Before I get into the meat and potatoes, this is the debut article of a new series I will be focusing on throughout the next year. The clue is somewhat in the title, but this series will take an in depth look at individual attractions throughout Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, Tokyo Disneyland and Shanghai Disney Resort.
My intention is to offer an insight into some of the Asian parks top attractions. It will also provide a look for those who have not been to the Asian parks yet, but are very interested in them. As with everything, this is a moldable project, so if you have any suggestions or feedback, please feel free to share it with me!
On that note, I don’t plan on spoiling everything that an attraction has to offer. That being said however, I will obviously disclose a few details (and pictures) of each attraction, so if you want to stay as oblivious as possible, you may want to stop reading now.
When I was deciding what attraction to cover first with this flagship article, one attraction stood head and shoulders above the rest. Not only do I consider it to be one of the best attractions at any park, for me, it is also an attraction that sums up what a Disney ride should intrinsically ‘be’. Furthering that, it is also one of the attractions that I am asked about most when I’m back in England or visiting the American parks.
So, as Lord Henry Mystic exclaims at the end of his introductory slide show:
Welcome to Mystic Manor.
The History and Backstory
Mystic Manor is situated proudly in the center of Mystic Point and has been open to the public since May 17, 2013. The residents of Mystic Manor are Lord Henry Mystic and his adorable pet monkey, Albert. Lord Henry Mystic is an avid explorer and proud member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.
Lord Henry has returned home after one of his epic adventures and has opened up his beautiful home (along with its incredible possessions) to tours from the public. The prize possession in Lord Henry’s collection is an old music box that he and Albert discovered on their last trip. Some people say that the music box is cursed, but as Lord Henry says himself, that’s surely “superstition and nonsense.”
As you can see from the above photo, the exterior of Mystic Manor is honestly breathtaking and, in my opinion, is one of Walt Disney Imagineering’s finest achievements. The Manor itself sits next to the Explorers Club Restaurant and is the weenie of Mystic Point. The whole Mystic Point area has purposefully been designed to accentuate the exterior of Mystic Manor.
Not only that, but a story is being told as soon as you cross the threshold from either Grizzly Gulch or Toy Story Land. The Mystic Point Freight Depot sits directly opposite from the entrance way to Mystic Manor and should not be dismissed as just a place to stand and take a great picture of the Manor. The Depot itself has a trove of items and trinkets presumably from Henry’s travels, only adding to the mystic of the place.
Not only is the Imagineering of Mystic Manor stunning, it is also a storyteller in its own right. Just one look at the odd angles and unique colors tells you much more about the eccentricity of Lord Henry Mystic than words ever could.
A large portion of the queue for Mystic Manor is situated outside. However, the queue time for this attraction is never extensive, and I have never actually seen the exterior queue being used.
The queue then takes you through the entranceway of Mystic Manor and into several display rooms. These rooms are decorated with a large diorama of Mystic Manor itself and detailed pictures of Lord Henry and Albert on their many adventures. These photos aren’t only for decorative purposes. They paint (literally) Albert as the mischievous rogue and Henry as the oblivious yet loveable adventurer. More importantly, they illustrate the bond between owner and pet.
As you move through the queue you will see several more photos dedicated to Lord Henry’s participation in the Society for Explorers and Adventurers. There is a photo of the society themselves and some excellent Easter Eggs to pour over, including a portrait of the vary famous composer of the Mystic Manor soundtrack, Danny Elfman.
Once through the queue you will find yourself in the projection room. This is where you will first encounter Lord Henry, but by voice only. Lord Henry welcomes you to Mystic Manor before introducing you to Albert and setting up the story of the mysterious music box.
It’s not overly long, which for me is ideal for a preshow, but it sets up the story well and gives you a taste of what is to come. It also gives you the first glance of one of many incredibly expressive Albert animatronics. It’s maybe not as iconic as the preshows of Haunted Mansion or Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but it is quaint and quirky, very much like the ride itself.
The Ride Vehicle
Once the preshow is over you exit the projection room from a different door. You are no longer amongst the fine wall paper and exhibits of the exhibition rooms, but are in a danker looking loading bay. This is the home of one of Henry Mystic’s own inventions and your ride vehicle the ‘Mystic Magneto Electric Carriage’.
The ride vehicles themselves resemble a Victorian-esque horse drawn carriage (minus the horse) and operate on a trackless ride system very similar to Pooh’s Honey Hunt in Tokyo DisneySea.
A poster is displayed before you board your electric carriage, and on that poster, it states that the Electric Carriage is the “Wonder of the Modern Age” and that is not hyperbole. Bar a certain little monkey, the Electric Carriages are the best things about this attraction, the way they turn, spin and dance through the attraction is fluidity at its finest and compliments a completely enthralling ride experience.
I will try my best not to give too much away in this section for those of you who have not ridden or watched any of the YouTube videos of this attraction. Once boarded, your Electric Carriage embarks on its journey. You see Lord Henry, who in turn is looking for Albert. Lord Henry disappears and like magic Albert appears, right next to the Music Box.
Not adhering to Henry’s advice, mischievous little Albert opens the Music Box. It’s all fun and games at the beginning as the Music Box springs to life a starts to animate the artifacts around Mystic Manor.
However, things quickly get out of hand as the newly animated objects turn from friendly to ferocious, and they are not particularly pleased at the presence of intruders. This forces little Albert (and you) to scramble for your lives to find and close the Music Box, in the vain hope that will turn everything back to normal.
Before I had ever visited Hong Kong Disneyland, I had heard Mystic Manor described as “Haunted Mansion for toddlers.” Nothing can be further from the truth. Yes, there can be comparisons made, but I honestly feel that Mystic Manor is an evolution from the Haunted Mansion more than an alteration of it.
For me, Mystic Manor is as close to attraction perfection as you are going to get. There is a synergy between the ride vehicle, the animatronics and Danny Elfman’s mesmerizing score that is almost impossible to match.
It is one of the very few attractions that no matter how many times I have ridden it, I am completely enthralled again and again. I have probably ridden Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Shrunken Treasure in Shanghai Disney Resort a similar amount of times and by the end, I could feel my attention span slightly wandering. That has never happened on Mystic Manor
If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I LOVE Mystic Manor, if you were unsure if all the hype that you have heard about the attraction is justified, I implore you it i – and then some.
I always struggle to name Mystic Manor as my favorite attraction as there are so many attractions that are steeped in nostalgia for me. That being said, I rode this attraction for the first time when I was 18 years old, nothing would come close.
I do think Mystic Manor has a case for being called “The Greatest Attraction” in any Disney theme park, simply for the fact that it is a detailed and compelling story that revolves around a completely original IP. Not many of the newer attractions can claim that. Plus, I dare you to ride Mystic Manor once and not fall head over heels in love with Albert.
What do you think? Have you ridden Mystic Manor? Would you agree with me or do you think that it’s not as great as I claim it to be? Is it one of the big reasons why you would visit Hong Kong Disneyland?
(All photos are from the personal collections of Daniel Morris and Sophie Parry.)
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.