be pre­pared to mar­vel

Find out if you’ve got what it takes to be­come a mem­ber of the Avengers at Ex­cel’s at­trac­tion

The Wharf - - Royal Docks & Canning Town - Florence Der­rick

From now un­til next spring, vis­i­tors to Ex­cel in Royal Docks have the op­por­tu­nity to step into the Mar­vel cine­matic uni­verse. A cus­tom-built ver­sion of Tony Stark’s lab has been con­structed in the con­fer­ence and ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre’s main pi­azza ready to wel­come bud­ding su­per­heros.

“Mar­vel Avengers STA­TION is an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence, in the same way as it is go­ing to Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios,” said MJR Group cre­ative direc­tor Nathan Stone.

His or­gan­i­sa­tion has brought the show to Lon­don fol­low­ing suc­cess­ful runs in New York, Seoul, Paris, Sin­ga­pore, Bei­jing, Taipei, Las Ve­gas and most re­cently Mel­bourne – where more than 400,000 vis­i­tors at­tended.

Ini­tial sales sug­gest a min­i­mum of 150,000 at­ten­dees are set to come to its UK it­er­a­tion, with week­end open­ing hours al­ready ex­tended to ac­com­mo­date de­mand. So what can vis­i­tors ex­pect? “You’ve got the ex­hi­bi­tion side of it with the props and cos­tumes, then the im­mer­sive el­e­ment to test whether you’re wor­thy of be­com­ing an Avenger and sup­port­ing them in sav­ing the cine­matic uni­verse,” said Nathan.

“The story is, you’ve turned up to the Avengers’ train­ing academy. You com­plete var­i­ous chal­lenges – 3D map­ping, VR, dex­ter­ity tests, video games – then there’s a fi­nal game that qual­i­fies you to be­come an Avenger.

“It’s per­fect for fam­i­lies. Kids are wowed by the tech, teenagers want to beat the chal­lenges and su­per fans want to see the orig­i­nal props.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ex­cel CEO Jeremy Rees, Mar­vel Avengers STA­TION (an acro­nym for Sci­ence Train­ing and Tac­ti­cal In­tel­li­gence Op­er­a­tive Net­work) marks a new era for the kind of en­ter­tain­ment of­fered by the venue.

“This is a first ven­ture for us into a fixed-term con­sumer at­trac­tion over a long pe­riod of time,” he said.

“It’s build­ing on the suc­cess of shows like MCM Comic Con.

“Mar­vel Avengers is an amaz­ing brand name. It cap­tures the zeit­geist and cre­ates more place­mak­ing, en­gage­ment and rich­ness of ex­pe­ri­ence here, for con­sumers to come and have fun.

“It’s been driven out of de­mand. These big brands have a real fan base of en­thu­si­asts.”

It’s a claim echoed by Nathan, who added: “Mar­vel’s the big­gest movie fran­chise in the world right now and the UK is its third big­gest mar­ket.

“With In­fin­ity War hit­ting $2 bil­lion at the box of­fice, cou­pled with four of the fran­chise’s ti­tles reach­ing the top 10 high­est gross­ing movies glob­ally for 2018, the brand shows no signs of slow­ing down.”

It brings an op­por­tu­nity to not only bring to life the Mar­vel cine­matic uni­verse, pro­vid­ing en­ter­tain­ment to “big and lit­tle kids” alike – as Jeremy put it – but also to ed­u­cate.

He said: “While a part­ner­ship with Vic­tory Hill En­ter­tain­ment has in­vested a huge amount in the tech and ex­e­cu­tion of the event – from aug­mented to vir­tual re­al­ity to re­ally make the ex­pe­ri­ence truly im­mer­sive – there’s a lot of sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and maths as well. It’s ed­u­ca­tional.

“While the In­cred­i­ble Hulk is an ex­cit­ing char­ac­ter, his sec­tion teaches kids how the hu­man brain works. They’ve worked with sci­en­tists and NASA so schoolkids can learn and be en­gaged.”

And ac­cord­ing to Nathan, it’s a UK first for this kind of ex­hi­bi­tion.

“The Amer­i­cans have Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios and Dis­ney­land – places you can go to ex­pe­ri­ence the magic,” he said, “whereas we’re used to dis­play­ing props and cos­tumes in a fine art mu­seum.

“There’s been a huge trend in the rise of im­mer­sive things like Fright Night, the break­away from stan­dard life. “With the Mar­vel Avengers

STA­TION we’re able to make that com­plete dis­con­nec­tion from ev­ery­day life and mix it with char­ac­ters peo­ple ei­ther grew up with or are huge role mod­els to them now.

“To put a child in the world of Iron Man is just amaz­ing.”

Jeremy hopes ush­er­ing in a new era of en­ter­tain­ment at Ex­cel will have a far-reach­ing ef­fect on the sur­round­ing area and its res­i­dents.

“I see this as Des­ti­na­tion Ex­cel’,” he said. “We want to try and en­liven the area around the Royal Docks and get a sense of buzz.

“We’re in­vest­ing a huge amount around the look and feel of the venue to make it far more cus­tomer en­gag­ing and aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing – like a mini South Bank, with more bars and restau­rants.

“Plus, we’ll be cre­at­ing more jobs lo­cally, work­ing with the com­mu­nity around here to cre­ate a re­ally good eco­nomic ben­e­fit for the Royal Docks.”

The ex­pe­ri­ence costs from £25 for adults and £14 for chil­dren plus book­ing fees. Go to avengerssta­tion.co.uk for more in­for­ma­tion or to book tick­ets

Ex­cel CEO Jeremy Rees

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