Theme Parks: Avengers Campus

Professional photo inside Avengers Campus located in Disney’s California Adventure Park. Copyright goes to the Walt Disney Company.

Hey! Hallie here!

Yesterday Avengers Campus officially opened in Disney’s California Adventure Park located in Anaheim, California. It’s pretty large, though you shouldn’t expect anything on the scale of Galaxy’s Edge. They also have a few new areas and new characters that are definitely welcome additions to the park. I have not been to Avengers Campus yet, but the footage released by the lucky few who have been in the park for the last few days has me excited. I don’t think it’s perfect by any means. Disney still hasn’t quite figured out the whole immersive thing yet. But there are some things in this part of the park that seem to be going in the right direction. Let’s talk about some of the good and the bad in Avengers Campus.

The Characters:

There are a ton of characters walking around Avengers Campus. Some characters are available to meet, which they will do socially distanced from guests. Other characters have shows around the area, but it remains unclear whether or not they will also be available for pictures. The characters who guests can meet are Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Iron Man, Thor, Loki, Star Lord, Gamora, Ant Man, The Wasp, Sam Wilson as Captain America, and Steve Rogers as Captain America. Peter Parker has his own entire meet and greet area, plus a stunt show. So you don’t have to worry about getting too little of Spider-Man here. The characters that remain unclear are Doctor Strange, who has a show I will talk about later, and Okoye, who also has her own show. Of this line up, my favorite interactions have come from Ant Man and The Wasp. Both characters have a bit more humor to them because of the nature of the ‘Ant Man’ films. I really appreciate seeing characters have a bit of fun while in the parks and these two definitely seem like they’re able to let loose a bit more. That said, I love all of these characters and it feels like any of them would be incredibly fun to meet.

I do have a few issues, though. The first is that I strongly feel that Steve Rogers should no longer be a character within the Disney Parks. Let me explain. I have no problem with Steve Rogers. In fact, I love him. However, Sam Wilson is Captain America now. When they introduced him in the opening ceremony, they even had Anthony Mackie make a speech about how important it is to have a Captain America that will represent more people. He ended the speech with stating that Avengers Campus wasn’t complete without Captain America. Meanwhile, Steve Rogers was standing in the background for all of this. If Disney wants to commit to a new and more inclusive Captain America, which they should, I don’t think they should have the old Captain America walking around as well. On top of this, fans have already agreed that Disney’s Captain America looks more like John Walker than Steve Rogers. Frankly, he creeps me out now. My second issue is the absence of ‘WandaVision’. I love ‘WandaVision’, as many do, and I would love to see both Wanda and Vision walking around the parks. However, I know that Disney is trying to balance a ton of characters already and the films coming out won’t make that task any easier. Still, there are far more men than women on the roster of characters for Avengers Campus. Making Wanda and Monica Rambeau characters guests can greet would be an excellent way to fix this problem and bring in two of the MCU’s strongest women. Especially because Black Widow isn’t the best female representation.

Shows:

There are currently four shows that occur somewhat randomly around Avengers Campus. The first is the Spider-Man stunt show. This show is short and occurs just before Spider-Man comes out to greet guests. In this show Spider-Man can be seen doing a few flips on the top of his designated building, where the sole ride in Avengers Campus resides. He explains that he’s trying out new equipment on his suit and briefly leaves. Then we get to see the animatronic Disney has been working on for the past few years. The animatronic is a stunt animatronic that is flung from a crane and flips through the air. When he lands, Spider-Man comes back out to climb down the building, and then emerges to meet guests. It’s really a showcase for the animatronic, but can you blame them? It’s amazing! The second stunt show belongs to Black Widow and Black Panther. This show occurs on the other main building inside of Avengers Campus. In it, Black Widow and Black Panther are tasked with getting some Vibranium out of the hands of Taskmaster. We haven’t actually seen Taskmaster in the MCU yet because ‘Black Widow’ has yet to be released. He also isn’t available to meet as of now. In any case, the show is short and more focused on fight choreography, but it’s still fun to see.

The next main show is in it’s own themed area meant to look like an ancient sanctum. From the door located at the very back of these ruins, Doctor Strange will emerge to start his show. Doctor Strange is evidently in another fight with Dormammu and he needs the audience’s help to locate exactly the thing he needs to bring him down. The show is fun and makes some interesting use of projections inside of the door. In the show Doctor Strange will always ask an audience member to name an Avenger who can help him, but he will only take Thor as an answer. It would have been nicer if they altered the show based on the Avenger guests named. Thor is hilarious in this show, though. He’s very clearly sticking to his ‘Ragnarok’ sense of humor now. As for Stephen Strange, I can’t say I’m impressed with anything Disney has done with his characterization in the parks. He always acts too serious and too mystical for it to resemble his character from the film. But that might just be me. Lastly, Okoye gets a show on the grounds of Avengers Campus. This show is basically just Okoye training the audience to be warriors using Dora Milaje training practices, but who wouldn’t want to see that? She also takes a moment of silence every show for the ancestors who have passed on, and I can’t help but feel like it’s a nod to Chadwick Boseman. Though some have also connected it to the losses many have experienced during the pandemic.

Main Attractions:

There are three major locations within Avengers Campus as of right now. One is Web Shooters, the Spider-Man themed ride. This ride isn’t all that impressive. It mirrors Midway Mania in that you spend the entire ride in front of a screen shooting at robotic spiders. Instead of using any sort of shooting mechanism, the ride monitors your arm. You have to extend your arm, like Spider-Man, to shoot at the spiders. Outside of the ride you can purchase a web shooter that the ride will recognize. When wearing it, the ride will upgrade your regular webs to electric webs. I have no idea if this effects your ride experience at all, but it’s something. The line for the ride is nice! Tom Holland did film a pre-show for the ride that shows how the robotic spiders got out of control. Peter Parker is always fun to watch, especially because of his general awkwardness. I also liked the comic references throughout the line. Characters like Squirrel Girl and Moon Girl are featured on a wall of scientists, and both Iron Heart and Miles Morales have their own lockers within the facility (Miles Morales’ signature can also be found on the mural Spider-Man stands in front of to meet guests). Overall I feel like this ride is underwhelming because it was made to be changed over time. It was mentioned that Disney used this ride mechanism specifically so they could switch the theming of it, and I think that was a mistake. Another major location is Pym Test Kitchens, a reference to Hank Pym from ‘Ant Man’. Everything in this restaurant is abnormally sized, from the giant ketchup and mustard, to the large chicken patty on a regular bun that looks much too small, to the pretzels you can actually watch becoming larger. There’s even a meal that comes in a giant spoon. It’s so well done. The final location is ‘Mission Breakout’. I won’t spend time on this because it’s been around for a while, but there is a strange fluid decorating the streets outside of the ride now! So that’s cool!

I like this addition to the parks quite a bit. There still isn’t a completely immersive feel to it, but the guest interactions they have throughout Avengers Campus make it feel a bit more successful than anything in Galaxy’s Edge. One of the major things Disney promised with Galaxy’s Edge was the residents of Batuu, as well as some major characters, casually walking around the area and interacting with guests. That isn’t what we ended up seeing in Galaxy’s Edge, but we are seeing it here. And there are so many characters to interact with. This area does thrive on the characters, though, which means the social distancing precautions will take a bit away from the experience until we can get past this pandemic. For now, we can all just enjoy the Shawarma.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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