Ever ventured to Universal Orlando’s Island of Adventure, and taken a walk through Marvel Super Hero Island? It’s great to ride attractions and walk through a theme park experience based on some of your favorite comic book characters, but I’ve got to say, I’m a little bummed that, since the opening of Islands of Adventure in 1999, nothing new has opened in the area since 2000’s Storm Force Acceleration and, despite being the comic loving fiend I am, it’s one of the areas of the park I’m least excited about for repeat visits, despite my love for the Hulk Coaster and Spider-Man rides.
Not many folks know that Marvel’s superhero universe wasn’t the original plan for the park, however. No, the original plans were to make the park heavily themed on the Batman universe, with influences from both the movies (plans began in 1992, before the movies started sucking) and the comics.
It seems like the effort was going to be made to make this a fully immersive experience (a la the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) with themeing to make you feel like you were actually walking through the streets of Gotham. I can’t help but feel that, as much as I love Marvel Super Hero Island, this would truly have been an exciting theme park experience unlike anything seen at the time. Not only that, it seems like Six Flags attempts to use DC’s stable of characters are admirable…but the park just doesn’t have the money to do something truly stellar like the plans Universal had.
Some of the coolest ideas:
- You seem to enter the park through Crime Alley, where the lampost shines down on the spot where Batman was born.
- A Riddler store where some of the merchandise has been wrapped in green paper with question marks as sort of a “grab bag” mystery hunt. On the front of the package you’ll find a riddle that will solve the mystery of what’s inside.
- The Batcar Interactive Dark Ride (not called Batmobile for some reason): You ride in the “Batcar” around all of Gotham City, and through Axis Chemicals , which even has large pipes pumping out industrial waste.
- Batjets that zoom around the area and through a “dark ride” type attraction.
- A motion simulator ride where the ride queue would have been a walk through Wayne Manor.
They had some truly cutting edge ideas that even now seem impossible, much less in 1992. Still, how cool would it have been to walk into Islands of Adventure and see something like this!
Given that the Island of Adventure contract with Marvel is up for renewal in 2018, I’m curious to see if they’ll continue with the park, or if Disney will ask for too much money to make it worth it. Though Six Flags does DC character theme park stuff, I’m sure Warner Brothers would jump at the chance to have their characters displayed down in Florida (where there is no Six Flags).
How would I retool Marvel Super Hero Island to bring in a DC Universe theme?
- The Hulk Coaster could actually be the easiest transition into Green Lantern: First Flight.
- Storm Force Acceleration could be some kind of Flash ride.
- Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall…hmm….I don’t know. Maybe something with the Joker?
- Spider-Man I’d retool to have the “Daily Bugle” theme queue be a “Daily Planet,” and retheme the ride to be Daily Planet reporters (narration by Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen) following Superman fighting a battle through the city.
- The entire cityscape can be repurposed as either Metropolis (with minimal changes) or Gotham, which would just change the faces of the buildings.
- You’d definitely need at least one BRAND NEW ride, like Harry Potter had. I’d go with Batman as the obvious choice, and some kind of indoor coaster, like The Mummy ride, where you ride in Batmobiles. Maybe you can even take the Batman Incorporated theme and have a story where you’re in training to be the Batmen of your cities.
What would you like to see in a Batman (or any DC Character) theme park attraction?
Check out Earth 2’s extremely detailed article on the whole thing!