire and water — the “4D effect” — may be a gimmick, but it’s nicely integrated into the (certainly incredibly cheap) storyline — and when a man made of water is swiping you. Will be a little cheaper. Of course, Spider-Man plunges to save the day and snatches on the web before the scoop vehicle plunges to the ground. It’s a lot of fun, but that’s exactly what you want from a short theme park encounter with your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

All vehicle stories are animated and included in Spider-Man’s folklore, so it’s easy to forget about Spider-Man’s MCU version and his entire interconnected universe, as there are no references to other heroes or villains. .. This is another Spider-Man, who has never met Tony Stark and has never accidentally unleashed the bot that plagues the Avengers campus. During the ride, I thought I was thinking about Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire, but instead, I was swept away in this animated world.

I went to Marvel Superhero Island hoping it was a bit sad, a pocket of immutable time stuck in the early 2000s. To be fair, there are still many of those fixed references for all the villains, like Captain America’s cardboard cutouts fighting MODOK. But it also captures the world of brightly colored off-quilters that the MCU hasn’t duplicated yet. Spider-Man Ride is a perfect example of the pre-movie franchise energy of the superhero world and a homage to the cartoon and anime shows used to define the superhero media. For some reason, after all these years, even if it’s trapped in a limbo of strange times, Spider-Man’s amazing adventures still endure.In fact, maybe it will hold up Because It’s trapped in a strange time limbo, part of Marvel’s folklore era, as much as it’s a fun ride.