This weekend was one that I had been looking forward to for a long time. After two years of construction and a rather large amount of hype, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle. After all that wait, Nano Battle was scheduled to open March 31, 2019. I was prepared to fight the opening day hustle and bustle to experience the new attraction.
However, as I’ve mentioned in countless articles, Hong Kong Disneyland really looks after its Magic Access (annual passholder) members with great perks throughout the year. One of these perks was an advanced screening of the new attraction. Magic Access members were allowed to book a time slot to ride Nano Battle on either Friday, March 29 or Saturday, March 30. I luckily experienced Nano Battle on Saturday meaning that I didn’t have to fight the crowds on opening day (more on that later).
Before entering the park, Guests had to pick up their event tickets at a designated ticket booth. We were then allowed to experience the new attraction once between [1:30]-[3:00] PM. We arrived at the attraction a little before [1:30] PM and the queue was at 15 minutes, contextually a tiny queue, but I was glad that the attraction wasn’t a walk on as it meant I could experience the queue and the whole attraction. It probably was 15 minutes, but it felt like It flew by. Before I knew it, we were boarding our ride vehicles and onto the attraction. Once again, before I knew it, the attraction was over, and we were heading into Pavilion Gifts.
Everything was such a whirlwind that I didn’t quite know what to think. Except that I already knew I was going to come back the next day for the opening of the attraction. I had already resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to ride the attraction during opening day, as it would be crazy. But, I would take in the atmosphere and witness the chaos.
HKDL had announced that there would be no FastPasses for the attraction for the first few months. But, Magic Access members would be able to get a priority access pass (while stock lasted) once a day. I hadn’t planned on getting to the park for rope drop, because I really didn’t want to deal with the queues, so I presumed I would not be able to get a priority admission pass.
As I entered the park on March 31, I had to pass the booths that distributed the priority admission tickets. I saw a Cast Member standing near the booth, so I thought there was no harm in trying. Not only did they still have priority admission tickets left, they were available for [11:00] AM! Meaning, that I had very little time to wait.
On top of that, as I got to Tomorrowland, I noticed that the location was busy, but it’s wasn’t crazy. The attraction had a 50 minute queue. 50 minutes! On opening day! This is one of the reasons I love having HKDL as my local park. It allows for spontaneity, people are able to just turn up to the park, without months of planning, and they still should be able to experience everything without astronomical wait times. A real plus.
I handed in my priority admission ticket and went through the priority admission queue. Similar to a standard FastPass queue, the priority admission queue cut out the majority of the standby queue and bought you into the preshow area. The second time I experienced the attraction, I was able to get more of a feel for it, and by the time it had finished, I felt better that I had seen more.
That was my experience of opening day for the attraction. Now it’s time to detail the attraction itself.
History and Backstory
Before Nano Battle even existed, Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters sat in its place. Similar to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in WDW, Astro Blasters was a shooter-style dark ride where Guests would board miniature spaceships to tackle evil Emperor Zurg.
In the summer of 2017, Astro Blasters closed to make way for Nano Battle. As mentioned, Nano Battle opened on March 31, 2019, in the same show building. The schematics of the attraction are similar, but the story is wildly different.
Nano Battle is held in the S.H.I.E.L.D Science and Technology Pavilion at the Stark Expo area of Tomorrowland. The Stark Expo area already hosts the Expo Shop, the Iron Man Tech Showcase (an Iron Man Meet and Greet) and the Iron Man Experience.
What is now really cool about the area is that there is a succinct story that plays out in each of the attractions. For those who haven’t experienced the Iron Man Experience, you board your Iron Wing for a routine trip to the Stark Tower in Hong Kong, but are then interrupted by the evil HYDRA.
That is the exact story that is happening in Nano Battle. Guests are having a tour of the Science and Technology Pavilion when HYDRA Swarm Bots attack, causing Ant-Man and The Wasp to take action along with the Guests who are present.
Location and Theming
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Nano Battle! Is located just to the right of the Expo Shop and toward the back of Tomorrowland. The building itself is clinical, prominent and compliments that area of the land well. What I really like about the Science and Technology Pavilion is that it’s clearly not as flashy as The Expo Shop or The Iron Man Experience, but it’s not supposed to be. The building is impressive, but minimal and that’s a good thing. Despite now being out in the open, S.H.I.E.L.D operates in secrecy, so their building, naturally, wouldn’t be too garish.
