Hong Kong Disneyland’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Nano Battle
AllEars® Guest Columnist
This article appeared in the June 18, 2019 Issue #1030 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
Editor’s Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.
Who needs Buzz Lightyear when you have Ant-Man and the Wasp? That’s the question Hong Kong Disneyland decided to ask when they replaced their version of the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride with a new Hong Kong Disneyland exclusive ride called Ant-Man and the Wasp: Nano Battle!, which opened on March 31 of this year.
As I was arranging a business trip to China, I decided that I needed to stop by Hong Kong for a night to check out this new ride. I was already a big fan of their Iron Man ride (which I described shortly after its opening in the article located here) and was anxious to see what they did with their second Marvel super-hero attraction.
Like the Iron Man ride, Nano Battle is located in Tomorrowland, in an area of the land that they are now dubbing ‘Asia’s Marvel Hub’. One of the unique things that Disney has done here is to directly tie the Nano Battle storyline to the story of the Iron Man ride. As a refresher, the backstory for this area of the park is that Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) is holding a Stark Expo at Hong Kong Disneyland (similar to the one held during the film Iron Man 2). Prior to the opening of this new ride, you would pass the Expo souvenir store, followed by an entrance into the Tech Showcase where you can meet Iron Man himself, and then on to the main Expo (which is the building containing the Iron Man ride). Now S.H.I.E.L.D., an ‘innovation partner’ of Tony Stark’s, has joined the party by opening a Science and Technology Pavilion as part of the Expo, located right across from the souvenir store.
While Iron Man (in his own ride) is dealing with Hydra attempting to steal an arc reactor in downtown Hong Kong, Hydra also attacks the S.H.I.E.L.D. pavilion, sending an army of Swarmbots to steal the data core, which contains all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s top secret research. Since Iron Man is otherwise occupied, he calls on Ant-Man and the Wasp to handle things back at the Expo.
The bad guy behind the attack is Arnim Zola, who you might remember from the first two Captain America movies. Zola was a Swiss scientist working for Hydra during World War II. When he received a diagnosis that he was dying in the ’70s, he transferred his consciousness into a computer system. He died at the end of the second movie, but I guess he wasn’t as dead as we thought. Toby Jones was the actor who portrayed Zola in the movies, and he reprises his role for this ride.
As you enter the repurposed, used-to-be Buzz-Lightyear building, you pass a desk that someone clearly abandoned in a hurry, as there are papers scattered across the desk, an unfinished cup of coffee, and a plate with some sort of food item on it that I suspect is an egg tart, since Ant-Man mentions egg tarts a couple of times during the ride as a recurring joke. The desk’s owner also spilled coffee on some of the papers as he or she was leaving, further indicating that all is not right in the world of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Above the desk are various video monitors, showing the pavilion’s employees in various forms of hurried activities. And on the central monitor we see communications taking place between S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist Leslie Lam, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Iron Man (communicating remotely from downtown Hong Kong where he is dealing with Hydra in his own ride).
Through their conversation, they set up the story of the ride, explaining the Hydra attack and attempt to steal the data core. In addition to Ant-Man and the Wasp jumping in to help out, they’ve identified some volunteers (that’s us) to help fight the ‘bots.
As we move into the next room, we see walls lined with various weapons and equipment, and our heroes (Ant-Man and the Wasp) are on monitors speaking directly to us to give us our instructions.
While in these two preshow rooms, we find out that we will be boarding S.H.I.E.L.D.’s newest combat vehicle, called Defense Assault Ground Rovers, or D/AGR for short (pronounced ‘Dagger’), and using its state-of-the-art EMP Blasters to disable the ‘bots. They’ve identified weak spots on the ‘bots that we can shoot to disable them, and our job is to hit as many of those weak spots on as many ‘bots as we can.
What makes all of these preshow scenes fun is the presence of Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly revisiting their roles from the movies as Ant-Man (aka Scott Lang) and the Wasp (aka Hope van Dyne), respectively. The actors clearly enjoy these roles and appear to have had a lot of fun shooting these scenes. I’m guessing there was a good bit of ad-libbing involved. I enjoyed these preshow areas as much as I enjoyed the ride, and tried to linger in those rooms as much as I could without being annoying. They apparently recorded quite a bit of dialogue, as I never made it through a full loop while waiting.
During those preshow scenes, we see S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist Leslie and our two title characters, all played by real people, conversing with Iron Man, who is CGI. Interestingly, Leslie speaks in Mandarin and all of our heroes speak in English, yet they’re able to understand each other. I would not have taken Scott Lang for a fluent Mandarin speaker, but I guess you just never know what someone is capable of until you see what they can do when starring in a Disney ride. Fortunately, they had subtitles for those of us who don’t speak both languages.
