Wednesday night marked the opening ceremony for Avengers Campus, the latest land in Disney California Adventure. Disney Parks head Josh D’Amaro shook hands with Disney CEO Bob Chapek to the Avengers theme, underscoring that the real heroes are executives. Originally slated to open in summer 2020, Avengers Campus is Disney’s first MCU land, joining Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Pixar Pier as IP-specific lands within the Disneyland Resort. Marvel fans can eat a giant pretzel, watch a robot do flips through the air, and admire a show building for one attraction that still isn’t ready.
Marvel stars new and old graced the park with their presence (or at least sent a video from a hotel room. Paul Rudd, Jon Favreau, and Anthony Mackie were actually in attendance. Paul Bettany, Zoe Saldana, Scarlett Johansson, and others sent their video-message regards with varying levels of enthusiasm. And Simu Liu was the official post-credits cameo, visiting the shawarma truck and winking to camera at the very end of the presentation.
DCA is the intellectual property park of the Disneyland Resort. If things don’t quite mesh with Walt’s original vision, they get smushed in there. But what made the Avengers Campus opening ceremony remarkable was the way it tried to Walt-ify the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The ceremony started with preroll that intercut title cards of Walt Disney’s opening-day speech at Disneyland, and his famous assertion that Disneyland will never be completed, with footage of John Slattery as Howard Stark — thus linking the two mustachioed industrialists with the power of movie magic.
Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige echoed Walt, saying that Avengers Campus will never be complete. But where Walt was speaking of always tinkering with the Disneyland, Feige was pointing out a branding strategy. “You can literally watch one of our shows on Disney+,” he said, “perhaps next time you come to Avengers Campus, you’ll see something from that show right here in California Adventure.” That’s the Disney way: a flattening of history and of culture that makes every idea into a movie, a show, a crossover event, a ride, a food, and a backpack by Loungefly.