The Weird and Wonderful History of Marvel Theme Park Rides

From 2003 to 2004, England’s Thorpe Park had The Amazing Spider-Man Show. It was basically a live stunt spectacular show taking place outside with some music and dancing thrown in. It was goofy, but had some decent stunt work and effects worked in there, like Spider-Man climbing up the walls.

More cringeworthy was Spider-Man Rocks! at Universal Studios Hollywood. While there were no Marvel-based rides at the west coast’s Universal park, they did have this going on from 2002 to 2004. The 20-minute musical featured very little Spider-Man and even less Green Goblin, but once they did start fighting it out in the end, they did it to covers of “Another One Bites the Dust” and “War.” Mary Jane also distracted Green Goblin mid-fight with her own performance of “Lady Marmalade.” Oh, and she was attacked by muggers while they sang “She Bangs.” It was a strange time.

Marvel Adventure City

At Niagara Falls, from 2003 to 2008, there was an indoor theme park called Marvel Adventure City. As you entered the complex, you would be greeted by two bickering animatronics of Spider-Man and the Ultimate Green Goblin. The complex included a Daredevil-themed obstacle course, an “Avengers but they’re kids!” treehouse for children, X-Men bumper cars, and a haunted house type attraction that made it seem like the Hulk was stalking you. That one was later turned into a Hulk-themed miniature golf course.

The biggest attraction at Marvel Adventure City was Spider-Man: The Ultimate Ride. This blacklight dark ride had you shooting at targets in order to help Spider-Man take out the likes of Scorpion, Lizard, Electro, Ultimate Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and others, each depicted as a screen of CGI animation, an animatronic, or a cut-out. Once you reached the end of the ride, you would see all the various villains hanging from the ceiling, tangled in web.

Sadly, the Marvel license was too expensive, and it was dropped by 2008. The Spider-Man ride was then redesigned to be a generic superhero experience.

IMG Worlds of Adventure

You would think that by the time Disney had bought Marvel, they would step back from selling the license to other theme parks. That’s not the case, as in 2015, Dubai’s IMG Worlds of Adventure indoor park scooped up said license and dedicated plenty of their real estate to Marvel. While the park piggybacked onto the success of the MCU – including having a restaurant called Downtown Shawarma – the designs were explicitly based on the classic comic book versions.

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