Decorations and EnvironmentUpon entering the Walt Disney Studios Park, the iconic gateway to the park has received a Marvel Summer makeover. The decoration is low key but also striking and sets you up for a special experience, whilst not altering the excitement that you have from entering the themed zone of Front Lot. The decorations are then less visible until you enter the hub of the season in Production Courtyard. There you will find three giant statues (Iron Man, Hulk and Black Panther), the magnitude of these statues is striking, even the base is taller than the average person. These statues do make for an excellent backdrop to your selfies and photos which will be unique for this season. The ambience in the courtyard is also very superhero themed, a group of themed stages and theatres and music from the Avengers film series fills the air and as a fan of the Marvel films, hearing these film scores in a Disney park is something of a thrill. All of this combines to differentiate the season and provide some fun for guests to enjoy.
Stark Expo presents: Energy for tomorrow!The Production Courtyard show is reasonably short but manages to pack in a good amount of action. The show takes place as part of the Stark Expo presentation which takes an unexpected twist. Featuring many of your favourite Avengers, this is one of those shows that you will not have to wait around hours for and will be guaranteed a good view no matter when you turn up. The show is fun and has a few fun little twists and turns whilst being packed with Avengers action. The issue is, perhaps, that the action does suffer somewhat from being ‘silent’; for an adult, audience hits are missing impact noises (even grunts from the show stars would do well to fill this little void), at the moment the hits just have this feeling of being a little empty. Iron Man only appears on the screen within this particular show, whilst this may initially be a bit of a disappointment, it actually made a lot of sense as it is explained that Iron Man is in China – something that is clearly designed to tie-in with his current adventures over in Hong Kong Disneyland. It is extremely pleasing that the real Marvel universe is being well represented and that there is a canon within the Disney Parks Marvel universe. Stark Expo Presents: Energy for Tomorrow! is a pleasing show that allows guests to enjoy the Marvel action with minimal wait and with the entire audience getting a good view. Both English and French dialogue are separated into separate performances, meaning that performances are coherent and effective. There are some minor tweaks that could be made, but I do not think that these negatively affect the performances too much.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance OffWhen thinking over the Marvel Summer of Super-Heroes as a whole, the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off is one that continues to stick out as the unexpected surprise. There is an energy to the show that is infectious and the music selection is outstanding which leads to some rather fantastic audience interactions. The show story is quite basic and simple to follow, but is also not particularly important – the main emphasis here is on having an enjoyable time. Disneyland Paris has, in the past, struggled to get guest interaction with dance party style shows; this struggle was relieved slightly during the successful Festival of Pirates and Princesses in the Spring, and will once again happen during the Awesome Dance Off. The first few minutes of the show are quite formulaic with Star Lord and Gamora having a small argument, the music is enough for this to remain engaging but it does feel somewhat unnecessary. Once the show opens up for audience interaction the audience becomes alive with joy; if you are aspiring dancer then this show is very much for you, there is a high chance that you will be invited to get up on stage and show off your moves (and yes, there is room to freestyle dance and do your own thing). The nature of shows that have high audience participation means that it is possible to have radically different experiences from one show to the next. The multiple performances that I saw all had good interaction, but it is something to keep in mind when watching. Additionally, the low stage means you need to be in the front couple of rows if you want to see anything, there is no chance to turn up late and still see the show in its full glory. However, there is a positive to a low stage, you feel close to the heroes and a real part of the show. The Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off is a show full of energy and great audience participation, something that is very much aided by a selection of songs that simply works.
