On June 4, 2021, Avengers Campus will open at the Disney California Adventure park, the first fully-immersive theme park land dedicated to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We received a phone call from Mr. Stark, asking us to come check out the campus a couple days before it opens to the public. Who could say no to that offer?
Here’s what we thought of the new land, Disney’s headlining Spider-Man attraction, and much more.
Avengers Campus is located in Disney California Adventure, right where A Bug’s Land used to sit (R.I.P Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train) and includes the popular Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout (the pre-existing Guardians of the Galaxy re-do of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror). But we’ve already experienced that thrill ride many times, so let’s skip right to the new stuff. Above, you can find a complete walking tour of Avengers Campus via my Ordinary Adventures YouTube Channel. You can read my full thoughts in print below.
Avengers Campus Has a Backstory
Like most Disney theme park experiences, you’re walking into a narrative here. The story of the land is that it was constructed on property Howard Stark (Tony’s dad) used for his secret projects, including a hover car project, his collaboration with Pym laboratories (of Ant-Man fame), and the Strategic Scientific Reserve, which you may know as the top-secret Allied war agency that was responsible for Captain America and later evolved into S.H.I.E.L.D. You don’t need to know anything about those fun references to have a good time, but it means the Campus feels like it has some history and character to it.
For instance, the Worldwide Engineering Brigade building – the site for the Webslingers: A Spider-Man Adventure attraction – is a very Silicon Valley-esque tech startup built in a repurposed Automotive building. The details are there for anyone who wants to enjoy them.
Webslingers: A Spider-Man Adventure One-Ups Toy Story Mania
So let’s talk about Webslingers, since it’s what will entice the most theme park and Marvel fans alike. The ride itself takes you through the underground tunnels that connect to Pym’s Laboratory, Avengers HQ, and even Taneleer Tivan’s fortress. The action goes down while you’re on an open house tour of the facility and Peter Parker’s self-replicating Spider-Bots malfunction and begin taking over the entire campus. Thankfully, Peter Parker and the WEB team have been working on a new vehicle that will give riders the power to sling webs just like Spider-Man. Now it’s up to you to assist Spider-man in containing the Spider-Bot infestation.
The ride is similar to the ever-popular Toy Story Mania attraction, but this time you aren’t firing a toy blaster at 3D screens, but actually swinging your arms to shoot real-time webs. I have to admit I was really nervous this would feel clunky, like an ill-fated Kinect video game experience, but it really does feel seamless. This is the augmented reality 3D future we were promised. The game scenes each offer their own unique angles, and there are fun moments where the ride vehicle actually feels like it’s moving vertically to different levels of the complex.
It might just be that I’m out of shape from the pandemic, but the ride left me feeling exhausted. However, I’m sure children won’t have that same criticism. Still, as on old school theme park fan, I would have loved to see more from the practical show scenes between each of the game levels. The experience itself takes a little while to warm up, but it offers some actual complexity, including moments where you fire webs to pull objects and push buttons and levers. There’s a lot of re-playability here, especially when you add in the optional power bands that can change how you play (more on that later).
Webslingers feels like a step up from Midway Mania, but perhaps not the gigantic leap some were hoping for. Would I wait an hour in line to experience it? Yes. Would I choose it as my one virtual queue of the day over Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at the park next door. No.
An Animatronic Spider-Man Flying Through the Air is EVERYTHING
Avengers Campus offers a variety of show experiences: guests will train with Black Panther and Wakanda’s elite guards the Dora Milaje (or rather, witness a demonstration of their traditional war rallying ritual), and help Doctor Strange with magical forces in an Ancient Sanctum (the Marvel-themed interactive magic show I never knew I needed). But a highlight of my time at the land was a demonstration of Spider-Man’s high flying maneuvers.
Spider-Man shows off his gymnastic abilities on top of the WEB building as he cracks wise and makes jokes (some of which had me laughing out loud). This leads to a demonstration of his ability to fly through the air, an effect that employs the much talked about “Stuntronic,” an animatronic stunt double created by Disney Imagineering. The effect is incredible – it looks like you are witnessing a Spider-Man action scene in real life. And after that, Spider-man reappears on the other side of the building and climbs down like a spider on the wall, all the way to the floor where he meets and takes physically distanced photos with guests. It’s an incredible effect.
The Food is the Real Star of Avengers Campus
While I didn’t flip out over the Webslingers attraction, one thing I do want to rave about is the food. Avengers Campus introduces a bunch of new must-try food experiences for hungry park-goers.
