As you wander through Avengers Campus, the newest addition to Disneyland Resort California, you’ll see Black Widow battling villains, Dr. Strange demonstrating mystical arts in an ancient shrine, and Spider-Man spinning and flying overhead. of his head without web (or threads) to support him.
Is it real? Kind of. Spider-Man’s acrobatic stunt double is what Walt Disney imaginaries call a “stuntronic,” a sophisticated free-flying robot. Soaring over 65 feet in the air, this flexible animatronic is a unique innovation that makes viewers feel like they’re seeing their favorite superhero in action. It’s just one of the many ways Disney tries to convince guests that the impossible is possible.
Disney theme parks have long tricked our senses by using the subtle art of forced perspective to make things appear larger than they really are. Although you might not notice it at first glance, the buildings along the park’s main thoroughfare, Main Street, in the United States, feature a second story five-eighths the scale of the first floor and a third floor of a half scale. This design gives the illusion of a life-size building while being intentionally built shorter to help make the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle appear taller in comparison.
Forced perspective is used elsewhere in the parks, along with a variety of other illusions that trick your senses of sight, touch, hearing, and taste. Even the sweet aroma you smell as you pass the bakery in the park is pumped through scent machines to entice your scent glands in hopes that you’ll stop by to buy a tasty treat.
Let’s face it, you’re fooled as soon as you enter a Disney park, but it’s this large-scale immersion into the world of fantasy that drives so many people to travel to these magical places of fantasy. When Disney Imagineers set out to build a new Avengers-themed land at Disney California Adventure Park, it’s no surprise they had a few new tricks up their sleeves.
Imagine the impossible
With this latest invention of Spider-Man’s Stuntronic, Imagineers has effectively enabled superhuman flight. Using advanced robotics, they created dynamic movements that allow the superhero to perform realistic aerial stunts. Although actual stunts are humanly impossible, when you watch Spidey soar through the air, you can’t help but question your previous notions of reality. It’s an impressive feat that’s seemingly light years more advanced than the original Audio-Animatronics seen in the nearby Enchanted Tiki Room. These charming birds designed in the 1960s simply cannot compete with the acrobatics on display at the Avengers Campus.
The Avengers Campus also challenges your taste buds. At the Pym Test Kitchen, you’re greeted with disproportionately large food and drink items, like $100 paninis that can feed an entire table, a giant chicken sandwich with a thimble-sized bun and huge pretzels that top anything you’d find in Bavaria. Paying homage to the size-altering Pym Particles of the Ant-Man series, the restaurant cleverly showcases how this legendary technology is used to create your food. You can watch the full-size pretzels grow bigger after going through a quantum tunnel.
Alongside, visual effects include beers being poured from a draft system that fills the glass from the bottom up. Unusual sizes are also prevalent in Lab drinks, where cocktails are served in glasses shaped like giant beakers, and a flight of beer is served in tiny tankards set in an oversized ruler.
Cobwebs, shawarma and Quinjets
Travel further into this land and you’ll find more immersive experiences in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Challenge your Spidey senses on the Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure attraction, where you can put your web skills to the test and see what it’s like to have superpowers. You can also join a heroic rescue mission on Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission: Escape! Park wares will test your will with items like hard-to-resist customizable Spider-Bots that let you take on opponents in the style of your favorite Avenger.
The Avengers Campus is also home to a massive Quinjet signature setup featured in several Marvel movies, Shawarma carts that date back to the end of The Avengers, unique optical illusions and countless other hidden Easter eggs for Marvel fans to discover. As you explore, it’s hard not to appreciate the many carefully crafted details and mind-blowing special effects found in this inventive new land. Yes, Disney plays with your head, but in all the best ways.