ANAHEIM — Some assembling is still required, but the Avengers are gathering in a big way at Disneyland.
Taking its cues from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which debuted across the resort at Disneyland Park last year, the Avengers Campus will be an immersive experience that seeks to tell super-heroic stories across a series of rides, shows and eateries.
“We’ve been trying to figure out how do we bring this land to life not just where you get to see your favorite heroes or meet your favorite heroes, but where you actually get to become a hero,” Brent Strong, the executive creative director behind the new land for Walt Disney Imagineering, said at a media preview that revealed new details and provided a first look at the project that was first announced last year. “It’s about living out your superhero fantasies.”
Central to that aim is “WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure,” which uses a combination of physical and digital imagery to allow riders to play Peter Parker along with onscreen Spidey Tom Holland. The ride begins as an open house where Spider-Man, played by Holland, shows off small but smart-and-powerful Spider-bots that he and a team of other inventive teens known as the Worldwide Engineering Brigade, or WEB, have developed in an old building donated by Tony Stark. Of course, the self-replicating bots spiral out of control and start to overrun the place, and guests are summoned to help round them up.
The Imaginary Magic Comes From a New Gesture Recognition System
The eight-seat cars that have been set up to begin test runs through the facility look like many other people-moving vehicles on Disneyland attractions, but its creators say the experience will be something entirely new.
The imaginary magic comes from a new gesture recognition system two years in the making that can recognize the faces and hands of riders.
Strong says the all-ages, all-sizes attraction can play simple or sophisticated, and those who get a knack for the slinging can experience “layers and layers of game play” and uncover “a million Easter eggs.”
Spidey will also be seen soaring over the structures as one of 15 different costumed Avengers — all of them are still alive in this timeline — who will roam the land.
“The Avengers Campus is literally going to be teeming with heroes,” said Dan Fields, the executive creative director behind the live entertainment for the project. “It’s a hero-rich environment.”
Visitors can get down in a dance-off with members of the Guardians of the Galaxy; Black Widow and Black Panther will do battle atop the ramparts of Avengers headquarters with Marvel’s Taskmaster, the villain from the forthcoming “Black Widow” movie; and wannabe warriors will get to train in the fighting arts of Wakanda with Okoye from “Black Panther.”
Thor will walk the campus looking for people worthy enough to wield his hammer. His brother Loki will be lurking, looking to help or harm depending on his mood.
The Storytelling Even Extends to the Food
The campus is in its final phases of construction as fears of the new coronavirus have led to diminished crowds and cancellations of large gatherings around the world. Disneyland has said it is committed to the health of its workers and guests and has imposed strict sanitation regulations. Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger told shareholders Wednesday that company leadership is “sobered” by the crisis, but Disney has been “incredibly resilient” through its history.
Built mostly over the park’s former A Bug’s Land and incorporating the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout attraction that opened in 2017, the campus structures, entering their final phases of construction, are being built in layers to look like they’ve existed for ages. The Webslingers building is a crumbling warehouse that is overlaid with the modern tech created by WEB. The Sanctum where Doctor Strange will weave guests into his mystical magic contains generations of ruins.
The storytelling even extends to the food via Pym’s Test Kitchen, which will feature culinary “experiments” from Ant-Man Scott Lang and his scientist benefactor Hank Pym. They include a “Not So Little Chicken Sandwich,” a tiny, shrunken brioche bun that is dwarfed by an enlarged hunk of breaded chicken. Several sizes of pretzel, including one as big as a pizza, will circulate on an overhead conveyor belt and will seem to change size when sent through shrink and growth rays.
And subtle winks to the Avengers films abound, including an outlet of the Shawarma joint that Iron Man suggests his allies hit up after the Battle of New York depicted in 2012’s “The Avengers,” where the heroes can be seen quietly eating in the post-credits scene.