The Marvel superheroes have landed at Disneyland Paris! From the start of June right up until the end of September, Walt Disney Studios Park has become the place to be for Marvel and comic book fans all over Europe with Marvel Summer of Super Heroes. I was lucky enough to experience everything DLP’s latest season has to offer on my last trip for the Marvel annual pass night and as such a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, TV shows and comics, I was more than hyped up to jump into the world of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Marvel Summer of Super Heroes begins and ends in Production Courtyard, which may be a positive or negative depending on how you see the season. On one hand, it is unfortunate that theming of this heavily marketed season doesn’t stretch beyond that into other areas of the Studios. Particularly Backlot which continues to be an empty land void of character and Front Lot which had a very nice overlay during the press invited launch of the season.
That said, confining SOSH into the middle zone of the park has allowed for the area to become Marvel Central from the moment you pass through Studio 1. The giant statues of Black Panther, Hulk and Iron Man are fantastic sights to behold and a favourite photo location for guests, they really do tower over everything else in the vicinity making these larger than life heroes truly that. The new loop for the season is also a joy to listen to for any Marvel Cinematic Universe fan familiar with the classic tracks from The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Solider and others. I was surprised and delighted to also hear the awesome theme to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ring out through Production Courtyard; a series often overlooked by fans of the franchise.
You’ll have a lot of time familiarising yourself with these tracks too as – due to the close knit location of the season – nearly everything is accessible or even viewable from the one place. On my first day experiencing the season I spent most of my time simply wandering around the old Place des Stars, soaking in the music and heroic tributes as I waited between shows. This may not make Summer of Super Heroes a full day long event compared to the likes of Christmas, especially the lack of a nighttime show, but it means you can nicely get your fill of action-packed goodness in one go if you so wish to.
I have been very vocal about the lack of characters meeting guests as part of Marvel Summer in the past, so I’ll try my best not to repeat myself too much here. For standard guests who don’t know about – or for whichever reason cannot do – the Marvel Signature Package and subsequent Hotel New York meal, you are limited to just being able to meet Captain America… if you are lucky.
The entire meet is based around the currently in testing Lineberty virtual queue system which though sounds great on paper, but is a disaster in practice. Due to the third party app’s instability, glitches and popularity I was unable to reserve a spot to meet the First Avenger in any of my days at Disneyland Paris. A massive disappointment for sure as Captain Rogers is my favourite Marvel hero. I was fortunate enough to meet the character later in the aforementioned Marvel dinner, but that’s for another review.
The Lineberty system is a mess and so poor it warrants its own piece, but the real issue here is still the lack of Marvel characters meeting during the summer. While a season by no means is defined by its character meet and greets, Marvel has and always will be a franchise defined by its memorable and loveable characters that fans want to get photos with. That’s not to mention the now infamous marketing campaign which showed guests meeting the likes of Thor and Iron Man; someone completely unmeetable no matter what extras you buy.
Stark Expo presents: Energy for Tomorrow!
Taking pride in place on the Production Courtyard stage and running several times a day, both in English and French, Energy for Tomorrow is definitely one of the biggest hitters in this season’s roster of super hero entertainment. Playing host to the European opening of ‘Stark Expo’, the show is filled with references fans are going to get a real kick out of from movies like The Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger. Without sharing any spoilers it is certainly a fun show with some nice little surprises, humour and action along the way.
If I were to find some faults to it, I would say the show is somewhat stuck within a very specific part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon, relying very heavily on the Phase 1 properties from 2008 – 2012 to carry itself across the line. It’s very possible however this is simply a product of an extended planning stage and inability to make major changes as new movies and storylines were released to the public.
Marvel – Super Heroes United
Acting as the direct replacement to CinéMagique, taking over its venue and the flagship to the entire season, Super Heroes United has an awful lot to live up to. A lot has been said in the build up to this show particular in terms of its technological features, resource cost and impressive cast list. It would have been very difficult for such a show to meet or even surpass all of these expectations but – fantastically – it has.
