The Marvel universe has been fully realized for the first time in a Disney attraction, not in a theme park but aboard the newly re-imagined Disney Magic cruise ship. Though Disneyland’s Innoventions has featured the Iron Man Hall of Armor exhibit, it pales in comparison to the exciting interactivity and sense of adventure and importance found in Marvel’s Avengers Academy. And that’s just one of several fun new areas that make up the ship’s all-new Oceaneer Club.
Marvel’s Avengers Academy is easily the highlight of the Oceaneer Club - if not the entire ship. It’s like stepping into S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, with plenty of recognizable logos to prove it. Children enrolled can embark on a 2-day recruitment experience that has them team up with various Avengers, get tips from Captain America, and suit up like Iron Man to battle Red Skull.
Disney’s creators of Marvel’s Avengers Academy gave me a tour of the new hot spot, explaining how the experience works in the video below - with a few tips from Steve Rogers himself.
Video: Marvel’s Avengers Academy on the Disney Magic
Stepping through the S.H.I.E.L.D. scanner is one of those magical Disney moments, triggering special lighting effects to sort kids into loyalties of different Avengers, including Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and more. Children receive special ID badges (as seen in the video above) to prove they are being recruited.
Then the exploration can begin, getting up close with one of Iron Man’s suits, Thor’s hammer, and Captain America’s shield. Of course, these aren’t their actual weapons, since they need those to fight bad guys, instead offering these training replicas on display.
The first day of the Avengers Academy experience gives kids instructions on how to become part of the team, culminating with a visit from Cap himself.
Then on day two, kids can suit up with Iron Man to complete their training in an experience similar to that available in Disneyland’s Innoventions, but slightly updated to feature the traditional red-and-gold suit.
It’s a shame that this experience is intended for kids only, as adults will surely want to play in there too. Fortunately, a couple hours of Avengers time are offered at the start of each cruise during the open house period. Plus Captain America hosts meet-and-greets elsewhere on the ship, outside of the Avengers Academy regularly throughout each voyage.
Video: Captain America meet-and-greet on the Disney Magic
Some of the best moments on board happen when simply spotting characters while roaming the ship. Guests certainly get excited when Cap walks by unexpectedly.
The remaining three areas of the Oceaneer Club are a bit more familiar from the Dream and Fantasy ships, though with new twists.
Video: Oceaneer Club tour on the Disney Magic
Parents needn’t worry about their kids in this area, as each receives a MagicBand - or an Oceaneer Band as it’s called on board. It’s a wristband that can be tapped against a light-up Mickey head to allow kids to enter. And it’s also a souvenir at the end of the voyage.
Andy’s Room has become a two-level play area featuring a winding Slinky Dog slide twirling down from the top of Andy’s Bed. A giant Mr. Potato Head has interchangeable parts and change is lying around to put in Hamm the piggy bank. It’s a colorful, vibrant area that evokes the feeling of the “Toy Story” films, seeming to shrink guests down to the size of toys.
And don’t miss the artwork posted on the walls, some of which is “Toy Story” creator John Lasseter’s own.
The Mickey Mouse Club is an interesting blend of a classic Mickey red-black-and-yellow motif with modern Mickey as seen in his most recent series of shorts. Stills from those shorts have been blown up and decorate the walls in this play area that features plenty of themed seating and several activities as well.
Lastly, Pixie Hollow is the least intricate of the four areas, but will certainly appeal to fairy fans with dress-up opportunities, computer games to play, and a forest-like atmosphere to hang out in.
And for those looking to extend their Avengers Academy experience, the stores on board now have Marvel merchandise for sale.
The Oceaneer Lab has also received a makeover, now connected by a back hallway to the Oceaneer Club. The Lab features a variety of interactive, hands-on experiences for kids to engage in.
Of all the recent upgrades to the Disney Magic, the new Oceaneer Club is easily the most impressive and one that definitely should not be missed during the open house period when first arriving on board. Kids will have a blast playing in there throughout the cruise, but those first few hours are adults’ only opportunity to be big kids too.
More photos from the Oceaneer Club and Lab on the Disney Magic