The Disneyland Resort this morning announced a summer opening for its Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. It's a Christmas present for theme park and Marvel fans, who had been wondering just when in 2020 the new superhero-themed land would debut.
The first phase of Avengers Campus will feature a new ride, restaurant, and meet and greets with select Marvel characters. We already featured Avengers Campus on our All aboard the 2020 Hype Train series, focusing on its still-as-yet-unnamed Spider-Man ride, which will be an interactive dark ride using Ninjago-like hand motion technology to enable riders to sling webs to capture runaway Spiderbots in a training exercise.
The conceit of the land is that the Avengers are recruiting you and other guests to help them through the Worldwide Engineering Brigade. (Yeah, I'll let you work out that acronym.) The land's restaurant will be Pym Test Kitchen, where "Pym Technologies is using the latest innovations to grow and shrink food at this eatery." Meet and greets in the land will include "Black Widow, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Super Heroes from Wakanda and Asgard, and Iron Man."
Park officials also have talked of a Doctor Strange mystic arts training show in the land, too.
Phase two (opening date yet to be announced) will bring a second new attraction, themed to a Quinjet ride to Wakanda for an epic battle. Additional Avengers Campus lands also will be opening at Walt Disney Studios Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.
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So far it sounds underwhelming. I’m sure the finished project will be good, but so far it doesn’t sound interesting. I think the main issue is Marvel doesn’t translate well as a theme park land the way a franchise like Star Wars or Harry Potter can. And Universal’s Marvel themed land has some great elements, but has the same problem it looks like this one will.
@Randy - I think the trick to adapting IP to a theme park is place-making. That's where the Marvel franchise runs into problems, and why Galaxy's Edge has garnered criticism from some. Marvel's most iconic locations thus far have been Asgaard and Wikanda. Star Wars had no less than a dozen iconic locations that could have served as the basis for Galaxy's Edge, but Imagineers instead chose to go in a completely different direction by creating a new, never-before-seen world grounded in the style and aesthetic of Star Wars. Personally, I think they did an amazing job in creating Batuu (and that's before I've had a chance to experience RotR), and in the case of Star Wars, I think trying to pick either one or multiple existing locations to set Galaxy's Edge would have generated even more complaints than they're fielding now after utilizing a blank slate.
Disney is taking the same tact here with Marvel by creating this CAMPUS location, which can be molded and adapted to each local park. It's a smart decision from a design perspective in that cultural differences can be addressed by making slight modifications to a generalized template used around the world. However, while you can walk into Galaxy's Edge and it still reads as "Star Wars", is there such a thing as "Avengers" or "Marvel" style that can be gleaned from the architecture and designs? Aside from the Avengers logo and a bunch of Marvel signs and characters walking around, what will make guests feel like they've stepped into a Marvel movie? That's where I think Imagineers will run into challenges. Joe Rohde was able to bridge that gap with Mission Breakout thanks to the irreverence of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but will other Marvel characters come across as easily, especially when Disney cannot overtly mention one of the cornerstone characters in the park, Spiderman?
I think this is going to be a difficult task, and it's certainly not going to be helped with the lesser of two planned attractions opening first (and possibly years before the true e-ticket for the land is ready). Obviously, recreating Wikanda or Asgaard would have been the natural choice for a Marvel land (or even a NYC-style land for Spiderman if Universal's rights could have been bought or circumvented), but Imagineers are taking the same route here that they did with Star Wars. In my opinion, they didn't have a choice with Star Wars but really pulled it off. However, with Avengers CAMPUS, they may lose the place-making essential to create a believable, realistic environment that guests will want to visit repeatedly.
I think the bean-counters winning the battle on the E-ticket is a big mistake. We've seen what happened with Galaxy's Edge, where the land faced months of low attendance and public criticism before Rise of the Resistance opened and virtually ended that discussion entirely. Avengers Campus will be open without an E-ticket not for months, but for several years. I would think Disneyland would be more careful after the back to back disappointments of Pixar Pier and Batuu West to draw (though I expect DL to have a much stronger 2020 thanks to ROTR), but I fear this will not go well for them.
I agree that Spider-Man should not have been the first ride to open in the new land. The Avengers ride, through Wakanda, should have opened next summer instead. However, I don’t think it’ll be a disaster, as you’re predicting it will be.
For one, Spider-Man is a popular character. People always want to experience a new ride when it opens. I know it’ll be similar to Midway Mania, but maybe they’ll add some new things to it. It’s not open yet, so none of us truly know what it will look like. All we can do is speculate at this point.
