Mystic Manor, the latest attraction to open at Hong Kong Disneyland, is an incredible dark ride. There are countless special effects, charming new characters and a light-hearted story – all weaved with an amazing soundtrack. But before we get to the ride itself, have a tour of the queue and pre-show experience.
Mystic Manor – in two parts
This is just Part Two of the Mystic Manor Grand Photo Tour, covering the actual ride experience. The first half covers the queue and pre-show elements.
Note: Flash photography and AF illuminator lamps (the white/red/yellow light of the camera that turns on as it focuses) should not be used in Mystic Manor as a basic courtesy to other park guests. All of my photos in the Mystic Manor series are taken without flash and AF light.
Here’s Leo, a Tokyo Disney Resort-calibre Cast Member in Hong Kong! Not only did he greet us with a smile once we were seated, he also posed for our photos!
Acquisitions and Cataloguing
Our tour begins in the Acquisitions and Cataloguing room.
Lord Henry Mystic: “Hello there! I was looking for – There’s the music box I told you about. Now I must find my little friend…”
Lord Henry welcomes us briefly and disappears to find Albert. He mentions the Balinese Music Box, which was right in front of him.
Albert then comes out from his hiding spot when Lord Henry is gone.
He touches the jewel at the top of the box, opening the music box.
As music begins to play, jets of music dust rush out of the golden box.
The dust flies around the room, bringing objects to life!
The carriages drift backwards into the brightly-lit Music Room.
Ornate musical instruments become animated and play the melody from the Balinese Music Box.
Albert is in awe of the effects brought by music dust, observing the magic from the pipe organ.
In this hallway filled with paintings and an exquisite vase showing Hercules battling the Nemean Lion, music dust enchants the artwork, making the subjects in the art alive.
A beautiful painting of a young lady, with a touch of magic dust…
…transforms into Medusa.
Albert tempts fate in the Solarium, as he plays with the giant venus flytrap.
The largest flytrap faces the Carriage, and as it roars, the lights in the Solarium goes out.
The carriages escape into the Slavic-Nordic Chamber.
Here, the bewitched painting of a Nordic Winter God blows a blizzard, which leaves the frame engulfs the room with a wintery blast.
The carriage rotates and faces a mirror, which becomes covered in ice and shatters.
Arms & Armour
Rushing out of the chilly chamber and into Arms & Armour, we see Albert evading a Samurai’s deadly katana. Hiding in the cannon barrel, he barely dodges each slice.
The cannon beside Albert blasts off, sending the carriage backwards. The path splits from here: depending on the carriage you’ve boarded, you will see different things for the rest of the Arms & Armour room.
Enchanted with magic dust, the armored helms start to sing.
Magic’s in the air today.
Stand beside me, don’t look away.
Try to find some words to say.
If you think you’re fine here, somebody’s got to pay.
Oh, running away from an ancient curse,
And hiding will only make it worse.
The other path shows a lone Mongolian armor laughing at his collection of helms.
In the room of Egyptian Antiquities, scarabs rush out from an open sarcophagus – dousing the chamber in darkness.
The carriages emerge into a noisy chamber – dominated by a large statue of a Tiki god. Lasers shoot out of its eyes, as lava flows out of its mouth. Other statues and totem poles chant the song of the music box… While some of them were not as friendly…
Weapons were fired and miss the carriages. However, Albert becomes trapped and whimpers for help!
The music dust dances around the Chinese Salon, enchanting the large statue of the Monkey King. A storm begins to brew in the salon, making paintings flap in the wind – the music dust lifts a panda off a scroll…
As the wind stirs into a tornado in the room, the panda flies into another painting – with cranes.
Lightning bolts strike from the statue of the Monkey King, barely missing Albert who was hiding behind a painting.
Another bolt of lightning and the wall breaks apart. The storm grows ever more violent.
Albert jumps off a broken harp and catches the music box.
Return to Acquisitions and Cataloguing
Albert returns the music box into the Acquisitions and Cataloguing room. Clouds of music dust swarm around the room, flying back into the box.
The last jet of music dust returns as Albert touches the jewel of the music box.
