This summer, Disneyland’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California, will open its Avengers Campus to fans looking to live out their superhero dreams in a fully immersive land that mixes innovative technology with fun for the whole family.
“Our goal is to always deliver on adventure, immerse guests in story and really tap into guests’ imaginations,” Walt Disney Imagineering portfolio creative director Scot Drake told reporters at a recent preview event for the new land. “As Imagineers, we are always looking to push the envelope. And the stories that we’re telling are different than any stories that we have in our parks today.”
The land includes an exciting new attraction called WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, which will allow guests of all ages to sling webs just like the superhero.
“Since day one, we have been trying to figure out, how do we bring this land to life and not just bring it to life where you get to see your favorite heroes or you get to meet your favorite heroes, but where you actually get to become a hero?” said Imagineering executive creative director Brent Strong. “That is what Avengers Campus is all about. It’s about actually living out your superhero fantasies.”
WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure is set in a brand new address in the universe called the Worldwide Engineering Brigade, or WEB. At WEB, young inventors like Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man) have been brought together by Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) to help create technology to allow the average person to have powers like the Avengers. During an open house at WEB, Parker asks guests to wear 3D glasses and test drive their latest invention, the WEB Slinger vehicle.
“When we get inside [WEB], we find out that they’re not quite as well funded as Stark Enterprises, and they’re not quite as militaristic as S.H.I.E.L.D. — in fact, they’re not all that organized at all,” Strong said. “So one of their experiments, these adorable little Spider-Bots, have run amok. They are self-replicating, they’re devouring all of the technology at Peter Parker’s lab and they’re beginning to escape across the campus and overwhelm everyone’s favorite neighborhood hero Spider-Man so he calls on us to help. He cancels our open house and says we’re going to get in those Slinger vehicles and rather than going to the test range, we’re going to help catch some Spider-Bots.”
In order to help catch the bots, all guests need to do in the Slinger vehicles is reach out their hands exactly as Spider-Man would to sling a web thanks to new gesture-recognition technology.
“What you won’t see is people holding on to a blaster, people holding on to an interface,” Strong said. “Believe it or not, with nothing in your hands, you get to reach out, and you will sling webs on this ride.
“And in order to do that we created, reinvented a brand new interface that is a gesture recognition system that we have built into every slinger vehicle, and 60 times a second, we are able to determine where a guy’s head is, their shoulders, their elbows, and even their wrists. We’re able to track the motion of your body so that when you reach out and sling a web, we can render a virtual web coming right out of the palm of your hand and into a virtual world. While there’s a ton of technology to make that happen, it just feels like magic. It feels like being Spider-Man — and it’s a lot less painful than getting bit by a radioactive spider.”
Not only do the virtual webs allow guests to catch the Spider-Bots, they also allow them to interact with the environment.
“You can pull doors off of shipping containers, you can activate conveyor belts, you can grab onto things and move them around,” Strong said. “We’ve been designing this so your first time through, it’s easy and intuitive. But just like every Marvel film in the universe, we have built in a million easter eggs. There are so many fun things to discover along the way, layers and layers of gameplay for our diehard gamers, and layers and layers of fun for comic fans.”
Across the street from WEB SLINGERS, guests will be able to purchase their very own Spider-Bot sidekick (minus the self-replicating feature) from WEB Suppliers, a store offering swag and the latest products from the WEB inventors.
“We want everything in this land to feel like it is driven by the characters,” said Imagineering staff writer Jillian Pagan. “You’ll get to see in WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure the tech and everything that the WEB kids are working on that will empower all of us to become heroes. Their workshop is pretty messy, so once they have a finished prototype, it moves over to WEB Suppliers. So as you walk into the store, everything is going to look as though it was created by and for the WEB kids.”
According to Pagan, the WEB kids have made it possible to customize the Spider-Bots with some “tactical upgrades” inspired by Captain Marvel, Iron Man, Black Panther and others. The Spider-Bots are powered by remote control with eight articulated legs that move backward and forward and can be used to duel with friends.
Other items available at WEB Suppliers include a specially designed backpack to carry and show Spider-Bots when they are not in action, Spider-Man light goggles, a Spider-Man action figure that interacts with mini Spider-Bots, web-shooters, a take-home web-making kit and Funko Pop! vinyl figurines of Spider-Man and Iron Man.
Pagan also helped create the concept for the Pym Test Kitchen, a “food innovation science lab” where guests can take a break from their heroics and refuel with some tasty treats and drinks.
“Superheroes don’t normally open restaurants, but what they would do is use their technology to help the world,” Pagan said. “So that’s the story of our Pym Test Kitchen. Pym Test Kitchen is inspired by the world of Ant Man and the Wasp. In our story, they are using their shrinking and growing technology to create new innovations in food science because, of course, you can feed more people if you can run a normal sized pretzel through this quantum tunnel machine, hit it with some Pym particles and make it grow to a giant size. Our food and beverage team has done an amazing job at extending that storytelling to the food, so you will be able to actually purchase a giant pretzel.”
Adjacent to the Pym Test Kitchen is the Pym Tasting Lab, an outdoor seating area where guests can eat, grab a grown-up beverage from the menu of craft beers and speciality cocktails or enjoy the sights of some nearby activations featuring Marvel’s most famous superheroes. (Other food options include the Shawarma Palace and Terran Treats carts.)
As Dan Fields, the executive creative director of Disney Parks Live Entertainment, teased: “This is going to be the largest assembly of these heroes — anyplace, anytime, anywhere.”
While walking through the land, guests may be challenged to a dance off by Star-Lord and Gamora, or asked by Thor to hold his hammer. Guests may also meet Black Widow, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Groot, Iron Man, Black Panther and Loki as they roam around. In addition, guests can line up for a “heroic encounter” with Iron Man.
At the center of Avengers Campus, guests will be invited to join a special training session with General Okoye and Black Panther’s loyal bodyguards, the Dora Milaje. “We’re looking forward to our guests learning from the wisdom, as well as the strength, of these characters,” Fields said.
Meanwhile, at the Sanctum, guests will learn the secrets of the mystic arts from Doctor Strange.
On the roof of the WEB building, Spider-Man (wearing a parks-exclusive suit) will do gravity-defying flips before swinging down off the side of the building to say hi to those on the ground.
And what would the land be without some foes? The villainous Taskmaster, featured in the upcoming film Black Widow, will be seen for the first time at a Disney park at Avengers Campus. He’ll take on Avengers like Captain America, Black Panther and Black Widow in live-action sequences at the Avengers Headquarters, an iconic building at the heart of the land.
Disneyland’s Avengers Campus opens at Disneyland in summer 2020, and will open later at Disneyland Paris.
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