Taking heavy inspiration from MCU movies such as Age of Ultron, Civil War and Infinity War, Marvel – Super Heroes United opts to tell its own story rather than relaying tales of the past as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes faces trials and tribulations from their own kind at the hand of Thanos. I’ve heard a lot of criticisms that the show lacks a coherent or interesting plot but I would argue it’s actually a very clever way of telling a unique story without fear of becoming a product of its time.
Much like America’s Mission Breakout and Hong Kong’s Iron Man Experience, Super Heroes United nicely sets the groundwork for a Marvel ‘Theme Park Universe’ spinning off from the record breaking blockbusters to take guests on original stories. The show doesn’t play by the rules set out in Infinity War and that’s its strongest trait. Indeed, much like how the movies use comic book stories as inspirations, MSHU takes classic moments and elements from the big screen and the comic book pages. I particularly feel like loose homage was paid to the very critical acclaimed ‘Secret Invasion’ Marvel series.
As for the show itself, Imagineers have made great use of Studio Theatre’s interior rebuild to purpose a show that perfectly accommodates the new toys and infrastructure. Projection mapping is used plentiful but wisely to take us on locations all throughout the Marvel Universe as well as give us some stand-out special effect moments simply not possible a practical way with such authenticity. That’s not to say the old fashioned way is abandoned completely, oh no. Some fantastic physical props, techniques and stunts are used all throughout the show giving the show performance a lot more character and being more than just a three dimensional movie.
It’s not going to be everybody’s plate of shawarma, and I can totally get where people are coming from in their criticisms, but as a seasonal, licensed Marvel debut in the Studio Theatre I feel it has definitely opened up the new stage with a bang. I probably wouldn’t rank it above its predecessor, but then going up against the best thing to ever come out of the Studios was always going to be tough. I just hope we won’t see the last of it when it fizzles from Production Courtyard in the Autumn.
Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Dance-off
Tucked away at the back end of Production Courtyard between the newly renamed Studio Theatre and Stitch Live!, it could be easy to completely forget about the Guardian’s Disneyland Paris debut were it not for the pumping classic pop songs that ring out during every performance. Starring that legendary outlaw Star-Lord and the deadly badass Gamora, Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Dance-off focuses heavily on crowd interaction and good fun as guests work together to help save the day.
Between the comic relief, selecting of guests to take centre stage and wackiness of it all, I had plenty of fun watching Awesome Dance-off and reminded me a lot of a certain DuckTales parade that ran through the very same park just a month prior. It may not be the most original of pieces (especially as I hear it is a like-for-like clone from Disney California Adventure) but it certainly adds a little more light-hearted twang to a very action oriented season.
Snacks and Merchandise
One department that certainly puts Marvel Summer of Super Heroes into a whole different level is its merchandise and snacks game, an area lacking in Season of the Force and practically non-existent for Pirates & Princesses. The season boasts a very healthy product line with t-shirts, mugs, caps and even artwork donning the SOSH branding. Novelty collectors haven’t been forgotten about either with unique sippers like the Iron Man helmet and flowerpot Groot. My standout favourite was easily the Infinity Gauntlet sipper.
Trying out the very popular ‘Groot cookie’ in its chocolate variation made a rather nice treat and was a lot larger than I expected it to be. Certainly one to try out if you have a very sweet tooth like myself! Sadly one I cannot recommend is the Captain America shield themed donut, the only other snack I had the chance to try. While tasty, it is just a donut with a poorly printed shield iced on top of it. Save your money and go for the regular donut.
Marvel Summer of Super Heroes is by no means a perfect season. It certainly has a lot of room for improvement if it hopes to act like its big screen brethren and dominate the theme park industry. It may feel very lacking in some areas but, just like heroes, we must look deeper than that and at what it does have. The content Marvel Summer does provide it excels at, even surpassing expectations in some departments. Marvel fans will certainly have a lot of fun here and its such a positive atmosphere seeing Walt Disney Studios Park adopt the Marvel universe – a very welcomed sign of the near future.
This is not the perfect season, but it is a good, fun and action-packed event worthy of your time.