July 11, 2002
My first notice of involvement with Avengers Campus Europe was in the form of a telephone call. Since I was the Executive Creative Director for Toy Story Land and Toy Story Hotel, I was spending a lot of my time living in Shanghai. Once out of curiosity I added up the number of days spent in the People’s Republic of China and discovered that the total was over 250 days during a single calendar year. Not that it mattered because when my mobile phone rang the voice on the other end asked me to take on the role as Executive Creative Director and start design work for Avengers Campus that was to be built at the Disney Studios Paris Theme Park. So, for a some months I woke early several times weekly to join video conferences that began at 4am Shanghai time. I plugged time into my Shanghai project schedule and started to focus on Avengers Campus Paris while balancing my project load for Toy Story Land.
Since I knew Rock n Roller Coaster from WDW, and DSP and I knew Marvel, I leverage both as I started on the project. I also owned thousands of Marvel Comics and they proved as useful the films in the creation and design process.
I started with what I knew about RnRC while thinking about what was broken in the area as it currently existed, and that proved remarkable simple. The existing land was barren, lacking greenery and filled with hard and uninteresting surfaces. The design manifest was to duplicate the Spider-man ride, reimagine Rock n Roller Coaster and fix the land giving it a story and supporting background. Prior to confirming Spider-man, there was a development to repurpose the Armageddon attraction as well as duplicating and importing another ride that had premiered elsewhere. Due to NDA just like Bruno we don’t talk about those ideas.
The concept that quickly emerged was this area was developed and owned by Howard Stark and was the hidden nondisclosed European headquarters of SHEILD. As Ms. Peggy Carter was British it made it logical in the story for her to have an office in the factory and thus SHIELD would be represented. The fun map shows Avengers Campus as it is today and shows the old airfield dating to the post war era. The airfield doesn’t exist in reality, but it was present in my mind whenever I thought about the foundations of the designs.
This image is a throw-everything-at-the-wall image that would serve as inspiration for the new version of Rock n Roller Coaster. Obviously, the arc reactor seen in the film Iron Man didn’t make it to the final cut, however the image proved useful to explain the scope of the project to other stakeholders. The interior queue did grow as this version took over the space used for the Aerosmith scene, so win, win.
The attraction poster was a personal project inspired by the classic Disneyland attraction posters but as with the fun map it explains the concept for the new land. My digital work was mouse only which in hindsight is possible the slowest way for me to have created this artwork. Live and learn.
There were many, many steps in the process before I completed design and handed off the creative part of the project to the Euro Disneyland Imagineering team. I next turned my attention to yet another new project however soon after that project started Covid began and soon afterward I decided after more than three decades to retire from Walt Disney Imagineering.
There is more to the story but for now I will stop to congratulate Disneyland Paris as they open Avengers Campus Europe to the guests visiting Disneyland Paris. My hope is that guests enjoy visiting this new land will have as much fun as I did in its creation.