Dates: 1999 – present
“Strap on your 3-D glasses and join the world’s most famous web slinger in a high-flying virtual reality ride. The villains of the Sinister Syndicate have stolen the Statue of Liberty and it’s up to Spidey to save the day.
You’ll face a cast of Marvel characters as you soar above the streets, scale skyscrapers and battle bad guys left and right. The high-definition 3-D graphics are so vivid, you might catch yourself counting the stitches on Spider-Man’s gloves. Just watch out for the 400-foot freefall.” (from official website, 2017)
One of the best theme park rides ever created, this $75 million 3D simulator ride opened with the Islands of Adventure in 1999 and is based in a large show building on the edge of the site.
The same ride system (a hybrid of motion base, 3-D projection, physical sets, lighting, pyrotechnic and wind effects) is used for the Transformers ride at Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Hollywood.
High-Definition Digital Projection Upgrade in 2012
From Press Release, May 19, 2011
“Already one of the most popular and innovative theme park attractions ever created, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal’s Islands of Adventure continues to raise the bar for theme park entertainment – combining advanced motion-based ride vehicles, 3-D digital film and live special effects to create an unparalleled ride experience. It is widely acknowledged as one of the best theme park experiences in the world – and it’s about to get mind-blowingly better.
The newly reanimated, high-definition experience will unfold within the attraction’s towering visual spaces – taking on even larger than larger-than-life proportions. The new digital animation – combined with the new Infitec system and new set enhancements – will transform what is already one of the most technologically advanced attractions ever created into what will feel like an all-new experience.
Facts about the enhanced ride experience:
All-new digital animation done in 4K high definition – the highest HD resolution available
The new HD animation will allow guests to experience details they’ve never been able to before – from the flames spewing from Hobgoblin’s pumpkins to the electricity arching through Electro’s body to the stitching on Spider-Man’s gloves.
To take advantage of new HD clarity and detail, Universal Orlando is adding entirely new details to the film – and leaving it up to guests to find them.
“Guests will not believe their eyes when they experience the new Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man,” said Thierry Coup, senior vice president of the Universal Creative Studio. “We are talking about a larger-than-life environment and the HD animation will make it even more remarkable than it has been. It will seem brand-new.”
End of Press Release
Digital animation before / after
Both of the images below are digital 3D animation. The original frame on the left shows how far animation technology has come since 1999. It’s detailed, but is based on geometrical shapes representing buildings with more fully-realised characters. The 2011 rendering on the right has a vast amount more detail, and looks more photo-realistic whilst still being true to the comic-book roots of the character. The lighting and texturing is vastly more detailed which will lead to a more immersive and involving experience.
Each ride vehicle is a complex machine that carries guests around the attraction in perfect synchronisation with 12 pairs of 3D projectors, moving scenery and pyrotechnic effects. It follows a complex guide track layout around the building, with a control system which keeps everything working together correctly.
In the 1999 version of the ride, the projectors are showing film loops. The system is programmed to show the correct film sequence so that the vehicle movement responds exactly to the film, which also corresponds with the live effects (including pyrotechnics and practical moving scenery) in the building. All elements of the show have to repeat every time a ride vehicle passes.
The 2012 refurbished version of the ride has digital projection, which maintains image quality, and which uses a different technology to encode the 3D information in the visuals. A single projector shows both left-eye and right-eye images with different adjustments made to the colour wavelengths, which are corrected by more expensive 3D spectacles. The Infitec system is of German manufacture and enables brighter images with more vivid colours.