Live-action, high-tech Marvel theme park to tour this summer

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — That children's fantasy of fighting alongside — instead of just watching — favorite superheroes like Iron Man and Spider-Man is a step closer.

"The Marvel Experience," a sort of indoor high-tech traveling theme park that includes 360-degree projections, holograms and a 4-D motion ride, will make stops in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and St. Louis this summer.

Participants will train alongside the likes of Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Wolverine and Iron Man before a final showdown against Red Skull, M.O.D.O.K. and their Adaptoids. The show lasts up to 3 hours.

Some elements ask participants to put on 3-D glasses and watch battles, while others offer the option of shooting guns, climbing walls and mimicking superheroes, said Michael Cohl, one of the producers.

"You can participate in a very active way or you can watch other people participating in an active way. But it is a very immersive, modern new take," he said. "It's cutting-edge stuff. We know technology is going berserk. There's new stuff coming all the time. So we'll be enhancing it as we go."

It will make stops in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field from June 19-July 5, then go to Chicago at McCormick Place from July 11-Aug. 2. It reaches New York at The Park Avenue Armory from Aug. 13-30 and St. Louis at America's Center Convention Complex from Sept. 5-20. Tickets range from are $34.50-$44.50 for adults and $29.50-$34.50 for children.

It's the brainchild of Hero Ventures, a Los Angeles-based entertainment company, which teamed up with Marvel Entertainment and "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" producers Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris.

The $30 million show has already made stops in Phoenix, Dallas and San Diego, which Cohl described as sort of like an out of town tryout. The creative team then looked at what worked and tweaked what didn't for the new stops. "These are just the first four of what we expect to be a continuing run of cities," he said.

The traveling dome complex — about 30,000 square feet — includes digital projectors, interactive touch screens, a Holo-Blaster Training Simulator and Spider-Man Climbing Wall. Some 300 kids participate at any one time in staggered waves. They are encouraged to dress up as their favorite superhero.

It comes as Marvel has stepped up monetizing its catalogue of superheroes, including the current hit film "Avengers: Age of Ultron" as well as Marvel's "Ant Man," which will be released later this summer.