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When Avengers Campus, the new Marvel-themed land at Disney California Adventure, opens on July 18, we're all finally going to be able to live like Peter Parker. (And no, we don't mean all that embarrassing high school stuff.)
Disney at long last confirmed that Tom Holland will be reprising his iconic role within the new family-friendly WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, which combines rich, interactive play with making your radioactive spider-enhanced dreams a reality.
The gist of the story — how Peter Parker, a steadfast New Yorker, wound up in a California theme park — is tied to an engineering collective of young inventors dubbed WEB that work out of the old Stark Automotives warehouse. Utilizing vibranium, Pym Particles, and even Arc Reactors to create new tech for everyday people (that's us) to battle baddies like superheroes (Spider-Man), things go awry on our tour of the facility and we're tasked with helping capture their Spider-Bot inventions, which are multiplying and malfunctioning.
It's a long road to walk to explain why we're all going to inevitably come here: because, at long last, we can finally sling webs just like Peter Parker. And no, not pretend ones DIY'd with Silly String or plastic ones that simply look the part, but real (virtual) Spidey webs, seemingly shot straight from our veins without the aid of a device.
It's made possible by a patentable innovative technology specifically adapted for the attraction — and prototyped for two years — that will make it look and feel seamless.
"We didn't want it to feel like this technology has the power to sling webs, we want you to feel like you have the power to sling webs," Brent Strong, executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, explained. "Everything that we've been doing has been about developing an interface that ... when you actually get in there and start playing, you forget that it exists. You're just slinging webs."
Early artwork begs comparison to something like LEGOLAND's Ninjago the Ride, but the level of control asserted within this interface is much more dynamic. Instead of running your hand over a built-in sensor, you are the sensor, complete with the ability to move your upper body freely thanks to a brand-new gesture recognition system developed by Walt Disney Imagineering. The vehicle pulls locational data on your head, shoulders, elbows, and wrists 60 times per second, triangulating your position repeatedly for a seamless experience.
Not only will those virtual webs render quickly, you'll also have unprecedented control of them, with the ability to completely interact with the settings you see on screen — not just toss webs at the wall willy-nilly.
While the attraction will blend physical and virtual sets, the locations we'll "visit" on board, like Pym Laboratory, Avengers Headquarters, and the basement of Taneleer Tivan's collection — home to the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! attraction — are built to look and feel like actual spaces. "The interface itself is so intuitive that as you start to play, as you're starting to capture these spider bots, you almost can't help but find some of these little hidden cubbies, hidden doors, levers, things to pull that trigger amazing effects in the space," Strong explained. "Those Spider-Bots get into the collector's warehouse and well, on the attraction, you go up; on WEB SLINGERS, you go down."
Filled with crazy artifacts (aka: a bonanza of Marvel easter eggs), there'll be plenty to focus on beyond the frenetic robots. A quantum tunnel could be turned on or a famed artifact — like, hypothetically, Mjolnir —could be snatched up by your webs. "We brought every trick we had to the table to create this ride," Strong said.
For an attraction like this — one that, like it or not, will instantly be juxtaposed against Universal Orlando's award-winning The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man attraction — finding a crowd-pleasing balance can be tricky, especially when all ages are allowed on board. Disney will appeal to novices and experts alike by creating gameplay that's as pleasing to first-time riders as it is to Disneyland Resort's annual passholders itching to perfect their game.
"One of the things that's really tricky and amazing in designing this is [that] we need to make sure these rides ... are intuitive the first time you experience them, that they work for guests of all ages, all technical and gamer proficiencies," Strong remarked. "Sling a web, stop the spider bot — that's all you gotta know, and it's very easy play. That being said, we are tracking your score as you play and ... you'll realize that some Spider-Bots are actually worth more than others."
For anyone wondering how to make it atop the public scoreboard four months before this attraction opens, kudos; here's how to do it. Each web-slingin' scene will be packed with Spider-Bots scurrying and duplicating, but they'll give indicators as to how much they're worth. Grab one while it's lit up in bright red for bonus points, hit one when it turns blue just before self-replicating and you'll receive a bigger bonus, and sling one when it's explosive and green and you'll rack up an even bigger bonus than that. Keep your eyes peeled for those elusive heat shield Bots — which are golden, of course — and you'll walk away with a stockpile of points, but even more hidden features can be discovered once serious gamers finally step on board this summer.
"For our diehard fans, our repeat players, we've given them clues — you know, breadcrumbs to find all of those layers of gameplay — and there are tons of hidden secrets in every level, every moment. It's really trying to optimize your play," Strong said.
Look to whiteboard scrawls and scattered notes for references to Squirrel Girl and Moon Girl, and a built-in ethos of camaraderie within the game that rewards teamwork.
How fitting, after all, for an Avengers-themed land.