Florida’s new theme park thrills
Over at Universal Studios's Islands of Adventure theme park, located a mere 15 miles away from Walt Disney World, the vaunted Spider Man ride has been completely overhauled with new film and sound effects. There is a simulated 400ft freefall that will have your lunch attempting to break free of your digestive tract, and the ride’s 3D film projections have all been upgraded to full 4K resolution – defined as more than three times the resolution of consumer high-definition video. Spider Man creator Stan Lee even makes a cameo appearance.
In addition to the remake of Spider Man, Universal Studios is scheduled to open a new attraction in July based on the hit animated film Despicable Me. In the ride, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, the movie’s villan John Gru has relocated his evil empire to Universal Studios Orlando and the audience, who all get turned into members of Gru’s crew of little yellow minions, are taken on a 3D ride through the super villain’s laboratory.
SeaWorld, a theme park/aquarium, does not usually leap to mind as an innovator in presentation technologies the way Disney and Universal do, but the new TurtleTrek show belongs in the top rank of Orlando’s immersive attractions. Before the show, visitors walk through two large water habitats ; the first is home to hundreds of freshwater fish and manatees, while the second showcases saltwater fish and sea turtles. Many of the manatees and sea turtles were rescued from the wild by SeaWorld staff. Then the main event is a 3D, 360-degree domed theatre, reportedly the first of its kind in the US, and a film that tracks sea turtles as they make their epic journey to nest on ocean beaches. The underwater 3D footage feels very realistic. The film ends with a call to action, asking viewers to help conserve turtles and their habitat.
Discovery Cove, SeaWorld’s water resort, still has its big lagoon where visitors can swim with dolphins and relax on an expansive beach. It also added a Freshwater Oasis section that is blanketed by a rainforest canopy and brings people face to face with exotic wildlife. Visitors wade or swim along water-filled trails while marmoset monkeys leap from branch to branch in the canopy above and small Asian otters play in the shallows.
Next spring, SeaWorld is also scheduled to open Antarctica — Empire of the Penguin. Details are still being held close to their chest, but many say that the ride will take visitors into — and actually among — the park’s flourishing colony of penguins. While it is not clear how shorts-wearing refugees from Orlando’s infamous summer temperatures are going to interact with penguins living in a habitat whose temperature hovers near freezing, the ride is being called the first of its kind for any zoo or park.