Universal Studios Florida is renowned for its premiere Halloween event Halloween Horror Nights, but there’s another fear factory next door at Universal’s Islands of Adventure that’s been churning out the screams on a regular basis, and that’s Doctor Doom’s Fearfall in Marvel Super Hero Island.
Since its opening with Islands of Adventure in 1999, the towering spires of this ride have been a prominent landmark in the theme park’s skyline, but those towers aren’t just ornamental. They’re part of a fear inducing and gut dropping thrill ride that sends riders 185ft soaring into the air and back down to the earth again with such velocity that even the most seasoned theme park heroes will scream for their Aunt May.
The Story/Build Up
As you may have guessed, Doctor Doom’s Fearfall is named after one of the most notorious and diabolical Super Villains of the Marvel Universe. Doctor Doom aka Dr. Victor von Doom is the archnemesis of the Fantastic Four, unchallenged ruler of Latveria, and just an overall unpleasant but RAD looking guy. His evil plot: to harness the fear of terrorized riders in order to fuel the “Fusion Dynamo”, a powerful superweapon created by Doom to destroy the Fantastic Four and conquer the world. Pretty heavy stuff, right?
When entering the queue, you’re taken right into Doctor Doom’s Latverian Embassy — which is a nicer way to say, “evil lair”. It’s a dark and ominous industrial landscape with hints of vibrant green and purple lighting to make it feel like it’s right out of the pages of a Marvel comic book. As you move through, you’ll see large iron crests from Doctor Doom’s homeland, mechanical components of the Fusion Dynamo, and encounter Doombots, which are Doom’s foreboding robotic henchmen.
In a large holding area, you’ll be subjected to propaganda films where the maniacal doctor expands on his evil plot in greater detail. In the film you learn that Doom exhausted his fear supply from Latverian citizens, or “volunteers”, so he moved the towers to America to lure more unsuspecting riders to do his bidding. That’s you! He’s talking about duping you right to your face. Once you’re fully indoctrinated and placed into groups of four, you proceed to the boarding area where the anticipation really starts kicking into overdrive.
“All Hail Doctor Doom”
Loud sounds of metal clanking and drills amplify the uneasiness as you patiently (nervously) wait for the loading bay doors to open to the launch vehicle on the other side. On this occasion a ride operator will lead the guests in a chant of “All Hail Doctor Doom” which will solidify the notion that this is a bad place with nefarious intentions. Once the doors open, you have a quick opportunity to stow any loose items before riding, since Doombots obviously aren’t programmed to deal with lost sunglasses. Once you grab your seat and the harness comes down, you’re locked-in to anxiously await your fate.
As the vehicle slowly starts to rise the anticipation reaches its boiling point since you know that at any moment you’ll be rapidly hurled into the sky. You hear the voice of Doom himself as he explains that you’re the final piece of his plan after which he promptly orders a Doombot to “Ignore safety warnings and set for maximum extraction!”
Before your brain can even process the implications, Doom utters a final command, “Now, put your head against the headrest. I don’t want to miss a drop. Prepare to be terrorized.”
And you’re gone.
At launch Doctor Doom’s Fearfall rockets you 185ft into the air upwards of 40 miles per hour. That means you’re at the top of the tower in about three seconds, but don’t worry, you’re not staying there. Once at the pinnacle of your climb, there’s a brief moment of weightlessness before you plummet down toward the earth with a force greater than gravity. After that it’s one more slight launch up and then a final smaller drop back down as the panic subsides and your brain starts to realize, “hey, this is fun!”. As the ride vehicle settles and slowly starts to descend, you’re rewarded with an epic and oddly calming view of the resort below as you sigh and finally catch your breath. It’s hard-earned, but the view really is a nice reprieve after an intense and harrowing flight.
As you slowly return to the ground a Doombot reports that harvested fear levels have exceeded expectations. Doom proudly reports that he finally has the power to crush the Fantastic Four and offers his thanks followed by an award-worthy maniacal laugh. It’s an unusual feeling knowing that you may have helped a Super Villain accomplish his goals, but depending on where your allegiances lie, or how much of that propaganda video you watched, you get to decide how the story ultimately unfolds.
- Height requirement: 52″ (132.0 cm)
- Child Swap is available upon request
- Universal Express Pass is available
- Single Rider is available
While You’re Down There
Now, if there is someone in the party who decides being blasted into the sky and drained of fear juice wasn’t their thing, there is still plenty to do on the ground.
You can check out the awesome theming in the alley leading up to the Fearfall entrance, a.k.a. Yancy Street. There’s a ton of easter eggs hidden in the store fronts and signage, referencing classic characters from Marvel comics. I’d point them out here but what would be the fun in that?
If you time it right you might even get to meet some of Marvel’s famous Super Villains in person. They’ve been known to make an appearance and cause mischief from time to time. I’d avoid any mention of Spider-Man or The Fantastic Four though if you know what’s good for you.
PRO-TIP: Download the official Universal Orlando Resort App for details on when characters are out and about.
If you’re looking for a cool place to hang out, you can wait for your party where they’ll ultimately be exiting the ride. No, not in the stratosphere, next door in Kingpin’s Arcade. Named after another infamous villain, Kingpin’s Arcade features artwork of other colorful baddies from Marvel’s echelon of evil doers. See if you can name them all or just hit the claw machine, whatever you’re into.
(Fantastic) Fun Fact (s)
Victor Von Doom blames Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) for his disfiguration during a scientific mishap. It’s the reason why he dons the iron mask and detests the Fantastic Four.
The seats to the ride vehicle are numbered from 1-4. The “4” on the fourth seat is the exact same as the one in the Fantastic Four logo. Reed Richards is so in Doctor Doom’s head that he even used the same font when he built his terror contraption!
Universal Orlando Resort has its fair share of thrilling attractions, but Doctor Doom’s Fearfall has always had a special place in my adrenaline-chasing heart. Getting sent airborne at incredible speed is exhilarating on its own, but the villainous theming and prolonged suspense is what makes this attraction an absolute must-do on any thrill seekers checklist. It’s a ride that celebrates fear, and if you can conquer it, you won’t be sorry.