Thursday, 15 June 2017

Iron Man Experience @ Hong Kong Disneyland & Update 2017

It is almost 5 years since Hong Kong Disneyland got it's last expansion: Mystic Manor. Iron Man Experience new themed area that opened in Hong Kong Disneyland in May 2017. It comprises of a motion simulator ride and a walk through attraction called Stark Expo. This attraction is made possible after Disney acquired Marvel in 2009.


The Iron Man experience is located in Tomorrowland at the location of the former Tomorrowland speedway (or at least, part of it). The entrance is located just to the left of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Interestingly, the first thing you will see is not the ride entrance, but the entrance to the souvenir shop called Expo Shop!

Don't be fooled by the large number of "halls". The "halls" are actually...well...part of the same thing
Basically, the whole Iron Man area is themed to futuristic technologies developed by Stark Industries. There are many angled lines and the use of bright colours like red and orange symbolises optimism towards the future (and, of course, the colour of Iron Man). This is quite different from rest of tomorrowland which seems to be themed more towards space exploration (ASTRO blasters, SPACE mountain).

You know how hard it is to take this photo given the number of people jumping in and out of the photo area?

Its been so long since I have seen such a prominent sponsor sign at a new attraction

Stark Expo - The Ride Queue

The highlight of Iron Man Experience is "Take Flight with Iron Man Above Hong Kong". This very mouthful attraction, which I shall just call "Iron Man's Flight", is a 3D motion simulator attraction. Basically, it uses the same technology as Star Tours in other Disney theme parks. Basically, you are a Stark Expo guest who is invited to take a ride on Stark Industries new flying vehicles to explore Hong Kong, when something goes wrong... Okay back to the queue:

The queue line themeing is very simple compared to other Disney attractions. There are a few static exhibits, some TV screens and a lot of neon light. The neon backlight really gives the queue a true futuristic experience, compared to the neon rods used in Space Mountain that are so 1980s. Basically, the queue area is split into a series of halls that explains the technological breakthroughs and developments of Stark Industries.

The imagineers tried very hard to incorporate some elements of Hong Kong into the queue, going so far as to put MTR into the experience, but I think this kinds of spoil the "out of this world" experience that Disney is trying to put forward at Tomorrowland.

Stark Industries is going to show us how good their digital assistant is when this person is taking the MTR...except...all the functions can already be done on Google Maps!

I wonder how much such a security system will cost?

Sorry, just testing the low light abilities of my camera (yes, this picture is in a very dark corner)

Another attempt to incorporate Hong Kong into the story. This time, Stark Tower is built at Hong Kong!

and it provides Hong Kong with renewable energy!

Okay. I might sound quite critical, but honestly, I think that the story for the attraction is quite sound and the props and exhibits, though simple, are very relevant and fits the story well. However, there are too many queue control points (where a cast member will ask you to stop for a while). On the plus side, we can spend more time viewing the exhibits in Stark Expo. However, this makes the queue line feel exceptionally long because everytime I was stopped, I thought the queue is finished but it is not.

This is the vehicle you will be riding to explore Hong Kong from the air!

No glasses! Just kidding. There are 2 

The Ride

Iron Man's Flight is a motion simulator ride. There are 5 separate ride vehicles and you will be ushered into one of the 5 vehicles. As I went on an off-peak day, only 2 of the 5 ride vehicles are operating. The first row of each vehicle has a wide corridor and is suitable for wheelchair access.

Don't forget to raise your hands so the attendant can check your seat belt!

Without giving any spoilers, I can say that the ride is not too bad. The storyline is simple and easy to follow and I am impressed by how the imagineers could squeeze both Cantonese and English into such a fast paced ride. However, I do find the 3D effect to be quite blur in the corner seats. Somehow I wished that this ride is not 3D since the Stark Expo guests are supposed to be riding in the vehicle (with windows) rather than flying in Iron Man's suit. Also, the pop-up screens that shows what is happening elsewhere in Hong Kong really spoils the pace of  the experience.

Each ride vehicle can accommodate 40 people (8 x 5 rows)

Expo Shop

Expo shop is the souvenir shop of Iron Man experience. There are lots of toys and apparel based on Marvel characters. Interestingly, the exit of the Iron Man flight ride does not lead straight to the souvenir shop.

If you see this sign and is wondering what this is, it is like just your wii or kleenex game at home. SKIP!

Hyperspace Mountain

Okay, this has nothing to do with Iron Man. However, I think this is an interesting new addition to Hong Kong Disneyland and worth a mention. Basically, they turned the standard Space Mountain ride into a Star Wars ride by renaming it Hyperspace Mountain and adding some Star Was related gimmicks. I may be biased, but I think Disney really nailed this one.

Firstly, adding the hyperspace jump component to the lift hill really helps to make this otherwise boring part quite interesting. Next, I like the use of coloured strobe light to simulate the laser fire. Moreover, the twisting and turning feels makes the dogfight feel more real. Of course, there are still elements of the old space mountain left in the ride, but I think they do not clash with the Star Wars theme.

Small changes to the decoration really does a good job of transforming the theme of the ride

Anyone thinking of painting this to look like a...A wing, perhaps?

The Verdict

In summary, Iron Man experience is a decent new attraction that adds new depth to Tomorrowland by bringing the experience more down to Earth. I really appreciate the effort the Imagineers took to incorporate Hong Kong city into the ride, though I wished it was a bit more seamless and not so forced. Also, I think the ride bridges an important gap in Hong Kong Disneyland as it does not have a motion simulator so far.

  • Theming: ☆☆☆☆
  • Thrill: ☆☆☆☆ (for Disney Standards)
  • Story: ☆☆☆
  • Wow! Factor: ☆
  • Accessibility: ☆☆☆☆☆
  • Overall: ☆☆☆

However, I do think the flying over Hong Kong concept is a huge wasted opportunity. If Disney had incorporated the same technology as Flight of Passage at Pandora (Disney's Animal Kingdom), guests will feel like wearing Iron Man's suit and flying in the suit. This will turn Iron Man's Experience from just a good attraction to an excellent one.

At this point, I just think it is overshadowed by Hyperspace Mountain!

If you like this post, why not look at some other posts about all things Hong Kong?