Ride Review: Disney's WEB Slingers, A Spider-Man Adventure

June 2, 2021, 10:02 PM · Theme park fans have been waiting years for this.

After two decades of making apples-to-oranges arguments about Disney versus Universal, now we finally have an opportunity to make a true, head-to-head comparison between the theme park industry's creative leaders. More than 20 years after Universal threw down with its Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Disney has made its own Spider-Man ride. Finally, we now have the opportunity to judge the two on equal terms.

Except... we still can't. Because it turns out that Disney did not build a Spider-Man ride, after all. Disney built a Peter Parker one.

Yes, WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure in Avengers Campus at Disney's California Adventure contains "Spider-Man" in its title. But this is very much Peter Parker's attraction. We are visiting the skunkworks of the Worldwide Engineering Brigade (the "WEB" in the attraction's title), where Peter Parker is helping train young engineers and scientists to outfit the next generation of superheroes.

It's Parker we meet at WEB's open house, where he starts to show off the team's new Spider-Bots - handy little companions for a superhero in battle. (Tom Holland reprises his role from the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the attraction's preshow.) In the MCU, Parker has struggled to master his mentor Tony Stark's technology, so WEB looks like a big win for Parker, as he comes into his own as a tech leader.

Except, much like Mickey Mouse screwing up in Yensid's workshop, out-of-control replication by the Spider-Bots leaves Peter Parker as Disney's latest hapless Sorcerer's Apprentice. Like Mickey, Parker refuses to call for his mentor, but unlike Mickey, he does not refuse to call for help at all.

Instead, Parker turns to us, asking visitors to help him neutralize the runaway tech, using WEB's new SLING//R vehicles. This sets up the interactive ride through the basements of WEB, where we will try to collect or destroy as many Spider-Bots as we can, using our newly bestowed web-slinging powers.

For that, Walt Disney Imagineering has developed some impressive new tech of its own - a motion-sensor system that uses your head, shoulder, upper body, and arm direction and movement to target video "webs" that will appear on the ride's 3D screens. It's brilliant - making for the easiest gameplay I have experienced on a shooter ride. (Granted, I am cross-dominant - right handed with a dominant left eye - so shooting traditional guns is always a bit of a challenge for me.)

Instructions

You're not just waving your arms at Spider-Bots, either. You can shoot webs at buttons and levers that trigger effects (such as lasers in the final scene) that can wipe out the bots. And if you flick your arm just right, you can catch a Spider-Bot then fling it to knock out others, like a bowling ball striking pins. There is no height limit on the ride, so even the littlest kids can participate.

Spider-Man will be there with you in the battle, too, but frankly, he's an afterthought. With your focus on hitting Spider-Bots, Spider-Man comes into play only in the Tivan scene, where you can win points for freeing him.

The progression of scenes here is a straight-up copy of Toy Story Midway Mania. The SLING//R vehicles sit groups of four back-to-back, moving you from screen to screen for gameplay. The ride offers four scenes: a Stark Industries storage hall, a Pym Labs sub-basement, a Tivan warehouse, and a Quinjet hangar. As on Midway Mania, cooperation will win you extra points as you work to clear groups of Spider-Bots. Working together to take down the big bots in the Pym and Quinjet scenes faster gets the car a higher score, too. Here is a highlight video, with a full POV of the preshow and ride embedded later in this piece.

Teamwork is a recurring theme in WEB Slingers. As you exit, the leaderboards do not display individual scores but only teams'. As I talk about in an interview with Walt Disney Imagineering Senior Concept Designer Casey Ging, the ride reinforces the lesson that advancement - in science, in engineering, and in designing and winning on theme park rides - does not happen alone but only when people work together.

Among the many innovations on WEB Slingers, I am most impressed by this - it's a superhero ride without a villain. Sure, you can play it as a fun game. But if you take a moment to think about it, you might see a lesson in the importance of working together to fix our mistakes. And the importance of asking for help in doing that.

