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Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT also brought with it the Summer of Heroes at Disney California Adventure, and in this post, we’ll offer tips for seeing all of the special entertainment, as well as minimizing waits on the popular new attraction.

Disneyland Resort is describing this ‘event’ as a “blockbuster season of heroic encounters, rockin’ dance parties, an intergalactic attraction, and more!” They also encourage guests to “embark on epic adventures when Spider-Man and members from Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers hit Hollywood Land!”

When I read that before the Summer of Heroes started, the phrase “over promise, under deliver” came to mind. I mean, I was willing to go in with an open mind, but c’mon. We remember Season of the Force. In any case, we’ll start the substance of this with what most of you probably care about most: strategy for minimizing waits on Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT…

We’ve already updated our 1-Day Disney California Adventure Itinerary to reflect how you should approach Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT, but we’ll reiterate that, and offer some additional tips in case this is your main must-do on a visit to DCA this summer.

You’ll notice in that itinerary that we still recommend rope dropping Radiator Springs Racers. This might come as a surprise given the massive lines that have been reported for Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT. At one point, the attraction had a 7-hour wait, and 300 minute waits have occurred at peak times.

However, even right now, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT has wait times during the middle of the day on weekdays that are lower than Radiator Springs Racers, and the new attraction is not running out of FastPasses until midday.

At night and on weekends, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT wait times skip beyond Radiator Springs Racers, and there’s a simple explanation for this: locals. Annual Passholders primarily visit after work or on weekends, and there’s a certain thirst among Californians to experience anything new at Disneyland Resort as soon as possible. Hence those wait time spikes.

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

For tourists, the big draw in Disney California Adventure remains Radiator Springs Racers, and rightfully so. It’s the better attraction. This means that at times when tourists are the main group in DCA, Radiator Springs Racers is the more popular attraction.

During the day on weekdays and then starting on June 9, 2017 for the duration of the summer (when the SoCal Select blockout begins), tourists outnumber Annual Passholders and other locals on every day except Sundays. For the entire month of July and first half of August, tourists outnumber APs by an even wider margin.

That’s a long explanation of the why rather than the how, but the why really informs the how in this case. It’s sorta a ‘teach a man to fish’ scenario…

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

In any event, we recommend rope dropping the Radiator Springs Racers FastPass machine, then doing Radiator Springs Racers followed by Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, and then getting a Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT FastPass (if you’re eligible for one by that point).

There are exceptions to this: 1) if you don’t really care about Radiator Springs Racers (you should–it’s awesome), 2) if you want to time your RSR FastPass for nighttime, because riding it at night is pure magic, or 3) if you absolutely love classic rock in the style of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, and want to ride that 2-3 times to hear multiple songs.

In those instances, rope drop the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT FastPass machines and then potentially jump into the standby line for it depending upon the wait. You should be eligible for another FastPass pretty early, at which time you can grab either Radiator Springs Racers (depending upon its return time) or another Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT FastPass if it’s a lower crowd day.

Keep in mind that you’ll also want to FastPass other popular attractions like Soarin’ Around the World and Grizzly River Run, so devoting so much time to Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT and Radiator Springs Racers may not be too wise. The plan in our 1-Day Disney California Adventure Plan is ideal for most people, we think.

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

Okay, now let’s turn to the other stuff there is to see and do during the Summer of Heroes at Disney California Adventure. In terms of strategy, one thing you need to know about is the Avengers Training Initiative, which is an opportunity for kids ages 6-12 to train with Black Widow and Hawkeye as a tryout for the Avengers team. It’s basically Jedi Training Academy, but with Marvel.

Like Jedi Training Academy, advance sign-up is required for this, and those slots fill up. If your kids will want to do this, one of your first stops needs to be the sign-up kiosk in the Hollywood Backlot (near Stage 17 and Sunset Showcase Theater). Sign-ups open during Extra Magic Hour so either take advantage of that if you’re able, or avoid DCA on an Extra Magic Hour morning if you can’t.

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

Then there are the character meet & greets, namely the popular one with Groot. This occurs immediately after the Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Dance Off, which Groot crashes. At the start of this show, a line quietly forms off to the side for Groot’s inevitable appearance. You’ll either see this line, or you can ask a Cast Member where it is.

