The Marvel Experience: San Diego

*Spoiler warning* I will be describing the event in detail with photos, if you intend on going and want it to be a surprise, I suggest you don’t read this :]

The Marvel Experience was a fun, family friendly, interactive source of entertainment. The event is held in large white domes illuminated with blue and red lights. There is no time limit and plenty to do. The domes serve as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent training facility where you will go through training stages to become an agent and help the Marvel heroes defeat Hydra. It is a fun adventures for all ages.

 

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The Marvel Experience

 

We picked a really good time to go apparently, 6pm on a Friday night and there wasn’t a ton of people there! I heard that weekend mornings are really packed though. Upon entering the area the first thing you do is fill out information and photo for your S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent ID card.
You get to pick all the fields name, height, eye color, gender (Male, Female, & Other), location, and species (Android, Alien, Human, Superhuman, Animal, Unknown). Which you can also do HERE online, if you’d rather use a photo from home. Kinda wish I did! The lighting in near the machines at night is kinda crummy, I used the flashlight on my phone to better light me, and as you can see the photo is still kinda dark. A copy of the ID will be emailed to you and you have the option of buying an actual card at the end of the experience for $12. Which is the cheapest souvenir there and its a pretty cool one. There are also a few signs that you can take photos in front of.
You then follow the line through the photo booth and into the training center. The photo booth is a green screen where they edit in some of the heroes and villains into the photo with you and your friends or family. Which you can buy at the end. We didn’t like the photo enough to buy it.
The whole show is computer animated, and looks pretty neat.

Mobile Command Center

You enter a waiting platform surrounded by TVs. You will be handed a black rubber bracelet that has several slots for pegged buttons to be attached to it. You will earn one of these peg buttons later on. On the TV several small clips play, history of Captain America then Tony Stark introduces himself and She Hulk. My favorite was a clip from the news featuring CG Stan Lee! Tony explains the current threats and how we as  S.H.I.E.L.D. volunteers can help. We then move into a small dome.

Clearance Level 1 : Analysis Lab

The first dome is one of the smallest. Its initially dark with the exception of some rad 1990’s style “science machines”. On the dome above Nick Fury, Thor, Spiderman, Iron Man, Black Widow, She Hulk, Hulk, Captain America, Wolverine, and Vision explain the current threat, Adaptoids. A new robotic like being, based on the Iron Man suit technology. However these beings can adapt to any super power that they have data on. They basically use the hero’s super powers against them. One of them exploded over the US during a battle with Iron Man.
They then clear you for Level 2. Up to this part its a lot of explainer stuff, intended for those that don’t know anything about Marvel or certain characters. For those of you who already know, be patient :]

Clearance Level 2 : Training Academy

The Training Academy area is a very large dome and a lot to do in there. Majority of the experience is found in this dome, with the exception of the final mission. Things to do:
    • Adaptoid Excavation Site– The first thing you will see in the large dome is a large camber with an Adaptoid inside. There is a touch screen moving belt sticking out of it in several places. On the belt is dirt moving across the screen, small colored parts of the exploded Adaptoid is hiding in the dirt. You pull parts of matching colors to combined into larger pieces to help rebuilt the exploded Adaptoid so it can be studied.
    • Tech Armory– Lining some of the walls and deviders are cases displaying weapons and other items from several of the heroes with descriptions and information about the heroes and their items. There is also a booth to record voice overs :]
    • Hero Archives– There are several touch screens with headphones where you can learn about the history of the characters. I think its a really good idea, it a eliminates a lot of explaining for everyone to sit through and allows people to pick and choose what characters they want to learn about.
    • Energy Cafe– Few tables and snack counter for anyone who gets hungry.
    • Classified Files– Small area where you can flip through the old school Marvel comic book covers.
    • Recruit Training Center– On the other side of the wall that separates the Adaptoid parts from the other training experiences, there are several large screens where you can fight the Hulk in “Hulk Out!” and fly in Iron Man’s suit at “Mark 47: Flight Training”
    • Halo-Blaster Training Simulator– 3D shooting game using Marvel’s Halo-Blasters. Several stages of shooting items and enemies, it also keeps score.
    • Spiderman Climbing Wall– a rotating wall, much like the climbing walls at gyms, except it rotates down so you climb in place. A screen above you shows a moving building side, as if you were climbing up it.
    • Avengers Encounter– A large screen shows several people that are in front of it and places CG heroes between you and your friends. They move around and kinda interact with you.
    • Black Widow Agility Maze– a room full of lasers, like you would see in a spy movie and your task is to try to get through it without touching the lasers. Several screens outside of the room, there were several people in line for this and they were all watching the people in the room, cheering etc. it was fun to just watch.
    • Villain Tracking and Archives– Room loots like a shuttle of some kind. on the walls are interactive screens. Villain Tacking shows a map and red dots where villains are and where attacks are coming from. Other screens have the bios of marvel villains. The end of the shuttle leads to the final encounter.
  • Transfer Dome– small walkway through to get to the next dome, they will give you one of the buttons for the wrist band there.
    • Simularium– large dome where a 3D story between the heroes and Hydra. You see it from a strange angle.
    • Transport Corridor- Small platform, similar to the first one when you first entered the experience. The TV’s there will go over some more explainer stuff, you find out that Hydra is planning a trap, and Spiderman goes over safety information.
  • Transport Hangar– A large dome filled with large theater like seats. These seats however are simulation chairs, they move around and make you feel like you are riding in the transport vehicle. In these chairs you will experience a thrilling battle against Hydra and the army of Adaptoids. Helping the heroes win the battle.
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. Shop– not to anyone’s surprise the experience exits you into a gift shop! This is where you can purchase your IDs and photos. Along with a lot of other merchandise. And a message from good ol’ Grandpa Stan.
Overall I thought it was a lot of fun, I bet it is amazing for kids. There are a few loud parts in the fight scenes, but if your kid watches the movies (Iron Man, Thor, Avengers, Etc) they would really enjoy it. If it comes to your town, I’d say its worth going to if you enjoy things like theme parks and interactive museums etc. I bought general tickets, the VIP had an additional something, but I think the general was just fine. I don’t really think anything in the gift shop was really worth buying, they do sell the buttons for the wrist bands at the check out counter (they are however random) for $5. Everything else seemed pretty generic Marvel merchandise that you can get pretty much anywhere. I was really hoping they’d have costume accessories for the kids to wear during the experience. Helmets, masks, capes, etc. Cause lets be real, even as adults, we’d wear that shit too.As a side note, if you are someone who has back/neck problems- the event does cause to to look up a lot for some what long periods of time. I feel like the dome projections could have been lowered a little bit, I was a little uncomfortable looking up, and I think it would probably be harder for kids.I was also happy to see the addition of several female characters and would really like to see more of them. Specially the heroes. Black Widow is often the token female hero, so I was very pleased to see that they had added She Hulk to the experience. It was a pleasant surprise. And she was quite active in the experience too, not a background character. She serves as Tony’s lawyer, then transforms into She Hulk- powerful woman on both fronts. And I think that kind of stuff is important. I’d love to see more female characters involved in the future. Dare I say, I’d like to see a relatively even number of male and female heroes. I’m a firm believer that representation is really important. Specially to children. So hopefully as they improve and change the experience more female characters will be added. :]

I think they have the right idea to move it around. Having it be a one location only thing would get old quickly. I think the experience was a great one time event and I hope its successful.