Self-deception is my superpower.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been dreaming diligently of floating gracefully among skyscrapers, clad in skin-tight red and blue spandex like Peter Parker.
The fantasy is true this morning as I bang my limbs angrily against a giant video screen and magically shoot webs from my wrists at malfunctioning arachnid robots at Disneyland Paris’ newly opened Avengers Campus.
My spider senses should be tingling. Instead, lactic acid burns relentlessly in my upper arms and sweat erases my frown. With great strength comes great fatigue.
Part video game and part interactive dark ride, Spider-Man WEB Adventure is a centerpiece of the Marvel-themed Walt Disney Studios Park expansion that exists outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline.
The hi-tech attraction replicates the highly competitive gameplay of the Florida and California 4D game Toy Story Mania, using specially designed technology that scans arm movements and gestures 60 times per second to enable riders to Nets with precision at three increasingly frenetic show scenes to fling.
Our team of four is led by six-and-a-half-year-old Fred (half is awfully important at this age), whose armor of choice is a reversible, sequined Spider-Man t-shirt.
We rack up a respectable 803,100 points, tantalizingly just short of 10th place on the daily scoreboard, by focusing on buggy golden spider-bots (worth 6,000 points each) and yellow levers and buttons that activate screen effects, including a row of wall-mounted lasers to hurtle through the wings of a hijacked Quinjet.
A full-scale replica of the Avenger’s turbine-fan-powered aircraft stands on a cantilever landing platform alongside the country’s other star attraction – the high-speed roller coaster Avengers Assemble: Flight Force.
With a height requirement of 120cm, this shiny reinvention of the rock ‘n’ roller coaster Avec Aerosmith – which closed September 2019 – retains a take off acceleration from zero to 57 mph in under three seconds and a track layout with two dizzying inversions and a corkscrew.
The bilingual preshow features the first audio-animatronic Avenger character in a Disney park – a realistic Iron Man with 33 fluid movements – and footage of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.
Their scripted interactions outline a daring mission to lure deadly Kree warheads away from planet Earth using transponder-equipped hypersonic vehicles. The supercharged narrative fits perfectly with Avengers: Quantum Encounter at the signature restaurant Worlds Of Marvel aboard the newly launched Disney Wish cruise ship.
Projected scenes of the two heroes neutralizing missiles envelop the roller coaster as it hurtles through the darkness. The addition of a sparkling starry sky enveloping the ride and mimicking a design flourish from Guardians Of The Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in Florida would deepen the galactic immersion.
Exclusive to the Paris campus, Tony Stark’s FRIDAY (Female Replacement Intelligent Digital Assistant Youth) artificial intelligence is visually represented as a pulsing LED light show on the curved facade of the roller coaster show building.
In soothing Irish tones, FRIDAY welcomes recruits into the country and audibly warns of security threats.
Stimulated by my gung ho web slinging, I recharge in the PYM kitchen, named after physicist Dr. Hank Pym, who developed the Ant-Man program and pioneered the science of the expansion and contraction of matter.
Oversized tech informs the immaculately themed buffet restaurant, which requires table reservations through the Disneyland Paris mobile app.
Entering through a quantum core tunnel, I find mini cheeseburgers and slices of a monstrous pretzel stuffed with sliced meat and lettuce, accompanied by miniature fruit jellies, served in glass mugs. Salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar stand in cork-sealed test tubes on tables, tended to by waiters in lab coats.
Nearby, a Stark Factory fast food restaurant pays tribute to Thor with a signature caramel and milk chocolate dessert (The Thunder Cake!) in a prop-laden dining room dominated by a full-size Hulkbuster built by Tony Stark to capture Bruce Countering Banner’s rampage alter ego.
Turn right for pasta and pizza near SHIELD co-founder Peggy Carter’s lovingly recreated desk.
A conspicuous gateway portal near the entrance of the land draws orderly lines for a photo opportunity with Ant-Man, the Wasp, and (occasionally) Groot. This “heroic encounter” mimics the typical meet and greet found throughout the rest of the resort.
The mobile app allows guests to book timed appointments with Spider-Man, Iron Man, or Captain Marvel at the frosted glass-fronted Training Center (sorry, trespassing is not permitted).
The chosen hero jokes one-on-one with a recruit and strikes iconic poses before 27 cameras hidden in the walls of the antechamber create the first dynamic “freeze frame” video sequence set in a Disney park, downloadable via PhotoPass .
Designated ways to interact with Marvel icons mark organic and immersive storytelling. Heroes materialize all day without fanfare and playfully ad lib with awestruck guests.
Doctor Strange looks resplendent in his red cloak of levitation, while light-haired Thor and adoptive brother Loki ignite pockets of delirium, with the former searching for recruits eager to wield his mighty hammer, the Mjolnir.
A sleek Avengers squad vehicle designed by Tony Stark that echoes the Quinjet’s futuristic aesthetic quickly deploys heroes like Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow on campus and provides selfie opportunities with eager, social media-savvy recruits.
Exclusive to Paris, the polished four-wheeler is sustainably powered by Vibranium, which is mined in Black Panther’s landlocked home of Wakanda.
Okoye, the leader of the Wakanda forces, and two members of Black Panther’s all-female bodyguards, the Dora Milaje, emerge from beneath the Quinjet to the Xhosa-language screams and bombastic tribal beats of composer Ludwig Göransson’s orchestral score.
The trio led a hilarious 12-minute session to teach the next generation to wield spears with snarling intent. The same venue across from the Stark Factory hosts lovebirds Star-Lord and Gamora for a humorous dance-along to Redbone’s rock anthem Come And Get Your Love and ABC by The Jackson 5.
With so much activity and character interaction on the ground, Disney’s creative magicians known as Imagineers look to the rooftops as dual-level stages for breathlessly choreographed stunt shows.
Taskmaster and masked henchmen attempt to steal a canister of Vibranium and meet fierce opposition from Black Widow and Black Panther, replete with bilingual dialogue and well-timed pyrotechnics. Spider-Man also demonstrates his gymnastic excellence throughout the day.
Excitingly, the Avengers campus is an ever-evolving playground. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe of films, TV series and comics expands, new heroes will patrol the land.
Hours can easily be spent on campus while enjoying attractions, shows and restaurants. For overnight stays, Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art Of Marvel is a super-powered four-star haven just a hammer’s throw from Thor from the parks.
Three life-size Iron Man suits in the grandiose lobby tease one of the largest public-view collections of Marvel art in the world, including backlit comic panels, storyboards, original sketches and 50 Paris-exclusive pieces.
Hotel guests can pre-book a heroic encounter with a member of the Marvel family at the ground-floor Super Hero Station (Black Widow went on an after-breakfast charm offensive during my visit). The eight themed selfie spots include Peter Parker’s upside-down bedroom, which gives the illusion of hanging from the ceiling.
Crouching beneath a wooden bunk bed and a desk littered with teenage ephemera, striking a web-slinging pose I’ve practiced since childhood, I’m reminded that anything is possible in the Marvel Multiverse.
Even an athletically challenged, late forties man-child incarnation of Spider-Man.
Self-deception is bliss.
Single tickets cost from around €84 for adults and €82 for children under 12 years of age. A two-day hopper ticket, allowing entry to both parks, costs €154/€152. Hotel and ticket packages are also available. Irish travel agencies such as Abbey Travel, Cassidy Travel, Breakaway.ie and Shandon Travel offer package holidays. disneylandparis.com
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/europe/marvel-at-disneyland-paris-what-its-like-to-visit-the-french-resorts-new-avengers-campus-41889205.html Marvel at Disneyland Paris – what it’s like to visit the French resort’s new Avengers campus