Due to the arrival of Avengers: Infinity War everyone is once again Marvel crazy (In all honesty, that seems to be a permanent state of being for most people during the last ten years.) and why shouldn’t they be?
In my opinion, Infinity War was the perfect beginning of the end to the first ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has smashed the box office all over the globe and still seems to be the thing that anyone is talking about. Marvel mania is in full swing. It is just such a shame that as of right now, this super hero sensation cannot be capitalized on in Walt Disney World.
Luckily, that is not the case in my local park: Hong Kong Disneyland, where the Marvel intellectual properties are everywhere: from merchandise, to attractions to Meet and Greets, to the wrappers on the hamburgers in the Starlight Diner – Marvel is rife.
The biggest example of this is in Tomorrowland where Marvel has taken over almost a whole corner of the land. Adding to this the future arrival of Ant Man and The Avengers themed attractions in Tomorrowland in the next couple of years, it seems like Marvel is just getting started in Hong Kong Disneyland.
This makes the first Marvel attraction in a Disney park: The Iron Man Experience, the perfect candidate for the next entry in my Spotlight series.
The History and Backstory
The Stark Expo has come to Tomorrowland, and with it has come the Expo Shop, a store where guests can buy Expo merchandise along with a cornucopia of other Marvel products. In addition to this area is the Tech Showcase, an interactive Meet and Greet with Iron Man himself.
The main exhibit of the Stark Expo is the Iron Man Experience. Tony Stark has developed a new Iron Wing which is able to carry guests through Hong Kong to visit Stark Tower and observe the Arc Reactor in the center of Hong Kong. What’s more? He’s opened this experience to members of the public.
After what felt like an eternity The Iron Man Experience opened with its other elements in January of 2017 to huge fanfare. I can completely understand why. The Stark Expo Center along with the Expo Shop and the Tech Showcase all come together to tell a complete story and literally take over almost half of Tomorrowland. It is also a great simple of the exciting future Hong Kong Disneyland has coming.
Situated at the back of Tomorrowland, The Iron Man Experience is past the Expo Shop and the Tech Showcase. It is the leading exhibit in the Stark Expo and sits prominently, welcoming new guests to visit. The building looks new (which it is) and technologically impressive, and most importantly, it looks exactly like something Tony Stark would build.
The other great thing about the building for the Iron Man Experience is its location. Situated behind everything else, the building acts as its own ‘weenie’ to entice Guests towards the attraction. Not only that, it’s far removed from the other areas of Tomorrowland, so when you stand outside the show building, you feel like you are completely immersed in the story that is being told.
To get to the Iron Man Experience you have to go through the queue which leads you through the Stark Expo. This queue is littered with exhibits featuring items that you might be familiar with from the movies. It also chronicles the history of how Tony Stark became Iron Man, how he built the Arc Reactor and what his plans for the future are.
This attraction does offer FastPass, but I honestly do not think you need it. The queue itself is never that long and, honestly, it is worth “queuing in.” In my opinion, it might be the best queue in Hong Kong Disneyland. It is definitely in the conversation. The amount of things you can see throughout this queue is nothing short of spectacular. If somebody didn’t want to experience the attraction, I would still tell them to go through the queue of the Iron Man Experience and then turn around when they get to the loading bay.
There isn’t exactly a preshow per say, but the queue acts as if it’s its own preshow. Videos play throughout the ‘expo’ that outline not only its history but also detail the Iron Man Experience and what the Experience sets out to achieve.
Halfway through the queue, the narrative changes to the history of the Iron Wing. Dioramas of each Iron Wing litter the queue, with detailed descriptions of the purpose of each one. That is until you reach the last Iron Wing, the model of the one you’re about to ride.
Again, not a stereotypical “preshow,” but the information that is given to Guests is just as informative as any preshow. You know where you are, what you’re doing there and what you’re about to do.
The Ride Vehicle
After the queue, you are given your glasses and are directed toward one of several loading bays. This is where you are shown a safety video in both Cantonese and English and then told to wait patiently before you board your Iron Wing. If you have been to other Disney Parks, you can be forgiven if you are getting the sense of deja’ vu, the loading bay, safety video and ride vehicles are all very similar to that of Star Tours: The Adventure Continues.
Due to this, the ride vehicles are nothing new. Yes, the concept is cool, but since the original Star Tours opened over twenty years ago, simulator cars feel a little old hat to me. That being said, the Iron Wing has obviously been updated and has all of the bells and whistles that the Star Tours: The Adventure Continues vehicles have.
Once you board your Iron Wing, you strap in and meet your captain: Jarvis, speaking only in Cantonese. Things don’t go smoothly to begin with as the departure gates don’t open. Jarvis blasts the doors open and your Iron Wing takes to the skies. It’s a smooth journey to the Stark Tower when you see the Arc Reactor.
Disaster is soon to follow as Hydra emerges to try and steal the reactor. Jarvis is quick to call Iron Man, who comes to save the day. What ensues is a battle between super hero and Hydra throughout the streets (and skies) of Hong Kong.
If this attraction sounds like Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, that’s because it is very similar. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Hong Kong Disneyland does not have a Star Tours attraction, so this type of attraction is unique to this park, and it is specifically unique to Disney Parks as a whole. However, The Iron Man Experience only has one linear narrative. Meaning it doesn’t have the re-ride ability that Star Tours: The Adventure Continues has.
Yes, I think it’s cool actually being in a fully immersive Marvel experience, I just wish that there was a little more to it. That being said, the attraction is not all bad, and flying with Iron Man is a pretty cool experience that many children (and grownups) have only dreamed of doing.
Do I think The Iron Man Experience is the best attraction in Hong Kong Disneyland? No. I don’t even think it’s the best attraction in Tomorrowland. That being said, I think the whole experience (see what I did there?) has its place in Tomorrowland. Marvel is a growing property at Hong Kong Disneyland and although the attraction isn’t earth-shattering, it serves its purpose as the base for what is to come. With the additions of the Ant Man and The Avengers attractions in coming years, there will be a true fully immersive Marvel story that will provide Guests of all ages with an exceptional Marvel experience.
What do you think? Have you ridden The Iron Man Experience? Do you think it sounds like a great attraction? Or something you’re would not be too keen on “experiencing.”
(All Photos from the personal collection of Daniel Morris)
To learn more about Daniel and read his recent posts for WDW Radio, visit his author page by clicking the link on his name at the top of this post.