Marvel Land at Disney California Adventure
In the ongoing saga of Marvel Land coming to Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort, a new rumor is making the rounds that instead of replacing the Backlot in Hollywood Land, Marvel Land will replace ‘a bug’s land.’ Micechat is reporting this, and as the primary source of the Marvel Land rumors for the last several years, I think they have credibility.
July 15, 2017 Update: Parks & Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek announced Marvel Land at the Walt Disney P&R panel at today’s D23 Expo. During his announcement, he indicated that Spider-Man and the Avengers would be joining the Guardians of the Galaxy at Disney California Adventure in a new Super Hero Universe.
Otherwise, details were non-existent. No info about what the attractions would entail or where they would be located. There are two possible explanations for this, one of which we cover below. The other possibility is that Disney wanted something to save for the Comic-Con panel on Marvel. Given how many announcements were made during the Parks & Resorts panel, we would not be surprised if this is the case. Now, with the rest of our commentary on Marvel Land…
Actually, not Marvel Land. While we do not know what the land will be called, we know it will not have “Marvel” in the name, because contractually, it cannot. For the sake of simplicity/clarity, we’ll continue to call it Marvel Land here, even though the real name is likely to be Super Hero Land or something of that sort. Perhaps as tribute to DCA 1.0, it’ll be called “Disney’s Marvelous California Avengers” or some equally nonsensical pun.
Beyond the fact that it’s happening sooner rather than later, all other details about Marvel Land remain rumor. The one persistent rumor is that the land will contain an indoor Vekoma bike coaster (apparently Disney got a sweet BOGO deal on TRON Lightcycle Power Run for Walt Disney World 😂) themed to Captain America, which is plausible because it seems like a perfect fit, but even that is far from certain.
The other rumored detail about Marvel Land that also fell under ‘seems plausible’ was that it’d replace the Backlot in Hollywood Land. Ever since Award Wieners was declared a National Historic Landmark, Imagineering has had to rethink those plans, and the rumor now suggests Marvel Land will be replacing ‘a bug’s land.’
In all seriousness, it is a bit surprising since every rumor in the past has pointed to Hollywood Land. While I won’t shed any tears over the loss of ‘a bug’s land’ if that’s the direction Disney ends up going with this, I’m surprised other Disney fans are on board with the idea given the inexplicable excitement for Toy Story Land.
Moreover, Toy Story Land keeps being built around the world (two incarnations are currently under construction), and I’d argue that a bug’s land is objectively superior to Toy Story Land. I say objectively because, in my opinion, neither Toy Story Land nor a bug’s land is all that good.
However, a bug’s land features 6 attractions, whereas Toy Story Land only has 2-3 attractions (depending upon the park). If the idea of these lands is to increase the attraction count for their respective parks, a bug’s land is more effective at fulfilling this goal than Toy Story Land. By that measure–and that’s the measure I’d use–a bug’s land is “better.”
Even though a bug’s land does nothing for me personally, I think it’s fair to say that a bug’s land is cute for what it is and satisfies its role as offering families a low-key land with attractions that are approachable for small children. In a park like Disney California Adventure, it very effectively fills a need. It’s not the pinnacle of themed design, but it’s not awful.
I do not think the same can be said for the Backlot of Hollywood Land, which is awful. This area is something many Disney fans, myself included, were willing to give a pass when housing a dance party (like the late, great elecTRONica) in DCA 1.0, but now it’s clearly the weakest part of the park. It needs to go.
Above you can see my estimation of the potential sizes for each Marvel Land plot. The Backlot is in blue and a bug’s land is red. These are approximations, but the Backlot plot is clearly larger. It could be larger still if MuppetVision is removed…or smaller if they didn’t build into the Esplanade shuttle area. I suspect Marvel Land would not engulf all of Hollywood Land, if only because it’d be difficult to transition from Buena Vista Street directly to Marvel Land. Using the offset of the current Backlot would help establish a much-needed buffer.
I’d hazard a guess that both plots are sufficiently large for Marvel Land. While there’s certainly upside to the Backlot plot, there’s downside, too. This downside is two-fold. First, can work on this even begin until Disneyland Resort has approval on the Eastern Gateway project from the Anaheim City Council? What was once thought to be a rubber-stamping of a proposal has proven to be inordinately difficult, as many on the council must desperately want Disney to fund their opponent in the next election.
Second, where does that leave the Hyperion Theater? It’s a true asset to Disney California Adventure, but I cannot envision a scenario that places Marvel Land on the Hollywood Land Backlot and seamlessly connects it to Mission: Breakout that works without losing Hyperion Theater.
