Hong Kong Disneyland is currently in the midst of its own Universal Orlando Resort-esque expansion and renovation plan – with a price tag of $1.4 billion (what Comcast spends on its four American parks in a three-year period), Disney is going to open a new attraction nearly every single year from 2018 to 2023, whether that be a ride, a show, or an entire new theme park land. (The reason for the breakneck construction schedule is the money that the Hong Kong park has been losing as of late, particularly since its bigger sibling, Shanghai Disneyland, opened its doors last summer.)
Although much of the attention of this new initiative has been focused upon Arendelle, the new Frozen area that will bow in 2020, it turns out that Marvel just might end up being the real star of the expansion. The Iron Man Experience – the first Disney-designed theme park ride to star any of the Marvel Comics characters – just went online two months ago, and the rest of Hong Kong Disneyland’s version of Tomorrowland is expected to eventually be replaced by Marvel Land over the next few years. Now we’re getting our first look at what the next step in this transformation will be.
Buzz Lightyear Astro-Blasters, located right next-door to the Iron Man Experience, is scheduled to close later this year and get the re-skinning treatment. While we already knew this from 2016’s big announcement, what we just found out yesterday – thanks to the LA Times – is which one of Marvel’s many splendid superheroes will be headlining the retrofitted attraction: Ant-Man. According to the concept art, it looks as if guests will be miniaturized right alongside Scott Lang and will do interactive battle with him on an ant-sized battlefield.
It makes perfect sense that Ant-Man would be getting the starring treatment for Disney’s second Marvel ride. Though 2015’s Ant-Man was one of the lesser-performing Marvel Cinematic Universe outings, the character was a stand-out part of last summer’s Captain America: Civil War, in which he joined Captain America’s offshoot Avengers group. Both characters are set to return to the big screen for The Avengers: Infinity War (May 2018), which will lead directly into Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 2018), priming the sequel for big numbers at the box office. (Oh, yeah – Ant-Man also just so happens to be a character who isn’t at all featured in Islands of Adventure’s Marvel Super Hero Island back in Orlando, meaning that Disney can capitalize on using a character who has no theme park competition whatsoever.)
The timing of this development also lines up perfectly with Marvel Studios’s film release schedule, pushing that magical concept of synchronicity that The Walt Disney Company loves so much. This new, still-unnamed ride is currently expected to debut in July 2018, right alongside the sequel movie, and following not long after will be the Avengers E-ticket attraction that will take over the recently-closed Autopia.
And if an Iron Man motion simulator and Ant-Man reskin of Buzz Lightyear just don’t do it for you, worry not – rumors have been quietly but steadily insisting that a similar Marvel Land is soon to arrive at Disneyland Resort in California, after Star Wars Land debuts in the summer of 2019. Already, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is getting rethemed to Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission – Breakout, which is set to open this May alongside (what else?) Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. Although not much is known, or even rumored, about Anaheim’s new Marvel area, it just may end up being even more impressive than what the Chinese will receive over the course of the next few years.