If you want a chance to meet Groot, especially one with minimal wait, you really need to line up as soon as this (short) dance off starts. You won’t have a good view for the show if you do, but that’s fine–just watch it later. Meeting Groot with a minimal wait should take precedence.

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

As for the Awesome Dance Off itself, it’s fun and worth watching. Normally, these dance offs are fun for kids while adults just sort of stand around. The converse is here true, and that’s likely due to the classic rock music and wry humor of the Guardians. It’s a cute little show.

In addition to Groot, there are other Marvel character meets during the Summer of Heroes. Captain America and Spider-Man continue their regularly scheduled meet & greets in Hollywood Land across from the Hyperion.

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

Black Widow makes occasional appearances rolling down Hollywood Land in her armored vehicle.

Check the times guide or Disneyland app to know when to expect all of this.

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

There’s also a Super Hero personality test tucked away in the Backlot, which is drawing inexplicably long waits right now. This has nothing to do with the test itself (although I guess people do like this kind of stuff) and everything to do with the fact that they give away a free comic book to those who complete the test.

I would not be shocked if they ran out of these comic books at some point, in which case, the wait time would probably drop to 0 minutes.

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

Then there’s the food. National treasures Schmoozie’s and Award Weiners are getting in on the action, as are a couple of other spots in the Hollywood Backlot.

As always, Schmoozie’s comes through in the clutch, with a slew of decadent “breakfast” options that are worth your time. Both donuts and the ice cream macron are very good.

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

Officially, these are sold until 11 a.m., but the reality is that they are sold until they sell out–which has been earlier many mornings thus far.

Every other food item offered for the Summer of Heroes is skippable. There are significantly better options all around Disney California Adventure, so don’t waste your time having a “themed” lunch in the Hollywood Backlot. None of the food is actually themed, anyway.

As always, we joined visionary vlogging auteur Guy Selga of TouringPlans.com for a rundown of the food offered during Summer of Heroes.

Now keep in mind that this is a very high-brow, arthouse vlog, so all of the awkwardness and sweeping cinematography is entirely by design and actually makes it really good. If you don’t like it, you simply do not understand art. Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

The Groot sipper cup has also been popular. Oh, there’s also the “I Am Groot” Bread, also known as the “I Am Bread.” If you were to believe the internet, this is the latest craze sweeping Disneyland.

Seriously, there are like 10 articles on mainstream pop culture sites about it. Per their “reports” everyone is buying this for selfies, etc., and it’s a big “thing.” We did not see any of that, but it’s cute bread, I guess.

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

In terms of a review, the Summer of Heroes is fine. It feels a lot like the Season of the Force “event” that launched ahead of The Force Awakens. 

As with that, the only thing of consequence here is the new/re-themed attraction, with everything else being fairly inconsequential. The meet & greets are nice, but meet & greets alone are not enough to make for an event.

Summer of Heroes Tips & Review

Unlike Season of the Force, there are flashes of something special here. When the background music roars as Black Widow rolls down Hollywood Land, or as the crowd dances during the Awesome Dance Off, the event takes on a really fun vibe, but these moments are fleeting. During them, you can briefly envision how a fully-fledged Marvel Land in this corner of the park will eventually feel, but the event itself does not sustain this atmosphere.

Instead, the bulk of Summer of Heroes at Disney California Adventure feels very much like a sloppy and half-hearted overlay, not offering enough of substance to even make it count as an event. (On the plus side(?), it’s relegated mostly to a corner of the Hollywood Backlot that is likewise half-baked, so at least it isn’t thematically intruding on any area of DCA that is worthwhile.) If Disney had chosen to go more ‘all-in’ on the event with more atmospheric entertainment and other experiences, this could have been something good. That probably would’ve been a wise move, particularly with the need to draw summer crowds away from Disneyland. As it stands, most guests will do Mission: BREAKOUT, watch the dance-off, meet Groot, and move on.

If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!

Your Thoughts

Do you agree or disagree with our opinion of Summer of Heroes at Disney California Adventure? What about our rope drop strategy? Have your own tips for minimizing waits at Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT? Any questions? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!

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