Queue and Preshow
Half of the queue for Nano Battle is outside the Science Pavilion in a series of over and backs. Posters litter this part of the queue to inform guests about the products they are working on including the EMP Blaster and The Dagger (the ride vehicle for the attraction).
Once in the Science Pavilion, the theming really turns it up a notch, and you see the reception for the Science Pavilion (with a really cool clock of famous cities around the world, including Wakanda). However, all is not as it seems as no security is present. Furthering that feeling of foreboding, a video screen plays featuring Iron Man, Ant-Man and The Wasp informing guests of HYDRA’s attack.
From here, it is clear this will no longer be the “regular tour.” Instead of going into the Research and Technology Showcase room, Guests take a left through a big red security door and into a room where various weapons line the walls. I would count this room as the “preshow” room since video screens sit either end of the room. Ant-Man, The Wasp and Iron Man give Guests their mission brief (whilst also delivering some very funny lines) before sending them to The Dagger loading bay.
Ride Vehicle and Attraction
Just before getting into the loading bay, a large poster (the S.H.I.E.L.D poster department is very efficient) details what targets to look out for and what each one is worth.
The Daggers are very similar to the old Astro Blaster attraction vehicles as is the ride track. The Daggers are built for two adults and one small child and are equipped with two EMP Blasters (one red and one blue).
Once aboard The Dagger, you take off into the depth of the Science Pavilion where the bots are already attacking. After fighting (and destroying) several bots, your Dagger(and you) are shrunk down, so you can really fight the bots.
The battle takes you into the main frame of the bots where you and the other Daggers around you have to fight Zola’s big bot with the help of Ant-Man and The Wasp. The really cool thing about this bit is that once you’ve hit a target enough. The light goes off, blowing up that target. Meaning you really have to work hard to destroy all the visible targets.
Once the day has been saved, you receive your total score, are congratulated by the team, and then return to normal size. After you are big again, you exit your Dagger and proceed to Pavilion Gifts (Now that the day has been saved, it’s time to celebrate with merch!) where you can buy a plethora of cool Marvel products.
(the face you make when you’re being turned back to normal size)
Experience and Summary
Opinions change over time, and I personally find it very hard to judge something when…
1) I have only experienced it for a short period of time.
2) I haven’t had time to process the whole experience.
But, I will try my best to get my thoughts down on paper:
I really wanted this attraction to be very good I’m not a massive fan of the Iron Man Experience. I find the attraction a little underwhelming, and I really didn’t want that for Nano Battle. Again, my opinions may change. But, right now, I’m a big fan of the attraction.
There are a few things I’d maybe change (a few more Ant-Man appearances, different enemies) but on the whole, I think Nano Battle is a great Marvel experience and one that we have never had in a Disney Park before. The one thing I really wanted out of this attraction was for the responsiveness of the shooting system to be as good as Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue in Shanghai Disneyland and it really is… possibly even better. It’s really easy to aim your EMP Blasters and find and shoot the designated targets which then react to being shot by turning off and closing for a short period of time.
Another thing I really like about the attraction is the mix of physical effects and targets and the use of video screens. I think the best attractions really do have a good mix of both and Nano Battle is no different, with the appearance of giant Ant-Man (he’s normal size, you’re just small) being a real highlight.
If I had to describe this attraction in one word it would be: special. This is the most immersive Marvel attraction in any Disney Park, and I think that’s a really special thing. This attraction now allows multiple generations of Marvel fans to literally immerse themselves in a story and be a part of the fight between good and evil, an experience that I think many people won’t forget.
So there’s my look into Ant-Man and the Wasp: Nano Battle! I hope this breakdown was valuable.
What do you think? Do you like what you see? Would you like to come here and experience the attraction? Let’s continue the discussion in the WDW Radio Box People Facebook group.
(All photos are from the personal collection of Daniel Morris)
To learn more about Daniel and read his recent posts for the WDW Radio Blog, visit his author page by clicking the link on his name at the top of this post.