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Disney California Adventure rolls out Black Panther foods and experiences

Disney California Adventure rolls out Black Panther foods and experiences

Disney California Adventure Park has unveiled a series of new Black Panther experiences coinciding with the release of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which garnered an estimated $180 million in its opening weekend.

The Black Panther experiences, which launched Friday, Nov. 11, extend to other parts of the resort with a new mural installation in the Downtown Disney District by artist Nikkolas Smith.

Flavors of Wakanda inside Disney California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA, on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Flavors of Wakanda inside Disney California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA, on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

“Wakanda is a beacon of hope and inspiration to millions because of its world-class technological advancements and the ingenuity and determination of its people,” said Nikkolas Smith in a release. “The mural ‘Forever Ever’ is inspired by these themes, which are also present in the picture book ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: The Courage to Dream,’ created by myself and Frederick Joseph. It is a reminder to children everywhere that no obstacle in their way is immovable, and no dream is unreachable.”

The Wakanda activations will last through Jan. 8, but Michael Serna, executive creative director at Disney Live Entertainment, believes that the Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure will experience a myriad of Black Panther stories in the coming years.

Michael Serna, executive creative director at Disney Live Entertainment and the project lead for the "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" celebration at Disney California Adventure, poses in front of the Black Panther Celebration Garden in Avengers Campus. (Photo by Jenn Tanaka)
Michael Serna, executive creative director at Disney Live Entertainment and the project lead for the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” celebration at Disney California Adventure, poses in front of the Black Panther Celebration Garden in Avengers Campus. (Photo by Jenn Tanaka)

“It’s super important here, around Avengers Campus, and around the Disney Resort that we get the sense of Wakanda coming to our world, and visiting us here, on the campus,” Serna says. “Most importantly, Black Panther will be appearing here for the first time. So we’ll have a great arrival moment where we’re welcoming her to the campus. Throughout the day, we have a lot of Wakanda activations. The Dora Milaje, ‘Warriors of Wakanda” experience, which we’ve had for a few years now.”

Serna is looking forward to “The Way of the Jabari” experience, which will introduce M’Baku, chieftain of the Jabari Tribe, to guests for the first time at the Quad in the Avengers Campus.

“M’Baku is one of my favorite characters from the first film and hopefully you’ll love him in the second film,” says Serna. “He’s going to appear for the first time in a show we’re calling the ‘Ways of the Jabari’ … [in which] he teaches us the ways of the spirit of the Jabari — what they’re about, how they’re different from the rest of the Wakandans. I think guests are going to love the experience of meeting M’Baku for the first time and interacting with him.”

The essence of Wakanda continues with new food offerings at Flavors of Wakanda, located in the Disney California Adventure Hollywood Backlot. The pan-African flavors include peri-peri chicken with jollof rice, a peanut stew called Maafe, and a colorful Dawa beverage with butterfly pea-infused tea lemonade. Shawarma Palace and Shawarma Palace Too also started offering a Wakandan roasted pork wrap with black garlic sauce.

“The Disney California Adventure Park culinary team conducted research on traditional and current popular African cuisine to craft the menu for Flavors of Wakanda,” said Jeremiah Balogh, Disneyland Resort culinary director, in a release. “The flavorful peri-peri chicken and Maafe soup are commonly served in regions of Africa, and foodies will find new favorites in these authentic flavors.”

Peri-Peri chicken with yellow Jollof rice available at Avengers Campus Marketplace: Flavors of Wakanda inside Disney California Adventure Park. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Peri-Peri chicken with yellow Jollof rice available at Avengers Campus Marketplace: Flavors of Wakanda inside Disney California Adventure Park. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

New drinking vessels such as Shuri’s gauntlet and a Wakanda-inspired oversize Coca-Cola are also available for purchase. A new collection of new Black Panther-inspired merchandise features woven dolls, apparel, MagicBand+, WEB Tech, and jewelry such as a Black Panther: World of Wakanda necklace accented with black Swarokski crystals.

For fans of the new movie, a must-see, under-the-radar place to visit is the Super Store featuring Avengers Campus located in Hollywood Land where props and costumes from the film are on display.The studio’s input was integral for Serna and his team to get the experience right for guests.

“We work really closely with the studio,” says Serna. “The studio has been amazing at helping us understand the stories they want to tell and where we’re headed in the films. So what we really wanted to do is have the emotional content and the excitement of a new Black Panther arriving in Wakanda. But also the ability to celebrate Black Panther as a cultural icon and what this Celebration Garden is about. It’s about celebrating all the Black Panthers.”

Emma Beelner and Cara Hu stand for a picture in front of the Black Panther Celebration Garden in Disney California Adventure Park. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Emma Beelner and Cara Hu stand for a picture in front of the Black Panther Celebration Garden in Disney California Adventure Park. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

In this seating area, guests should also pay attention to the details around them.

“Here there are a lot of ‘Easter eggs,’” Serna says. “If you look around you’ll see some of the Wakanda writing, and if you do some translations, you’ll see why these are important. They all have some significance as to why they belong there.”

Jackson Tisor, 6, poses in front of the Black Panther Celebration Garden in Disney California Adventure Park. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Jackson Tisor, 6, poses in front of the Black Panther Celebration Garden in Disney California Adventure Park. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

From the reflective atmosphere to the new character interactions, it was important for Serna and his team to complete this project in a thoughtful way. They had six months and worked closely with the Marvel Entertainment Company.

“We’re big fans of Black Panther and Wakanda ourselves, so we were hungry to see how we could bring this to life,” adds Serna. “The Taste of Wakanda and the aesthetic of how it would fit is super important. Afro-futurism is a big part of it. Then, the storytelling: What is at the core of what we do as Wakandans. The M’Baku show in general is about how we as a family become stronger together. So it’s not about individual heroic strength but how we as a group, a tribe as a people, are stronger together.”

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