We just got back from an awesome little trip hosted by Disney! We got to visit the parks here in California and witness firsthand how all of our favorite superheroes are taking over California Adventure for the Summer of Heroes. There are tons of awesome limited-time thrills, but it's not all just a temporary attraction! A bunch of our favorite sights are said to be sticking around indefinitely.
When Disney acquired Marvel in 2009 (to the tune of $4 billion), we knew BIG things would be happening in movies. With four little boys who are HUGE superhero fans, I'll admit I totally geeked out when I saw how that acquisition transferred over to the parks in real-life, giving fans the chance to totally immerse themselves in a Spidey-Groot-Captain America-Black Widow extravaganza.
First up, we headed to one of the summer exclusives. The Avengers Training Initiative invites young guests onto a special stage in the Hollywood Backlot to see if they have what it takes to become “Earth's Mightiest Heroes.” Guided by Black Widow and Hawkeye, it's up to these recruits to defeat the villain Arnim Zola. There's also a special video conference from Tony Stark, live from Hong Kong Disneyland!
When you're done saving the world, don't miss the chance to grab a Spider Bite cinnamon-spiced donut at Schmoozies. The frosting tastes like Red Hots.
For lunch, an insider pal at Disney urged us to check out The Most Dangerous Tacos in the Galaxy at Knowhere Eats. These barbacoa beef tacos with green onion slaw, purple cabbage and pickled onions in green tortillas will have you wondering if you're in California or if you've entered a whole other universe of flavor.
If you've ever had the Mickey Mouse-shaped sourdough and jalapeño-cheese bread at California Adventure, you'll be pleased to know it's now offered in a fun “I am Bread” Groot version!
Last but certainly not least for food, you absolutely must grab a Groot Sipper! These cute little thirst-quenchers are sold at Award Wieners, Studio Catering Co, Smokejumpers Grill and “a bug’s land” cart.
When Black Widow isn't leading visitors in training, you can catch her rolling down Hollywood Boulevard in a black armored vehicle. The best way to catch a photo with her is to download the Disneyland app, where character appearance times are listed. You can also meet Spider-Man and Captain America! In this same area, you'll want to get a superhero face painting and then hop over to the Hero Action Center to find your superhero match.
Next, head to Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! for the Awesome Dance-off led by '70s tunes-obsessed Star-Lord and his pal Gamora as they pull audience members in for the fun. Stick around afterward to meet Groot. Our 4-year-old got a baby Groot from one of the stores, and it was so cute to watch him introduce his new stuffed pal to the real-life version, who sweetly responded, “I am Groot.”
Oh yeah, and don't forget to ride the new ride. It's amazing!
After all the superhero excitement, we headed to Disney's Grand Californian for my favorite buffet, Storytellers Cafe. I grabbed an adult glow drink here, but they also have non-alcoholic glowing lavender lemonade in the park if the kiddos are wanting a light-up drink of their own.
I could spend hours meandering through the Grand Californian, with its high ceilings and breathtaking architecture. It's my favorite on-property hotel by far. It's the closest hotel to California Adventure, and its separate park entrance is super-convenient (not to mention the extra magic hour bonus for guests who are staying here!). The boys and I often cozy up in their plush chairs in the foyer for a little mid-day downtime to beat the heat, even when we haven't booked a room. We got a peek at their newly-renovated pool on our way by, and we'll definitely be scheduling in some splash time on our next visit!
Back in the park, it's a big tradition for us to get some family photos in one of the many picturesque photo stations. Gotta love those unlimited photo passes!
Other big happenings to be on the lookout for this summer include the Disney Junior Dance Party at California Adventure (our toddler had a blast!) as well as Cruz Ramirez making her appearance in Radiator Springs.
Over at Disneyland, Pirates of the Caribbean is celebrating its 50th anniversary with special appearances from Captain Jack Sparrow and gold-dusted churros in New Orleans Square. Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer's Island is reopened now, and the Disneyland Railroad, Mark Twain River Boat and Sailing Ship Columbia will be returning with extra magic on July 29th. Head to the north bank of the Rivers of America to see five new picturesque waterfalls around the new Columbia Gorge section. Fantasmic is also coming back on July 17th, and August 20th will be your very last chance to catch the Main Street Electrical Parade. Of course, the Remember…Dreams Come True Fireworks Spectacular has been back for a few months now, and it's the perfect way to end the day.
Summer of Heroes ends September 10th! Who's your favorite superhero? Will you be headed to Disney to meet any of them this summer?