Just 6 months after the last round of “heroic encounters”, the Marvel Super Heroes are back at Walt Disney Studios Park, this time in the Spring. After rather mixed reviews of the first edition, we were eager to see how the offering has progressed, and if the entertainment teams were able to learn from the feedback. The quick answer is yes, for the most part, so let’s take a look at the various features of Marvel Season 2019. [This article contains a few minor spoilers.]
Marvel: Super Heroes United
While ambitious, “United” disappointed last season with a confusing story line and constant technical difficulties. This year, the show is back with the same overall storyline – which is still not ground-breaking but does the job at featuring all the Heroes in an introductory way. A few adjustments have been made to tidy up the flow of events, and writers added a cheeky cliff-hanger at the end which gives us hope that the next edition of the show may finally move on from the “remember…” flashback and towards a more original story.
The real improvement this season is technical: many of the effects have been reworked, from the “Amplifier” (which now lowers from the ceiling with no risk of crashing onto the audience) to the new “ball drones” (which appear to be way easier to control and also look more impressive). Some of the existing effects (Doctor Strange, for example) have been simplified, but last year showed that this was necessary in order to have a reliable production.
The lighting package was also redone in a much darker and “focused” way which allow the audience to easily set their eyes where the main action is. This is most noticeable during Iron Man’s entrance, and the final scene which has changed from a white “supermarket” lighting to a targeted focus on each of the Hero’s fight, one by one, much like a movie production. Other improvement include added “punches” sound effects which give a more realistic and movie-like feel to the fights, and new projections on and around the stage.
Overall, we were happy with the progress made on United. While it’s not perfect, the production teams have been working hard on fixing last year’s problems, and it shows!
Arguably the most disappointing offering of the first season, Star Expo has been entirely reworked and oh boy – it may have become our favourite show of this season!
The production takes advantage of the new triple screen stage on Production Courtyard, with an updated video package (the security camera-style footage is a great idea), new effects and most of all, a reworked storyline! This year’s show is longer, clocking at around 18 minutes, and features two new Heroes: Red Skull (in his Disney Parks premiere), and Captain Marvel (the hot new girl in town). This time around, the production provides a more logical and engaging “movie-style” storyline that keeps Guests much more focused on the action. Captain Marvel’s entrance is the big winner (we won’t spoil it for you) and overall every scene is sharper, more entertaining and most of all it all finally makes sense!
Also new this year: Tony Stark’s dancers. Their existence is a bit of a head scratcher, but they do provide a fun opening sequence to get everyone’s attention on the stage – plus it’s a very “Tony Stark thing to do”.
A great job from the creative teams on this show, learning from last year’s feedback to create a new, much improved production.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance-Off
Dance-off was a hit last season and still is, back this year with an added bonus: everyone’s favourite tree: Groot! The story is generally the same, with a few “I am Groot” adaptations, and the cast still does a great job at getting the audience involved with catchy music, funny lines and groovy dance moves. Groot does not meet Guests (the Disneyland Paris marketing material was a bit fuzzy on that point) but he does pose and wave for a good amount of time so that everyone can take a photo.
A new small podium was added at the centre of the stage, which does a good job at elevating some of the performers so that Guests in the back can see a little bit more action, and also helps the cast talk to Groot (he is very tall).
Dance-off is back, come and save the world with your dance moves.
Meet and Greets
Three times the fun this year on the meet and greet front:
Captain America is back in “the box” near Stitch Live:
Over in the backlot, Spiderman has a fantastic new location with two yellow taxis (one of them coming straight from Hotel New York), and a “broken pavement” effect which looks like a Super Hero fight just took place. Behind the location, some new “Stark Expo” posters are a nod to the show down the road – and also to the other upcoming Marvel Land “recruiting centers” in Hong Kong. Spidey is wearing the same suit as last year (which was at the time a Park exclusive but since then has arrived to other Resorts).
Finally all the way by Blockbuster Café, the new darling of the MCU: Captain Marvel meets Guests – she is a ton of fun to chat with.
The controversial Lineberty reservation system is NOT in use this year, so Guests will have to queue early or face long waits. Also to note, there is no set times for these meets in the programme – they seem to vary and have to be checked at the location. With Disney’s Hotel New York closed, the “Marvel Dinner” offer is not happening this year.
Merch and Snacks
A full range of Marvel merchandise is available in the shops, representing virtually every Super Heroes, with a focus on Groot and Captain Marvel this year. While the vast majority of items is fun and/or fashionable with a lot of Park exclusives, somehow the “home made poster decal” t-shirt made it again in the selection.
This year’s most notable snack is in our opinion the chocolate mixtape (a soft shortbread biscuit encased in an entire milk chocolate bar): it’s A LOT of chocolate, and the design is well done.
Groot cookies are back in salted caramel and raspberry flavors, and a Baby Groot chocolate mousse (at buffet restaurants)
Captain Marvel wasn’t forgotten and is getting her own macaroon.
A series or other more-or-less Marvel related snacks was also added: like the green Gazpacho (reference to Hulk), or the Super Heroes Falafels (reference to absolutely nothing at all but we always welcome new vegetarian/vegan/healthy snacks)
At the Hotel Bars, you’ll find two cocktails with a price that varies as usual depending on the Hotel class: The Green Smash, and the Cosmic Cocktail:
Roundtable with the show Directors and Merchandising:
We got the chance to ask our questions to the show directors and the merchandising team, here is our video report:
While, in our opinion, the Marvel entertainment offerings won’t realize their full potential until Marvel Land opens, Marvel Season 2019 took note of last year’s issues and improved greatly across the board: more engaging shows, better use of technology, and several additional Heroes both in shows and Meet and Greets create a genuine feeling of excitement from Guests across the Park. Well done!
Marvel Season of Super Heroes runs until June 16, 2019 at Walt Disney Studios Park.