The box closes and the room returns to normal.
Lord Henry reappears, happy to have found Albert.
“Albert! There you are. You didn’t touch that music box, did you? Hmm you never know, legends might just be true. Well I do you hope you enjoyed your visit to Mystic Manor! Cheerio!”
The most adorable monkey lies, and laughs to himself. Albert waves goodbye to guests, as the carriages move out of the room to the unload area.
The unload area is not some plain room with flat walls. As it is directly behind the loading area, it has the same level of detail. Still so much to see even after the ride is over.
Clearly, Lord Henry has acquired way too many artifacts.
Mystic Manor is probably one of the most technically advanced attractions I’ve ever experienced. And also the most amazing. An attraction of this quality can usually be only be found in Tokyo Disney Resort, so I am really glad to see Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland instead.
With licensed characters being a norm in theme parks nowadays, it’s a risk to build an expensive ride with all-new characters. Walt Disney Imagineering has once again succeeded with original characters – Lord Henry and Albert, which are memorable and easily recognizable. These characters are also part of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers universe, which spans multiple Disney theme parks.
Albert appears in several scenes throughout the attraction, and each time its always a joy to see its animatronic figures. The movements are so fluid and realistic – plus expressive: there’s magic in its eyes. I’ve noticed that Albert is configured to look at guests in carriages – making guests feel part of the experience than just an audience. The CGI version of Albert in the Chinese Salon has a different appearance and could be tweaked for consistency.
Music plays a major role in Mystic Manor, and Danny Elfman composed a memorable tune worthy of being a future Disney Parks classic. The same motif lingers in all parts of the attraction, starting as soon as the queue area. This is a modern twist on the classic “Haunted Mansion concept”. It’s a shame really that there is no soundtrack album for Mystic Manor (I’m sure if Mystic Manor was built at Tokyo Disney Resort, multiple CDs might’ve been released by now). Hong Kong Disneyland should consider releasing the complete soundtrack (the complete score, plus a ride-through mix!)
One highly-marketed feature of Mystic Manor is its heavy use of “4K projections” – something that Disney’s rival – Universal Studios – have been using so much that their park rides might soon be filled with nothing but projections. Disney does not abuse this technology, with most of the projections landing on non-traditional surfaces – that is: things that don’t look like a giant screen, or projections that naturally “leak” out of a screen.
The Chinese Salon scene is the only room that had heavy use of projections and flat walls. And I am sure the resolution of these projections are truly 4K – no pixelation even when viewed up close from the ride vehicles. It is also impossible to see the “seam” where different projections overlap. To break away from the flatness (literally), the wall does come apart. Plus, lightning and floating music dust lend dimension into the scene.
Mystic Manor and the Haunted Mansion
A lot of theme park fans felt that Mystic Manor is Hong Kong Disneyland’s answer to the Haunted Mansion. To me, I feel that apart from some similarities (which are most likely placed as tributes to the classic Disney dark ride), Mystic Manor feels more like a cousin to Tokyo DisneySea’s Tower of Terror. I won’t be surprised if Tokyo decides to build a copy of Mystic Manor after HKDL’s exclusivity period expires. Mystic Manor provides a tour experience, and feels is definitely like a museum than an abandoned house. There are no spirits or hauntings in the manor, and the grounds are kept spic-and-span.
To conclude: With a charming storyline, exotic premise and amazing technical execution, Mystic Manor is definitely an incredible attraction and the new flagship ride at Hong Kong Disneyland. This is one of those “can’t get enough” attractions.
I’m surprised that there isn’t much discussion online about the music dust effect? There seems to be no good information about this online, apart from it being projected from lasers.
From what I’ve observed: the music dust is implemented in two ways: “Floating/Air” and “Surface” projections. I think that the “floating” effect is achieved by projecting laser beams onto a scrim-like material, or some fabric “substrate”. Notably, the floating effects can only be observed in the ride’s dark scenes – such as the Acquisitions and Cataloguing scenes, possibly because the effect would not be convincing if the substrate is visible. The surface projections are laser dots projected directly onto walls and props, thus they lack the full “3D floating” effect.
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