So I recently had an opportunity to visit the newest touring attraction: The Marvel Experience here in Scottsdale, AZ. The Marvel Experience is a nationwide tour that starts here in Arizona. The tour is comprised of seven colossal domes where your favorite Marvel heroes are projected around you. This is called Hyper-Reality.
I was originally a bit hesitant about paying over 30 bucks for tickets after reading the terrible reviews on Yelp, but I'm a sucker for anything Marvel, and when I read about the chance to become immersed into that world, I couldn't resist.
THE OVERALL SUMMARY
So when we get there, there is a $10 parking fee that I read about in some reviews, but no big deal. We walked up to the entrance where we saw a giant crate with the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo on it.
We waited outside a black curtain for them to let us in. While waiting, I noticed the kiosks mentioned in the reviews where you register to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit but they were closed, so for the remainder of the day we were Agent Firstname Lastname at any of the training minigames. We were also given RFID "Super Power Band" bracelets.
Once we were let in, we were handed photo vouchers and were photographed, but what was not explained was that at the end our pictures were available for purchase, and we had separate vouchers for each member of my family, although we wouldn't have purchased the $20 pictures anyway. We continued to maneuver through the line dividers until we reached revolving doors. While we waited we were treated to short animations giving us each of the characters' origin story followed by a cutscene featuring Tony Stark equipping the Iron Man suit as well as the introduction of Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk)
Once you go through the doors you are in a dome where the basic intro to the overall story arc is shown to you, projected on the small dome ceiling. You move on to the largest center dome where you see multiple mini games (Spider-man Climbing Simulator, Holo-Blasting, Black Widow Agility Maze, etc.) I suppose these were intended to be used with your bracelets to rack up points on your agent profile, but they didn't work.
All of the games had quite a long wait, and unfortunately I must say they're not as fun as one would think, namely the shooting gallery game where it's nearly impossible to differentiate your target from the other 23 people with you in the small tent. After completing the games you'll require sustenance, which can be found at the cafe. Here the food is slightly overpriced, for example $9 for a chili dog.
Also in the dome are screens that give you a more in-depth look at the character's origin stories, as well as maps of the experience.
There are also props and weapons that belong to many characters not featured in the experience. (Daredevil, Green Goblin, Falcon, etc.) Very confusing...
After you peruse the dome at your leisure, you move on to the quinjet where you are asked to remove your bracelet and told once you enter:
1: There will be no restrooms for the next 40 minutes
2: You cannot return to any of the previous domes
So once we entered, we say more touch screens that gave us info on The Red Skull and Madame Hydra who are the main villains of the story, but after spending over an hour in the dome we felt very separated from the story, and this trend continued.
The Quinjet, while AMAZING, was merely a transition to the final domes. You are given surprisingly heavy 3D glasses, as well as a free bracelet with attachable buttons (you are given the option of a Spider-man or Hulk set. Each set of buttons comes with the chosen hero's symbol, the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo, and The Adaptoid logo)
We spent about 20 minutes waiting in a small room with about 30 other people. After the wait, we walked into a larger dome, while a 15 minute movie was projected above us. The film was quite cool actually, allowing you to look anywhere, giving you a 360 perspective. Although, this became somewhat dizzying. I don't want to spoil anything, but some of the heroes go into a HYDRA base. This is where the battle begins...
You walk into a "hangar" while you watch a Spider-man hosted safety video before entering the simulated quinjet (motion ride), before being interrupted by Red Skull. The room fills with smoke, when
a giant REAL Hulk hand rips the door open, allowing you to enter the motion ride theatre.
You can sit in one of 10 rows. The first row is accommodating to those prone to motion sickness or who are expecting a child, which was nice. The motion ride lasted for about 20 minutes, where it actually feels like you're in a Quinjet, giving a wide range of motion.
Towards the end you are asked to raise your wristband (the first ones) only to realize that you don't have it, which kind of takes you out of the experience. On the screen it shows multiple S.H.I.E.L.D. ID cards which the movie says are ours, but I noticed that all of the faces belonged to nobody in my group, and one in particular was the one in charge of the event, Rick Licht.
After the ride, you exit the "Quinjet" and are ushered into a gift shop. This is where I got upset...
They were selling a plethora of Marvel merchandise for outrageous prices. A small, TOY Mjolnir was $95.
I did walk out with a few reasonably priced items but I still left with a bad taste in my mouth. The Marvel Experience left me wanting more, and I don't really mean that in the best way...
PROS AND CONS
- It was very fun and enjoyable, I really walked away feeling like a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent
- The Staff was very nice, AND IN CHARACTER! We were always referred to as "recruits" until the end, we were called "agents". The fanboy inside of me screamed. A few of them went as far as putting a finger to their earpiece and saying "Copy that, Director Fury," before giving us instructions!
- We walked away with a really cool, customizable wristband...FREE!
- The motion ride was just freaking awesome. There is simply no other way to put it.
- There were a few surprise cameos in there:
Stan Lee, J. Jonah Jameson, Kevin Smith as the voice of M.O.D.O.K., and Maria Menounos (That one felt kinda out of place)
And now for the Cons...
- The breaks in the story took away from the realism of the experience.
- The overpriced merchandise and food.
- Long wait times for short activities.
- The fact that our RFID bracelets didn't work ( I won't dock them for it, technical complications are bound to happen at an event of this massive scale )
- The wires and "behind the scenes" stuff wasn't very well hidden. This also took us out of the experience.
So as you can see the pros and cons are about even. The Marvel Experience is something to do, but I wouldn't say it's worth the $30 price tag. I was fortunate enough to acquire free tickets, otherwise I still probably would have gone. If you look around you'll find reviews calling this terrible, which it isn't by any means. This is a MASSIVE scale event, and of course it is flawed. I came in with very low expectations after seeing the bad reviews, but I enjoyed it a lot. If you're willing to pay to go, then I'd say to do it. It's really a matter of what you're looking for. If you want this whole show about Marvel, you most likely won't be satisfied. If you want to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent for a day, then I'm sure you'd love this, as did I. I have very few complaints for The Marvel Experience, but believe me when I say not to believe all these 1 star reviews online. So when it comes down to it:
SHOULD YOU GO TO THE MARVEL EXPERIENCE?
Yay Or Nay?