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REVIEW — “The Marvel Experience”

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Adjust your expectations and you’re more likely to enjoy it.

There are a few things to keep in mind before attending the new traveling “Marvel Experience” which is currently in Phoenix.  First, Phoenix is a preview market.  This is a brand new exhibit, put on by a brand new company. (Hero Ventures)  Also, it should be noted that this is NOT tied into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, instead it exists solely within the comic book realm.  Those expecting something akin to the Avenger’s S.T.A.T.I.O.N. in Times Square will be sorely disappointed, however,being free from the MCU allows the experience to include dozens of characters that they otherwise could not bring together.  

After a registration process, and two intro video areas, you are released into the large main dome where visitors are intended to spend most of their time.  There are a variety of interactive games here, along with a number of comic inspired props.  They’ve also thankfully included a snack shop and cafe area.  Considering some of the long wait times, this is a welcomed inclusion. (Or, perhaps it’s all part of HYRDA’s plan to drain your wallets??)

If they can survive some of the long lines, kids especially will love this area.  There is an augmented reality wall where you can summon (and interact!) with your favorite heroes, an Iron Man flight simulator, and a Hulk Simulator.  One of the most fun things to try is also one of the simplest.  The Black Widow Simulator has you maneuvering through a laser tripwire hallway trying to push flashing buttons in the shortest amount of time.  Since this activity only allows for one person at a time, we’d recommending going to this one first, as the line can grow quite long.  All the other activities can handle multiple people at a time, so their lines move quicker.  Another highlight is the Holo-Blaster Simulator.  In side of a small darkened room, 24 people will be armed with holo-blasters and will test their accuracy shooting at 3D targets.  The top scorers will get their pictures shown on the screen at the end.  It’s a blast! To help alleviate the boredom of standing in lines, at random intervals animations of our heroes will play up on the dome.  They are short, but fun.

After spending an hour or two in the main dome, you move through the half-shell of a Quinjet to the next Dome.  This is supposed to be a 3D visual experience, but on the day Ref Kevin attended the 3D was not functioning.  (Note: By the time this article posts,the 3D is supposed to be working)  Even in 2D this 360º animated sequence is pretty cool.  10 minutes later you move on to the next small waiting room.  We are greated with a few more fun videos, and a very cool helping hand from one of the heroes.  Finally you move on to the last dome, the much touted highlight of the attraction, THE 4D EXPERIENCE.  Now, the animation is just as good as the rest, the story is still fun, but when Ref Kevin visited, this was a pretty big let down. Like the previous dome, the 3D was non-functioning, the motion didn’t sync up quite right to the video, and the power bands that are supposed to interact with the animation, we also not functioning.  So, an experience that was potentially thrilling, was rather anti-climatic.  Hero Ventures, the company behind this traveling exhibit, is well aware of the issues and are working hard to create the best experience possible.  That said, you might want to call ahead before heading out to “The Marvel Experience” to ensure everything is functional!  Also, it’s best to avoid it on the weekend, when crowds will be the thickest! 

“The Marvel Experience” runs through January 3rd at Salt River Fields in Phoenix.

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