Following several days of Cast Member and media previews, Disney California Adventure officially opened Disney’s first Marvel-themed land on Friday with great fanfare.  The brand new Avengers Campus folds in the park’s existing Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT attraction and brings with it an all-new Spider-Man-themed attraction, super hero encounters, shopping, dining, and shows.  Avengers Campus replaces the park’s carnival-style “A Bug’s Land” and brings to California Adventure a permanent space for the stories and characters from the wildly ambitious Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) — Disney’s second-largest live action film franchise.  

Today, I’ll take you on an in-depth look at the new land, how it operated over its first weekend, and discuss whether or not I feel it measures up to its big screen and comic book source materials.  

Avengers Campus, Assembled

Avengers Campus is now open in Disney California Adventure, taking guests into a parallel universe version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with additional visual influence from Marvel comics.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Avengers Campus entry portal off of the main parade route in Disney California Adventure

The main entry to Avengers Campus is located very close to the front of the park and will ensure that it will never be hard to find in the way Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge can be for some guests at Disneyland. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

A giant arc reactor at the entrance to the land powers Avengers Campus: 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
The land’s main entrance funnels guests past the WEB SLINGERS building on the left and the side of Cars Land on the right

The first thing you’ll encounter is the WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure attraction building. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Throughout the land you’ll find 1930’s-style industrial buildings juxtaposed with modern additions and enhancements.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Heading further into Avengers Campus

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

A kiosk near the WEB Suppliers shop explains the story of Avengers Campus. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

The original Stark Industries Complex has become Avengers Campus: 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Easter eggs litter Avengers Campus, carrying a good portion of the land’s theming. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Spiderbots from the WEB SLINGERS attraction can be found trapped and glitching in Spidey’s webs around the land

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

A colorful industrial park theme defines much of Avengers Campus. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Got the vibe? Good, let’s take a look at the main attractions…

Spider-Man Mania!

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

The entrance to the attraction is on the backside of its building, well beyond the entry area of the land.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

The attraction’s outdoor queue takes you past informational signage for the Worldwide Engineering Brigade (WEB) and its prototype Spider-Man web slingers.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

You enter the WEB facility through a large red facade built over the existing Stark Motors facility’s brick building

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

The foyer welcomes you to the WEB Open House, where you’ll soon enter and meet Peter Parker. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Squirrel Girl’s bike can be found in the storage cage in this room along with other items referencing other Marvel characters.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Posters reference the backstory to the facility — Howard Stark’s experimental flying car development facility.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Other signage in this area introduces you to the WEB team.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Inside the preshow room, we meet Peter Parker who is introducing us to WEB’s new Spiderbots.  Of course, something goes wrong and the Spiderbots get locked in replication mode and we’re enlisted by Peter and his AI assistant to save the Avengers Campus from total destruction. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

The projection tech here is similar to what we see in the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance preshow, where filmed actors are seen but lighting and shadows on the physical environment react to the projected actors. The effect works a little better in the Interrogation Room at Rise of the Resistance with long shadows cast against the ceiling, but is less successful here at close range where Peter looks like a projection on glass. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Peter Parker has to leave to find Spider-Man, who comes to give us the rundown on what we need to do to help save the day.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

The preshow room is filled with props and Easter eggs.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
We’ve found at least three references to potato guns in the land. Two here at WEB SLINGERS and one in the WEB Suppliers store. You’ll see one here on the table.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Schematics for the ride vehicle you’ll soon board…
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
And for the Spider Bots you’ll have to capture on the ride. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
WDI-1401, a riff on WD-40, references Walt Disney Imagineering and its address at 1401 Flower Street in Glendale, CA.

With WEB’s Open House now a mission to save Avengers Campus, guests are ushered into the rest of the facility where they’ll grab 3D glasses and board vehicles that will take them across Avengers Campus to defeat the Spiderbots.  The indoor portion of the queue features a number of additional Easter eggs and shows more of what’s left of Howard Stark’s flying car facility.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

3D glasses will be distributed in bins, but for now a cast member simply hands you one. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Your first view of the loading room from a window in the queue just above: 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Don’t miss the how-to sling webs sign. It’s just about the only think that tells you how to operate the ride. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Here’s that potato gun again.

