Inside the Tech of Avengers Campus

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June 17, 2021

We channeled our inner Spider-Man to experience the super cool new Avengers Campus. We got Spidey’s powers aboard WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure (which we rode three times for good measure) and chatted with Brent Strong, Executive Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering, about the tech behind the land for our “Inside the Tech” series. 

Check out the video, or read the full interview below:

1. What was your role on Avengers Campus?

I had the extreme pleasure of getting to work on Avengers Campus — from its first day as a note card (just an idea!), all the way now to opening day, and getting to see guests experience it for the first time.

2. What’s the guest experience on WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure?

It’s a brand new attraction here at Disney California Adventure Park in Avengers Campus, where guests of all ages are able to sling webs just like Spider-Man and help him save Avengers Campus.

3. What technology powers the attraction?

One of the goals was to really make our guests feel like heroes, to actually give them superpowers. So in order to do that, we created a fully interactive attraction with real-time media. And we created a brand new gesture-tracking interface that allows every guest to sling webs without wearing any devices. All you have to do is swing your arm out, and a web seems to appear right from your wrist.

4. What were some unique challenges? 

In making the interface disappear, there were a lot of unique challenges. We realized that everybody slings webs slightly differently. So we did hours and months and years of play testing to figure out the right way to detect a gesture, to know where they wanted a web to go. And to make this experience as intuitive as possible.

5. How does technology play a role in the story?

One element of the narrative here at Avengers Campus that’s really exciting is that technology gets to play a starring role. The building that we’re in right now is the Worldwide Engineering Brigade (WEB). And it’s not just celebrating people with superpowers. It’s also celebrating inventors, it’s celebrating innovators, it’s celebrating the people who make the tools that can equip the superheroes. And so when you look around this room, it is a workshop. It’s inspired by places like R&D at Imagineering. It’s inspired by high school robotics labs. And it really is celebrating that innovative side. And it’s wonderful to get to not only create these innovative technologies, but also be able to showcase them and really be able to celebrate the people behind them.

6. What do WEB Power Bands unlock on the attraction?

Every guest who rides the attraction gets that experience to sling webs just like Spider-Man. But we know that every single guest has a different hero that’s their favorite. So we’ve actually created a brand new line of products called WEB Tech. They’re wearable accessories that let you role-play as your favorite hero. For example, you can put on an Iron Man-inspired repulsor. And the ride vehicle will actually see which gauntlet you’re wearing, and switch your power set accordingly. So instead of swinging webs, you can now be firing repulsor beams.

7. What technology enables guests to change their powers on the attraction?

The WEB Tech Power Band really uses the exact same interface that we’re using for the gesture tracking. We have an array of cameras that are on board the ride system that are measuring exactly how you’re posed 60 times a second. We know where your head is, where your shoulders are, where your elbows are, and your wrist. And we can even detect which gauntlet you’re wearing. So really, without the guests having to touch anything or configure anything, all they have to do is gesture and the system takes care of the rest.

8. How do guests experience Spider-Man outside the attraction?

One of the things that was really important is making sure that when guests come to Avengers Campus, they get to see their favorite heroes in epic action. For example, you’re not only able to see Spider-Man, you’re not only able to meet Spider-Man, but Spider-Man also does amazing acrobatics on top of the WEB building. So you’ll see him up there tumbling, flipping, doing all sorts of things that are humanly possible. But we also wanted to do a few things that were only super humanly possible. And so using advanced technologies from our R&D group, we actually have the ability for Spider-Man to leap 85 feet into the air, doing multiple flips, before landing and descending down to ground level to meet with our guests.

9. What do you like most about WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure?

I think my favorite element is just that first moment of slinging a web. We’ve all seen the movies, we’ve read the comic books, we’ve seen the TV shows. And I grew up running around pretending like I could sling webs. But to actually have that moment where you do the gesture, and the webs appear…is magical!

10. What are you most proud of on the attraction?

I’m most proud of the teamwork that went into building it. You know, every time the Avengers have a bigger and bigger challenge, the way that they persevere is with a bigger and bigger team. And that’s absolutely been true for the making of Avengers Campus as well. It’s taken so many talented artists and inventors and craftsmen to come together to create this environment for our guests, for our recruits, and to help inspire them. And I think every time I see all of those diverse talents coming together, not only does it remind me of the heroes, but it also makes me proud to be an Imagineer.

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