TPG got a sneak peek of Avengers Campus at Disneyland — and it was amazing
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Disclaimer: The author attended a media preview of Avengers Campus as a guest of Disneyland on June 2, 2021. She’ll return to Avengers Campus again later this month to experience the land as a regular guest with her family. Look for further updates from that trip.
Avengers Assemble! Marvel fans of all ages will soon be able to come face to face with their favorite superheroes at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Avengers Campus, a brand-new land built around characters from the comic books and Marvel Cinematic Universe, opens June 4, 2021, in Disney California Adventure park.
New attractions and new lands at theme parks, particularly Disney ones, are pretty well-hyped events. Does Avengers Campus live up to the hype? I was able to spend a few hours in the land at a media preview to bring you this first look and initial thoughts on all things Avengers Campus.
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Avengers Campus essentials
Avengers Campus debuts June 4, 2021, in Disney California Adventure. The campus replaces the area formerly known as A Bug’s Land adjacent to Cars Land.
No separate ticket is necessary to gain access to Avengers Campus, but getting into Avengers Campus does require some planning and perhaps a superhero power or two. First, you need to purchase a theme park ticket for Disneyland. Then, you need to make a reservation to enter Disney California Adventure for the day (or, if you have a park hopper ticket, a reservation to enter either park). And until June 15, you also need to be a California resident. The theme parks reopen to out-of-state guests on that date.
Note that theme park reservations for both parks at Disneyland are booking up quickly. As of the publication date of this article, almost all of the month of June is completely sold out. Some July dates are starting to disappear as well.
The land is on the smaller side (especially compared to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge), so it’s possible it will reach capacity in these opening days or weeks. If that happens, a standby queue will form at the main entrance to the land near Carthay Circle theater.
Avengers Campus attractions
There are two rides in the land for now, including one new addition and one old favorite. A third attraction might be coming in a couple of years in a second phase expansion (as was previewed at D23 Expo in 2019). No new details have been forthcoming about this attraction in a while.
Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure
The new attraction launching with the land is Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure. The name conveniently tells you quite a lot about what the ride will be. Guests climb aboard a vehicle where sensors take their hand gestures and turn them into superpowers. The result is that you and your friends and family can suddenly sling webs like Spidey himself. Guests don 3D glasses and battle together against Spider-Bots, a benevolent Peter Parker creation gone awry.
The ride has no height restriction and isn’t particularly scary, making it a great fit for everyone in the family to ride together. Web Slingers operates similarly to other screen-based shooter style attractions (think: Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters or Toy Story Mania). But it’s obviously a generation later. The technology is newer and cooler in that it requires no slingshot or ray gun.
Here’s the catch. You only get to ride it no more than once per day. With park capacity restrictions and high anticipated demand, Disneyland will be offering a one-and-done virtual queue for Web Slingers.
Queue spots (“boarding groups”) are released twice a day, at 7 a.m. and noon, and will probably book up within seconds. If you’ve tried for boarding groups for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at either Disneyland park or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s an identical system.
It’s essential that you know precisely how the distribution works on the Disneyland app and follow the steps quickly but carefully. And if it’s anything like Rise of the Resistance, a little luck will also often be required.
I was able to ride Web Slingers twice and definitely was left wanting more. The repeatability of the ride bodes well for its long term success. But it makes it hard on guests who can only purchase so many days of pricey theme park tickets right now to get a single chance — assuming they are even successful in securing a boarding group!
Remember, annual passes at Disneyland have been entirely canceled, so even locals can’t come back to try this attraction multiple times without buying multiple tickets.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!
The old favorite attraction in the land is, of course, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! The ride is a 2017 re-theming of the previous Tower of Terror. Guardians features more drops, more unpredictability and plenty of awesome music. It has a 40-inch height minimum, so leave this one for the thrill-seekers in the family.
The opening of Avengers Campus will probably bring a surge of new interest in the ride, so expect longer standby waits for Guardians this summer. The queue is often pretty reasonable the first hour in the morning when the park opens, as guests race toward Radiator Springs Racers — the favorite rope drop attraction at DCA.
