When Islands of Adventure opened in the Summer of 1999, by far the stand-out attraction was The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Not only was the technology impressive, but the story was ingenious. For attractions, it’s particularly difficult to tell a truly linear story. Most dark rides rely on immersive scenery to place the rider in a unique environment. However, for Spider-Man, there is a true linear story with a beginning, middle and ending. Believe it or not, this story never even began with Spidey. Originally, Superman would have been the hero of this ride.
Back when Islands of Adventure was known as “Project X,” it was believed that DC Comics would sign on to be represented in the park, not Marvel. However, because Warner Brothers owned the movie rights to Batman and Superman, things got complicated between Universal, DC and Warner. In the end, all parties decided to go their separate ways. However, there were rides that were fully storyboarded that never made it to the design phase.
The Superman 3D ride had some extremely similar elements that made it into the finished version of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. For example, instead of entering the attraction via The Daily Bugle, they would have found themselves inside of The Daily Planet. Once inside, guests would enter the lobby and see just how much the operation has grown since Clark Kent first started with the Planet.
Once inside the lobby, guests were shown “live” news feed of the Planet News Network, a branch of the Daily Planet newspaper. Turns out, PNN offered a tour called Metropolis By Air, an aerial view of the city via one of their news helicopters. Once inside the briefing room, the Editor-In-Chief for the Planet, Perry White, welcomed guests via video wall. After giving a brief history of the Daily Planet, Perry told us about their latest venture, night tours of Metropolis aboard their news choppers!
Guests would then load an 18-passenger pod that looks extremely similar to the Daily Bugle’s scoop vehicle from Spider-Man. After leaving load, your pod would have been loaded onto the belly of a “telecopter” via 3D projection screens. Before you know it, you’d be up up and away high above the city of Metropolis.
Once inside the belly of the telecopter, guests would have been greeted by a pilot and a Jimmy Olsen who’s on the beat for the Planet looking for his first big scoop! Just outside the window of the chopper, Superman swooped into greet us, given us a toothy grin and welcomes us to the city. However, as these things often do, something goes terribly wrong!
It turns out another PNN Telecopter on tour has gotten wind of some commotion going on at the other side of Metropolis. Before you know it, Superman takes off to do what he does best. As his cape becomes a distant blur, we find ourselves bobbing and weaving through skyscrapers neck-and-neck with the other chopper, trying to get the big scoop first!
Perry White would then appear in our monitors telling us that Lex Luthor has escaped from prison and is on a rampage to destroy the city! His first stop was an oil refinery where he is already causing some damage! That’s right, explosions on a Universal attraction! Crazy, right?
As the Telecopter approaches the refinery, a news report is beamed in live via the ride vehicle’s monitors where Lois Lane is first on the scene. However, Lex Luthor has surrounded Lois in a wall of flames. Our chopper dives right in for an attempt at rescuing her from certain doom!
After the chopper settles down close enough to Lois to have her come aboard and save her life, an enormous fiery explosion knocks our vehicle back leaving us staring at a wall of flames and no Lois! Just when you think all hope is lost, Superman emerges from the fire creating a cyclone of his own!
That Lois can never seem to keep herself out of dangerous situations, can she? Thankfully, Superman swoops her into his arms and all is well. Even though the oil refinery is history, Lois will live to see another day and find another dangerous story, I’m sure. Want to know what happens next? Me too. I don’t have all the answers for this great unrealized attraction, however….
What I can tell you is the finale sequence featured Lex Luthor flying around Metropolis in his own winged killing machine. As your telechopper arrives, you see the pod of other guests being ejected from the sister ship in order to save them before Lex blasts them to smithereens. If there’s one thing I know about Superman, it’s that the guy can’t let 18 tourists just fall out of a helicopter onto the street of Metropolis without swooping in and saving the day.
As we all know, this attraction was never built. Personally? I am glad that Spider-Man was what ended up in Islands of Adventure’s Marvel Superhero Island. Still, it’s fun to see what might have been. Drop by ThemeParkUniversity.com next time and we will take a brief look at a sequence that was cut from the final version of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
Editor’s Note: Many thanks to the Goddard Group for permission to use these images.