Spider-Man does not save the day on Web Slingers. We do. And we were able to do that only because Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, asked for our help.

And now, we present our full on-ride POV video of the preshow and ride for WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure. Note that the ride's gameplay scenes are in 3D, so you will see them as blurry here if you don't have a handy pair of glasses at home.

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Replies (25)

June 2, 2021 at 10:35 PM

ALways hard to judge these by videos alone but still looks fun. I mean, pretty hard to top the genius of Universal's Spider-Man ride so going a different direction a fun concept and this does look entertaining enough.

June 2, 2021 at 10:38 PM

I've always written this attraction off as a "Midway Mania" copy and was never excited or really ever thought about it. However, after reading this and understanding it a bit more, it's encouraging to know that at least WED put some thought into it and it seems like it could be a fun experience.


Now if we could only still get that big scrapped E-ticket...

June 3, 2021 at 3:09 AM

A screen based filler attraction, in Disneyland. However at other Avenger Campuses in other parks, this screen based shooter will work and fit into the parks line up of attractions much better, as they don't have Toy Story Mania at all.

June 3, 2021 at 3:39 AM

Toy Spider Slingers Mania?

June 3, 2021 at 4:06 AM

In a park without an interactive dark ride, I think this one would be okay. However, with Toy Story Midway Mania across the park, a very similar ride that looks to be around half the length just doesn't cut it, especially one that appears to be completely devoid of atmosphere. Perhaps it's better in person, so I'll reserve judgment until after I eventually ride it, but based on the video it appears to be not only the weakest of the three dark rides opening in So Cal this year, but possibly at the bottom of the list overall.

June 3, 2021 at 6:26 AM

I will reserve final judgement until I ride it, but I am not looking forward to it, it seems dull and the whole hand gesture thing just doesn't entice me at all.

This will work to draw a lot of people in... but for me the more of this (and the online only queues) the less I will want to go to a Disney park again

June 3, 2021 at 6:26 AM

I will reserve final judgement until I ride it, but I am not looking forward to it, it seems dull and the whole hand gesture thing just doesn't entice me at all.

This will work to draw a lot of people in... but for me the more of this (and the online only queues) the less I will want to go to a Disney park again

June 3, 2021 at 8:21 AM

Where's the music and background sound? Was the attraction not running all of its systems during this POV? I'm sure there will be some extra sound when the attraction is fully loaded with excited guests, but without any sort of sound or music at least between the scenes, the experience feel soulless. It would be incredibly disappointing if Disney did not learn their lesson from Galaxy's Edge and even extended their thirst for "immersion" by pulling background music from attractions.

Also, I know they didn't have a lot of space to work with here, but this ride seems incredibly short, and by the time guests get used to the controls, the ride is over. Considering that guests will only get one shot at this ride each day for the foreseeable future, I just don't see this ride stoking the flames of competition that is essential to make these shooting gallery attractions popular.

June 3, 2021 at 10:37 AM

Wow, this is more pathetic than I'd feared. It's literally Midway mania, moving from one screen to the next with almost zero theming. Wii in a spinning chair. And wow, no MCU characters to speak of? And the only character is a straight white man?

At least when they rebuilt Star Tours as Smuggler's Run they spent some money on the surrounding ride. This is some middle of the mall nonsense. Did they bring back Mike Eisner to help design this ride?

Sad, to say the least. Guardian's Breakout was better by itself, this half-assed land only serves to drag it down, as if California Adventure needed another dead zone.

June 3, 2021 at 11:06 AM

@thecolonel - I agree. It seems that the design of the vehicle, which really forces what guests can and cannot see in the attraction, allowed Imagineers to be lazy in terms of theming. Most dark rides have to be themed 360 degrees (or at least 270 degrees) to account for guests turning around and using their peripheral vision. These ride vehicles completely remove a guest's peripheral vision on the ride, allowing designers to forgo all those additional props and effects that act as Easter eggs for guests looking beyond what's right in front of their face. I'll say that the flow is a lot better than TSMM (though I wonder what happens if there's a technical issue that causes holding/stacking), but it had to be since the conceit of TSMM is that you are physically in a video game moving from screen to screen while WEB Slingers is supposed to be a "real" mission through the different areas of Avengers CAMPUS.

