A co –production of Marvel, NASA, Discovery Times Square and Victory Hill Exhibitions, the 10,000-square-foot Avengers Station in Times Square is a must-see attraction for those heading to New York this year.
We stumbled upon the exhibit by coincidence when we were staying at the Doubletree Suites Hotel in Times Square. At first I bulked at the relatively high admission price of $30 a person but I can say after visiting it was well worth the price. We spent almost two hours there (my son with autism is a HUGE Marvel fan). I thought this would be one of those boring props and costume deals I would have to suffer through since I have no real knowledge of or much interest in superheroes. I was very wrong!
Real Movie Props and More
Of course you’ll see real costumes and movie props Like Captain America’s shield and Black Widow’s form-fitting costume, the pod that transformed Skinny Steve into Captain America, Loki’s scepter, a captured Chitauri and even a Tesseract,( a powerful device that opens portals to other worlds, according to my son.)
But solely focusing on those would be shortchanging the exhibit. In fact, I believe that whoever labeled this as an exhibit did it a disservice since it is more of an interactive experience aiming to educate kids about multiple areas of science like biology, physics and astronomy in a fun way.
When we visited, the wait lines were relatively short as we arrived later in the day (the exhibit only allows 30 guests to enter at a time). We were fortunate to meet Mark Smith the VP of Victory Hill Exhibitions who graciously showed us around and patiently answered a deluge of questions from my son about the exhibit.
You start your visit by filling in your data on one of the kiosks. This starts your “recruiting” process and gives you your ID card. This card will registers your progress in the tests and experiments during your current visit and keeps you notified of Marvel news via your Facebook page. Should you feel uncomfortable disclosing your kid’s name (I was) you can either put your own Facebook address or skip it altogether.
After you get your picture taken (hint you should if you want to buy a really cool photo souvenir later) you enter a brightly lit hall where you meet your future boss and mentor Agent Blake (Titus Welliver) who explains that your cooperation is needed since planet earth is in imminent danger. Once you accept, you are ready to start your mission.
Superheroes Live Here
The exhibit features four main zones dedicated to the best known superheroes–the Avengers, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor and Ironman.
In Captain America’s room you can see movie props, learn about cryostasis and the powerful serum that changed Steve Rogers’ life while comparing your muscle strength to the physically-adept superhero. The neat side is that kids get to learn cool trivia about hormones and how tree frogs are able to resist freezing conditions.
The Hulk room was the most exciting for my son as he poked a full-sized animated Hulk and got him to flex and thunderclap on command. But …poke him the wrong way and you see him, in my son’s words ‘have the mother lode of meltdowns’ punching the wall causing the entire room to shake .
Yes, the special effects here are superb. But no worries. This is just part of a secret scheme by the organizers to teach you about newtons and gamma radiation.
While you are waiting your turn to touch the interactive devices and yes, there is a line, you are welcome to gawk at an actual Tesseract device from “The Avengers” movie that was used by Loki to open up a portal to the Chitauri invasion.
The Thor room boasts a hologram representation of his hammer and is filled with Asgardian memorabilia like Loki’s helmet and scepter and the obligatory Chitauri costume. This is the spot to get your kid interested in astronomy thanks to NASA and search for Asgard (Thor’s planet) using authentic galaxy charts.
The last zone is also the largest and can be considered the exhibit’s centerpiece. Here you can actually play with a HUD pod simulator that allows you to experience what it feels like to fly while wearing the legendary suit. Another cool station to check out is the Iron Man glove simulator where you put your hand over a Microsoft tablet (great idea to promote the Microsoft Surface) and cheer when the electronic glove syncs to the movements of your hand.
My son spent the longest here and it was hard to pry him away from it so other visitors could get their turn.
Don’t Miss the Gift Shop
I’m not a fan of gift shops but this one is a must for fans. After getting over his disappointment at finding no v-necked t-shirts, my son settled on a pair of superman speakers. And of course, we ended up buying the simulated picture with him amongst all the superheroes. Kitschy maybe, but it made him incredibly happy. The current exhibit is open until January 5, 2015, but organizers are looking to bring it to other major cities as well.
Tips: Costco is currently selling tickets at a reduced price of $18 so grab some if you are planning to go. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours to see the whole exhibit and a few extra dollars for obligatory souvenir shopping binge.