Thursday, May 10, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Universal’s Gotham City

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If you’ve ever visited Universal Studios in Florida, chances are you’ve visited Marvel Superhero Island at Islands of Adventure. How can you not when it has two of the best rides in the park: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk Coaster.

Sadly, the park is also one of the main reasons why Walt Disney World hasn’t built a similar Marvel-related land, despite the fact that the company now owns Marvel, as well as has planned similar lands for other Disney Parks worldwide.

However, did you know that before Universal built rides based on Marvel superhero characters, they were planning on building attractions based on characters from Marvel’s rival, DC Comics?

Yes, instead of having Spider-Man and The Hulk, Universal was originally going to feature Batman, who would have had his own themed land based on his home city of Gotham.

So what made Universal decide to go with your friendly neighborhood web-slinger rather than the  Dark Knight? Find out as we delve into the discarded plans for Universal’s Gotham City.

To learn more about how Batman almost came to Universal, click READ MORE:


Florida Today

The year was 1990. Universal Studios opened in Florida. In contrast to its original Hollywood counterpart, the park was less of a movie studio with a studio tour and attractions and more of a theme park created to rival Disney.

Even though the Florida park experienced several technical problems on opening day, the park itself had barely opened when Universal started crafting plans for a planned second gate, with plans created as early as 1991 for this second park, then known as “Project X”, but which would ultimately become “Islands of Adventure.”

Unfortunately, Universal faced a huge problem, one that continues to serve as stumbling block for the park even to this day: unlike Disney, which has plenty of popular movies to base rides and attractions on, Universal has a very limited roster of intellectual properties to do likewise.

Trip Advisor

So when Universal was originally proposing ideas for its second park, it planned on creating it through a proposed partnership with Warner Bros. As such, this park would contain themed attractions and lands based on the Looney Tunes and DC Comics.

While DC Comics in Universal Studios seems almost inconceivable now (even though the park’s current superhero attractions seem even more unbelievable, considering how Disney now owns the rights to Marvel), when the new park was being proposed in 1991, the idea seemed like a real cash grab.

Back then, the Batman movie franchise was extremely popular, with several sequels and even an animated series inspired by it. So creating a themed land based on it and other DC Comics franchises seemed like the right decision, which in turn lead to the initial proposal of Gotham City.

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True to its name, the proposed land would have been an immersive experience that would have made guests feel as though they were walking the streets of Gotham City.

The main attraction would have been an inverted dueling “Batwing” coaster with passengers either flying a Batwing or “PenWing” and racing against each other as they weaved around and through the Gotham skyline.

Other attractions included a Bat Cave-themed nightclub, several villain-themed restaurants, and a spectacular nighttime stunt show with the caped crusader fighting against several of his rouge’s gallery including the Joker and Catwoman.

Adjacent to Gotham City would have been Metropolis, which likewise would have had attractions based on Superman, including a moving motion simulator ride similar to Spider-Man.

WDW Info

Of course, as anyone visiting Universal Islands of Adventure can attest, these rides and attractions do not exist, as Warner Bros. never agreed to the proposed deal.

Marvel would end up partnering with Universal instead, and Warner Bros. would team up with Six Flags to create attractions based on their properties.

If you want to learn more about Universal’s proposed DC Comics attractions, feel free to watch the following video essay by Pardon Our Dust:

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