I had so many plans for June blog posts. Pin posts, more Run Disney updates, other hotel reviews. Unfortunately work and life has gotten in the way so those will have to wait a little while longer. The most recent special event in the Disneyland Paris calendar took place over last weekend – the Marvel Annual Pass Soirée – and my experience and overall thoughts of the event is the subject of today’s blog post.
The event took place inside Walt Disney Studios on Saturday 7th July, starting at 8.30pm and finishing at 12.30am. Tickets cost 39 Euros per person and were available to Infinity or Magic Plus annual passholders (plus up to 2 guests).
I’m going to split this into sections. Firstly I’ll take you through my personal experience of the night. Secondly I’ll give some more general thoughts on the criticism of the event I’ve seen posted online.
My experience of the evening
The evening started very differently to my last special event. At FanDaze I arrived very early (foolishly early it turned out) but this time I had dinner with friends before the event. More specifically we tried out the Marvel Signature dinner – review coming soon! As such we didn’t arrive at the Studios until pretty much bang on 8.30pm. One member of our group had a disability pass so a few of us were able to enter with no wait. I heard from others that the regular queue moved very quickly and efficiently too. On entry we were handed some really cool souvenirs – a special programme for the evening and a pin!
Show me a party at another Disney park that includes these types of gifts in such a reasonable entry price!
When we entered the park the place felt deserted, but after a short walk to the back of Tower of Terror we found out why. Pretty much everyone was in the line to meet Thor and Loki. I thought this would be the case as Loki has never met with the general public at Disneyland Paris before. Luckily I’ve met Thor and Loki at California Adventure (in a 10 minute queue, not so subtle humblebrag) so didn’t need to join the line which I believe stayed at between 2 and 3 hours for most of the evening. If you want to do exclusive meets at these events pack your patience!
My first port of call ended up being Rock n Rollercoaster. Before the event Disneyland Paris (DLP) had teased some Marvel tweaks to a few of the Studios attractions for the evening. These were revealed to be the aforementioned Rock n Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror (ooo boy, I’ll get to that next). Unfortunately I don’t really have any nice things to say about the Rock n Marvelcoaster experience. It was a genuine walk on, I guess thats quite a neat little perk. The ride though? It was the regular version, just completely in the dark and with some Avengers tunes playing. The pre show was turned off (fair enough) and there was no music in the boarding area at all – could they not have played some Avengers music or something? My main issue was it just felt lacking any atmosphere at all. It was like the ride had partly broken and someone had plugged in their iPod to get some tunes on. Riding around in the dark also illustrates just how rough this attraction has gotten. Not a great experience overall.
Then it was time for my most anticipated attraction of the evening – a Marvellised Tower of Terror! The teases DLP had sent out for this had gotten me incredibly excited. A collector’s tower? A racoon???? You’re thinking it. I’m thinking it. Mission Breakout right? I, nor anyone else I was with, was naive enough to believe this would be a full change. We did however love speculating what they could do. Would they play the pre show video from Mission Breakout in the library? Maybe put the rocket projection in the ride with the audio? Even just some 70s tunes playing on the ride? Here’s what happened –
- We entered the tower. No decorations in the lobby. Fair enough
- Into the library, and we’re going straight through without stopping. Ok I can live with that.
- In the boiler room now. They’ve completely turned the background sounds off. This is getting really weird.
- Right we’re on the ride now. The bellhop looks so excited! Something must be about to happen!
- Ride’s started. Ok no audio. Wait there’s no audio at all? Now we’re sitting in front of the screens. Still no audio, not even music. No images either. Wait the doors aren’t even opening at the top? What is happening? And its done.
Apart from the novelty of riding Tower in the dark with no queue this was a completely wasted experience. I wouldn’t have been as annoyed about this if they hadn’t been actively hinting at it happening. How is this a Marvel experience? Like Rock n Rollercoaster it just felt like the regular ride but with the effects broken. I did hear that later in the evening there was a poor attempt at putting some music on, but my experience was unfortunately another massive disappointment.
That pretty much ends my experience of the purely Marvel offerings for the evening. Like I said I wasn’t going to wait in the lines for characters I’d either met at the meal earlier in the evening (Captain America and Black Widow) nor was I going to wait for Thor and Loki. There was a conference about the Summer of Heroes taking place in the Cinemagique theatre, but to be honest I’ve been completely underwhelmed with the seasonal offerings and didn’t really want to spend time hearing about its background. The other offerings, like the dance party, weren’t taking place until later in the evening.
Based on that we decided to check out the other character experiences Disney had added for the evening. Prior to the event a few locations were released via InsidEars and based on some of these we were able to guess who would be meeting where in most cases. I mean when they tell you there’s people meeting at the scare floor and in Toy Story Playland, you can quickly figure it out.
Our first port of call was next to the Aladdin flying carpets where Jasmine and the Sultan were meeting. This was a really cool opportunity as the Sultan is very very rarely out in the parks and wasn’t even out for FanDaze. Unfortunately at this point of the evening it was a scrum meet and I didn’t get to meet them in this set, but I’d be back later! I instead headed over to the scare floor to join the queue for Boo and Sully.