 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

The ride itself is more or less an updated version of Toy Story Midway Mania!, which has been open for 14 years in the same theme park. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Though the vehicle seats 8 riders (4 on each side back-to-back) only one party is seated per vehicle at the moment. Eventually, this ride is designed to support single rider and Fastpass as well. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Instead of blasters to hit targets, riders use their arms to sling webs and hit Spiderbots.  On-ride technology tracks riders’ arm movements with surprising precision, allowing you to aim at your targets pretty easily.  

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

The attraction takes you to four locations across Avengers Campus, the WEB facility, PYM Test Kitchen, Avengers HQ, and Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT.  Each location increases in intensity and frenetic on-screen activity.  It’s a short ride, but your arms are sure to get a workout.  Riders pass by mini show scenes and props between screens.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Riders exit through a corridor with screens highlighting the top scores.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

All-in-all, WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure is a fun experience.  It’s a fine enough D-Ticket ride, but as the centerpiece of a newly-opened land it sort of falls flat.  Could Disney have done more with the Spider-Man character?  Absolutely.  It’s a pity that Disney opted to make Spiderbots the antagonist of the experience instead of any of Spider-Man’s excellent and iconic rogues gallery.  I guess ensuring the ride had a component they could sell interactive replicas of in the gift shop was more important than creating a ride that was truly compelling and storytelling.  In any case, WEB SLINGERS is a fine enough family-friendly offering for Disney California Adventure.  A better piece of the Avengers Campus puzzle will arrive later, if Disney moves forward with building the land’s promised signature E-Ticket attraction. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

A Strange Sanctum

Adjacent to the entrance of WEB SLINGERS are the ruins of an ancient sanctum.  While the ruins are one of the more compelling elements of the land, they’re pretty inexplicable — were they always here?  Were they always part of Howard Stark’s property?  Were they located on the parking lot of Walt Disney’s Disneyland?  Or has Dr. Strange bended time and space to bring them here, to the Avengers Campus?  If so, why?  Nobody knows but at least they look cool! It’s a theme park, we’ll go with it.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
When photographed from the right angle, the ground looks like it’s warping and sinking in. It doesn’t look like much from the side. But get the angle just right…

It’s a fun optical illusion and perfect for fun Instagram shots.  The spot reminded me of the Mystic Point optical illusions at Hong Kong Disneyland.  It would be great if there were one or two more of these sorts of photo ops around the sanctum ruins. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Oh no…. Dusty’s getting sucked into a vortex or something.
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
It’s also a shame that there’s just a light tower in the background and not some cool mystical icon for visual interest.

Dr. Strange performs regularly in the sanctum ruins.  Dr. Strange’s show amounts to a fun magic and special effects show with superhero flare and is a surprisingly neat diversion.  

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

While the space is visually interesting and the show entertaining, the space is unfortunately far too small to handle the crowds that come to see it.  With no set schedule for the shows and Cast Members remaining quiet on when the next show will take place, crowds form early for performances and if you want a spot you could wait an hour or more to get a spot in the viewing area.  The show was so popular over the opening weekend that crowds typically overflowed from the viewing area and into the walkways surrounding the ruins with no social distancing even attempted.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Inside the show area, parties will be carefully placed one at a time at least 6′ apart. I suppose your safety only matters within the sanctum walls. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

The details are stunning. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

MiceChat’s Video Director, Trevor Perez, did a great Instagram takeover for us on opening day. We’ve stitched together clips he recorded of the Dr. Strange show (which is why these are vertical in orientation). The rest of us were unable to get in to see the show at all because Cast Members won’t tell you when the show is going to start and there’s very little room for guests with social distancing.  

 

Avengers HQ: An Empty Promise 

At the back of Avengers Campus is Avengers HQ.  The large facade is, at present, more or less a stage for Avengers characters to perform on and greet guests from.  The facade was planned to be the entrance to a major E-Ticket attraction, but prolonged park shutdowns put those plans in limbo. Disney is remaining silent on what the future holds for the planned Phase 2 of Avengers Campus. So, although this looks like a big building, it in fact is just an “L” shaped facade with no building at all behind it.  