June 3, 2021 at 11:09 AM

Come to our super expensive mall and ride our awesome new VR experience!!!!!

Bland. Men In Black: Alien Attack brings more to the table.

June 3, 2021 at 11:26 AM

I’m going to wait to ride it in person, until I decide if I like it or not. It’s hard to tell from a video online. Things are always much better in person. But I’m sure once I’m on it...it’ll be cool.

Let’s also not forget that the main attraction in Avengers Campus will be the Avengers ride (whenever it opens). This is only phase 1. When the Avengers ride opens in phase 2, that’ll be the main draw to the land. Mission Breakout is also pretty great.

All I’m saying is I’m going to wait to ride it in person, before I judge the attraction. I hope everyone at least gives it a chance.

June 3, 2021 at 12:26 PM

1:51 of the video.
Peter Parker: Don't call Mr. Stark!
Me, in my head: 'Cause Mr. Stark is dead.

4:17 of the video.
Also me, in my head: Wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man! Wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man!

Seriously, though. It's looks pretty fun.

June 3, 2021 at 11:58 AM

I like the innovation of being able to use your body for the shooting aspect. This looks like it has a lot of re-rideability.

June 3, 2021 at 1:31 PM

Like others have said, this really is like Toy Story Midway Mania, but instead of going from game to game, you go from warehouse bay to warehouse bay. I was expecting more of an immersive environment that you travel through, but instead you go from screen to screen with the conceit that they are doors that open to reveal the environment beyond, then the doors conveniently shut back closed so you can move to the next door, kind of lame.

Knott's Beary Tales, which takes you through an actual environment, looks way better than this. I would rate this a C Ticket, below Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run, at least there you feel like you're really on the Falcon.

As for the pre-show, it's obvious that Peter Parker is on a screen, for one thing, he's lit with flat lighting, while the rest of the room is lit with ambient or indirect lighting. The best application of a character on a screen is Kylo Ren in the interrogation holding cell of Rise of the Resistance, that looks pretty convincing, with the 'real' shadows on the floor.

June 3, 2021 at 1:12 PM

Got to agree with you, Disfan. The best theme park attractions immerse you in places you really want to be! I've never found myself daydreaming about being in a Utilidor. It feels like a really lazy conceit and utterly fails to hide the fact that we're looking at screens.

June 3, 2021 at 1:26 PM

Will, some people would think it's great to go through the Utilidors at WDW. So to some, maybe this would be like going 'backstage'.

June 3, 2021 at 1:40 PM

If they used the score from the movies it’s probably be property of Sony Music and Disney wouldn’t want it on any online videos. Universal couldn’t even get the Men In Black score for the Alien Attack which is why the ride’s music similar but legally distinct to Elfman

June 3, 2021 at 4:03 PM

Disfan, LOL. I stand corrected. However, once they got a sniff of your basic Utilidor they'd prefer to web swing out in the fresh air.

June 3, 2021 at 5:09 PM

While it leaves you looking ridiculous, the arm-waving gameplay here actually makes this my favorite interactive ride from purely the perspective of hitting targets. The AI assist from the motion sensor system helps overcome the clunkiness of a lot of dark-ride shooter devices. It's just fun.

As for the rest of the attraction, yeah.... The preshow starts well, but the theme of driving through a gentrified building's sub-basements does not exactly scream "Disney magic," does it?

June 3, 2021 at 5:15 PM

I have to agree with most replies on here without even looking to ride this at all nor have any interest. I'd rather hit Toy Story Mania than this. Shame that Avengers with all the hype and characters that they squish into this small space of land. I thought they'd expand much more of a land behind Guardians ride. Unless that will be used for a Tron coaster if it ever happens. Much too late but could it have been better with a possible Avengers stage show?

