A Photo Essay at
Yesterland
Universal’s Islands of Adventure Then and Now
Marvel Super Hero Island

Universal’s Islands of Adventure opened May 28, 1999. My first visit was in early 2000. I snapped some photos with a disposable camera.

Eleven years later, I took new photos of the same subjects. In this photo comparison, you’ll see how little has changed at the park’s Marvel Super Hero Island.

Of course, between these two visits, the spectacular Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in 2010. But you won’t see much of that here.

This is a follow-up to my Universal Studios Florida, Then and Now photo comparison last year.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, August 24, 2012



Image for then and now article about Universal's Islands of Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2000

Image for then and now article about Universal's Islands of Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2011

Marvel Super Hero Island

The two photos look about the same. Even the signs and graphics are the same. The colors are slightly different, but that may have more to do with how a disposable film camera and a current digital camera see colors. A closer look reveals the trees are fuller and differently trimmed; there’s an American flag on the flagpole; and a striped crosswalk has been added.

Another difference between the two photos is the number of guests in each. Some of this may be due to the time of day or overall park attendance. But the main reason is that Marvel Super Hero Island was the park’s biggest draw in its early years, while that distinction now belongs to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.


Image for then and now article about Universal's Islands of Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2000

Image for then and now article about Universal's Islands of Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2011

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

The Daily Bugle building uses forced perspective to look much taller than it. Looking at the two photos, not much changed in 11 years. There are a few things—the shape of the trees, the location of the trash receptacle, and the placement of bench by a tree. The Stark logo which appears to be missing in the newer photo, is just hidden behind the light pole because the camera angle is slightly different.

Universal maintains Marvel Super Hero Island to very high standards. Universal has a good reason, which this article will get to later.

Inside The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, state-of-the-art digital 3-D projection replaced the film-based 3-D projection in March 2012.


Image for then and now article about Universal's Islands of Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2000

Image for then and now article about Universal's Islands of Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2011

Doom Alley leading to Doctor Doom’s Fearfall

The biggest change between the two photos is the yellow paint on the ground floor of the lefthand building.

Doctor Doom’s Fearfall is a twin set of S&S Space Shot towers from ride manufacturer S&S Worldwide, Inc.—similar to the Maliboomer (2001-2010) at Disney’ California Adventure.

Unlike the Maliboomer, there is story attached to Doctor Doom’s Fearfall. Doom Alley leads to Doctor Doom’s Latverian Embassy. Doctor Doom was an evil plan to fill you with terror and then suck that terror out of you. That will give him the power to defeat the Fantastic Four and become the most powerful man on earth.


Image for then and now article about Universal's Islands of Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2000

Image for then and now article about Universal's Islands of Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2011

The Incredible Hulk Coaster

The big difference between the two photos is that a canopy has been added over the track in the newer one. It’s adjacent to a spot where the track goes below a pedestrian bridge. The canopy is probably there to keep people on the bridge from accidentally or intentionally drooping anything onto the track or riders.

The themed experience begins in the laboratory of Dr. Bruce Banner. The 2-minute, 15-second ride launches you to 40 m.p.h. in just two seconds, reaches top speeds of up to 67 m.p.h, and provides seven inversions (including a “weightless ‘zero g’ roll”) and two subterranean trenches. The idea is that you “experience the rage, power and fury of the Hulk, smashing through the sky and plummeting down to earth on a high-speed roller coaster rampage of destruction.” It’s terrifying just to watch the ride.


Image for then and now article about Universal's Islands of Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2000

Image for then and now article about Universal's Islands of Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2011

Another look at Incredible Hulk Coaster

At first glance, these two photos are very similar. But look at the shore on the other side of the lagoon. On the newer photo, Hogwarts Castle is on the left and the village of Hogsmeade is near the center.

Of course, the various photos from Marvel Super Hero Island in this article don’t show that The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for $4 billion. That means that Universal is now paying a licensing fee to a company owned by its arch-competitor and promoting that competitor’s movies. Meanwhile, Walt Disney World cannot use most of the prominent Marvel characters, even though Disney owns the company.

Universal owns the exclusive theme park rights “East of The Mississippi” for the Marvel characters it is now using, as well as for other heros and villains associated with those characters. The term of the contract between MCA Inc. [now NBCUniversal, a part of Comcast Corporation] and Marvel Entertainment Group [now Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a part of The Walt Disney Company] “shall continue for so long as a THE MARVEL UNIVERSE [now Marvel Super Hero Island] shall remain open.” To be considered “open,” it must be “operated and maintained in a first class manner consistent with the highest standards of the theme park industry.” In other words, Universal’s Islands of Adventure park can keep the rights forever.

If you want to read all the legal language of the agreement, dated March 22, 1994, take a look at the Marvel Agreement Between MCA Inc. and Marvel Entertainment Group, as filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

Would you like to take a “Then and Now” look at Walt Disney World? Here are the seven “Then and Now” articles published by Yesterland in 2011.

 

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Updated August 31, 2012.