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

The Avengers’ Quinjet sits on top of Avengers HQ — it’s pretty cool, we just wish it was the weenie to an actual, open attraction.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

A Living Campus

Avengers Campus comes to life throughout the day with numerous character appearances, performances, stunt shows, and more.  It’s a great way to breathe some extra life and increase the entertainment value in the land.  The new Spider-Man show atop his attraction is weirdly written and the show amounts to Spider-Man just kind of scrambling around for no real reason before flying through the air.  But the Spidey that shoots across the sky isn’t the actor you see in the show; it’s a remarkable acrobatic, free-flying animatronic figure.  It’s a shame such incredible tech from WDI is being used in such an otherwise underwhelming show.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
A live actor performs as Spider-Man atop his attraction. 

The live actor jumps down out of sight and then you’ll see Spider-Man fly in an acrobatic summersault across the sky. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
The impressive acrobatic animatronic figure of Spider-Man then flies through the air above Avengers Campus

That’s an animatronic!  It’s pretty impressive. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

After the flying stunt-tonic disappears, another live actor will rappel down the side of the building. But it’s otherwise not much of a show.  

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Then another live actor rappels down the side of the building.
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Spider-Man meets outside of his attraction and also performs a stunt show on top of it

One of the best parts of the show is simply that Spider-Man ends up interacting with guests at ground-level at the end. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

But Spider-Man isn’t the only character on the Campus. Far from it.  

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Black Panther and Black Widow fight a villain in a show on Avengers Campus
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Loki greets guests from atop Avengers HQ
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Black Panther makes appearances at Avengers HQ
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Ant-Man waves to guests
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Thor poses for photos in Avengers Campus

Below, Okoye and the Dora Milaje march through Avengers Campus for a training session.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Okoye leads a training session with the Dora Milaje

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Sam Wilson Captain America greets guests from Avengers HQ
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Black Widow looks over Avengers Campus
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Iron Man meets outside of Avengers HQ

Marvel Culinary Universe

Food is an attraction of its own in Avengers Campus (some might find it more interesting than the new Spider-Man ride).  At the PYM Test Kitchen, Ant-Man is now a restauranteur and is using PYM Particles to make foods big and small to create interesting new dishes.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Keep in mind that this location is primarily a mobile order location meaning your best shot at getting food here is by snagging a mobile order time slot.  If you do, however, remember that Disney is insisting that having a mobile order does not guarantee access into the land.  

Over the weekend, the mobile ordering situation in Avengers Campus caused a lot of headaches for Disney and confusion for guests. On opening day, Cast Members quickly gave up on enforcing a rule that you couldn’t enter the land even if you had a mobile order and guests holding a mobile order were allowed into the land without waiting – even though Disney said they wouldn’t be. Those who were let in were happy enough, but those who followed the rules and pop-up instructions on the Disneyland App were left frustrated and waiting in a slow moving unshaded line outside the land. 

As the weekend progressed, Disney seemed to shift messaging again to warn guests that a mobile order wouldn’t “guarantee” entry to Avengers Campus.   So for now, it seems like Disney may still let you in if you get a mobile order, but it isn’t a surefire bet.  Pop-up notifications on the Disneyland app encourage guests to not place a mobile order until they’re in the land but the app doesn’t block guests from placing an order if they aren’t in the land.  Disney has also released mobile ordering slots for Pym Test Kitchen and Pym Tasting Lab throughout the day instead of releasing them all at once at park opening.  The situation is a lot of mixed messaging and confusion and it would benefit Cast Members and guests alike if Disney simply did away with Mobile Order inside the land since it’s already gated off from the rest of the park. There shouldn’t be so many guests inside Avengers Campus that Mobile Order is even needed and it just creates more trouble than it’s worth. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

A look inside the restaurant:

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Below, a look at most of the restaurant’s lunch and dinner menu items:

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
PYM Test Kitchen offers a variety of unique food items in atypical sizes

The gimmick here is that Ant-Man is experimenting with food, turning parts of dishes really big and others really small. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
The Not-So-Little Chicken Sandwich has a tiny bun but a big piece of fried chicken

Much of the food here is actually pretty good.  

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
One giant meatball, one tiny one — with small and big pasta to match. This dish is entirely plant-based, using Impossible-brand meat and vegan cheese
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Giant pretzel served with mustard and beer cheese
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
The PYM-ini sandwich with marinara dipping sauce. There’s also a $100 version of this sandwich that’s big enough to feed the whole family.  

Even the salad gets in on the Big/Little action with a giant crouton atop a simple Caesar Salad. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
The Caesar salad with a “giant” crouton
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Buffalo chicken pretzel
, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
The PB&J with with bananas and candied bacon is an interesting twist on a classic. It’s very banana-forward and comes with a mini banana smoothie

For dessert, the ChocoSmash candy bar is a giant “bite-sized” dessert made to look like a candy bar with two kinds of chocolate, brownie, nougat, and peanut butter.  Whew!

