The exhibition had a bit of a rocky start, from a number of perspectives. A call for press to come on a preview night got the attention of our excellent photographer Galaxia Siandre, who arrived ready to take a bazillion pictures and play with all the buttons. ALL THE BUTTONS. Sadly, half the displays didn't seem to be active yet and the ones that were were swamped by children in an already over crowded venue, so Galaxia shot what she could, grabbed an official SHIELD cupcake (damn good bakers that save the world I suppose) and headed back home.
The promoters/publicity people for this event were well aware of the mishaps and immediately invited us for another round of SHIELD inspired fun. We'll take that do-over! I grabbed Galaxia once more and off we went.
The exhibition begins at sign in stations where you make your ID cards. These cards have a QR code you will be scanning at all the interactive points along the way. You could use any name you like, OR you can allow the system to use your identity from Facebook, which allows you to post updates of your activities along the way so you are NEVER DISCONNECTED FROM YOUR ADORING FANS FOR A SECOND! Very thoughtful of them. I advise changing your main picture to something ridiculous before heading in, as every time you scan your card, they use your Facebook picture on screen. If you are easily amused..like we are...this will bring a lot of laughs.
We grabbed our probationary cards and into the exhibition we went, greeted by long corridors, back lit SHIELD insignias a-pleanty and movie prop and costumes displays at every turn. For a die hard Marvel Studios fan, this is the #1 reason to go. You get to pour over every detail of these costumes and props for as long as you like. Nerd-vana. They've got Coulson, Hill, Romanoff, Barton, Loki, Thor and some left-overs from the Battle of New York, all waiting for you to make a nice face print on the glass as you take it all in.
Amid all this geekery is honest to god science nerdery afoot at every station. One room challenges the visitor to see how they measure up with Captain America in a series of tests, both mental and physical and even shows off the pod in which Steve Rogers became the star spangled beacon of justice he is today. Another features a giant sized Hulk simulation that is pretty much designed to scare the beejesus out of you if you linger too long. I think he clapped at us randomly at one point. Yes, Hulk, We were happy to see you too. Clap away. The rest of Banner's Gamma gadgets were offline for the moment, but a lovely woman who sounded a bit like Consuela from Family Guy explained "Ees de machines fo de Hoke. Is de Hoke machines." We loved her instantly and wished she could explain all the machines to us.
We saw a giant arc reactor that collides particles any way you like, allowing you to name your new creation when done, points retelling little bits from Marvel movies as if they really happened, and the simple yet highly entertaining ability to work one of Iron Man's gloves via motion sensors, all utilizing fun new technologies that are sure to impress. It seemed for every 2 working attractions, there was one either glitching or completely inoperable. All these bugs may be worked out by now, but you may want to give a call before to see what percentage they are at for the day. It must take an army of techs to keep that place running properly! Still, other points of interest worked fine, but inexplicably. The Hulk simulation I mentioned before didn't utilize pressure sensors to know when people were near, or even basic motion sensors to activate Hulk's reaction, so while we stood there trying to figure out what he would do, he just made a sort of disgruntled face at us. Another attraction allowed us to blow up targets WITH OUR MIND! What they don't tell you is, when you lean forward into the head apparatus, the spots that connect with your head leave a whimsical Frankenstein-esque indentation on your forehead that lingers for some time.
As we approached the Iron Man simulator, we immediately noted the Avenger was a bit twitchy...his foot jittering off to one side, independent from the rest of the suit and other parts disappearing into the armor as they intersected. Of course, we had to get in on this. Here's how it went...
Final verdict? Hysterical. If everything worked perfectly, the place probably wouldn't have been nearly as fun, though I have no doubt kids will eat up every touch screen, light up display and movie prop. At nearly 30 dollars for adults and 20 for kids, you've got to REALLY be into this stuff to feel you've got your money's worth. Then again, the price of a movie ticket isn't much better, and often, not as memorable. Gauge your interest level very carefully and if you are still down, grab some friends who are equally super-geeky and able to appreciate the glitches along with the working tech and you should be in for a day you won't soon forget.
Thanks to the folks at Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. for access. Photography by Galaxia Siandre