June 3, 2021 at 8:58 PM

To everyone on here, remember the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I highly doubt anyone on here has even ridden it yet. Yes, it looks very similar to other rides, but give it a chance, before judging it. I mean, many of Universal rides are similar. Universal has several attractions which are interactive 3D type rides. No one seems to criticize that. All I’m say is give it a chance, before you judge. Who knows...you may end up liking it?

June 3, 2021 at 9:41 PM

@Russell-

The vehicle has guests seated on both sides, so technically it is 360 for the guests overall, except for the very front and back view.

It's kind of a shame that this land is opening so poorly. One d-ticket with the world's most popular superhero and one of the country's best dark rides with the same hero at Disney's rival company's park. (Not sure if that sentence made sense but y'all get the point) I definitely agree with Robert that the Disney Magic is missing. Even it being a copycat ride of another ride at the same park, it should feel differently and have that sort of magic. TSMM has that magic but Web Slingers feels so... corporate. It feels just like how GOTGMB was made. Executives wanted Marvel in the parks in the cheapest way possible and put the Imagineers to do a job where they are limited not only by money but by the confines of what was preexisting. While GOTG was fun, it was made to use the same building as TOT. If TOT never existed, GOTGMB would never of existed. If It's Tough to be a Bug never existed, I wonder what other Marvel ride would have existed. Yes, the size of the land is small, but Imagineers are creative. If they couldn't create something entirely new, then the least they could've done was make the attraction with Disney Magic.

June 4, 2021 at 1:22 PM

@Postcott - Riders sit back to back (a la TSMM) in rows of 4 (8 people per car), but cannot see what's behind them - the guests facing the opposite direction. Also, because of the motion-sensing technology for web slinging, they are seated further back in the vehicle/box than you do on most dark rides, further limiting your peripheral vision. It's a forced perspective/tunnel vision that deliberately and significantly limits what guests can see in the attraction beyond what's directly in front of the vehicle. It's kind of similar to what Disney did on MFSR, where guests can only view through the cockpit windows (significantly impacted by which row within the cockpit you're sitting). However, at least on the Falcon, there's some interesting stuff to see and do inside the ride vehicle/cockpit.

This conceit of riding through a dark ride inside of a shoebox allowed Imagineers to skimp on additional theming and effects that would be essential on rides where guests can see 360-degrees around their vehicle. It's not the first time Disney has done this - Haunted Mansion uses the shape of the Doom Buggies to force riders to look at specific scenes at given times, but you can often sneak a peak beyond the confines of the vehicle and see elements throughout the attraction that are still fully themed.

For me, this forced perspective decreases the depth and re-rideability of the attraction, because if you get bored of what's happening on the screen, there's nothing else to look at. On attractions I've ridden dozens of times, I really like to look around (beyond the 180-210 degrees of stuff directly ahead). I particularly enjoy looking for Easter eggs that are "hidden" from the average guest's view. I even like looking at the mechanisms driving the attraction (like the base of the Kuka Arms traveling down the track on HPFJ where you can sometimes spot some interesting shaped props or the elevator on Transformers where you can see Ravage lunging from the rafters). Aside from a few glimpses of the ride track, even if you could look beyond the confines for your vehicle, it doesn't look like there would be much to see.

Also, I'd still like to know why Disney thought it was a good idea to not have any sort of musical soundtrack for this ride, or if perhaps media day/VIP on-ride videos were taken without the attraction running this critical element.

June 5, 2021 at 4:55 AM

Sounds like a dud to me. While not terrible, given the popularity of Spider-Man and the fantastic ride the character already has, a Toy Story Mania ride not far from Toy Story Mania doesn’t cut it. And with Pandora, Carland and Galaxy’s Edge, we know Disney’s capable. Hopefully they do add a true E ticket Avengers attraction. Because overall Avengers campus currently looks Iike a prototype. Except for the Spider-Man robot.

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