After kicking off its 30th anniversary festivities in March, Disneyland Paris is preparing to open a new chapter in its history with the inauguration, on Wednesday July 20, of its new themed area entirely devoted to the Marvel universe. Disney’s flagship license, acquired in 2009 for four billion dollars, has since been broken down into 29 films and around ten series, featuring a multitude of superheroes such as Thor, Captain America and Black Widow.
These characters, most of them well known to comic book fans since the middle of the 20th century, now have their own space within Europe’s leading tourist destination: the Avengers Campus. This new land, which had been announced in 2018, was previewed to the press and a few guests of honor on Saturday July 9, in the presence of Bob Chapek, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, and Brie Larson, the actress who plays Captain Marvel. This is the first stage of a titanic expansion plan for the Marne-la-Vallée amusement park, for a total investment estimated at 2 billion euros and spread over several years.
Geographically, this area is located within the most recent of the two Parisian theme parks, the Walt Disney Studios. It replaces the space which was previously called “Backlot”, which notably included the attractions “Armageddon” and “Rock’n’Roller Coaster with Aerosmith”. The first was completely destroyed and rebuilt to become “Spider-Man Web Adventure”, a hilarious release where you can launch webs like Spider-Man thanks to 3D glasses and an ingenious motion detection system. The second – which was one of the park’s thrill rides – kept its skeleton to become “Flight Force”, a supersonic start-up space journey with Iron Man and Captain Marvel.
As its name suggests, this space dedicated to the Avengers (the name of the group formed by the various Marvel heroes) was designed as an American-style university campus. The decoration takes up key elements of the license, such as the Quinjet plane which sits in the central square and building facades inspired by New York neighborhoods. This complete modernization of the area gives the feeling of diving into a futuristic-looking city and being able to relive scenes from the various Marvel films. It is moreover on this “immersive experience” what is Disneyland Paris doing to attract a new audience, with the promise “to come across a superhero there every five minutes”. France info met the President of the Park, Natacha Rafalski, a few days before the inauguration. Maintenance.
franceinfo: After the novelties of the 30th anniversary, Disneyland Paris is opening its Avengers Campus this summer. How is this an important step in the history of the Park?
Natasha Rafalski: It’s a great year for our destination, 30 years after its inauguration. The opening of the Marvel Avengers Campus is an integral part of these festivities. In 2018, we wanted to broaden the attractiveness of the destination by reaching out to a new audience. This is what led us to invest 2 billion euros in this major expansion plan for Walt Disney Studios, including three themed areas. And the Avengers Campus is the first stage of a great ambition, of a strategic development that takes place over several years. Today, we are really in the biggest transformation of our destination since its opening. It is therefore a major step in our desire to broaden its appeal by attracting new audiences.
What is the target of this area dedicated to the heroes of the Marvel universe?
I am convinced that the Marvel universe is intended for all audiences, not just boys. With this campus, we are targeting families, children, adults, girls and boys alike. In my opinion, the values of Marvel can appeal to everyone, we did not want to limit this area to a particular audience. Having tried everything and having seen all the shows, I can tell you that everyone will enjoy it, and not just Marvel fans. Everyone will be able to appreciate the different experiences across campus, even those who don’t know the franchise very well.
What do you personally like about the Marvel universe?
I’m a big fan of all the characters. My name is Natacha, so my favorite is obviously Black Widow (real name Natasha Romanoff, editor’s note). I especially like our female heroines in general. I don’t miss any of the movies and new series I’m watching Miss Marvel right now and I love it. I appreciate the values conveyed by these different heroes. Courage, team spirit, sharing but also diversity. We will also be able to realize all this richness through meetings with the heroes on campus.
How many superheroes will we be able to meet on the Avengers Campus?
The public will be able to meet up to fifteen heroes, who will interact all day with visitors throughout the area. Here, the principle is that each visitor is a future recruit for the Avengers. Not five minutes will pass without you encountering a new superhero ready to recruit you.
How will this “recruitment” take place? What types of interactions are planned with the public?
It starts as soon as you enter the hero portal, which is a place where you can meet a lot of characters and take pictures with them. The Deployment Vehicle, the Avengers’ car, will circulate within the campus and dispatch the various heroes during the day. There will be spectacular action scenes and stunts on the roofs of buildings with several characters. We will also have shows with the Dora Milaje, the royal protectors of Wakanda in Black Panther. We will also be able to dance with Star Lord and Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy. And there will also be the Training Center, which will allow the public to record animated sequences through dynamic videos with the heroes.
What are the particularities of the two new attractions to be discovered in this land?
We have “Avengers Assemble: Flight Force”, which is a Disneyland Paris exclusive. Our recruits are going to have a very important mission with Captain Mavel and Iron Man. There will be a spectacular Iron Man animatronic (animated character) in the attraction queue, and we are the first park to have it.
There is also “Spider-Man: Web Adventure” (based on an attraction at Disneyland Park in California, editor’s note), which is developed using brand new technology. Our recruits are going to be next to Spider-Man to help him stop a spider-bot invasion. What’s great is that visitors will launch virtual webs from their wrists, using arm and body motion-sensing technology. It is an attraction that will speak to absolutely everyone.
After the Avengers Campus, what are the next steps in the Walt Disney Studios park expansion plan?
We have already begun the next stage which will be devoted to Snow Queen, with a reconstruction of the kingdom of Arendelle. We started construction this year. On a brand new space that will enlarge the park, there will be attractions, a village that will use the architecture of the films, the castle, shops and restaurants.
The third thematic area mentioned in 2018 concerned the Star Wars universe, but it is no longer mentioned today. Is it still planned?
We are still working on the third theme. We will make announcements about this when we are ready.
In the meantime, what other developments will be made in the park?
At the same time, we are developing our hotel offer. It started with the transformation of the New York Hotel into a unique hotel in the world dedicated to Marvel art, with 350 pieces from more than 110 artists around the world. At the moment, the Disneyland Hotel is under renovation. This will be the first hotel with a royal theme, it will be a spectacular transformation. We are also developing the digital side, to make the experience of our visitors more fluid and give them more options for personalizing their stay.
In video, the spectacle of the preview of the Avengers Campus: