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Jolene goes to Avengers Campus Opening Day

In 2008, I remember watching Iron Man in theaters with my dad, the last movie I would watch with him. As the years passed, I watched almost every single Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film in theaters, most on opening night or opening weekend. I grew up as the Avengers did, and loved the detailed story telling, compelling character development and of course, exciting action sequences. Oh, and the Avengers are really not bad to look at!

When Disney Parks announced the opening date of the Avengers Campus, I was elated! Disney such a way with creating environments to transports its guests to places like Pandora or Batuu, so I knew they would do the same for the MCU.

Upon the Disneyland reopening announcement as well as the Avengers Campus opening date announcement, tiered tickets and all, I knew I wanted to try to visit Disney's California Adventure (DCA) on opening day, my first Disney opening day experience. My friend was able to purchase my ticket on the first day of ticket sales, and made me a reservation for June 4.

Fast forward to the week of June 4 - I painted myself an Avengers dress, made a hotel reservation, and was ready for my superhero experience.

Thursday, June 3

Similarly to my last Disney day, I decided to spend the night in a hotel to limit the morning hassle of parking and entering the parks. I stayed at The Anaheim Hotel once again, right across the street from the parks. I could even see the top of Guardians: Mission Breakout from my room!

For the first time ever, I decided to make a special request during hotel booking, just to see what would happen. Let's just say the hotel came through...

Friday, June 4

Bright and early on Friday morning, my alarm went off a little after 6AM and I peeled myself out of my comfortable bed to grab some sustenance from a nearby Starbucks. I returned to my hotel room in time to try for Web Slingers boarding passes at 7AM, but unfortunately I was unsuccessful. Strike 1 of the day.

I'd like to apologize for the lack of photos in this portion of the blog. Frankly, after I left the hotel and made my way to the park, my day began its steady decline.

I arrived at the line a little before 8AM, and it was almost twice as long as it was when I had visited Disneyland a few weeks prior. The line began moving incrementally, and my excitement grew. I loved seeing everyone dressed up in their Marvel-themed outfits!

However, when I arrived at the gate and my ticket was scanned, I was told that there was no reservation affiliated with my ticket. My heart stopped. How could this be? I had seen the screenshot with the confirmation, even though the email was not sent to me as I did not purchase the ticket. Not only was this was my worst fear, but I wasted a lot of time having this resolved, which ultimately could have contributed to my day being so rotten.

Thankfully, the cast member helping me was insanely sweet and helped me calm down before paging a higher-up. I think it was obvious to her that I was telling the truth, that I really did have a reservation. Another cast member came to help me and worked everything out. Tears were shed, but I breathed a sigh of relief when I actually entered the park.

As I got myself together, I realized there was a chaotic mob of people filling the plaza in front of Carthay Circle Restaurant. There were a few cast members trying to control the flow of traffic, but some were giving contradicting information, leading to much confusion and additional crazy. I had made a friend in line (prior to scanning into the park), and she had secured a spot in the standby line so she grabbed me to join her. If she had not done that, I'm not sure where I would have ended up.

Our plan was to enter the land via the standby line - she had luckily gotten herself a boarding pass but obviously she wanted to spend as much time as possible in Avengers Campus. We were excited to order food, check out the new area and shop. Boy, were we mislead.

All information stated that mobile orders could only be picked up by guests already inside Avengers Campus, so naturally I didn't order anything and was planning on waiting until I was inside. Well, mobile ordering pretty much filled up by 9:30AM, and many orders could not be picked up because guests were trapped in the standby line. We had no idea the standby line would get as long as it did.... it started in Hollywoodland, passed by the Campus and Carsland, looped in the World of Color viewing area at least 3 times, passed the Zephyr and finally looped back around at the Jumpin' Jellies.

At around 10AM, I overheard cast members discussing the change in policy, and that guests would be able to enter Avengers Campus if they had to pick up a mobile order. I scrambled to check the app to see if anything would come up, and I found a window open for 7:40PM. Not idea. but I figured that would give me more than the chance I currently had. I accepted it, but still frantically checked for other options. Eventually, one more option became available, starting at 11:55AM. I gratefully accepted and thought my day might finally turn around.

When the clock almost struck noon, I befriended the 3 guys behind me and we all agreed to try for Web Slingers passes. It was our last chance, and 4 tries seemed better than 1. Unfortunately none of us were successful, but we were able to leave the standby line because we had mobile orders.

I had been standing in line for more than 3 hours at this point.

Dehydrated, hungry, sweating and sunburned, I made my way over to Avengers Campus for my mobile order pickup only to find there was a whole separate line, and the land had reached capacity so none of us were moving! The line was also completely chaotic, hoardes of confused guests were trying to get in line, both with mobile orders and Web Slingers passes. It was awful.

By the time I entered into the Campus, I felt deflated. As a seasoned fan who has been to multiple Comic Cons and GA concerts alike, I am used to waiting for long periods of time and not being comfortable, but those times are planned and the waiting is expected. In this case, I was not prepared and it seemed like Disneyland wasn't prepared either.

So what is the Avengers Campus? Similarly to other 'lands' in Disney Parks, the Avengers Campus is a section of DCA wholly dedicated to the MCU and our favorite Marvel superheroes. There is themed food, themed merchandise, character meet and greets, shows, and a Spiderman-themed ride (which I could not get passes for). It's a fun place for Marvel fans to feel like they are in the MCU.

Where is the Avengers Campus? The Avengers Campus is located where A Bug's Land used to be, between Cars Land and Hollywoodland.

Once I was let in, I walked through the Campus and made my way to the Pym Test Lab (You will understand its name if you have seen Antman), to pick up my mobile order. On one hand, it was terribly exciting to be inside, but on the other hand, I was overwhelmed by all of the negative feelings in me. It was also very hot, and there were few shaded spots to get relief from the blazing sun.

Keep in mind there are two "Pym" locations in Avengers Campus - the Pym Test Kitchen and Pym Test Lab. The Pym Test Kitchen has food, while the Pym Test Lab only has beverages (mostly alcoholic) and one snack mix option.

I ordered the Honey Buzz, Plymouth Gin, Lemon Juice and Honey Syrup with a Honey Straw. The portion size was pretty generous, and the keepsake cup made the price worth it for me. The drink itself was pretty sweet, but I suppose I should have expected that from something named the "Honey Buzz." It was the first time I was able to sit down and drink something in peace!

Well, in peace until I noticed some cast members started clearing out the areas next to me and everyone started to line up in front of the Quinjet building. I was grateful that I was not asked to move, as I was exhausted, and it turns out I had one of the best seats in the house!

Before I knew it, the sound of drums filled the air and three beautiful Dora Milaje were making their way toward the seating right next to me.

If you have seen Black Panther and the subsequent Avengers movies, you know the Dora Milaje are the fierce, female warriors who report to the king. They are some of the best parts of the movies, and I was so happy to see them get such a spotlight at Avengers Campus.

Most of the character interactions take place on the seats you see above. There is often an Avenger or two standing on the seats/steps, taking socially distanced photos and engaging with guests. In this case, the Dora Milaje were holding a "training session" and teaching us about some Wakandan principles.

I don't want to give everything away, but I will mention that this presentation was interactive, the Dora Milaje engaged guests and it was very fun. I'm not a Disney-goer who is particularly excited about character interactions, but seeing this presentation and being so close to the action really lifted my spirits, and for the first time in the day, I experienced the magic of Avengers Campus.

I finished my drink and decided to explore the Campus a little more and take some fun photos. I noticed there were several guests standing in the Inner Sanctum, but not taking pictures. I'd read there was some sort of Dr. Strange show, so I realized the show must be happening soon. I joined them and eagerly waited to see what mystic arts we would witness.

Unfortunately, there was a lack of signage and lack of organization. Once the Inner Sanctum filled, a cast member abruptly told us that only those standing on social distance markers could remain. This was unfair, as the cast members had seen most of us standing in there for almost 20 minutes and did not communicate that information. Eventually, we were all asked to leave and come back in, so I was forced to give up my front row spot for a back corner spot where I couldn't see much.

Either way, I found the Dr. Strange show to be quite cute. It was a little underwhelming because of its delivery. It was difficult for everyone to see, as Dr. Strange was not elevated on a stage. The light effects also did not translate during the day. I imagine the show is much more visually impressive at night.

The casting for Dr. Strange was exceptional, and I think fans will be very entertained by his wit and sense of humor, as well as some surprise guests. I'm glad I got to catch this show - another glimpse of the Avengers magic Disney has created.

After the show, I was reunited with the friend I met in line, and we did a full photo tour of the Campus, which was very fun since we had both dressed up.

I'd like to take a sidenote here and specifically mention how amazing Loki was. I am not one of those girls who obsesses over Loki, but the actor at Avengers Campus won me over. He was roasting every single person he could. He was absolutely hilarious without crossing any lines, and made every single person's experience special.

A friend of mine told me there were limited edition pins with the date on them, so I went to grab some at The Collector's Warehouse. The entrance to this Guardians-themed shop is on the far side of the ride, past the entrance, and closer to the Hyperion Theater. As I got my pins, I walked by the Terran Treats cart and realized they weren't requiring mobile ordering. My heart leapt! Finally, some sustenance!

Since I hadn't eaten since about 6:30AM, my body was not doing so well, so I jumped at the option of being able to have some of the new snacks. Of course, I opted to have one of each treat: the Sweet Spiral Ration (a bright green pineapple-flavored churro) and the Cosmic Cream Orb (black cream puff filled with whipped raspberry cheesecake).

We returned to my previous perch and watched the action on the Quinjet building. The Spiral Ration was served warm, while the Cosmic Orb was cold. Such a nice contrast!

The Cosmic Orb was a refreshing, sweet treat on such a hot day. The bright purple filling is great for anyone who likes cheesecake! originally, I was only going to get the Cosmic Orb, but because I couldn't order anything else at the Campus (and I was starving), I also tried the Spiral Ration.

I found this treat surprisingly enjoyable. The pineapple flavor was just enough - not overpowering, but strong enough that this wasn't just a green churro. I would happily eat this again!

If you head to the back corner of the Campus, there is a photo opp for Legacy Passholders. It's a fun backdrop but take a peek below to see the fun magic shot that's also included!

Much of the Campus is centered around Spiderman, and just about every hour there is a fun show that takes place on the WEB building. A live Spiderman does some stunts before doing some "field work" and testing out some swings. This is where Disney's new animatronic tech is displayed - the Spidey we see flying over the building is actually an animatronic! It looks so real and is incredible to watch.

Once Spiderman "lands safely on the other side," the live actor returns, does more stunts, then eventually comes downstairs for a meet and greet.

Eventually, in the heat of the afternoon, I decided to step away from the Campus and actually enjoy DCA. I hadn't done any rides all day! Since it was my first time in DCA since the parks reopened, I simply couldn't bear to leave without doing some of my favorite rides. I took my last few photos, then got on some rides in other parts of the park. I really wanted to shop at WEB Suppliers, but the store had its own virtual queue that got up to at least an hour wait. I was not willing to mill around in the Campus any longer just to wait to shop.

Most of the wait times were quite low, probably because so many were still in the standby line. I left the Campus around 4PM and still saw a very long standby line. It's sad that so many had to sacrifice an entire day just to try to get into the Campus.

I spent a few hours doing my favorite rides, and finally getting on the Emotional Whirlwind! I was a little burnt out on pictures so I didn't take many... I just enjoyed some of my favorite attractions. The contrast made me realize just how hectic and unpleasant my day had been. It was nice to finally be able to enjoy the Disney magic I always come back for.

After dinner at Flo's and a fun ride on Radiator Springs Racers, it was time for me to return to Avengers Campus for my evening mobile order pickup.

Returning to the Campus at night was a treat, but I noticed that it was almost twice as crowded as it had been earlier. They were still letting in boarding groups, but the wait time for those with passes was at 1.5 hours. It seemed like the virtual queue wasn't doing its job, and the Campus was not prepared for a large line of people.

I walked by the chaos and admired everything with its nighttime glow - the Inner Sanctum area was especially transformed at night.

I made my way back to the Pym Test Lab for my second drink order, so I knew the drill. What is confusing is that there seemed to be two lines for mobile orders, which added to the chaos.

This time, I ordered the Particle Fizz - Endless Summer Hard Seltzer - POG (Passion Fruit, Orange, Guava) with Cherry Flavor-filled Boba. Because it was near closing, I knew I wasn't going to drink this. I sipped it, tried the boba, and dumped it. I wanted the cup! After the day I had, I deserved another souvenir. I will say, if I could have finished it, it would not have been pleasant. I like hard seltzer, but this one wasn't very flavorful.

I was still holding onto hope of a standby line for Web Slingers, so I asked a few cast members. None of them gave me a hard no, but because the wait time was already so long for the virtual queue, it did not seem possible. Instead of taking the chance, I said my last goodbyes to the Campus and finished my night with Soarin' Over the World and some shopping at Backlot 17.

As I walked away from the Campus, the Avengers theme music became faint, and I was welcomed once again to the warm glow of Buena Vista Street. I really, really love visiting Disney parks, and it breaks my heart ever so sightly that I had such a terrible time at one.

Even without Web Slingers passes, I was hoping to still enjoy the Campus - the food, shows, and shopping. Unfortunately due to poor planning and unrealistic expectations, the whole opening was a big mess that could have been avoided. I know many were able to have a fun, easy day but that should have been the case for most of us. I know many attribute the mess to "new Covid-19 protocols," but the truth is, the Galaxy's Edge opening took place prior to Covid and was nowhere near this level of chaotic.

I do look forward to visiting again, but I have also learned to keep my expectations low, even for dining and shopping. The theming is wonderful for anyone who is an MCU fan. The details and easter eggs definitely cater to fans of the films, and I appreciate the thoughtfulness of those. The true highlight for me was the character interactions. Everyone was casted extremely well, and I loved that every guest can have a truly unique, special experience.

I hope things do get better in the coming days so many of you will have a better experience than I did. Hopefully I will be able to get on Web Slingers soon!

Until next time,

Happy wandering!


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