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A hastily planned and very hot heroic day at Disneyland Paris

Satanspropaganda

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The Set-up
Picture this, you've got an amazing gig in Cologne in July booked for around six months, Turnstile playing a really cool venue and my final Turnstile show of the year (to my knowledge). Flights are sorted, hotels are good to go and it's gonna be a crazy but incredible 48 hours...

Well dear reader, this was sadly not the case at all! My flights all went pear shaped and my backup flights also didn't line up well. I got refunds for them and was staring this trip down with two weeks to go, I then spotted something... Avengers Campus passholder previews were on the days before my visit to Cologne! I had picked up an Infinity Pass in April and had already used it for five amazing days in the parks this year so far (not to mention had friends use the hell out of the discount). So I hatched a bit of a ridiculous plan, I'd train down to London, hop the overnight flixbus to Paris and get some superhero action going. Following this with a night in a local hotel, a train to Cologne and then the aforementioned gig. So a few beers deep after a few quick sense-checks with my partner, I booked the trip!


The execution
After a fun evening on Friday seeing a great band (Forager), I packed up my rucksack, brought a metric tonne of suncream with me and headed off on the train down to London. Immediately things started to go slightly awry, Flixbus messaged to say I would be on a local unbranded coach... shortly followed by a delay notification of an hour! So I did the smart thing and went to see Forager play again in London before heading off to Victoria Coach station. My already delayed/rescheduled coach would then take another hour to arrive and the actual departure time wasn't right on the boards, so there was a lot of confused people wandering up and down till we got told which gate. A bunch of us sat around and waited... and waited... till a particularly decrepit looking coach creaked up and we finally boarded our ride to Paris! A coach with no working power sockets, no WiFi, no working toilet and what turned out to be a person who wasn't allowed to leave the country stowed away on board. We breezed past our Eurotunnel departure time and were facing hours and hours of delays, while police tried to drag someone off our ill-equiped coach. It all felt a bit ridiculous in the end and I don't think I'll be Flixbussing over to Paris again anytime soon. Thankfully we finally made it to Paris over three hours late, I quickly freshened up in the bathroom and headed straight off to Disney!

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I briefly popped into the main park to get changed in the bathroom and drop my bags at the guest storage (infinity pass perk), then for the first time in a long time, headed to Studios with a spring in my step! By some truly insane coincidence, one of my friends from the UK was staying on site with their daughter and some family for a little break. I met up with my friend and borrowed them for the afternoon to join me for the passholder preview. It felt a bit weird to breeze past Tower of Terror and Ratatoullie upon arriving at Studios, but my coach being so delayed meant I only had 20 mins till my timeslot commenced and I didn't want to miss it!

Warning, this is in-depth and contains Avengers Campus spoilers (no film ones)

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I'll start this portion by saying that Avengers Campus is a really fun addition to studios! It's got one major cut corner, but the rest of it is super immersive and fun. It's got a similar feeling to how I felt at Magic Kingdom a few years ago, where you could turn a corner and encounter a character, or a random show, or a parade float. It truly feels like a living breathing land and if DLP can keep the staffing in the budget, it's a really good place to spend 3-4 hours (maybe more if you're super into Marvel). I will preface this by saying as a passholder preview, attendance was heavily capped. so there were no real queues for the rides, so my 3.5 hours spent in there involved re-rides, your mileage may vary once it's open to the public!

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The campus is in an L shape, with the quinnjet at the main junction as a very cool centrepiece! Throughout the day, various characters would be up here and interact with people, or with other characters around the land. It was quite fun when wandering between things to stumble upon Captain Marvel chatting to Black Panther across the rooftops, or spotting Black Widow on a mission darting across the place.

We decided to head straight into Spider-Man W.E.B Adventure as I was cautiously excited to see how it would play. I am shamelessly a huge Disney fan and love the likes of Toy Story Mania & Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast, so I think the concept already appealed to me. We walked straight up to the batching area and within three minutes were in the pre-show, which I thought worked great! The use of peppers ghost is significantly better than the implementation Universal have for Gringotts! It was obvious Tom Holland wasn't in the room, but it felt quite real and really fun to watch. Especially the appearance of the spider-bots in the vents and air ducts!