I know it’s theoretically possible to work-around the Hyperion, but I don’t like that idea. Marvel Land already has to shoe-horn in one attraction, it should have a completely clean slate for the rest of the land. The only way I can envision this working is if Mission: Breakout is going to be re-themed to something non-Marvel once Marvel Land opens (nostalgia sells at Disneyland, so bringing Tower of Terror back in 5 years seems savvy), effectively allowing Marvel Land to be built from the ground up.
For me, this is the best case scenario. It means getting rid of the Backlot and using the Hollywood Land plot plus part of the Esplanade, getting to keep a bug’s land for the kids, and Marvel Land not having to be tied down to the Mission: Breakout overlay. Given the potential size of the Backlot plot, I think this is a workable scenario. It’d also be my strong preference, even if that means waiting an extra year or two for Marvel Land while the Eastern Gateway project is sorted out.
Even better of a scenario (bestest case?) would be using the a bug’s land plot, but reskinning and relocating some of the flat rides to the back corner of Paradise Pier. Since these are basic rides, playing Rollercoaster Tycoon with them should be no issue. Then, Marvel Land could be located where a bug’s land is currently while simultaneously doing placemaking to the main Hollywood Land facades and adding the Great Mickey Ride to the Backlot. This sounds like a win-win-win, but it also sounds like a $$$-$$$-$$$ scenario, so I’m guessing it’s not even on the table.
What might be on the table is competing locations for Marvel Land, potentially caused by the delay in the Eastern Gateway project. If this is the case, I would not be surprised if Marvel Land is not announced at the D23 Expo. Or, if it is announced, only a vague “it’s coming” is offered, rather than concrete details, such as its location (beyond Disney California Adventure).
These potential options are a lot to digest. With that said, I know the one thing on everyone’s mind is “what about Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train?!” Yes, I’m as worried about this as you. This is a once-in-a-generation attraction, and the tears that would be shed over this would make the Horizons’ tears look like a drop in the ocean.
To the brilliant minds at Imagineering and Marvel, I humbly suggest the following as a way to address this giant elephant (or caterpillar, as it were) in the room. Make Heimlich the main hero in Avengers: Infinity War. I realize shooting has already begun (is nearly finished?), and it might cost money to do reshoots, but it would be totally worth it to kill two birds with one stone.
First, it would ensure that Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train can be forever enshrined in Marvel Land (it’s what Walt would want). Second, it guarantees Infinity War will make at least eleventy-billion dollars at the box office. You’re welcome, Disney.
Ultimately, I don’t really have a dog in this race. A bug’s land is not my cup of tea and I won’t even remotely miss it; I just think it brings actual value to the table at Disney California Adventure, whereas the Backlot does not. Then again, the “real” plan for the Backlot (not the hypothetical best-case scenario I made up) might entail razing the Hyperion, which I would consider a loss. One way or another, the addition of Marvel Land is likely to involve some degree of loss and compromise. Whatever loss and compromise that might entail, it almost certainly also entails far, far more in terms of gains. It has been 5 years since Disney California Adventure was ‘reborn’ and really came into its own. I think the park is now ready for the next phase in its development. I say bring it on–whatever that means.
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What do you think about the prospect of Marvel Land coming to Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort? What is your ‘best case scenario’ for Marvel Land in terms of location and substance? Would you prefer for Mission: Breakout to change to a non-Marvel concept once Marvel Land opens? What about the prospect of The Great Mickey Ride in Disney California Adventure? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!
Why is it that I could spend hours looking at maps of the parks and play Disney imagineer/park tycoon? Fun to think of the possibilities.
Looking at the map you have, I can’t imagine they would remodel Guardians Tower before building Marvel land. It makes more sense, I think, to create a Marvel land where Bugs Life Land is combined with Guardians Tower and a new coaster in the parking lot below it.
With Hollywood land the sky is open to doing something totally different. Perhaps add a totally new land with rids for the little ones back there in the expansion into the Esplanade? Fun to think of the options.
Tom, do you think ‘Pixar Pier’ will now make it easier for a bug’s land to go?
While I never (or very rarely) use any of the attractions in Bugs Land, I walk through it all the time and really love the atmosphere. Families seem to always be having so much fun in there.
I think it really adds to the overall environment of California Adventure.
I would really miss my “strolls” through Bugs Land, especially at night.
The Back Lot?
Couldn’t care less.
Got a good laugh out of “Nuke it”. lol
I love these kinds of “what if” discussions, but I have to take issue wumith the fact that no where did you address the fact that no matter where they put Marvel in DCA, it still has no relation to the park’s “California” theme.
Who cares if it fits into the “California” theme? I’m excited for some cool new roller coasters. As far as theming for the new “Marvel Land” if they go with a kind of rough cityscape it will flow pretty nicely from Buena Vista street into the new land
As someone who is still baffled as to why they spent big $$$ to do the Buena Street transformation, then completely ruin the context with the GotG re-skinning, I say “Who cares about context? Only crazy Japanese people care about things like context, atmospheric continuity, and attention to detail. DCA should be like California: Anything goes!”
