Mystic Manor is the newest attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland, and one of Disney’s best-ever attractions anywhere in the world. This post takes a look inside Lord Henry Mystic’s manor, with photos, descriptions, and commentary along the way. As Mystic Manor itself is a Magneto-Electric Carriage tour of Lord Henry’s manor, consider this post the tour of the tour.
Since Mystic Manor is still less than a year old and probably hasn’t been experienced by many guests, a warning seems appropriate… WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS PHOTO AND PLOTLINE SPOILERS OF MYSTIC MANOR. If you have not yet experienced Mystic Manor, but plan to in the near future, we highly recommend clicking here to exit now. These photos and details cannot possibly do justice to the actual attraction experience, anyway.
If you only want to read the portion of this post that contains the photo-free and mostly spoiler-free review, click here.
With that said, let’s start the tour. Spoilers start below the jump…
Mystic Manor’s queue starts at the gate to the left (Grizzly Gulch side) of the manor, with guests passing outdoors past some artifacts before entering the building itself.
The queue contains many pictures of Lord Henry Mystic and Albert, his mischievous pet monkey. Also present are portraits of other members of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Disney fans will notice nods to Imagineers, key contributors (such as Danny Elfman–whose Mystic Manor ride score you should listen to while reading this), and other Disney theme park attractions from around the world.
The queue also contains blueprints, a model of Mystic Point (presumably an actual model used by Walt Disney Imagineering to pitch the project), and other artifacts.
Once through the queue, guests go into the pre-show room to watch a slideshow narrated by Lord Mystic and Albert, who provides a set-up for the attraction as a tour of his latest exhibition. He also introduces his latest find, an enchanted music box that must be opened with caution.
After the slideshow ends, the tour of Lord Henry Mystic’s collections begins, as guests board a Magneto-Electric Carriages, which are trackless ride vehicles Lord Mystic invented himself for self-guided tours of his collection.
There are more signs and artifacts in this area, including an “attraction poster” for the Magneto-Electric Carriages, which we thought was a nice touch.
Our tour begins here in this gallery. Here where you see (oops, wrong ‘mansion’ tour spiel) the Acquisitions and Cataloguing Room. The rides stop in a semi-circle in this intake area where Lord Mystic’s collections await placement in permanent collections. The music box is in the center of the room, and after Lord Mystic appears for a brief moment to give a short introduction, he goes looking for Albert. Of course, Albert appears and opens the box, releasing some beautiful, “magical music dust” (for lack of a better term). All of the artifacts in the rooms that follow are brought to life by this magical music dust. C’mon, you didn’t know the mischievous monkey was going to open the music box the moment Lord Mystic said it must be handled with caution? If cartoons are any indication, “danger” is like catnip for monkeys.
Next up is the Music Room, which contains exotic musical instruments. The magical music dust sweeps over the room, bringing all of the instruments to life. Albert watches the instruments from the pipe organ in the center of the room, clearly curious and excited about what’s happening. gives life to instruments and music begins to play. This description sounds super-dull, but in actuality, the experience is pure magic. Since it doesn’t translate to words well, and since each subsequent room mostly follows the same pattern of the magical music dust sweeping over stuff as Albert watches and/or gets in trouble, I’ll keep the descriptions to follow short.
Mediterranean Antiquities follows, and contains paintings, ceramics, and other art that come alive. Yes, even the paintings. Throughout these rooms on our first (or first 5) ride throughs, I just had my mouth open saying ‘wow’ in response to the way technology had been utilized to provide a truly magical experience. and Audio-Animatronic statues start to move under the influence of the magic. There are busts and a portrait of Medusa that look like nods to the Haunted Mansion. Unlike Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris, Mystic Manor is not a variation of the Haunted Mansion. It’s an entirely unique attraction.
In the Solarium Room, Albert reaches into the mouth of an Audio Animatronics Venus flytrap. Guests don’t see what happen, but what could possibly go wrong, right?
Next is the Slavic-Nordic Chamber, where a painting of a Nordic God spreads ice across the entire room.
In the Arms & Armour room weapons and armor come alive and sing a catchy lyrical section of the ride soundtrack. Don’t let their beautiful singing fool you, these suits of armor and weapons are dangerous, a fact they demonstrate by attempting to attack Albert and guests. While each ride vehicle in the “set” has a slightly different experience throughout the ride, half of the ride vehicles in this area actually take different paths into differing hallways.
Next is the Egyptian Antiquities room, where swarms of scarabs fly around an Egyptian sarcophagus. I must have taken hundreds of photos of Mystic Manor, yet none of this room. Go figure.
The Magneto-Electric Carriages then reach the Tribal Arts room, a room filled with tiki statues and a large tiki god with lava flowing from its mouth. Three tiki statues blow dart guns, pinning Albert to the wall by his clothes. (Yes, this monkey wears clothes–stylish ones at that!) This is my favorite room of the attraction.