The first must-eat experience is Pym Test Kitchen, a restaurant that claims to use Ant-Man’s Pym Particles to grow and shrink food to unusual sizes, including a one-pound Bavarian style pretzel, a gigantic chicken sandwich with a small bun (which will probably leave most people asking “How do I eat this?”), a Caesar Salad with a Colossal Crouton, and much more. My favorite thing I’ve tried thus far was the PB3 Superb Sandwich, which is warm PB&J with Banana and Candied Bacon on Pym Particle Bread (which has a fun blue colored swirl in it), served with Micro Banana Smoothie and crispy Potato Bites. And for the first time ever, you can drink Pingo Doce, the green soda featured in The Incredible Hulk (you might remember Stan Lee grabbing a can out of his fridge in that film). It tastes like Mountain Dew and Sprite mashed together with a slight Vanilla aftertaste, and if you ask me, it’s better than both the Blue and Green Milk over in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the park next door.
Right next door is the Pym Tasting Lab, which features craft beer, including a blood orange hefeweizen and an amber lager that fill into the glass from the bottom up (it’s crazy technology). They also offer Pym-Particle infused cocktail experiments, along with bite-sized snacks. I really enjoyed the X-Periment, which comes with Patrón Silver Tequila, Mango and Habanero Syrups, and Mango Flavor-filled Boba. My girlfriend loved the Honey Buzz, which has Plymouth Gin, Lemon Juice and Honey Syrup with a Honey Straw. Beers range from $10 to $11, wine is $12 to $13, and the cocktails, while very good, cost a wallet-crushing $15 to $18. So the food isn’t the only thing that has been enlarged with Pym Particles here! (It’s an easy joke, but these prices are expensive and typical of Disney theme parks, costing about the same as what’s offered at Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge). The good news is the drinks come in a collectible plastic cup that looks like a laboratory vile, so you get another fun souvenir.
The land also includes two new food carts. You might recall the Avengers ate at a shawarma joint about two blocks from the Battle of New York in their first film. Well, it seems the heroes liked the food so much they invited the Shawarma Palace crew to open a second location at Avengers Campus. The cart offers a hand-held savory wrap with fragrant chicken shawarma and garlic sauce. We loved this item and it may be better than the Ronto Wrap at Galaxy’s Edge. They also offer an Impossible plant-based falafel wrap, which we did not get to try.
The other food cart is over by the Collector’s Fortress and it’s called Terran Treats. It offers some much-needed desert options to this part of the galaxy, including Churro spirals with unique flavors, and a cosmic orb (like an edible version of the one Peter Quill found in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie) with an outer shell revealing a decadent creamy filling. The Orb was delicious, but smaller than I had anticipated.
The Merch Lets You Battle With Spider-Bots or Upgrade Your Webshooters
After experiencing the Webslingers ride, you’ll want to get your hands on your own cute Spider-Bot. These are remote controlled toys that can do battle with other Spider-Bots. There’s even a small battle arena outside the WEB Suppliers gift shop. The Bots are cool and almost play like a video game, complete with different types of tactical weapons. When a Spider-Bot is defeated, the head ejects off its body, and it’s really cool. This really feels like Disney has achieved the next evolution of what they were trying to do with the “build your own droids” in Galaxy’s Edge. It’s not just a remote control toy, but has a greater purpose with the bot battle functionality. Of course, this requires you or your family to own more than one to get the full experience.
WEB Supplies also lets you purchase your own Web-shooters, which come to life with lights and sounds. There are four different upgrades available, and each offers different functionality. For instance, the Iron Man-styled web shooter has the ability to levitate small balls using a gust of air, or you can play around with it and make thruster firing effects with the palm activated trigger. But outside of being a toy, you can use these web shooters on the Webslingers ride to get different functionality. For example, instead of shooting webs with just your hands, you can wear a certain web shooter and shoot a repulser beam. I’m honestly not sure if or how much of an advantage these power-up toys give you on the attraction, and that’s been the topic of some controversy online. But honestly, the toys are fun on their own, so it’s not clear where everyone will fall on this just yet.
The Campus Has Only Begun
As it stands now, the Avengers Campus land itself feels very small – it’s about 40% the size of Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. But that’s because, much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, this is only phase one of a much bigger plan. The Avengers HQ building is mostly a facade where superheroes appear for very physically distanced photo ops, but one day it will become the land’s third attraction, a much needed E-ticket ride. The early concept art had many speculating it might be similar to Disney theme park simulator rides like Flight of Passage or Soarin’, but Imagineers have said the ride system is “completely unique” and “something that we’ve never seen before.”
The ride has been described as follows: guests board the Quintet at Avengers headquarters for a mission in Wakanda, but things go wrong and the ride is transformed from a group experience to an “individual flight” where you become the superhero in an epic battle.
There is no word on when this attraction is expected to be added to Avengers Campus, but I expect it’s a few years down the road at the very least.
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