Courtesy of Christian Thompson / Disneyland Resort
Courtesy of Christian Thompson / Disneyland Resort
The Avengers Campus has the first ride-through attraction to feature Spider-Man.
A new Marvel realm arrives—just in time for an influx of new visitors.
Avengers are assembling in Anaheim. A whole new super hero–themed area is opening to the public at Disney California Adventure Park on Friday, June 4: the Avengers Campus.
Sitting in the shadow of the Guardians of the Galaxy tower and on land formerly occupied by A Bug’s Life–inspired kiddie-friendly attractions (RIP Heimlich’s Chew Chew), the new realm features a brand-new ride, WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure, along with several other Marvel-ous attractions.
The new land will initially only be open to a select number of parkgoers; capacity at both the Disneyland and California Adventure parks is reduced to a reported 35 percent, and only California residents in groups of fewer than three households can get in. That changes on June 15, when California plans to fully reopen and Disneyland will allow in guests from out of state.
Disneyland didn’t state whether there will still be capacity limits come June 15, but the reservation system suggests that the parks will still be limiting or controling the number of people who can enter. Disneyland.com/Update will continue to have the latest news. Visitors need to have an entry ticket and theme park reservation for the same day.
After being closed for more than a year for obvious reasons, the Disneyland Resort parks finally opened on April 30 to California residents. It’s been a while since anyone’s been through the doors, even those who consider themselves regulars.
So, what’s it like in the parks at the moment? The California Adventure park was discernibly quieter on Wednesday during the Avengers press event, but not exactly quiet. Somewhat smaller crowds milled around Buena Vista Street at the entrance and along the Pacific Wharf region leading to the view of Paradise Pier. There was room to socially distance somewhat but plenty of strollers to navigate and dozens of Disney fans in Mickey ears and the usual paraphernalia excitedly making their way to rides. Wait times were fairly real: 50 minutes for the Guardians ride; 25 for Monsters Inc: Mike & Sulley to the Rescue. Everybody we saw was complying with the mask mandate.
Restaurants were notably empty, partly due to the time of day and partly because mobile food ordering is in play. You have to order your food and a pickup time. “Once you’re in the vicinity of the dining location during your chosen arrival time, let us know you’re ready for us to prepare your order . . . then find an open spot to unwind. You’ll receive a notification from the app when your food is ready,” the site advises.
There are a few other COVID-related alterations. Parades and nighttime spectaculars, events that draw crowds, are on hold for the time being. Characters are performing—we saw several individuals singing and waving from a little distance—but not doing meet-and-greets. Fastpass and Disney MaxPass services are suspended.
Overall, Disneyland visitors have experienced dizziness from the sheer number of rides they were getting to ride, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper examined wait times during the lower capacity period and found that average waits for rides on May 5, 2021, were 11.9 minutes, based on 17 rides across both parks—versus 24.4 minutes in a 2017 study. One writer who visited recently experienced a 6-minute wait time for Space Mountain, down from a whopping 65 minutes. This won’t last for long as restrictions ease.
This new realm, the first entirely new land to come to the Disneyland Resort since Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opened in 2019, is home to the Avengers Headquarters, an instantly recognizable building with a Quinjet resting on top. There's also Doctor Strange’s Ancient Sanctum, a beautifully rendered zone reminiscent of the movie, and various Spider-Man-themed structures along with several new themed food and drink options.
Characters will surprise guests at various points in the day—expect impressive aerial stunts from Spider-Man, a training session from Black Panther’s General Okoye full of Wakanda wisdom, and a lesson in mystic arts from Doctor Strange. His magic act is full of the customary humor you’d expect. (“I’ll be back five minutes ago” he tells us at one point.) Iron Man will show off his new armor, the Mark 80, and Ant-Man and the Wasp will make their Disney debuts. Thor, Captain America, and others complete the heroic lineup.
“This is a massive assembly of heroes,” said Dan Fields, executive creative director of Disney Live Entertainment at a press Q&A. It’s “a campus that’s welcoming all new recruits,” Walt Disney Imagineering portfolio creative executive Scot Drake added, noting that the area aims to encourage visitors to become part of a team. “We see this as just the beginning,” he said, promising more to come in the area (which could possibly be something inside the HQ that is currently off-limits) as well as plans for a campus in Paris.
The main ride attraction is WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure, a moving 3D spectacle a little like Legoland’s Ninjago experience; riders flail their arms to sling webs and “save the campus from rampaging Spider-Bots,” according to Brent Strong, executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering. Multiple cameras track riders’ movements and high scores are presented at the end. “The webs can interact with the environment, open doors, grow things and shrink things,” Strong added. “We’ve hidden a million Easter eggs. . . . [There’s] lots to find and see.”
The whole campus syncs with the movies and comics, and that brand synergy naturally extends to the gift shop, with several outlets selling remote controlled Spider-Bots as well as WEB Power Bands that can be used on the ride itself and WEB Shooters to keep the fun going at home. That ride-to-retail tie-in is a first for a Disney Parks attraction. WEB Slingers will use a virtual queue system, accessible via the mobile app. There won’t be a standby line.
Food and drink are fun here. At the Pym Test Kitchen, the dining options play on Ant-Man and the Wasp’s use of “Pym Particles” to grow and shrink things. So expect oversized and tiny pretzels moving across the ceiling and dimensionally different bites. We ordered a fried chicken sandwich, which came with a massive piece of chicken and a seriously small bun. A partnership with Impossible means many options, like meatballs and rigatoni, are plant-based and there are plenty of alcoholic options for frazzled parents to take a breather. The whole area is a good spot to fill up and wait for some live action to begin.
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