ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Black Widow, dressed in her signature all-black bodysuit, paced up and down the brand new Avengers Campus headquarters building platform.
A few steps away, Doctor Strange performed some type of mystic arts at the Ancient Sanctum.
Meanwhile, a trio of the Dora Milaje, the elite female guards in Black Panther's fictional nation of Wakanda, was conducting a training regiment in front of a small crowd. In the distance, Spider-Man swings above rooftops.
Ever since the Walt Disney Co. purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in 2009, fans have dreamed about seeing, meeting and interacting with their favorite superheroes in a Marvel-themed land.
This Friday, that dream becomes a reality. The much-hyped Avengers Campus is opening at Disney California Adventure, the first of many Marvel-themed lands coming to Disney theme parks worldwide.
"We started with a blank sheet of paper and the 'What ifs?' and having 70 years of amazing superhero stories to pull from and 23 films; we really got to craft the perfect experience for our guests," Scot Drake, a portfolio creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, said to Spectrum News during a media preview of the new land. "We are bringing together the diversity of these amazing superheroes. This is unlike anything that we've built before."
The opening of the Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure comes years in the making and is happening as Disney looks to rebound from the economic downturn and year-long shutdown of the Disney theme park caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Marvel-themed campus was slated to open last year. But California health officials shuttered theme parks across the state as part of an effort to prevent large gatherings and slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
With vaccinations up, coronavirus cases down, and California loosening its health guidelines in April that paved the way for theme parks and other businesses to reopen, Disney expects to capitalize from the pent-up demand from people just wanting to go out.
And the Avengers Campus, much like when Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opened in 2019, is expecting to bring in large crowds, especially when out-of-state visitors will be allowed to visit the theme park starting June 15.
As of Wednesday, reservations and single-park tickets for Disney California Adventure have sold out from the June 4 opening of Avengers Campus to June 28.
A park hopper ticket, where visitors start their day at Disneyland, is available on June 4, but the rest of the month except June 30 is also sold out.
Spectrum News toured the Avengers Campus ahead of the June 4 opening and spoke with Drake about what visitors should expect at the new Marvel-themed land.
Disney broke ground on the Avengers Campus in 2019.
The brand new area spans six-acres and replaces the former A Bug's Land. The campus includes the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout! attraction, a Spider-Man-themed signature attraction, and possibly another Avengers-themed ride, as well as Marvel-themed restaurants and retail stores.
Because of the high demand, Disney is implementing a standby queue and virtual queue system for park visitors to gain access to the land.
Visitors who have secured a ticket and reservation to Disney California Adventure, either could wait in a standby queue to enter the campus or be among the first to secure a boarding group on a virtual queue of the Web Slingers ride through the Disneyland mobile app on the day of the visit. The virtual queue is available at 7 a.m. and noon.
Aside from Mission Breakout, the Avengers Campus's signature attraction is Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure and later includes an Avengers-themed ride on the Quinjet, which sits on top of the Avengers headquarters building.
Drake said Web Slingers is the ultimate wish fulfillment.
"Everyone, since they've been six years old, has wanted to sling webs like Spider-Man, and now, we're delivering on that promise," he said.
On Web Slingers, guests don 3-D glasses, jump on a WEB slinger vehicle and help Tom Holland's Spider-Man destroy replicating Spider-Bots by gesturing with their arms and slinging virtual webs from their wrists toward a video screen. Throughout the ride, riders accumulate points.
Riders can enhance their virtual web-slinging by purchasing and wearing a separate attachment. Disney created a web tech power band accessory that a rider can attach to his or her wrist to destroy more Spider-Bots. The band and other accessories are available at a store next to the ride and retail for $30.
Drake sidestepped the question of when an Avengers-themed ride on the Quinjet would come online. So far, the Quinjet, which Drake helped design, makes for a pretty photo op.
Drake called the Quinjet a symbol of hope.
"Our focus over the last several years but especially the last year is bringing Avengers Campus to life," he said. "For us, in the middle of this last year when we put the Quinjet on top of the Avengers headquarters, it transformed the construction of Avengers Campus and [it became a] symbol of hope for all of us, it was like, 'The Avengers are here, and everything is going to be okay.'"
There are also plenty of shows and socially distanced meet and greets with superheroes within the land.
Visitors can catch Doctor Strange perform some Mystic Arts, train with the Black Panther's Dora Milaje, and see Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, Thor and other superheroes walking around the area.
At the post-credit scene of the first "Avengers" film in 2012, after saving New York, the heroes gathered and ate at a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant called the Shawarma Palace. That restaurant has made its way to California.
Visitors to Avengers Campus can now relive that scene by eating a chicken shawarma or falafel and cauliflower wrap at a Shawarma Palace cart.
"We had to, in our story, invite the Shawarma Palace to be part of this campus," Drake said, adding that it's a tribute to the first Avengers movie.
The campus also features two other quick-serve food and drink restaurants inspired by Ant-Man and the Wasp: The Pym Test Kitchen and Pym Tasting Lab. The Pym Test Kitchen features a mix of oversized and shrunken food. Visitors can buy an enlarged pretzel, a not so little chicken sandwich, and drink the Pingo Doce, the gamma radiated green soda from the "Hulk" movie that starred Ed Norton.
The tasting lab features oversized and pint-size beers and cocktails.
"What we love about Ant-Man and the Wasp — it's such a fun storyline. We know in our parks food is a big part of the experience," Drake said. "Having Pym technology grow and shrink different types of food [and] the mash-up of those things is really clever and really fun. It's a mix of different scales."
There are many Easter Eggs and references from different Marvel films and comics throughout the land.
There are parking signs reserved for different Avengers. Green gamma radiation oozes out of a water pipe. The trees are a different color.
There is even a place that makes it seem like one is entering a Doctor Strange parallel dimension.
"As you know, the details are what make the park come to life," he said.
Now that most of the Avengers Campus is ready for visitors and recruits, Drake said there are plenty of storylines to be added in the future.
"The exciting part of this land is this is now a framework for storytelling," he said. "Our goal is to continue to make this a different experience every time you come. You're going to see different characters. It is such a dynamic story universe that not only are you participating in it for the first time, but every time you come back, you're going to have new experiences unfold."