As I mentioned, the preshow scenes are fun, with lots of banter between the characters. Iron Man clearly isn’t a big fan of Ant-man’s and makes a number of disparaging comments towards him, all of which Scott seems oblivious to, as for example he tries to share plans for an upgraded Ant-man suit (with wings of course), in hopes that Tony will help him build it (Iron Man’s response is less than enthusiastic). Or when Scott informs Tony that, ‘I won’t disappoint you Tone-Tone’ (response: ‘You’re already disappointing me’).
In the second preshow room, Scott and Hope attempt to give the volunteers (us) instructions and are quite frustrated that we won’t get off of our phones and listen. They overall didn’t express a whole of confidence in our abilities, repeatedly worrying that we would shoot them instead of the ‘bots. I personally found their lack of confidence a little offensive. After all, I was selflessly taking time from my day at Disney to help them fight evil ‘bots, asking nothing in return. And I was only on my phone so I could take notes for this article. I quite honestly expected to receive a little more respect from them. I considered un-volunteering and letting them handle it themselves, but decided to take the high road and do my part to save humanity.
After finishing with the preshow areas, we board our Daggers, which looked suspiciously like repainted Buzz Lightyear ride vehicles, and pick up our EMP Blasters. After receiving one last round of instructions from Scott and Hope (which consisted of them helpfully telling us to pick up our blasters and start shooting things), we are finally off and entering the ride proper.
From this point on, the ride is basically the Buzz Lightyear ride, except you’re shooting evil ‘bots instead of Zurg’s minions, and you’re shooting ‘bot weak spots instead of little Z’s. You score points as you hit targets, with different targets being worth different point values. One of the things that I liked about the ride was that they installed the same targeting system that they use in the Shanghai Disneyland Buzz Lightyear ride, which I find easier to use than the older system – it’s much clearer where you’re aiming and whether you’re on-target.
The ride starts in a room with lots of the bad ‘bots, which seem to be spilling out of some sort of carrier. I thought that the drones might move around, but they were stationary, which certainly made it easier to hit the targets. What doesn’t make it easier to hit the targets is that the weak spots open and close and sometimes momentarily deactivate, which is maddening when you’ve finally gotten a bead on one.
Anyway, as we move past the first room, our title heroes show up to join the fight and say it’s time to shrink us down to the size of an ant. Although Ant-man and the Wasp are in this room, I don’t believe they’re being played by Paul and Evangeline at this point, as they leave their helmets on and I think might be CGI anyway. (In case you’re wondering, there are no audio-animatronic figures of Ant-Man or the Wasp — they only appear on video screens.)
The next thing we know, we have indeed been shrunk to the size of an ant, so that we can go inside what I guess is the main ‘bot. Scott and Hope are looking through some sort of porthole at us, commenting on our size and making jokes, including a ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’ joke from Scott. They tell us to hit the weak spots inside of this ‘bot, which look just like the weak spots on the outside of the ‘bots.
We go through two rooms and a hallway, before entering the main chamber and coming face-to-face with Zola (well, with his big digital head anyway). Ant-Man and the Wasp rejoin us in CGI form in this room (having reduced themselves to ant-size as well), for the big final encounter. Even during this encounter, they feel the need to remind us to shoot the ‘bot and not them. After tolerating this abuse the first three times I rode the attraction, I decided I actually wanted to shoot Ant-Man and gave it a try. For what it’s worth, nothing happened — I didn’t have any points added or subtracted for blasting a hero instead of a ‘bot.
Then it’s all over except for the post-show. As we leave the main battle room, we encounter more video screens, with Ant-man, Wasp, and Iron Man congratulating us and telling us that we are heroes. Iron Man had previously told me that I was a hero after I helped him on the Iron Man ride, so I felt an extra glow of pride for becoming a double hero. I bet no one else on the ride could make that claim. Iron Man continues his unprovoked Scott-bashing, telling us that we made Scott look good. For his part, Scott says that he wants to keep us shrunk as permanent backups, but fortunately Hope overrules him, at which point we get unshrunk and are asked to kindly exit the Dagger.
So, are two Avengers better than one Space Ranger? Well, if you like the Buzz Lightyear ride, I’m confident that you’ll like this ride too, since it’s basically the same thing, but with a different story. As far as which is better, it’s all a matter of whether you’re more into super-heroes or the Toy Story movies. As for me? I rode it five times during my visit and think the ride is a winner. Rudd and Lilly made the ride for me and gave it the same fun personality as the Ant-Man movies. In fact, this is probably the first time in my life that I enjoyed the pre- and post-shows in a ride as much as (or possibly more than) the ride itself, since those are the parts of the ride where you spend the most time with the main characters. Overall, Nano Battle is a very well-done and fun ride and a great addition to Hong Kong Disneyland’s Marvel Hub.
Other AllEars® Features by Mike Schiller:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mike Schiller is a frequent visitor to the six worldwide Disney theme park locations and is currently nearing the end of his long quest to stay at every Disney-owned hotel around the world (39 down, 3 to go). He lives in Dallas with his wife and two kids and is a published author as well as the Chief Information Security Officer at a Fortune 500 company. Mike also enjoys watching baseball in his spare time and has attended games at every major league stadium.