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I did take a video of some of it, however getting stills from it popped out a bit blurry, this was the only standard photo I took during the pre-show. It served as a nice setup for the ride, if a little rushed explaining the concept of the SLING//R vehicles, but it conveyed enough info to make sense and serve as a fun prequel to what follows.

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I've seen this ride get a fair amount of flak online, but I have to say I absolutely loved it! It is a bit of a workout as you do have to properly do the Spider-Man web motion to make it register, but when you do it, it's pretty damn accurate at shooting exactly where you intended. The physical sets are littered with little details from all the different Marvel universes, including references to the spiderverse film, multiverse things and of course the Tom Holland films. Although it does suffer a similar issue to Toy Story Mania where you can tell when you're pulling upto a screen, the way the vehicles totally blinker you makes it quite immersive. You're also scored both individually and as a team, we had a lot of fun on the few rides we had, when people would pull ahead and it got quite competitive within the vehicle. It's also a ride that is meant to re-riding, you learn which spider-bots are worth more and get a bit more of a hang of the web motion! We rode it quite a few times and I honestly could have gone round again and again, if it weren't for my arms getting sore due to me getting fiercely competitive and slinging them like I were actually trying to save the campus from immenent destruction at the many hands/legs of spider-bots.

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As we left the ride, we perused the merch and then stepped out to see a huge crowd stood watching something on the roof! It turned out there was a stunt show going on above us while we shopped, it was Black Widow and Black Panther vs Taskmaster and some of his henchmen. Although some of it was a little goofy, the use of pyrotechnic sparks, some pretty great wrestling moves and some nice comic/film references made it overall a really enjoyable show! We caught it in full a few hours later and enjoyed it even more with the initial context for the fight. Also quite regularly, Spider-Man would be up on top of the WEB building, showing off his acrobatic skills and greeting guests from afar, which felt really organic and didn't seem to be on much of a schedule!

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We then decided to hop on Flight Force! I decidedly avoided spoilers and went in hoping for the best... however when I said the land had one major cut corner, it was this. It truly feels like they didn't have a great idea for what to do during the ride. Sadly the Iron Man animatronic was not functioning when we went through either, so we were diverted round the preshow entirely, meaning our experience of it was just the quite barebones station and the lacklustre themeing of the actual ride. The building has received so much TLC, the exterior looks fantastic and the FRIDAY AI interactions with the wider land were great fun. However the ride itself is an even worse version of what they did with hyperspace mountain! It's one of the few times I've felt truly disappointed with Disney. At least Rock n Roller coaster had a lot of scenery (albeit static cutouts) inside, this felt so sparse and badly thought out. I had high-ish hopes and I was very much disappointed by what they ended up doing. The animatronic does look incredible when functioning, however I do wish if they only had the budget for that one piece, they'd put the animatronic on the launch, rather than in a pre-show queue room.

Thankfully upon our exit we managed to see some quite cool stuff. For example, inside the Stark Factory restaurant, there's the Hulkbuster suit right there in the entrance!
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I'm hit and miss on Marvel movies, I generally enjoy them all, but I couldn't say I am anything near a die-hard fan. However this was awesome to see, it's pretty huge in person and a really nice little detail. We saw a very fun show with Loki and Thor, where they picked two people from the crowd and Loki tries to corrupt one, while Thor proves that the other is worthy. It was very fun and their Loki is truly perfect, I had to do a double take as I thought it was Tom Hiddleston for a moment! We then stumbled upon one of the many random character interactions that seem to litter the campus. Captain America came out to greet people and held a character meet underneath the Quinnjet! He was even brought out on an Avengers Campus transport car, which was actually pretty cool and added to the immersive feeling. We sadly didn't get to meet him as we arrived to the party a little too late to be near the front of the group around him, however it was fun watching him interact with people. Every single one of the cast members nailed their roles, although I have to say the best we saw were probably Loki, Spider-Man and Gamora.

