Self-illusion is my superpower. Since childhood, I’ve worked hard on dreams of swooping gracefully among skyscrapers, dressed in red and blue spandex taut like Peter Parker.
The fantasy got real this morning as I furiously fling my limbs at a giant video screen, magically shooting webs of my wrists at disabling spider robots at the newly opened Avengers campus in Disneyland Paris.
My senses must be spidery and tingling. Instead, lactic acid burns mercilessly on the top of my arms and sweat cracks the pucker’s brow. With great strength comes great exhaustion.
The Spider-Man WEB Adventure is part video game and part dark ride interactive, and is the focus of the Marvel-themed expansion to Walt Disney Studios Park, which is outside the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The high-tech allure replicates the intensely competitive gameplay of the 4D Toy Story Mania shooter in Florida and California, using custom-designed technology, which scans arm movements and gestures 60 times per second to enable riders to accurately rope grids in three increasingly frenetic viewing scenes.
Our team of four is led by six-and-a-half-year-old Fred (half is eerily significant at that age), whose armor he chose is the Spider-Man Reversible Sequin Shirt.
We score a respectable 803,100 points, and score a painful 10th on the daily scoreboard, by focusing on broken gold bots (worth 6000 points apiece) and yellow levers and buttons that activate on-screen effects, including a set of wall-mounted tools and a laser for a machete. Through the wings of a hijacker Quinjet.
A full replica of the turboprop Avenger aircraft is located atop a cantilevered landing pad adjacent to Earth’s other major attraction – Avengers Assemble: Flight Force High Speed coaster.
With a height requirement of 120cm, this brilliant renovation of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Avec Aerosmith – which closed in September 2019 – maintains a launch acceleration from zero to 57 mph in less than three seconds, track layout with two stunning reversals and a key .
The bilingual pre-show features Disney’s first sonic animated character Avenger – a realistic Iron Man with 33 fluid movements – and footage of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.
Their written interactions outline the outlines of a daring mission to withdraw deadly warheads from planet Earth using transceiver-equipped hypersonic vehicles. The turbo combo corresponds to Avengers: Quantum Encounter at the signature Worlds Of Marvel restaurant on the newly launched Disney Wish cruise ship.
Projected scenes of the two heroes neutralizing the missiles circling the roller coaster as it sways through the darkness. Adding a twinkling starry sky to envelop the flight, repeating the design of Guardians of the Galaxy’s Boom: Cosmic Rewind in Florida, would deepen the galactic immersion.
Exclusive to the Paris campus, Tony Stark’s FRIDAY AI (alternative female intelligent digital assistant) is visually presented as a pulsating LED light display on the building’s curved facade.
In soothing Irish colors, FRIDAY welcomes recruits to the ground and audibly warns of security threats.
Activated by my web slingshot, I recharged in the PYM Kitchen, named after physicist Dr. Hank Pym, who developed the Ant-Man program and was a pioneer in the science of matter expansion and contraction.
The super-sized architecture informs the buffet-style restaurant of excellent character, which requires table reservations via the Disneyland Paris mobile app.
Entering through the Quantum Core Tunnel, I find mini cheeseburgers and slices of brutal pretzel stuffed with steak and salad to accompany mini fruit jelly served in glass cups. Salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar sit in cork-covered test tubes on tables, curated by servers in lab coats.
Nearby, quick-service restaurant Stark Factory pays homage to Thor with its signature milk-caramel fudge (The Thunder Cake!) in a buttress-filled dining room dominated by a massive Hulkbuster, built by Tony Stark to counter the rampage of Bruce Banner’s alternate character.
Turn right for pasta and pizza near the office of SHIELD co-founder Peggy Carter.
A stunning portal gate near the entrance to the land draws organized queues for a photo opportunity with Ant-Man, Wasp and (sometimes) Groot. This “Heroic Showdown” mimics the character who meets and greets in the rest of the resort.
The mobile app allows guests to book timed appointments with Spider-Man, Iron Man, or Captain Marvel at the glass-fronted training center (unfortunately, no outings allowed).
The chosen hero slams one-on-one with a recruit and adopts iconic poses before 27 cameras hidden in anteroom walls to create Disney Park’s first “freeze frame” dynamic video sequence, available for download via PhotoPass.
Dedicated opportunities to interact with Marvel icons bookmark organic and immersive storytelling. The heroes materialize without noise throughout the day and play horribly with the amazing guests.
Dr. Strange looks resplendent in his red cloak while flaxen-haired Thor and his adopted brother Loki kindle babble, the former looking for recruits eager to brandish his mighty hammer, Mjölnir.
The Tony Stark-designed Avengers Deployment Vehicle, which reflects the Quinjet’s futuristic aesthetic, quickly spreads heroes including Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow throughout the campus, stimulating selfie opportunities with enthusiastic recruits and passionate social media .
The polished four-wheeler is exclusive to Paris and sustainably powered by Vibranium mined in Wakanda’s landlocked home of Black Panther.
Okoye, the chief of the Wakanda armed forces, and two Black Panther bodyguards, Dora Milaje, emerge from under the Quinjet into the screaming Xhosa-language and flowery tribal tunes of musician Ludwig Göransson.
The trio lead a 12-minute noisy session to train the next generation to use spears with the intent of snarling. The same performance space opposite the Stark Factory hosts the Star-Lord and Gamora lovebirds for a skit dance along with the rock anthem Redbone Come And Get Your Love and ABC from The Jackson 5.
With plenty of action and interaction with characters at ground level, Disney’s creative magicians, known as illustrators, peek over rooftops as split stages for breathlessly designed stunt shows.
A task manager and masked henchmen attempt to steal a package of Vibranium and meet fierce resistance from Black Widow and Black Panther, filled with bilingual dialogue and well-timed fireworks. Spider-Man also shows his supremacy in gymnastics all day long.
Interestingly enough, Avengers Campus is an ever-evolving stadium. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe expands into bound movies, TV series, and comics, new heroes will be patrolling the land.
Several hours can comfortably pass on campus enjoying the attractions, performances, and dining options. For overnight stays, Disney New York Hotel – The Art of Marvel is a super-powerful four-star oasis located within a bull’s-eye of the parks.
Three life-size Iron Man suits in the opulent lobby take over one of the largest publicly displayed collections of Marvel art in the world, including backlit comics, original illustrations and graphics, and 50 exclusive pieces for Paris.
Hotel guests can pre-book a heroic encounter with a Marvel fold member at the Super Hero Station on the ground floor (Black Widow launched a witch attack during my post-breakfast visit). Eight themed selfie spots include Peter Parker’s upside-down bedroom that creates the illusion of hanging from the ceiling.
As I sat under a wooden bunk bed and desk filled with teenage ephemera, adopting the sling web pose I had practiced since childhood, I remembered that in the Marvel multiplayer, anything is possible.
Even the athletically challenged man, in his late forties, reincarnated The Man and Child of Spider-Man. Self-deception is bliss.
How do you plan your trip?
The Walt Disney Travel Company International (disneyholidays.co.uk/disneyland-paris/; 0800 169 0737) is offering a two-night/3-day stay at Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel, including round-trip Eurostar travel from St. London Pancras to Disneyland Paris (Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy), from £2,248 for two adults and two children sharing a Superior room, park tickets included. Price based on February 13, 2023 departure date, subject to availability.