The climax of the attraction occurs in the Chinese Salon where a giant jade Monkey King statue creates a tornado with his staff and continues using the staff to cause more and more damage to the room during the tornado as he tries to hit Albert with lightning bolts. The ride vehicles also spin in circles to the winds of the tornado, amplifying the sensation. The effects in this room are almost entirely screen-based, which may be a turn-off for some guests who think Disney has gone screen-heavy in recent years, but screens are otherwise used in moderation in Mystic Manor, and I can’t think of any other way for the effect to be as impressive.
The vehicles blow back into the Acquisitions and Cataloguing Room, where Albert has caught the music box, closing it and trapping the magical music dust back inside the box. Lord Henry Mystic appears again in the doorway, unaware of the chaos that ensued after he last disappeared.
After the exiting the attraction, guests pass through The Archives Shop, which is a gift shop containing tons of Mystic Manor merchandise, including Albert stuff and Society of Explorers and Adventurers goods. Next door is The Explorer’s Club Restaurant, which is an awesome counter service restaurant themed to the journeys of Lord Henry Mystic and other S.E.A. members. Check out our Explorer’s Club Restaurant Review & Tour to learn and see more of it!
In my opinion, Mystic Manor pretty much has it all. Rather than consisting of show scenes that guests passively move past, Mystic Manor does what so many other great attractions do: immerses guests in the action, making them feel like part of the experience. This is accomplished largely through the trackless ride vehicles, which were first used in Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (then Aquatopia, but we won’t count that). It’s heightened by how various effects actively engage the guest. This is amplified even further by the attraction’s music, consisting of Danny Elfman’s score that is an instant classic in terms of Disney theme park music. Mystic Manor is not just Albert getting into trouble along the way, it’s you and Albert getting into trouble. Or at least it feels that way.
Speaking of Albert, he is the heart and soul of the attraction. Not since Chandu the tiger in Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage has a character without a line of dialogue (unless you count when he says “ni hao” in the pre-show) so endeared himself to guests. It seems to me that Albert and Chandu are the emotional successors to Figment. Figment set the gold standard for an original theme park character with whom park guests bond thanks to his childlike curiosity, and Albert and Chandu rise to that same standard. Without Albert, Mystic Manor would still be a really fun romp through a ton of cool gags, but with him it’s an attraction with heart, where you cautiously wonder what will happen next on your tour.
Fortunately, we don’t have to consider how well those cool gags and effects would succeed without Albert, since he is there. Based on the fact that I had to pick my jaw up off the floor of our ride vehicle on several occasions, and kept muttering ‘wow’ to myself like a crazy man, I think it’s safe to say that it would succeed regardless. Albert may be the heart and soul of the ride, but the value of wow-factor of Mystic Manor’s effects cannot be understated. This is unquestionably Disney’s most technically advanced ride to date. The resulting exhibits almost feel like a Disneyfied, “alive” version of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not. That may not exactly read like praise, but it absolutely should.
Disney goes back to the normal “…and something goes terribly wrong” well with Mystic Manor, but unlike other uses of that conceit, Mystic Manor seems less concerned with the “terribly wrong” part and much more concerned with “something goes.” At its core, the plot device is really only used as a way to showcase all of the cool stuff that’s happening. Albert the Monkey may disagree, as some of the artifacts brought to life don’t have the best of intentions for him, but that aside, it’s just a way of explaining-away why all of the artifacts are alive despite being in a (mostly) real world setting.
Arguably, because of this, the plot could be called a bit superficial. That’s one way of looking at it, but I look at Mystic Manor more along the lines of a cross between Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, two attractions that are more focused on offering vignettes, fun gags, and captivating storytelling (even if not in terms of a linear story) than they are with a developed story. Mystic Manor actually goes a bit further than these, as its strength is as a great vignette attraction, but it also has a developed storyline.
The fact that I mention Mystic Manor in the same sentence as Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion should be enough to tell you that I hold the attraction in pretty high esteem. Purists will probably scoff at the notion that a new attraction could be considered an equal of the Walt Disney-era Imagineering Legends, but I think it’s fair to say that for some Disney fans, nothing will ever be as good as what that generation produced. To me, Pirates of the Caribbean are the pinnacle achievements of the early years of Imagineering, and Mystic Manor is the pinnacle achievement of this generation.
I view Mystic Manor as the same caliber of attraction, and one of the top Disney attractions of all time. If ever there were a reason to visit Hong Kong Disneyland, Mystic Manor is it.
Have you ridden Mystic Manor? What did you think of it? Even if you haven’t experienced it in person, how do you think Mystic Manor looks? Any interest in Hong Kong Disneyland? Please share your questions and opinions in the comments!