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Overall, the food here is a solid hit.  While it may not be the best food in the resort, it’s an entertaining menu with some standouts including the Not-So-Little Chicken Sandwich and the Pym-ini.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Outside, the PYM Tasting Lab serves up experimental beers and cocktails.  Many of them are served in souvenir drinkware. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Aside from the Mobile Order issues, if there’s a big problem with dining in the land it’s the unacceptable lack of seating. All too often, guests are left holding large trays of food with nowhere to safely sit and eat them in the packed land. A temporary overflow seating area has been created in the Hyperion Theater queue area, but it’s simply not enough spaces and most guests don’t even know this tucked away space is even an option. More unnecessary frustration that Disney should have foreseen. They’ve been operating theme parks for 61 years, surely they’ve figured out how many tables they’d need by now!

 

Super-Powered Shopping

Avengers Campus has only two shopping opportunities, the WEB Suppliers shop across from the exit to WEB SLINGERS and the Supply Pod merchandise cart in front of the restrooms.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

To get inside the shop, we had to wait in a virtual queue for 2 hours and then return to wait in a physical queue for another half an hour.  Unfortunately, the shop wasn’t worth the wait. There’s some Worldwide Engineering Brigade theming and props but otherwise the space is tiny.  2.5 hours waiting for a shop we were done with in about 5 minutes. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Look up and you’ll see some props scattered about. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Theming in WEB Suppliers

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Below, the Supply Pod sells Avengers Campus branded souvenirs (also a very small space). 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

And that’s it for shopping inside the land. Thankfully, there’s a massive Avengers Campus shop located just outside the land. Our merchandise maven, Natalie Kipper, details all the merchandise you can find in Avengers Campus (and the large shop you can find just outside the land): 

Avengers Campus Merchandise NOW AVAILABLE at Disney California Adventure!

 

Avengers After Dark

Avengers Campus might be a bit aesthetically underwhelming during the day, but one thing it really got right is its nighttime lighting package.  The land is gorgeous at night with dramatic lighting throughout. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel , Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

Now that you know the nuts and bolts of the land… Let’s take a moment to see how it all actually plays with guests…

Avengers Campus: “I (wanted to) love you 3,000”

Avengers Campus presents a stark (pun intended) contrast to the Disneyland Resort’s other recent mega-IP land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.  Galaxy’s Edge was expected to break Disneyland, and in the months leading up the land’s grand opening Disney re-thought and re-imagined crowd flow and traffic obstacles throughout the park and developed a ticketed timed-entry system for the land.  Galaxy’s Edge’s opening season ended up being pretty mild compared to what was expected and Disney abandoned its timed entry system immediately after opening.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Massive opening-day crowds line up for Avengers Campus before park opening

No such consideration was given to Avengers Campus and opening weekend saw massive standby queues for the land, with many guests simply being shut out from it entirely.  Standby queues stretched for hours, and on opening day Cast Members warned guests that they may not get into the land at all due to the mid-afternoon’s whopping six-hour+ wait time.  Did Disney legitimately not expect high demand for the land or did they simply not care about the guest experience?  Why wasn’t the unused timed-entry system for Galaxy’s Edge implemented here?  Instead, guests were forced to waste a good portion of their day waiting in line to see a land that they had no guarantee of actually getting into.  Keep in mind that a ticket costs $154 and the park is only open for 12 hours. 

We took a time-lapse of what the line looked like early in the day on June 4th: 

The line for Avengers Campus takes over the World of Color viewing garden all day long.  