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We decided to follow this chance encounter with some food, I hadn't eaten in around 24 hours and since Avengers Campus is absolutely chock full of places to eat (five for one small-ish land), it was nice to peruse. For us vegans, Disney have truly stepped their game up immensely, everywhere had an option and it wasn't a token option either, it was one of the main dishes at each place. Although the noodle bowl did look great, the plant based loaded hotdog ended up being my choice and it was delicious! The only thing I'd forgotten is that the French do mustard a bit differently to American mustard, so it had a little bite to it, however it complemented the whole thing very well. I'm actually excited to return just to try all the different food options! (ignore the shade of my skin, although I loaded up on factor 50, it was no match for the 34 degree heat)

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We then decided to shift gears and focus on Characters. One of the main attractions at Avengers Campus is the Hero Training Centre and I have to say, as someone who loves a good character meet, Disney have smashed it out the park here. It operates on a virtual queue and you can only pick one of the experiences per day for your party, however each experience is perfectly themed. There's Spider-Man, Iron-Man, Captain Marvel, or a "Marvel Hero" option, where you can meet one of many heros in a slightly more generic room. We hopped in the virtual queue for Spider-Man and decided to just take the general happenings in the land in while we waited for the 67 minute virtual queue to tick down to zero. Firstly we wandered over to see who was meeting at the character spot by the campus entrance. It just so happened to be the Wasp! Which was a really fun meet, their costume was fantastic and there was a lovely moment where, when discussing if I'd done any "missions", I mentioned I had helped Spider-Man defeat some spider-bots and Wasp said I'm sure he appreciates it. After which, The Wasp pointed to the side of the WEB building, where Spider Man himself was scaling the side of the building and waved to us! Spawning this quite magical photopass shot

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In short I absolutely loved this meet! The meeting area was really cool as well, it was heavily shaded and has a very cool backdrop for the meets. It seems like, at the moment, the meet rotates between Ant-Man and The Wasp, however I did see on the schedule that there were other names on there with no times next to them yet. So it could be quite an exciting spot to meet different characters throughout the day, a bit like the Princess Pavilion.

We then stumbled into the Dora Milaje as we wandered back through the land. They were out on a patrol, doing some fun show pieces, then they stopped in the shade for photos. Something I was hugely impressed by was the quality of the costumes for all of the characters, they felt like they were actually quite functional outfits. The Dora Milaje were fantastically in character too, their handlers stayed a long way away and they themselves commanded everyone around in such a great manner!

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We then went for a little more of a wander to find Iron Man riding around in the fancy campus car! He stopped over by Flight Force and posed for pictures, however in all too perfect Tony Stark fashion, that involved him posing for people to take pictures of him, while he made witty quips and chatted to people. It felt very much like a real life Iron-Man, it was really funny and the interactions he had with FRIDAY felt very organic (also it's just cool to see the entire facade of Flight Force converse with him). He also had the Tony Stark voice down perfectly!

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We had another few goes on WEB, then my phone started buzzing and it was our time to head to the Hero Training Centre for our Heroic Encounter with Spider-Man. The hero training centre is styled off of the Avengers Campus in Civil war and has the feel of a high tech univerity to it. Upon stepping inside, we got "checked in" and sat down in one of the most well air-conditioned rooms I have ever stepped foot in. The walls were decorated with artwork of the Avengers and it had a beautiful garden outside the giant glass windows. I wish I had taken a photo, but by the moment I had taken it all in, we were called up to go through to our encounter. All the staff were fantasic and made it feel like an actual training centre. When we were lead to the encounter we ended up in one of the most heavily themed meets I've ever seen. Spider-Man's room was decked out with training equipment, he had his school supplies from his "time off from work" as he put it. As for Spider-Man, it felt like we met an actual cartoon character, he was so animated and had the mannerisms of the comic book spidey down perfectly. He excitedly showed us around the room, asked us about our time at the campus and kept interacting with stuff around the room. It was such a fun few minutes and I'm really glad these were on virtual queue, as a physical queue would move incredibly slowly, whereas the interactions didn't feel rushed thanks to the VQ. Even if you're not a character meet person, the Train Centre is a really fun attraction in it's own right.

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All in all this may actually be my favourite character meet I have ever had at a Disney Park. My friend who was with me had such a blast too! Sadly the Iron-Man meet wasn't running on this Afternoon, but I really would love to try the action shot, where they take a 360 photo where it looks like Iron Man is teaching you all to fly.

