With Disneyland’s highly anticipated Avengers Campus now open, the un-caped, un-super powered, and un-ripped masses finally have the opportunity to join the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – if only for a day. The first step toward becoming authentically superheroic comes in the form of Web Slingers, a brand-new half-ride-half-game experience that sees you team up with Spider-Man to save the day. However, while it will more than likely provide some degree of fun for the whole family (even the very little ones), thrill chasers and video game enthusiasts may find Web Slingers’ hybrid approach a bit lacking on both fronts.
Situated near the entrance of the Avengers Campus and just beyond a very cool Spider-mural credited to Miles Morales, the Web Slingers ride queue is full of Easter eggs sure to delight Marvel fans who look for them. The concept is that Web Slingers is a collaboration between Stark Industries and Pym Labs where young geniuses let their inventive minds run wild. Outside of the main building, plaques are dedicated to the likes of Lunella Lafayette (aka Moon Girl), Harley Keener (who you might remember as Tony’s little buddy from Iron Man 3), and Wakandan engineering prodigy Onome. Inside are diagrams with formulas taken directly from the MCU’s Spider-Man movies which may or may not hold the secret to web fluid.
Before hitting up the boarding line, the MCU’s own Peter Parker, Tom Holland, sets the scene via a screen behind what appears to be a messy lab. Peter’s latest experiments are some very cute little robotic spiders that, wouldn’t you know it, come with a self-replicating capability that quickly sees them multiply beyond control. Instead of calling Iron Man (who is alive, apparently, indicating that the ride takes place either outside of the official MCU canon or sometime before the events of Endgame), Peter gets his buddy (wink, wink) Spider-Man on the case. After walking past some lockers with the names of other lab workers (including Miles once again) and some Stark Industries employee time cards (with the clock permanently reading 6:16 in a nod to Marvel’s Earth-616), you board the narrow vehicles that take you through the ride.
Each cart is designed to fit about four passengers, but could comfortably fit five. Along a winding track, the cart slowly stops at various screens that, with the help of some special 3D glasses, quickly fill with runaway robots. Your job is to quickly and forcefully extend your arms toward the bots in Spider-Man’s patented THWIP motion, which then magically sends a web shooting from your hand into the screen that (fingers crossed) takes down the bot and doesn’t accidentally hit some other piece of lab equipment.
Before you’re truly able to appreciate or examine the mechanic, you realize you need to be pumping your arms a LOT in order to catch as many bots as possible due to your amusing but frustrating initial lack of accuracy. My companions and I were laughing with glee at the silliness and frantic pace demanded of our arms while four screens embedded in the vehicle dashboards kept track of our overall scores. After further inspection, it becomes clear that some spider bot color variations are worth significantly more points than others, but I didn’t really feel like I had the time to hunt for the most valuable ones. This information also would have been helpful to know before entering the ride, and I hope Disney considers adding it somewhere in the line queue where, on busy days, riders will definitely be looking for something to stare at to kill time.
After about five minutes, four or five screens, a pair pretty hilarious of boss fights where your team must join forces to take out a few giant spiders, and what feels like a medium-strenuous upper body cardio workout, individual and team scores are tallied and you exit the vehicles to scoreboards displaying both the hour’s and the day’s highest scores. The immediate gamer instinct, of course, is to repeat the ride with your newfound knowledge in an attempt to top the leaderboard. However, unless you are able to fill out a full four-person vehicle with competitive types (I was only in a group of three), a top spot may seem unreachable…without some enhancements.
To no one’s surprise, a cart directly outside Web Slingers is there to provide you with web shooter upgrades. A base model Web Power Band and four options for secondary extensions (including an Iron Man-themed option) will cost you about $60 if you buy both. For research purposes, I purchased the enhancements and was able to more than double my personal score with some new nifty-looking electrified and seemingly higher scoring webs, despite the new hunks of plastic feeling pretty uncomfortable on my arm. I rode by myself this time around, and while it was nice to see my score go up, it wasn’t nearly as fun as riding with friends, nor was I anywhere close to cracking the overall leaderboard. I also had the benefit of visiting the park on a preview day with little to no line, so riding again was very easy. But for the average rider, the prospect of waiting in a long line, paying about half the price of a ticket to California Adventure for a few plastic upgrades, and waiting in another long line to play again may not be very appealing. (Though it’s nice to give your arms a break between runs.)