“Avengers Campus” at Disney Parks
One of the highlights of the 2019 D23 Expo involved your favorite superheroes. For years now, theme park analysts have speculated whether The Walt Disney Company would construct any themed lands based one of their latest acquisitions, Marvel.
Even though Universal Studios already has a Marvel Land, we just learned that Disney will launch one of their own. Wait, I mean three of their own. Yes, the announcement at D23 certainly caught a lot of people by surprise. Here’s everything we just learned about Avengers Campus, the new Marvel themed land.
West Coast Avengers in California
Roughly 25 years before Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Marvel Comics introduced West Coast Avengers in 1984. The premise of the comic was that most of the Marvel action happened in the greater New York area. The production team sought to expand the Avengers to the West Coast.
Fast forward to 2019. Disney’s doing the same thing with their Avengers themed lands. They’ll host three different campuses as recruitment centers for potential Avengers, thereby allowing kids to live out their fantasies of becoming superheroes.
Disney California Adventure is the first and possibly only Disney park in America to host a Marvel Campus. You see, before Disney acquired the company, Marvel licensed rights to some of its characters to Universal Studios, who will own them in perpetuity for as long as they wish.
At some point, the belief is that Disney might try to buy Universal out of the license. Until that happens, Walt Disney World has legal stipulations against a Marvel themed land. Disney can’t host any of the characters that Universal licensed. The agreement locks Disney out of anything east of the Mississippi. This situation explains why The Hulk is at Universal Studios but not Walt Disney World.
Since the rule doesn’t apply to Disneyland Resort, we’ve known for a while that Disney planned to add a strong Marvel presence at DCA. The struggling theme park didn’t become popular until Imagineers constructed Radiator Springs aka Cars Land.
Now, DCA is in the process of evolving into a stronghold for Pixar and Marvel intellectual properties (IPs). As part of this process, the park will host a new themed land called Avengers Campus. This place is a full themed land based on your favorite Marvel characters.
What’s Coming to Disney California Adventure?
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! became the first Marvel ride in America in 2017. It’s effectively the first part of Avengers Campus. At D23, we learned that two more attractions will join it. The first one that will arrive is an attention-grabber.
Since 1999, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man has elevated Universal Studios with its presence. While few of that park’s attractions have received a great deal of critical praise, the Spider-Man ride is arguably the most triumphant attraction of the past 20 years. It has absolutely dominated The Golden Ticket Awards, the industry’s most respected theme park awards. In short, Spider-Man is the one non-Harry Potter ride that has always stood out at Universal.
Despite the sterling reputation of Universal’s Spider-Man attraction, Imagineers are unconcerned. They just revealed that they will go head-to-head with a Spider-Man ride of their very own! Yes, DCA will host a new ride at Avengers Campus starring everybody’s favorite Web-Slinger.
In fact, the announced name for the building that houses the attraction is Worldwide Engineering Brigade aka WEB Headquarters. According to Disney, Tony Stark created WEB to aid the Avengers in superhero innovations.
Visitors to WEB HQ will get to test a revolutionary new vehicle, the Web Slinger. This ride cart will enable you with the same superpowers as Spider-Man. You can sling webs at bad guys!
The story is that Stark and his buddy, Peter Parker, developed a bunch of Spider-Bots to take care of some of the scientific chores. As happens every time with tiny helper bots, these robotic critters malfunction. During your visit to Worldwide Engineering Brigade, you must retrieve the Spider-Bots before they can do any real damage. Your Web-Slinging abilities will allow you to capture the bots and kept them stuck for easy recovery.
Other Aspects of Avengers Campus
The Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy attractions won’t be the only parts of Avengers Campus at DCA. To the contrary, Disney saved one of its biggest reveals for D23. They just announced that a full Avengers attraction will come to Avengers Campus, too.
Apparently, the opening of Avengers Campus will occur in 2020. Park officials are referencing this as Phase One. The current expectation is for the Spider-Man attraction to anchor Phase One. Disney isn’t describing it as an E-ticket ride, though. As you know, Imagineers reserve that description for their best offerings.
During Phase Two, Avengers Campus will host an E-ticket attraction. Disney promises that you’ll get to fly alongside some of your favorite Avengers. Plus, you get to travel via Quinjet to Wakanda. You’ll also battle one of the most powerful supervillains in the universe, although Disney wouldn’t say which one, yet.
The D23 discussion did include the phrase, “Team-up,” which causes me to speculate that the attraction may work at least somewhat similar to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. During that attraction, everyone in the cockpit takes an assigned role…but I want to stress that this is just speculation on my part.
Avengers Campus will also feature character meetings. Disney promised the presence of Dr. Strange, Black Widow, Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, Black Panther, the Dora Milaje, Thor, Loki, and Iron Man. Yes, DCA fans will notice that many of these characters have previously appeared at the park. It sounds like they’ll have a stronger, more consistent presence from now on.
The final reveal for Avengers Campus involves a restaurant. While the current superhero in the role of Ant-Man is Scott Lang, the originator was Hank Pym. Played by Michael Douglas in the films, this man invented Pym Particles, which are capable of shrinking or increasing the size of anything.
Disney plans to have fun with this concept. They’re opening a restaurant called Pym Test Kitchen. The menu here should feature an odd combination of gigantic portions of some dishes alongside some very tiny ones. I expect kids to love it due to the silliness of the premise.
Oh, and you’ll be able to buy a ton of Marvel gear at WEB Suppliers. This store will instantly become one of the most popular ones at Disneyland Resort when it opens.
Other Avengers Campus Locations
While I started with the Avengers Campus that includes a Disney Vacation Club premise, Disney will host two more of them at international parks. And the one with the strongest start is in China.
Hong Kong Disneyland opened the first true Avengers attraction back in January of 2017. Iron Man Experience is a 3-D simulator ride akin to Star Tours, only with Iron Man as the star. It’s been one of the park’s most popular attractions since then.
A couple of months ago, Imagineers added a second ride. It stars the aforementioned Ant-Man and actually has a similar premise to the Spider-Man attraction under discussion. Called Ant-Man and the Wasp: Nano Battle!, this ride is a re-skin of various Buzz Lightyear attractions. Instead of aiming at batteries, guests target Hydra swarmbots. Clearly, all tiny robots at Disney theme parks are evil.
Anyway, Disney hasn’t announced any addition Marvel attractions at Hong Kong Disneyland yet. They did acknowledge that Avengers Campus will have a base here, which makes sense. The two current attractions are part of the Stark Expo section of Tomorrowland. The theming is already in place for Avengers Campus.
Disneyland Paris will similarly receive an Avengers Campus themed land. This news isn’t at all surprising. EuroDisney is currently converting Disney’s Hotel New York into a Marvel-based hotel, and they’re doing a ride conversion, too.
On September 1st, their version of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith will close for good. Its replacement is an Iron Man attraction that’s presumably some sort of roller coaster. To date, this ride is the only Marvel-themed one that’s confirmed at Disneyland Paris, but more are expected.
So, the current count is three Marvel rides at DCA, two at Hong Kong Disneyland, and one Disneyland Paris. Disney’s been cagey about how the various versions of Avengers Campus will connect together.
The company’s official statement is this: “When guests visit Avengers Campus, they will become part of an interconnected, global story that spans from California to Paris to Hong Kong with the Avengers recruiting new extraordinary people to join them.”