Marvel is extremely popular world wide. The movies are the highest grossing films of all time. People love Marvel, and the Avengers. I’m sure Disney will have no problem with people wanting to visit the new land. Yes, it may no happen overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day. But I think it will be very successful for Disney over time.
@timbo23 - I don't think anyone here is predicting that it will be a disaster. However, Disney's rush (at least by typical Disney standards) to push Marvel IPs into the parks by re-skinning existing attractions and using off-the-shelf ride systems may not make the best first impression with guests. You only get 1 chance to make a first impression, and if Avengers CAMPUS ends up being mediocre, Imagineers will have to spend even more time, energy, and money to fix it like they've had to with DCA and DSP.
Disney has already seen first hand what happens when they open a new land devoid of its marquee attraction, so you would think they would have learned that lesson by now. There's something to be said for striking while the iron is hot, but much like how Star Wars has had legs for decades, I highly doubt the popularity of Marvel IPs will wane enough to value rushing mediocre attractions and lands into the parks over taking the time and doing it right with unique and thrilling experiences.
Russell Meyer, I agree, I would prefer Disney not rush into things. Especially with Avengers Campus. If done right, it can be something special. I do like what they did with Tower of Terror, by turning it into Guardians of the Galaxy. I think that has made a good first impression with guests.
I understand what you’re saying in regards to Spider-Man. The fact that it will feature a similar ride system that already exists, in Midway Mania. However, Universal features many of the same rides, which uses 4-D, and a simulator. I don’t see many people complaining about that. In fact; many of their rides feature 4-D.
I think the Wakanda ride should have opened first next year. I agree with you on that. Maybe Avengers Campus will be better then we think? It hasn’t opened yet. All we can do is speculate at this point, from drawings we’ve seen. We should wait to see it in person, to make our decisions. Only time will tell.
@timbo23 - The WEB attraction is rumored to be using a similar platform to Legoland's Ninjago attraction, not TSMM. Also, I don't get the impression from most of your posts that you would "prefer Disney not rush into things" since you're frequently asking how soon a new attraction is going to open with little consideration into the design, development, and construction time necessary to bring a new concept to life.
Disney is in a bit of a conundrum with Marvel in that Imagineers have almost certainly been given an edict to get the IPs into the parks ASAP to capitalize on the current world-wide popularity of the franchise. However, they're limited in what they can do at WDW, and still somewhat constrained in what they can do in Disneyland because of Universal's Marvel license. They're also working with a park, DCA, that's in flux but has successfully re-skinned ToT with Marvel IP to plant the flag that any future development should radiate from. The issue is that GotG: MB is now at a dead end, so Imagineers had to quickly cobble together something that could fit into the limited Bug's Land parcel. This all came about because Anaheim denied the Eastern Gateway project, which would have freed up space to create a Marvel Land on virgin ground. This "Plan B" approach is a compromise in many ways, as was Galaxy's Edge, but they are not getting anywhere close to what they could have done if Imagineers had more of a blank slate to work with in California. Ultimately, I think they should have placed this development into the Hollywood section of the park, and relocated the Hyperion into Bug's Land.
We'll see what this looks like next summer, but I think Disney is half-baking this project in the hopes of hitting a home run 2 years from now with the Wikanda attraction. I just don't think that's a great strategy from a company that has had to go back time and time again to correct problems and mistakes because they rushed something into the parks.
@Russell Meyer, I’ve never been to Legoland. So I wouldn’t really know what that attraction looks like. It’ll be brand new to me. Not everyone has been to Legoland either. It may be brand new to others as well. So maybe I’ll like it more, in that aspect. I know from my posts, that I do ask questions how soon an attraction will open. I guess I just get excited about brand new attractions. But I understand that it’s better to take time with them. In order to get them right.
That’s the issue with Disneyland. They don’t have the space, as they do in Florida. But they can only build a “Marvel” land in California. Due to rights Universal owns with Marvel in Florida. It may not have been exactly what they intended. But they probably felt they needed to make some sort of land dedicated to Marvel. Even it’s its not what they originally envisioned. Due to the popularity of the movies. I agree, the Hollywood section would have worked. They could have gotten rid of Monsters Inc, and made the whole area dedicated to Marvel.
I do agree that the Wakanda attraction should be opening next summer, instead of Spider-Man. The Wakanda attraction sounds like it’s going to be pretty amazing. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for it. In the meantime, let’s try and enjoy “Avengers Campus” when it opens. Hopefully the ambiance of it makes it a great land to visit.
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I can’t wait! I’ll be there the end of August. Hopefully I’ll be able to se it then!