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Standby queue for Avengers Campus snaked through California Adventure, with the entirely of Paradise Park being used for queue

Paradise Park was full with Avengers Campus queue all weekend long, below the queue on Sunday, as seen from the Pixar Pal-A-Round:

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel 

On top of that, food in the land was almost exclusively available via Disney’s Mobile Ordering system, which has already been a point of major issue since the parks reopened earlier this year.  A standby queue would open sporadically at the Pym Test Kitchen but if the standby queue wasn’t open when you stopped by and you didn’t have a mobile order you were simply out of luck for food.  At one point on opening day, I asked a lead at the Pym Test Kitchen if I could buy one of the restaurant-exclusive souvenir sippers; I didn’t want any food, just the sipper, which is something a Cast Member could quickly pull off the shelf and ring up for me.  I was told no because I had no mobile order placed for it and the standby queue was closed.  On another occasion on Sunday, my group was able to secure a mobile order slot but couldn’t order our full meal because Disney’s mobile ordering system only allows you to get $150 worth of food at a time.  So, if you’re a larger group and could only get one Mobile Order time slot then be sure to make your selections wisely.  It’s all just baffling and frustrating.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Pym Test Kitchen sells a $100 version of its Pym-ini sandwich, which comes with 8 sections of the sandwich to form one giant meal, served with a large arugula salad and marinara dipping sauce.

If anything, implementing Mobile Ordering as pretty much the only way to get food in Avengers Campus is a massive failure on Disney’s part and it is exacerbated by the fact that the land is gated.  With the land gated, guests don’t want to leave, especially if they’re in the land before their Mobile Order window comes up or if they are waiting until the next Dr. Strange show.  And with the land gated, guests couldn’t grab their shawarma or Pym Test Kitchen meals and eat them outside of the crowded land, meaning places to sit and eat were hard to find all day, leaving many guests to eat their $16 Pym-inis on the ground.  Thankfully, Disney abandoned mobile ordering for the Shawarma Palace carts after the first day, making them walk-up only.  This was a good change but only addressed the tip of the iceberg.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Mobile Order made getting food in Avengers Campus a difficult prospect during its opening weekend

With very few guests leaving because they wouldn’t be able to get back in, the standby queue for the land simply stopped moving for much of opening day.  Furthermore, Disney, in its attempt to remind us all that the four-year-old Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT is part of Avengers Campus, included the ride in the gated-off area of the land.  This meant that only guests in Avengers Campus could ride the Guardians attraction, resulting in it being largely a walk-on for much of the day.  Few waiting hours to see Avengers Campus were interested in riding Mission: BREAKOUT, which offered no new features (if they can change the ride up for Halloween, why didn’t they add anything new for the launch of a whole new land?).  The ride was simply out of reach for the rest of the park’s guests.  

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Guardians of the Galaxy saw minimal wait times due to being gated off as part of Avengers Campus

It’s pretty evident why Disney wants to fluff up Avengers Campus — there’s simply not much there.  Where Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland is impressive in its scale and ability to wholly immerse guests in the Star Wars universe, Avengers Campus is strikingly small in scale and transports guests to a repurposed industrial park in California instead of a fantastical new world like Galaxy’s Edge does.  Avengers Campus, however, does make attempts to address some issues found in Galaxy’s Edge.  Among the biggest complaints when Galaxy’s Edge opened were its lack of musical background audio, characters, and entertainment to really make the place feel lived-in.  For a bustling spaceport, Galaxy’s Edge could feel startlingly lifeless at times and Avengers Campus makes a good attempt at addressing that issue. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Avengers Assemble throughout the day on the Avengers HQ building

Avengers Campus comes alive with numerous character appearances, stunt shows, and intimate performances.  The characters roaming around, interacting with guests, and appearing in seemingly spontaneous shows really helps to make the campus feel like a lived-in place, arguably more than the theming of the land itself does.   Background music featuring excerpts from the Avengers films scores further helps to give the land life that Galaxy’s Edge is sorely lacking. Hopefully we’ll see some of these changes come to Galaxy’s Edge in the future.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Iron Man and other Avengers help bring the land to life

Still, for its improvements on the formula, Avengers Campus seems to miss out on Star Wars: Galaxy Edge’s defining element: ambition.  Like the Star Wars franchise itself, Galaxy’s Edge is breathtakingly ambitious; sprawling in size, with stunning rock work and detail-rich environments.  Galaxy’s Edge’s innovative-but-familiar Millennium Falcon attraction sits alongside one of Disney’s most technologically impressive E-Ticket attractions ever built: Rise of the Resistance.  Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge isn’t a perfect land but it is effective in delivering a richly immersive experience with attractions that surprise and excite.  Galaxy’s Edge is a fitting theme park experience for Disney’s biggest film franchise.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Avengers Campus.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Avengers Campus transports you to an industrial park, not an ambitious or exotic location