So I wouldn’t be totally surprised if they do build Marvel Land around the Hyperion Theater and not worry that it looks completely out of place. Given that there’s a Monsters ride in the Backlot and Little Mermaid inhabits a replica of the Palace of Fine Arts for some reason, I won’t get up in arms about it either.
I think I will miss Bug’s Land if it goes. When my son was about 1 1/2, we went on Heimlich and it became one of his favorite rides. The last time we went to DCA (about a year ago) we went on it again just for nostalgia (he was 8 then). Yes, the whole area is intended for little kids, but that’s the charm of it. There won’t be many rides left for the very young kids with the loss of Bug’s Land.
“,,, where does that leave the Hyperion…”
I think this is much easier than you might credit. 90% of the Marvel Universe is basically New York City. It would not be hard to make-over the Hyperion as something found on Broadway, (ideally old Broadway as drawn by Jack Kirby). With that theming, basically DIsney could put on whatever show it pleases except a Marvel Super hero themed play, ironically. At least to this Marvel Geek’s view, Spidey would not be swinging by even his own disastrous Broadway play (except to mock). But certainly could be found thwipping crooks in front of Lion King, Beauty & Beast or, yes, Frozen.
Given that the park has California in the name, it’d be a pretty bold move to theme the Hyperion to New York City.
I have heard talk that the plan is to theme Marvel land in general around New York (including moving the Star Tours ride vehicles over for the Iron Man Coaster in Hong Kong since Star Tours won’t make sense in Tomorrowland once Star wars Land Opens) and that in general Disney is thinking of renaming the park just as they are with Hollywood Studios since the name will no longer fit once New York Marvel Land opens
Maybe, but if you are talking thematic coherence in that area, as I get from the phrase “seamlessly connects”, surely “Marvel Land” is already not in any meaningful way “in California”, so that ship will have sailed. And I might “boldly” suggest that the Hyperion does not exactly “seamlessly connect” famed California locales like Monstropolis or Collector’s Fortress either.
The California theme has already been broken, with M:B being the greatest offender, but at least past offenders have been a bit less blatant about it. Cars Land is not set in California, but its Route 66 setting gives it a “close enough” California vibe.
I’d hope Marvel Land is either isolated a bit from the rest of the park, or (ideally) set in generic big city that could pass as Los Angeles or San Francisco. Setting it in NYC would be a blatant poke-in-the-eye to the park’s theme.
I’m all for starting a petition to include Heimlich in the new Avengers movie to ensure his presence for decades to come, as well as to immortalize him in the Marvel Universe as the one true hero.
If ever there were a Disney petition worth signing, it’s this one.
Retheme Hollywood land into Super Hero City and then you can leave Frozen/Hyperion intact as it is a giant Broadway style theater in a “big city”. Animation Courtyard and Hyperion could form a mini Disney’s Time Square-esque area. Doesnt fit with California but oh well…by default California Adventure is always a California Adventure by virtue of being in California…its sloppy reasoning but it is what it is. Walt did his films in LA but he had to go to New York to sell it to the distributors…like he did with Steamboat Willie…this actually could work a little bit.
“…its sloppy reasoning…”
I agree. 😉
Los Angeles and Hollywood are BIG Cities in California. Iron Man has a compound in Malibu. Agents of Shield is featured in LA. Not impossible to still make it fit in DCA.
I really hope Mice Chat is wrong. While I was sad to think about Monsters Inc. leaving, Bug’s Land would be a major blow! It is consistently full every time I have been to the park because it is one of the only areas that have no height restrictions. The only other kid friendly rides are Little Mermaid and Monster’s Inc. This part of the park is so creative, I agree with you it is better than the plan for Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios. Every ride in Cartland has height restrictions. We took my best friend’s 18 month old daughter, while everyone else was riding adult rides, trying to find something to do in DCA, and she was barely under Luigi’s so that was a no go, and the next thing was to go to Bug’s Land, we easily spent an hour there on all the rides and the splash park, while everyone else was riding big rides. Disneyland has so many options for young kids, DCA does not. AND Hollywood backlot is AWFUL, except for the animation building. I miss Aladdin at the Hyperion, we saw the Frozen show and it is no comparison. Aladdin we would see multiple times and always take new people who hadn’t experienced it, Frozen… I was ready to walk out during intermission. They need to figure out how to revamp all that space and the backlot makes the most sense, also utilizing the old bus parking area when they redo the transportation center.
I wouldn’t be disappointed just yet. I wouldn’t take Micechat’s word as the gospel on this. Hopefully we’ll know for sure this weekend!
