Why I Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Dr. Doom’s Fearfall

Apart from the lighthouse, probably the most recognizable structure inside Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure Theme Park are the dual towers of Dr. Doom.  The ride opened in 1999 and is themed around Dr. Doom's obsessive desire to kill The Fantastic Four.  I always dread going on this ride, but usually do anyway because I both love and hate it.  Here's why:

The ride has the best queue at the park aside from Dueling Dragons (soon to be renamed Dragon Challenge).  Not only is it dark and cool, which is a nice respite from the bright, hot Orlando weather, but it is laced with seriously cool Dr. Doom paraphernalia, including massive Doom Bots and signs from Latveria.  Then, as you make your way closer to the loading station, there is the best queue line video in the history of theme park attractions, hands down.  The video moves from Doom explaining his fury against The Fantastic Four, including a wonderful synopsis of The Fantastic Four storyline for those who are unfamiliar with the comic book, to a poor little guy who tries to demonstrate the safety features of the ride itself.  I laugh every time I see him get his head crushed against the headrest and then shot like a spaceshuttle up into the sky (incidentally, the ride is really more of a "fearshot" than it is a "fearfall").  Yes, the queue is a major plus for Dr. Doom.

This ride also has, for me anyway, the worst "what the crap am I doing getting on this ride" feeling I have ever experienced.  It is worse for me than even Top Thrill Dragster.  The reason is because you have to wait outside elevators just before you move in to take your seat on the ride.  From outside these looming doors you can hear strange noises from inside, which I give great credit to the ride designers for creating these noises while you wait.  You can't really hear the ride itself, even though you are straining to hear something.  These elevators are what sets Doom apart from so many other "rocket" rides.  On most every ride of this kind, you are staring at the attraction the whole time you are in line, watching car after car get shot up.  Not so with Doom.  You can't see squat, and even when the doors open, you still can't see anything except the seats in front of you.  This adds a great deal to the fear and anxiety of the ride.  For that reason, I love and hate it.  Oh, and just outside those sliding doors is where Rex delivered one of his classic lines:

Innocent bystander:  I am so scared I will probably puke on this ride.
Rex:  I hope so.

Once seated in the ride, things get even worse.  The "fear factor" at this time is extremely high.  You have no idea when the ride is going to fire, and although it is always after Doom commands his Doom Bots to "ignore all safety warnings" there is always some subjectivity as to when it will fire.  Apparently this is so intense that Universal has actually installed a countdown timer so you can see when you launch!  This, of course, is lame – but I completely understand why they did it.  It is sitting at this location in the ride that my "hate" feelings are at there highest and Rex usually gets a pretty big charge at my heavy breathing.  I normally want to get off the ride at this point.

Then you get shot in the air.  It is intense, apparently it is more force than a space shuttle launch (that is what they say anyway).  But, once you reach the top, the scares are over and the remainder of the ride is a nice, albeit short, view of Islands of Adventure.  It is at this point that I am glad I hung in there and completed the ride. 

Dr. Doom is a classic, although I am never overly excited to get back on it.  Of all the attractions I have experienced, and the list is significant, this is the biggest Love/Hate relationship I have.  If you have never immersed yourself in the fear, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.  You will be glad/sorry that you did.

    

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