The Marvel Experience launched in Scottsdale, Arizona and our family had the pleasure to be their guests for opening day.
Marvel characters are based more upon the comic books instead of the recent movies many might be expecting to see.
Once entering the S.H.I.E.L.D. Dome Facility, each person receives a Super Power Band to track their progress. Next comes registration. Registering the bands took about 30 minutes for our family of four. Two of us had technical issues related to the computer and thankfully received help from the staff. Even though they have many machines for registering, the majority of the terminals were positioned for very tall people. My husband at 5’10” is the only one who actually had a decent picture and the boys were concerned since they were barely visible at 8 and 11 years old. The cameras do not move and the two terminals for shorter people like me were not functioning when we attended. It is important to note that each person needs to have their own email address to register.
After entering the Recruit Staging Area at your specific time, you are greeted with a green screen to take a group shot to view at the end. Prices begin at $20 for one picture.
After the picture you wait in line and watch the news channel letting you know a little bit about what is happening. This is the only time you see and hear Stan Lee. When the next group of people are allowed in, you enter through a revolving door into the S.H.I.E.L.D. Mobile Command Center.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. Mobile Command Center is where you hear from Nick Fury and Maria Hill along with other Marvel characters about your S.H.I.E.L.D. training. This is first look at Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-Man, The Vision, Thor, and Black Widow.
Recruit Training Center
The Recruit Training Center is the largest dome in the complex. This is the room where you can spend as much or as little time as you want. Once you leave this room you cannot come back.
Adaptoid is seen inside a chamber and your job is to sort the materials from the crash site in the Adaptoid Excavation Site.
Origin files of nine of the heroes provide a video background of their story. Iron Man, The Vision, Wolverine, She-Hulk, Hulk, Spider-Man, Captain America, Black Widow, and Thor are featured. Although my boys were able to hear it over the loud music playing in the room, those who have hearing difficulties may be unable to hear it at all. Closed captioning or headphones are not provided.
The Tech Armory is a weapons vault showcasing Captain America’s shield, Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, Falcon’s winged backpack, Black Widow’s stingers, Wolverine’s claws, Nick Fury’s blaster, Black Panther’s Scythe, Hawkeye’s bow, Spider-Man’s web shooter, Daredevil’s billy club, and S.H.I.E.L.D. Gamma Gauntlet. See inside Iron Man’s helmet and also see the helmets from Mark 1, Mark 8, Mark 13, and Mark 16 that Tony Stark built.
The villains’ weapons are also on display showcasing Loki’s scepter, M.O.D.O.K.’s headband, Green Goblin’s pumpkin bombs, Viper’s whip, Bullseye’s projectiles, and Madame Hydra’s bull whip.
Classified files show a collection of comic book covers from some of the more prominent story lines from Marvel heroes.
Digital coloring sheets allow customization of characters like a paint by number type of art. Completed artwork can be sent by email.
Training Stations in the Recruit Training Center
There are six training stations located throughout the shield training center providing a gaming type experience like the Xbox Kinect sensor. Scanning the band activates the activity, although sometimes the wrong person’s information appeared.
- Hulk Out: Do the Hulk smash and defeat flying robots.
- Mark 47 Flight Training: Maneuver through a canyon as Iron Man while blasting flying robots to cross the finish line.
- Spider-Man Climbing Wall: A moving wall with a screen above your head gives the illusion of clinging as your favorite neighborhood web slinger. A staff member controls the speed.
- Holo- Blaster Training Simulator: A 3D virtual shooting range is one you don’t want to miss.
- Black Widow Agility Maze: Move quickly without setting off laser beam alarms.
- Avengers Encounter: Strike a pose and call one of six superheroes to stand next to you. Call Black Widow, Nick Fury, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, or Spider-Man. If you like to take selfies then definitely call Spider-Man.
Once training is complete board the Quinjet. View villain files similar to the hero archives and then try your luck at protecting the world in a mathematical challenge to deploy the right team to defend the Earth. When leaving this room, the tracking device is removed from your band.
The Transfer Dome is where you wait for the Simularium and is the only room that has nothing to do but wait. The Simularium is a 3D experience in a giant dome where you stand and turn around as the show plays in 360 degrees around the room.
While waiting in the Transport Corridor, Spider-Man gives safety instructions. It is here you learn more about what awaits you in the Transport Hangar. The ride is the final encounter for recruits to battle Hydra, M.O.D.O.K, Red Skull, and Adaptoid. There is one confusing part when we are asked to hold up our tracking bands as they scan them because they were already removed from our bands earlier.
Villain Containment and Hall of Heroes is the final room with items to view before you enter the S.H.I.E.L.D. shop.
Know before you go:
- Parking is $10 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale.
- Although this is a virtual experience throughout, there are some glitches that still need to be worked out. Every single time there was a video displayed on a dome the audio track was missing for several seconds.
- Allow extra time for registering your bands. Preregistration did not save any time and actually complicated it.
- Strollers are not permitted inside.
- We were told the facility is handicapped accessible.
- This is a very loud experience and children sensitive to noise may become overwhelmed.
- Even though it is an indoor experience, it is extremely cold with the blowers forcing only cold air so bundle up as if you were outside the entire time.
- Use the restroom before leaving the Recruit Training Center. There is no access after that point and reentry is not allowed.
- You get to keep your band, but not the cool looking tracking device. At the gift shop we received three free iConz for our band: S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem, Hulk fist, and Adaptoid. The band holds up to seven with more coming soon for purchase.
- We have no idea what the tracking bands were for. You do not get to see a printout of your training or even get your S.H.I.E.L.D. badge so registering them makes no sense at all. If we could have had our own S.H.I.E.L.D. badge printed out at the experience our boys would have been very happy.
- This experience is designed for older children and adults. Height restrictions are listed on their website.
- On opening night Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor were there to greet recruits and take pictures with but we do not know if they are there for the entire tour.
- The domes look really cool at night from the outside.