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New “Land” Makes its Debut at Disney’s California Adventure Theme Park

As Disney’s Anaheim, California theme parks welcome visitors back after a 14-month COVID-inflicted hiatus, park goers (“guests” as Disney cast members refer to them) are looking forward to checking out the newest addition to the Disney’s California Adventure theme park. Some 12 years after Disney bought Marvel, the Avengers are now getting a place to hang their helmets. Avengers Campus opens on Friday, June 4, as an immersive environment that places the visitor in a “research park”. Its back story is that it is built on grounds that were formerly a secret research facility on Howard Stark’s estate. In actuality, Avengers Campus replaces A Bug’s Land. Based on the 1998 Pixar movie A Bug’s Life, it was geared for young children and was decreasingly used.

The map of the Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure
(image from Disney)

Synchronicity and Plot Complications

The plan to create a MCU-themed area within Disney’s theme parks reportedly came about after a visit by Disney senior leadership where the executives realized that, aside from a few character greetings, none of Disney’s parks had an area where they could capitalize on one of their hottest properties. Marvel’s agreement with Universal Studios further complicated things. That licensing deal predated Disney’s acquisition of the studio. It gave Universal the exclusive rights to have Marvel-themed attractions and characters in its theme parks east of the Mississippi River. Specifically, this meant that The X-Men, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers hang out at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure Park in Orlando, Florida rather than across town at Walt Disney World. Similarly, Tokyo Disneyland cannot have Marvel heroes for the same reason. Universal Studios Japan has Spider-Man-themed attractions.

On the other hand, Disney’s parks in California do not face the same restrictions. Disney announced the new land at the 2019 D23 Expo in Anaheim. But, the first step taken to incorporate Marvel branding took place two years earlier. This was the re-skinning of the Tower of Terror at the Anaheim Resort. Coming at a time when Disney would have to renew the rights to use the classic TV show, it became Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! The Tower now serves as the western anchor for Avengers Campus coming from – appropriately enough – Hollywood Land. Before construction of Avengers Campus began, parts of Hollywood Land served as the location for MCU-themed merchandise, meet-and-greets and shows.

The original opening date of July 18, 2020 was delayed due to the pandemic. Disneyland Paris will also get its own Avengers Campus. However, no opening date has been announced as of yet.

Avengers Assemble!

The whole area is a thematic immersion experience. Guests are invited to an open house at the new Worldwide Engineering Brigade (WEB) facility as “potential recruits” for the Avengers. Avengers HQ – topped with a Quinjet – is a focal point. In adjacent area, guest can train the mystical arts with Dr. Strange. This looks to be similar to the Jedi Training Academy shows.

Other locations include a pair of dining options featuring food enlarged or shrunk using Pym Particles. And, WEB’s research facility stands at the “front” entrance to the Campus. This last is the location of the second ride in the area. Web Slingers: a Spider-Man Adventure uses motion and gesture detection to allow riders to shoot webs and energy bolts as they travel through it. Without spoiling anything, Disneyland fans will find this the Toy Story Mania ride turned up to “11”. Instead of pop-guns, sensors capture where the rider is looking as well as arm and hand motions as they help defeat the challenge.

Rather than “exiting through the store” as you leave the ride, dedicated fans might want to visit the kiosk outside the ride’s entrance. There, they can purchase interactive WEB Power Bands which enhance one’s experience – as well as score in the game. Guests don’t need to buy them to enjoy the ride. However, wearing them “enhances the rider’s powers”. Attachments for the bands (for additional cost, naturally) change the visual effects. When not in the park, the Power Bands have other uses such as shooting balls or “slinging webs”.

Some of the interactive merchandise available at Avengers Campus. WEB Power Band with instructions (L) and Repulsor add-on (R)

In addition to the show inside the building, the WEB facility will also be the location of a show atop it. A “stuntronic” Spider-Man will periodically flip and soar above the roof. This is a life-sized, untethered animatronic robot which is a breakthrough for Disney’s imagineers.

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Wyatt D. Odd
Wyatt D. Odd
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