Marvel Super Heroes UnitedMarvel Super Hereos United is the big marquee show of the season. In order to create it, the Studio Theater was closed for over a year, completely gutted out and rebuilt. The show is certainly big in ambition and also in anticipation. So does it live up to the hype? The answer is, it depends on who you are and how you approach the show. For casual fans and families, this show is perfect; it is full of action and adventure, all your favourite super heroes are on stage and it is a perfect introduction to these characters at Disneyland Paris. However, for a more hardcore Marvel fan, there is a chance that you may be left feeling as if there was something lacking. Having so many heroes on stage may seem daunting as a prospect, but it is extremely well done. Marvel fans will see their favourite characters and moments come to life right in front of their very eyes and that is something which is actually very well done. Many of the Avengers have a section in the show in which their backstory is explained to the audience, this only adds to the universality to the show and being something that really does become attractive to all audiences. A special mention has to go to the absolutely wonderful Natasha Romanoff backstory. The creative minds of Disneyland Paris and Marvel have created a wonderful ballet sequence that fits in with the show and into the Black Widow storyline – this graceful sequence turns into an action scene as the internal battle inside of Black Widow becomes increasingly apparent in a surprising way. For me, this sequence was the standout of the show, it was artistic and brilliant. Going into the show, many Disneyland Paris fans were asking how much of the Marvel universe they needed to be aware of in order to fully appreciate the show. The genius of this show is that it does not really rely on any prior knowledge, guests can go into this show blind and still enjoy it and come away feeling as if they have connected to the characters and understood the story. In a franchise spanning 10 years and over 18 films, that is no small feat. However, Marvel fans will be also able to point to a specific point in the timeline of the films and say exactly where it fits. Again, this is truly brilliant; I had severe reservations on whether this type of show would work with casual guests to the resort, it undoubtedly does. With the success of the Black Panther film this year, it would have been exciting for the show to have explored that story more. The way the show runs, Black Panther is present but not given any sort of prominence. Additionally, the fight scene just felt a little bit too long; it is an exciting scene with a lot happening, but there is just a feeling of length towards the end where you just want to get back to the storytelling element. The special effects, when all working, are spellbinding. The projection areas around the stage and across the side walls extend the show beyond the traditional stage areas and the flying elements are a real thrill and ‘wow’ moment (in fact, I did let out a ‘woah’). Marvel Super Heroes United is an exciting show that masters the technical details but has some work to do on the story elements that will allow the show to feel all tied together. Nevertheless, it is a very good introduction to the Marvel franchise (probably the best show of the three to try first if you are unfamiliar with Marvel) and an unbeatable way to see all the heroes in one place. I cannot wait to watch it again and again. A little disclaimer to this part of the review: my showing during the press event did not have all effects working. I fully intend to visit again and see the show a few more times and revisit this section of the review to match my opinions during a fully-operational showing.
Marvel-ous souvenirsThe range of Marvel souvenirs at Disneyland Paris is actually one of the strongest ranges ever produced. From super coffee mugs to lithographs with a classic hand-drawn style, Disneyland Paris has you covered. The range covers items branded Summer of Super Heroes and also non-event specific items such as plush Groots and Captain America shield pillows. If you’re looking for a Marvel souvenir, you are likely to find it. The real stars of the show belong to the food trucks located near Production Courtyard; the selection of souvenir mugs and cups is brilliant. Of course, the special mention belongs to the Infinity Gauntlet sipper – where else can you pour a refreshing soft drink and pull off that new and iconic Avengers look? It is a genius souvenir item and I am particularly glad that it has made its way over to Paris.
Food and Drink options fit for a heroDisneyland Paris has been previously lacking in the themed food and drink department. That is perhaps a general consensus and a fair criticism of the resort; the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes marks a radical shift in food and drink culture as seasonal treats and meals are stealing the show. A particular favourite is the Groot biscuit (when comes in two flavours: Chocolate and Raspberry) and is votive affordable and very cute to look at. It’s easy to see how fans (and guests) will fall in love with this snack and will be Instagramming it – and why not? It looks fantastic. Other treats include a Captain America shield cookie, multiple Marvel beignets and a Hulk cupcake. There is so much in the way of snacks to enjoy, that there will be a Marvel goody for everyone to enjoy. In the Restaurant En Coulisse, a special Marvel menu has been put in place for the season. The menu features the Spider-Web burger, cheesy fries, Thanos desert and, of course, a drink. The burger, with its red bun and cheese patty, is both unique and fun and is a simple but effective choice of themed food – what’s more, the burger tasted like a good quality piece of meat and cake wrapped in a wonderful Marvel Avengers wrapping (that I would have kept if it was not greasy!). I really enjoyed the cheesy fries which was a nice twist on the usual offering. The dessert was a more unusual flavour which took a while to get used to, but I finished it and will eat it again when I next have the opportunity to order this meal (and yes, I will certainly not hesitate to order this again). Overall, the food options at Disneyland Paris for the Marvel Summer is a real game-changer for the resort. There is a fantastic range and variety of options that are fun and tasty.
A great introduction to the Marvel Super Heroes at Disneyland ParisThe Marvel Summer of Super heroes is a thrilling way to discover (and re-discover) the world of Marvel in Disneyland Paris. It wets the appetite for what will come next with the full Marvel land and hotel and is a welcome summer treat. The food and souvenir options are the most complete that we have ever seen in Disneyland Paris as is the diverse range of shows. Perhaps what is lacking is a freely accessible meet and greet range with only Captain America being part of the standard park package. It would have been excellent to have done the Wakanda Forever pose with Black Panther, or take a photo with Tony Stark. Let’s hope that this is just the beginning with Disneyland Paris’s collaboration with Marvel. The two have a great relationship and have produced a season that is rich in quality and content. Guests this summer are set to have a marvel-ous time!
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Marvel Summer of Super Heroes runs from June 10th – September 30th 2018. I was invited to Disneyland Paris to experience the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes as part of the press event. As usual, all opinions are my own. I would like to extend my thanks to Disneyland Paris for this opportunity.