Avengers Campus is a relatively small theme park land, measuring in at only 6 acres; less than half the size of Galaxy’s Edge.  Avengers Campus is themed as an industrial complex built by Howard Stark and later converted into a training and recruiting facility for the Avengers.  If the land’s theme works at all, it’s because of the countless Easter eggs and references to other characters and events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and comics.  In that regard, Avengers Campus differs from other large-scale IP-based lands like Galaxy’s Edge or Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter because it requires a greater level of familiarity with the franchise for guests to truly connect with and enjoy the experience. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Easter eggs and references to Marvel characters and stories littered throughout the land help make the theme of the land work

Where Galaxy’s Edge can be enjoyed as an interesting intergalactic world even if you don’t know anything about Star Wars, Avengers Campus’ bland overall theme requires you know something about Marvel’s characters and stories to really get anything out of it.  Even the new Spider-Man attraction requires you go into the experience knowing how Spider-Man shoot webs (it’s barely mentioned in the pre-show and explained on a sign in the indoor queue, which guests quickly walk past).    

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
The graffiti on the WEB building is signed by Miles Morales, one of the characters known as Spider-Man

But this base level of Marvel knowledge is more of an issue elsewhere, as much of the land’s theming relies on signage (parking signs for famous Marvel characters), visual references (“Kirby Krackle” around Guardians of the Galaxy for instance), and inside jokes (Pym Particles shrinking and enlarging food) that help the land become a Marvel-themed experience.  Without these things, much of the land reads as not much more than a colorful industrial park with a couple of other-worldly features.

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Lockers in the queue for WEB SLINGERS are painted over with numerous character references, which will mean nothing to you unless you’re well-versed in Marvel lore.

It’s those otherworldly areas like Dr. Strange’s ancient sanctum ruins or the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction that are far more visually interesting and compelling as theme park environments. Unfortunately, features like this aren’t the norm in Avengers Campus.  Perhaps Imagineering just hasn’t yet cracked the code on adapting the Marvel Cinematic Universe for theme parks.  

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Dr. Strange’s Sanctum is one of the more compelling, even if somewhat baffling, features of Avengers Campus

The lack of compelling environments in Marvel stories besides outer space locations, sanctums, or Wakanda doesn’t fall squarely on the lap of Marvel’s storytelling.  Indeed, Imagineering dropped the ball here in terms of ambition and scale.  Instead of getting truly creative, Disney gave the franchise a 6-acre plot of land and turned it into an industrial park based on Californian locations like Old Town Pasadena.  The attempt to connect Avengers Campus to the park’s California theme was clearly a limitation that didn’t work in its favor. Instead of creating a detail-rich recreation of a New York City street where we could really encounter Spider-Man or other Avengers in their world, we got a weird take on a converted California car manufacturing facility.  New York City is, in real life, exciting — and it could be in a theme park as well.  In fact, Disney already did this 20 years ago in Tokyo Disney Sea (albeit a romanticized, 1910-era version of the city).

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Was setting Avengers Campus in California a good idea?

At the back of Avengers Campus is the Avengers HQ, a building that evokes the high-tech super hero facilities that we see in the films and has the Avengers’ Quinjet perched atop it.  It’s these sorts of facilities where things can get exciting and could be fun as a theme park guest to explore.  Unfortunately in Avengers Campus, Avengers HQ is nothing more than an empty facade.  It doesn’t even house a themed gift shop, no, the facade is currently strictly decorative.  To be fair, Disney announced that a future E-Ticket attraction would be built, with the current facade serving as an entrance to the attraction at a later date.  That announcement was at the 2019 D23 Expo, which was soon followed by a global health crisis.  

So, you can watch Black Widow fight a bad guy from the upper level of the HQ at certain times during the day, or wave to Captain Marvel next to the Quinjet at other times.  But otherwise, it’s just a facade and Disney has remained silent about the previously-planned E-Ticket as the company works to recover from a closure that lasted more than a year.  It’s pretty remarkable that Disney built such a large building that features one of the land’s most prominent weenies, only for it to offer nothing for guests at opening, in a land that already has so little to offer. A simple sign teasing guests about the E-Ticket yet to come might help guests understand why things feel so incomplete here. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Avengers HQ is a major feature of the land but offers nothing for guests

