Paris Disney's newly unveiled super-hero summer season is simply Marvel-ous
With Disneyland Paris a hugely popular summer destination for Irish families, Damon Smith tells us what we can expect from the brand new Marvel Summer of Super Heroes season at Walt Disney Studios Park
WITH great power comes great responsibility. High school student Peter Parker – aka Spider-Man – learnt the heartbreaking truth of those simple words in a 1962 edition of Marvel Comics' Amazing Fantasy series.
More than half a century later, the great responsibility for closing Disneyland Paris' spectacular 25th anniversary celebrations, which began with a pyrotechnic-laden fanfare in March last year, rests with the spunky teenage webslinger and his superpowered allies from the Avengers, as Europe's most popular theme park unveils the eagerly anticipated Marvel Summer of Super Heroes season at Walt Disney Studios Park.
What's the Summer of Super heroes all about?
The limited-time special event, which runs until September 30, unites leather-and spandex-clad titans – such as Black Widow, Captain America, Iron Man and Thor – exclusively in the French capital for a spectacular programme of shows and interactive experiences that will have guests dancing, literally, to the heroes' tunes.
Prepare for showtime
The centrepiece of the festivities is the special effects-laden 20-minute stage show, Marvel: Super Heroes United, which is performed three times a day in conflated English and French in the Studio Theater.
Boasting one of the biggest LED screens in Europe, indoor drones that allow a full-size car to fly across the stage, video projections, a wire-flying Iron Man and breathlessly choreographed fight sequences, it's the most technically ambitious stage production that Disneyland Paris has ever attempted, and confidently out-muscles the park's other illusion-laden show, Mickey And The Magician.
A linear story of good versus evil brings together Black Panther, Black Widow, Doctor Strange, Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and Thor for a superhero smackdown against intergalactic warlord Thanos (voiced here with gravelly glee, as in the films, by Hollywood star Josh Brolin) and his adopted daughter, Nebula.
Impressive stagecraft realises Bruce Banner's transformation into his smashing, green-skinned alter ego before the Norse God of thunder ruptures the theatre's floor with a swing of his mighty hammer, accompanied by a deafening rumble that vibrates through the seats.
Battles commence in the open air
Outside the theatre in the shadow of the hulking Hollywood Tower Hotel, crowds assemble for Stark Expo Presents: Energy For Tomorrow! Performed three times a day in English, the open-air extravaganza begins with Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, unveiling an arc reactor that generates green energy, and ends with power-hungry Loki, the scythe-wielding god of mischief, trading carefully choreographed punches and blows with Black Widow, Spider-Man, and his strapping half-brother, Thor.
Dance could be your secret weapon
The Guardians Of The Galaxy Awesome Dance-Off, which premiered last year at Disneyland Resort in California, has been subtly tweaked for its bilingual debut in Paris.
Star-Lord and Gamora cajole visitors to shake their groovy things to a toe-tapping soundtrack of 1970s floor fillers, including I Love Rock N Roll by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and Don't Stop Me Now by Queen.
If public displays of wanton hip-swivelling cause you to break out in a cold sweat, avoid standing near the front of the stage, or you may be plucked from the crowd by a swaggering Star-Lord and asked to demonstrate your slickest moves to the cheering throng. The interactive show loves to boogie, with tongue wedged firmly in cheek, six times a day in the production courtyard.
Introducing the Marvel Signature Package
The Meet Spider-Man photo opportunity, which has been a fan favourite since 2014, is closed for the duration of the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes, unless you pay a premium and book a Marvel Signature Package.
The deal includes accommodation at a Disney hotel and park tickets, plus character dining comprising an American-style buffet dinner with an opportunity to meet Black Widow, Captain America and Thor, your exclusive web-slinging encounter with Spider-Man, a €60 gift card to spend in the park and a PhotoPass for the duration of your stay.
The dinner caters to Hulk-sized appetites with salad options, hot dishes and tempting desserts, including freshly prepared chicken shawarmas scorched with the Avengers logo, succulent burgers nestled between lurid red and green buns, and moreish macarons imprinted with heroes' faces.
What else is going on?
Beyond this summer, super-charged characters from the Marvel Comics universe will continue to infiltrate Disneyland Paris. The four-star, art deco-inspired Hotel New York will close in January 2019 to undergo a major refurbishment, introducing sleek, futuristic designs alongside costumes, props and artworks from the Marvel films in the lobby, and stylised posters in all 565 rooms. Reservations open in 2020 when the property is rechristened Hotel New York – The Art Of Marvel.
Beginning in 2021 as part of a £1.8 billion multi-year expansion, the largest investment since the park opened, Disneyland Paris will unveil a permanent area devoted to Marvel in the Walt Disney Studios Park.
As part of this phased development, the outdated Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith will be reborn as a hyperkinetic ride with corkscrews and inversions featuring Iron Man and other members of the Avengers. You don't need to manipulate the flow of time and glimpse the future like Doctor Strange to recognise that the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes marks the beginning of an exciting otherworldly invasion in the French capital. Suit up and prepare for war.
How to get there
Disneyland Paris (disneylandparis.co.uk; 0844 800 8111) offers a two-night/three-day stay at Disney's Hotel Santa Fe, including return travel on Eurostar from London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet or Ashford International to Disneyland Paris, in standard class, from £1,573.48 for two adults and two children, including park tickets and half-board meal plan. Price based on July 11, 2018 departure date, subject to availability.