Then I met Bullseye and Jessie
Then Abu and Genie
Then back to the scare floor to meet George Sanderson and Mike Wazowski
I know the immediate, and justified, reaction to these meets is what do they have to do with Marvel? Well, nothing really. But I missed meeting quite a few of these characters at FanDaze and was really happy that we had the opportunity to meet some of them here, all with MUCH shorter waits than at the FanDaze event as well. For me this was a nice little plus and ended up being one of my main positives of the night.
This brings me on nicely to the other big positive of the night, the attraction lines (or lack thereof). One of my main frustrations of regular days at the studios park is the lines for rides, particulary Crush and RC Racer. I love both of these but their low capacity means that even on a quiet day they can have incredibly long lines. Thankfully an event like this is perfect for experiencing these attractions with little to no wait. We waited 5 minutes for Crush and 5 minutes for RC Racer. There’s little to no chance of either of those happening on a regular park day. Again, another great perk of the evening!
With those few rides done we decided to jump into the short queue to meet Woody and Buzz who were both hilarious and very mischievous!
Then it was back to the Aladdin area where we queued up for the Sultan’s last set. Thankfully they were able to accomodate everyone and I was able to tick off another really cool meet!
At this point it was just after midnight so the night was coming to a close. The DJ dance party was on, not really my thing but he was doing a good job of keeping the crowd going. They weren’t really sticking to the Guardians theme though – I assumed it would be songs from the 70s and 80s but the first song I heard was White Stripes. Saying that, everyone who was there seemed to be having a good time.
Rather annoyingly the food and beverage carts were either closed or they weren’t letting people line up anymore from around 12.10am. This is despite them being advertised as open until the end of the event. I understand they want to close the park promptly and the cast members want to go home but you’re leaving easy money on the table in these situations.
And that was the end of my night. I have to say, despite my disappointments with the first few experiences I had a really good evening. For 39 Euros I got a souvenir programme and pin, met 12 characters and got to experience 4 attractions with at most a 5 minute wait. Personally that represents good value to me and wouldn’t make me hesitate on booking an AP event in the future. I also can’t stress enough how quiet the park felt. I heard a figure of around 4000 tickets sold but the place still felt deserted.
Understandably not everyone agrees or shared my positive experience, which neatly brings me on to the second part of this blog post.
Before I get onto some of the disappointments other people had with the evening I want to just touch on something really serious that happened at the event. I won’t recount it all, I’ll just link you to this tweet from Ben to get some context: https://twitter.com/TPCripple/status/1015692957997920256
I’d heard some complaints from people with disability passes on the queue situations at FanDaze and it looks like things have regressed even further from then. The treatment of the lady in question was absolutely shocking and I hope this causes DLP to have a company wide review of their disability practice.
I don’t know why they won’t let people use passes on these party nights. I’m guessing their intention is to get as many people through the lines as possible. But thats a problem with how they set these meets up, for example why were Thor and Loki only available for 30 mins on and 30 mins off? These are logisitical issues that DLP should think of a way to deal with and the pain and compromises of them should not be passed onto the guests, particularly those with disabilities who may be unable to wait in the incredibly long lines at these meets.
Marvel fans were disappointed in the event, and I completely understand and agree with most of their criticisms:
- There wasn’t enough Marvel character meets. There really is no good reason for Black Panther, Star Lord and Gamora at least to not have been meeting for the evening. It would’ve also taken pressure off of the other Marvel meets. I’m very fortunate in that I’ve met many of these characters in California and was actually happier with the other meets they put on.
- The overlays and ride tweaks were disappointing and underwhelming. This is DLP’s fault. If you don’t have something special planned, don’t hype it up. If they hadn’t hinted at a Mission Breakout like Tower experience, I’d actually have thought riding it in the dark was pretty cool.
- There probably wasn’t enough general Marvel entertainment going on throughout the evening. The dance parties for one probably could have started earlier and been more frequent than the sole 11pm show. The atmosphere was also severely lacking, particularly in the early portions of the evening.
- I agree that, if you’re a Marvel fan, seeing a lack of Marvel entertainment while multiple unrelated character meets are ongoing is very annoying and frustrating.
- The conference content was disappointing. I’m not sure if I really agree on this one. The information released suggested that the conference would cover the creation of the season and everything I’ve heard suggests that is exactly what happened. It would have been cool to hear some information on the upcoming Marvel area but they never even hinted at this happening.
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Finally, I think a bit of perspective is perhaps needed on what to expect on these evenings. These events are incredibly inexpensive, particularly for Disney events. We’re not going to get as much entertainment for 39 Euros (including a pin) and maximum 4000 capacity that people attending an American Disney party (where the tickets cost at least 3 times as much with multiple times the capacity) are going to get. Thats not to say we can’t expect high quality entertainment, I just think we (including me) need to be mindful of whats realistic.
Thanks for reading everyone. I expect a lot of polarising opinions on this event and can’t wait to see what others thought!