I get that Bug’s Land isn’t your jam, but I really respect the care and detail that went into the theming of that little land. From the firefly lamp posts to the popsicle stick benches to the cricket soundscape to the fast-growing plants they put in back when it was built, which are now large enough to make you feel dwarfed when you walk in. They even positioned Tower to loom over it, enhancing that miniaturized feel. I mean, the entrance is a cereal box with a Toy Story Easter egg. The bathroom is a giant tissue box. This isn’t something they slapped together the way they did when the park was built. It’s easy to miss all the fun little theming elements, but they’re there if you look for them. Plus, all the value added for families with small children, as you mentioned.
I think Hollywoodland needs a re-theming far more. They have large empty areas and sound stages just taking up space. Without the Hollywood Tower hotel to anchor it, it’s just a mish-mash. The only thing I would really miss, being a Los Angeles native, is the scale recreations of historic buildings and architecture from around the city, particularly the Frank Lloyd Wright bathrooms.
I think Superhero Land, or whatever they decide to call it, will definitely be mentioned at D23 Expo this weekend. The extent of it and how much they can show will depend on where they are with permits and such, which nobody knows but Imagineering.
I still think a bug’s land is fine for what it is. There are some cute and charming details and the shady environment is a respite; it’s just that most of the rides are uninspired.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Frank Lloyd Wright restrooms survive, either way.
Agreed whole-heartedly. The detail of A Bug’s Land is so very clever and exquisite. It’s a work of art, even if the attractions at basic.
I am confused from your article. The Mission Breakout opening ceremony clearly outlined The Collectors Fortress will be the new anchor of Marvel Land. So why would they bring back TZ to fix a theming issue when Hyperion is a blank slate to be fixed along with the Backlot? Bug’s Land will be the new grand entrance to Marvel Land Part 1. Then there’s Part 2 after they complete the Eastern Gateway.
The Miceage article hinted that most Bugs flat rides will be rethemed to Marvel including the Bugs theater as a dark ride. The bumper car ride will go away. I have no clue about Heimlich, but not an issue.
I doubt Frozen will last much longer. They’re down to 2 or 3 shows a day. They could add a Marvel show, just saying.
“The Mission Breakout opening ceremony clearly outlined The Collectors Fortress will be the new anchor of Marvel Land.”
While this has been intimated, I don’t think it has been clearly outlined.
Elsewhere, it’s been stated that the Tower is an attraction Imagineering will be able to fairly easily convert to a different concept every 5-10 years. Assuming that’s true (and I think we’ll get an idea this Halloween if the overlay rumors are true), I could see a scenario that uses Mission: Breakout as a stopgap until Marvel Land opens, and then changing its concept again. The new concept wouldn’t necessarily have to be Tower of Terror…but it could be, if that’s what Disney thinks will be the biggest draw.
I think the Frozen schedule is more about cost-savings than guest demand. We’ve been shut out of showings a couple times due to it already being full.
They could certainly add a Marvel stage show, though, you’re right. Like Mission: Breakout, Frozen will have had a healthy run by the time Marvel Land is ready to open, and conversion of the Hyperion could be one of the last things to occur.
The Mission Breakout isn’t a quick overlay. Imagineers suggests the Tivan displays will change periodically. You don’t do this for temporary attractions. The Halloween overlay will still keep Guardians as the theme. Also, Guardians will continue to have sequels and there’s an Avengers movie crossover. Essentially, Guardians is Marvel so to remove it will remove the essence of what is comprised of Marvel.
“This is a momentous occasion, but it’s just the beginning of what will become a bigger superhero presence at Disney California Adventures,” Chapek said opening night. “And with the strong partnership at Walt Disney Imagineering, we’re very excited with what’s to come.”
From what I’ve read, the Marvel Land location would not just be Bug’s Land, but would include the current parking lot in the picture above below Tower and to the right of Carsland. If this is the case, I can understand the appeal of including Bug’s Land in the expansion. Doing so would greatly increase the amount of land available for the land which could be at a premium depending on the size of the Cap mega-coaster, would provide a direct entry from the main thoroughfare, allow them to start construction on a remote part that would not impact the guest day too much (ala Star Wars Land), and would allow them to avoid the Hyperion problem mentioned above. The Hollywood Backlot issue could wait until the Eastern Gateway issues are resolved and provide them another area to re-theme and draw in crowds. (I’ve read other rumors that the Great Mickey Ride might go in this area as well as DHS).
I didn’t realize that parking lot was in play, but that makes perfect sense. Agreed completely about having direct entry from the main thoroughfare, too. That’s a big upside.
That would also allow the showbuilding for the Cap-coaster to be placed at the edge of the park, rather than in the center. I suspect that showbuilding will be fairly tall, and having it dropped onto a bug’s land’s plot would present some sightline issues.
Maybe they can tack the tall part of the coaster on the back side of mission breakout. Then it could actually be themed!
That is where I’d put the expansion/new land. Leave a bugs land alone. Small kids need something to do and DCA does not have much.