Food fit for superheroes
In recent years, Disney food has become an attraction unto itself, changing with every holiday and special event. I had pretty high hopes for the food at Avengers Campus as a result. I was able to taste several dishes and was generally impressed at the flavors and quality while also enjoying the story behind the food.
The largest restaurant in the land is Pym Test Kitchen, serving a breakfast menu as well as a lunch/dinner menu the rest of the day. Food is prepared using the same technology that Ant-Man and The Wasp use to grow and shrink from the movie. The result is visually very fun — enormous meatballs and pretzels, tiny sandwich buns and fried eggs, etc. My favorite dish was the Not So Little Chicken sandwich, a large crispy chicken patty topped with cole slaw and two sauces on a miniature bun. The kids menu also has ample offerings, with a variety of foods even many picky eaters will try.
Next door to the Pym Test Kitchen is the Pym Tasting Lab, a bar serving drinks for adults. Be sure to watch the bartenders prepare beer, as the glasses fill from the bottom up! There are also several food carts in the land. Shawarma Palace serves a chicken or vegetarian version of a Middle Eastern wrap. Terran Treats serves exotic and colorful desserts from around the galaxy.
How food operations go is to be seen in the coming days. Since Disneyland reopened earlier this spring, demand for food and food service has been a challenge. Most restaurants have moved exclusively to the mobile ordering system on the Disneyland app, but time slots to pick up mobile orders are booking up quickly — often hours in advance.
Expect mobile ordering slots for Avengers Campus to book up faster than anything else so far. Disneyland is clearly anticipating this demand, adding a second Shawarma Palace cart to the land and adding extra seating to the space that was formerly the queue for the Hyperion Theater. But guests should be prepared for that demand too, placing their mobile food orders early in the morning on the app to avoid the disappointment of a sell out.
Entertainment, characters, merchandise and more
Usually I’m all about the attractions at Disney parks, choosing to skip shows and parades and do only limited character meet-and-greets to get in more ride time. If that describes you too, you need to tour Avengers Campus a bit differently. The entertainment offerings in Avengers Campus are worth your time. After all, this is a land powered by characters — intended to bring them all together from across the universe to a single space.
The entertainment highlight for me was seeing General Okoye from the movie “Black Panther” and the Dora Milaje march powerfully and confidently into the center of land. Their short show trains recruits in the ways of Wakanda.
Dr. Strange demonstrates the mystic arts elsewhere in the land in the Ancient Sanctum. Then there’s a stunt battle where Black Panther, Black Widow and Captain America battle Taskmaster. And I’d be remiss not to call your attention to Spider-Man flying high over the land. Plenty of other superheroes are set to make appearances as well.
You truly don’t have to be a Marvel superfan to enjoy these encounters. I’ve seen the majority of the Avengers movies, so I know all the major characters and references at least. But even without that knowledge, most guests will have passing familiarity with quite a few characters and can certainly appreciate skilled performers and stuntpeople in Avengers Campus.
There are, of course, plenty of other things to see (and buy) in the land. Instagram walls and photo opportunities abound, some of which are quite well done.
There is one new store in the land, Web Suppliers, as well as a new merchandise cart. Parents of kids obsessed with the movies will likely have a hard time walking away without a Spider-Bot or a T-shirt.
Thoughts on and impressions of Avengers Campus
While my time in Avengers Campus was short, the land lived up to its promise — showing off superheroes in a fun and irreverent way in keeping with the spirit of the Marvel movies.
Avengers Campus probably didn’t have as much hype or expectation as did Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It has been a little overshadowed by the re-opening of Disneyland itself and the daily Disney news of changing pandemic restrictions and theme park operations. And that’s probably OK. Avengers Campus is not as epic as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in scope. But it doesn’t need to be so epic to hit its mark. In some ways, it hits the mark better than Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge did, knowing and serving an important core audience better: kids! The food, entertainment and the new ride all keep young fans front and center without sacrificing the offerings for adults in the process.
Disclosure: I attended a media preview of Avengers Campus as a guest of Disney on June 2, 2021. I’ll be returning to Avengers Campus again later this month to experience the land as a regular guest with my family. Look for further updates from that trip.
Featured image by Leslie Harvey
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