But Avengers HQ is perhaps the cherry on top of the whole sundae when it comes to the land’s baffling offerings and layout.  Sure, Avengers Campus had to work within the awkward footprint of A Bug’s Land, but you enter Avengers Campus from its main entrance off California Adventure’s parade route only to be funneled through the narrow corridor between the Spider-Man attraction’s show building and the side of Cars Land.  Spacing can get tight here and forget about physical distancing; there was none all weekend — anywhere in the land (except perhaps for the WEB SLINGERS queue).  The strangest thing about this entrance area is that you have to walk past the entire Spider-Man show building and the ride’s gift shop before you get to the attraction entrance or any other major feature of Avengers Campus.  The rest of the campus is a series of disjointed elements that only go together because they’re Marvel-themed, but not because they really make any thematic sense to one another.  That’s fine, they don’t really have to, as most lands don’t, but Disney made a lot of noise about this land being a recruiting center for the Avengers and in that regard, nothing really makes much sense together here. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
The entry corridor of Avengers Campus can become a pinch point

At the end of the day, Avengers Campus delivers a product that is simply unable to meet the demand and expectations of its source material.  A rethemed E-Ticket that opened four years earlier, a Spider-Man ride that repurposes the 14-year-old Toy Story Midway Mania ride experience, a restaurant and some character encounters, all set in a colorful industrial park simply doesn’t measure up when you consider just how massive Marvel has become worldwide.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe is, if nothing else, a wildly ambitious global phenomenon in which the scale is massive and the stakes for the characters and the world they inhabit are high.  The new theme park experience is small, has no stakes, and is often irreverent and campy.  The tone and size of the land and its experiences simply don’t match what I have come to expect from Marvel.  And to top it off, this Avengers mini land sits next to Cars Land, an impressive, sprawling land that painstakingly recreates the world from that now-dormant film series. 

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Avengers Campus could benefit from more ambition, creativity

Hopefully the plans for the promised E-Ticket survive the economic recovery Disney must now navigate. If those plans make it through, let’s hope the resulting attraction helps elevate the overall experience of the land in the way Rise of the Resistance helped strengthen Galaxy’s Edge.  

While we wait for the big E-Ticket, Disney could address other issues in the interim: install a large-scale Marvel-themed stage show in the Hyperion Theater, add more themed dining space (there’s space behind WEB SLINGERS and Avengers HQ that could be used for this), add more outdoor vending variety beyond the shawarma carts, and stop gating off the land so crowds can flow through and guests won’t feel pressured to stay in the land for hours at a time. Until fixes like these and others can be implemented and the new E-Ticket can be built, it’s best to lower your expectations when visiting. Be prepared for small-scale super hero silliness and not so much the grand adventure you might otherwise expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  


Disney Discount Tickets & Hotels

In an effort to promote local tourism, our partners at Get Away Today have created a special promotion for select Anaheim hotels. Get a $100 Booking Bonus ($50 Disney Gift Card + $50 South Coast Plaza Gift Card), plus free ART Transportation when you book a 4-night or longer Anaheim hotel + at least two 2-day or longer theme park tickets for travel May-August, 2021. Use promo code: VISITANAHEIM to book today!

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel
Limited Time Anaheim Travel Offer – CLICK HERE – for details

There are all sorts of new theme park tickets and travel deals, including a 2 free days offer at Walt Disney World, hotel discounts, ticket deals to various theme parks, in addition to TICKETS TO DISNEYLAND: More details and to get a quote (HERE)


Let’s Hear From You!

Alright, that wraps up my review of Disney California Adventure’s brand new Avengers Campus.  I’m curious what YOU think:

Did you visit the new land over its messy opening weekend or are you planning on visiting soon?  What do you think of Disney’s first Marvel-themed land?  How does Disney’s Spider-Man ride compare to the one at Universal’s Islands of Adventure? Do you love the use of Mobile Order in the land or loath it?  Will “Disney” fans connect with this “Marvel” land? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

And for those of you wanting more Disneyland, stay tuned, Dusty will bring you our regular Disneyland Update tomorrow

, Dateline Disneyland: Avengers Campus Opening Was No Marvel

More Avengers Campus Info:

Avengers Campus: Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland’s Newest Land

How to Score a Boarding Group for WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure

Avengers Campus Merchandise NOW AVAILABLE at Disney California Adventure!

 

Sharing is caring!

Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy wrote the long-running weekly Dateline Disneyland photo, news and opinion blog here on MiceChat from 2007-2016. Andy continues to make occasional special guest contributions on MiceChat.