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After this, we decided we should probably head on out as we'd spent a good few hours in the campus and I wanted to do a few other things across the parks. This however got slightly derailed, when Star-Lord and Gamora popped out and started a dance party right by where we were stood. Before I had even gotten my bearings, Gamora grabbed me by the hand and I was thrust in front of a good 150+ people, to dance vs Star-Lords chosen champion. The whole thing was so much fun and felt really organic, even if I was a tiny bit mortified when I saw the sheer amount of cameras filming me dance along with Star-Lords instructions!

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After a really fantastic three and a half hours, we then headed out of the Campus to indulge in other Disney escapades for the rest of the day!

The rest of my Disney Day

I'll briefly wrap this up with a summary of the rest of my day as I feel like it's lazy to end the trip report here and I somehow got the best on-ride photo of my life. I grabbed a ride on Tower of Terror, before getting a beer for the road and going to the main park in time for the parade.

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For those not in the know, Dole Whips are now in Disneyland Paris and they are a MUUUCH heartier serving than their Floridian counterpart. With dole whip in hand, I wandered over to the Infinity Pass viewing area and settled down to enjoy my favourite Disney treat in the sun. As per usual, the parade was a delight! Slightly toned down on the character front on account of the heat, however my favourite floats were still there and I'm really glad I made it in time to catch it, as I feel like it's not a day at Disney without watching Stars on Parade.

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Since I've been Disney quite a lot this year, rather than doing every ride again, I decided to just do my absolute favourite few things. Which basically meant repeatedly riding Phantom Manor, a quick ride on Hyperspace Mountain, repeatedly riding Buzz to try to get Galactic Hero (I got 970k, I was so damn close), then headed back over to Big Thunder Mountain and finally nailing the perfect on-ride photo. I may as well retire from posing on coasters, because this is the pinnacle for me.

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In general the park is in such great shape. This year is Disneyland Paris' 30th Anniversary and the castle has been repainted beautifully in celebration. In fact the whole park has slowly undergone a new lick of paint and the TLC taken really shows, the whole place looks so much more beautiful than it did in 2018/2019. The decorations for the celebration are fantastic too, with irridescent metallic statues all around the central hub of the park, rosettes and other decorations lining main street, plus a whole load of new treats! When we came in April we were pretty blown away by all the new stuff that had popped up all over the park, from champagne carts on main street, to cookie stands around the park, speciality 30th cocktails in the restaurants (we had a lot of these in April and my god they were good) and many more new surprises to seek out and enjoy. My absolute favourite 30th food thing (although I am biased), is the 30th vegan panini. Very rarely do we get a headline option as vegans, so to have a quick service place that only makes a 30th panini that just happens to be vegan is really exciting. I also am a bit of a sucker for Mickey foods and it does make me happy every time I get this.

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I had a quick final ride on Phantom Manor, before heading out to meet my friend and their family for a few cocktails in Disney Village! I've never actually taken time out of the parks in a day at Disney, it was a really nice change of pace. Plus it was just a godsend to get out the heat and drink some ice cold cocktails with good company.

We finally headed back in around 10pm so I could collect my rucksack prior to the fireworks, got our spots in the accessibility area and ended the day with Disney D-Light followed by Illuminations.

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If you haven't visited DLP for the 30th yet, I really do wholly recommend it! One of the coolest 30th extras is D-Light, this is a projection, water and drone show that runs for around 5 minutes and it's really quite beautiful! I've always loved Illuminations, however having this as the precursor to it makes the whole evening feel even more spectacular. I guess drones are still quite an exciting thing to see used in such a manner and there's an amazing bit during D-Light where the drones form a sphere with the 30th Mickey logo in the centre and it still blows me away every time.

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And with many many bangs, my ridiculously ill-advised day at Disneyland Paris for the Avengers Campus preview came to an end. I headed back to my hotel in Torcy and grabbed 6 hours sleep, before hightailing it back to Marne la-valee to get my train to Cologne. Everything imagineable went wrong, but I made it to the Turnstile gig and had a truly beautiful evening seeing one of my favourite bands with plenty of new friends. The whole trip was insanely exhausting and I haven't had a proper nights sleep in days as my flight out of Cologne was at 6am, however it was so worth it.

If you read along all the way through this trip report/avengers campus review, thank you so much! I hope you enjoyed it and I hope I maybe encouraged you to consider popping back to DLP, as it really is in great shape nowadays and it's somewhere weirdly very dear to my heart.
 

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