Hong Kong’s All New Ant-Man and the Wasp Ride Synopsis and Review

Marvel’s superheroes are coming to Disney Parks around the globe, and the newest edition came this past week with Disneyland Hong Kong’s newest attraction, “Ant-Man and the Wasp – Nano Battle!” The new experience uses the same ride system as “Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters”, which permanently closed its doors last year to make way for the new Marvel attraction. By looking at the ride’s story, placement, and technology – it can give us ideas at what to expect with the upcoming Marvel Land at Disney California Adventure Park.

STORY AND THEMING OVERVIEW:

The attraction is located in Hong Kong’s Tomorrowland, right next to the already existing ride, “Iron Man Experience”. With more and more Marvel offerings on the horizon, it’s just a matter of time before that corner of the park officially changes its name to reflect the superhero theming.

The facade of both attractions, and the surrounding areas, are themed as if S.H.I.E.L.D. built a base in the heart of Hong Kong, with both attractions’ stories firmly set in the Asian country. In terms of the Ant-Man and the Wasp attraction, the story is that HYDRA is trying to steal the arc reactor at STARK Tower, and Iron Man enlists the help of Ant-Man, Wasp, and us, to defend a data core being held at Stark Expo. Pretty much all of this information is portrayed in the queue and pre-show, which snakes through the highly S.H.I.E.L.D.-themed base.

While there are many physical sets and props to look, most of the key information is given to guests through the implementation of screens, which feature the acting likes of Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Robert Downey Jr.

In terms of the Ant-Man and the Wasp attraction, the story is that HYDRA is trying to steal the arc reactor at STARK Tower, and Iron Man enlists the help of Ant-Man, Wasp, and us, to defend a data core being held at Stark Expo. Pretty much all of this information is portrayed in the queue and pre-show, which snakes through the highly S.H.I.E.L.D.-themed base.

While there are many physical sets and props to look, most of the key information is given to guests through the implementation of screens, which feature the acting likes of Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Robert Downey Jr.

Once on the ride, guests will quickly realize the similarities to its predecessor. The ride vehicles are simply a more slick version of the omnimover style shooters that were present with the old Buzz Lightyear attraction. What does make a big difference, however, is that the shooters guests use now has a much easier aiming and target system, giving a more streamlined look at how they are doing, with more physical cues when they hit a target.

In terms of the actual ride, there are several interesting sets that guests go through while defending the SHIELD base. After about two rooms, we shrink down to ant size, and are immediately greeted by Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly staring at our tiny bodies. From that point, most of the sets are themed to a very techy aesthetic, with heavy reliance on screens to portray any type of movement or story elements. Although many of the sets are visually stimulating, the ride doesn’t feature a single animatronic.

REVIEW AND CLUES:

There are several pros and cons to the newest Disney parks attraction. Personally, what’s most exciting to me is the amount of synergy the ride’s story has. Not only is it an Ant-Man and the Wasp attraction, but it is set inside a SHIELD base, deals with Iron Man, and features a Captain America Villain. What makes the Marvel Cinematic Universe so special, is the amount of crossover between properties, so the fact that the theme parks are leaning into that too is very cool.

Beyond that though, unfortunately, I was underwhelmed with the ride’s final product. Judging by the intense concept art, I was really looking forward to dynamic scenes that put guests right in the middle of the very unique settings only Ant-Man and the Wasp can deliver – but instead, we got a clear re-skin of a fifteen year old attraction, that is highly reliant on screens. Although there were definite updates to the ride system, for the most part, it felt like a lackluster “new” attraction.

In many ways, the new Ant-Man and Wasp ride feels similar to “Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout” in California. Both attractions are Marvel re-themes of already existing rides, that rely heavily on screens to tell their stories. The bright side to Guardians, however, is the beautiful Rocket animatronic in the pre-show, and the fun show that ties into the attractions story that takes place outside the facade.

If this trend continues, the amount of immersivity that we can expect from future Marvel lands or Marvel themed attractions is fairly bleak. The attractions that do exist absolutely are fun and competent, but don’t seem to be anywhere near the level of storytelling that something like “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” promises to have.

There is hope, however, because Disney has not yet built a Marvel attraction from scratch. Within the next couple years, there will be a fully original Spider-Man themed ride in California, and an all new Guardians of the Galaxy themed roller coaster in Orlando’s EPCOT.

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If you enjoyed that extremely nerdy and specific article, feel free to check out the Disney Deconstructed Podcast, where myself and two other ridiculous humans discuss this topic in a more free flowing fashion.