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The Museum Based Attraction That Disney Made - Mystic Manor

As a lover of history, museum’s, Disney and a great story I was blown away by the attention to detail involved in the “Mystic Manor” and “Mystic Point” attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland.

Mystic Manor, Hong Kong Disneyland (Photograph taken August 2023)

Walt Disney was a great storyteller and the ability of Imagineers (those behind the Disney magic today) to translate this into a great visitor experience is inspirational. In the case of Mystic Manor and Mystic Point, though it is a story of make believe it is easy to get swept up in the tale – just as you would a great movie or book.

The story of Mystic Manor goes; on 1 January 1896, Mystic Point, the home of Lord Henry Mystic was opened to the public so he could share his large collection of world-wide curiosities. Located in the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, the site is known for supernatural and mysterious activity. To make himself feel more at home, Lord Mystic built his English manor in the dense forest. It was here that he met his mischievous companion, a monkey he named Albert.

Yes, this is an attraction/ride but it is based on a mystical or make-believe Museum-type experience, so how could I not love it?! It brings together the concept of a museum (albeit a cabinet of curiosities type experience, but that does match the time in which the story is set) and Disney magic!

Albert appears pre-show to set the scene for what's to come in the attraction (Photograph taken August 2023).

Before visiting Hong Kong, I had heard that this was one of the best attractions in any Disney Park and as it is unique to Hong Kong this makes it extra special.

If you are more familiar with the American parks, then you’ll know all about the Haunted Mansion attraction. Due to differences in Chinese culture, a haunted mansion-ghost/spirit like attraction would not work in the Hong Kong Park so this Mystic Manor attraction was born and opened in 2013.

Mystic Manor is the centre piece to the land entitled “Mystic Point” and is the only ride-like attraction in the land with other features of the land being a restaurant and walk-through attractions/photo opportunities. The manor is imposing, as the feature of the land and amazing to look at with so much detail. This attention to detail is present throughout the entire land and attraction, especially the que area of Mystic Manor which features lots of nods to the story of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A) which is scattered throughout the parks and cruise ships.

Just one of the display cases with "historical" objects located within Mystic Manor (Photograph taken August 2023)

The S.E.A universe is another of Disney’s stories that is woven through all of the parks and other Disney attractions around the world. The mission of S.E.A is to collect, conserve and curate valuable cultural and artistic artefacts from around the world and to make them available to the public.

In the case of Mystic Manor, this story is shared throughout the attraction que which helps wait times move quickly. Display cabinets, like what you’d see in a real museum are situated throughout the que and have plenty of “artifacts” to view that further the story and set the scene for what you are about to experience.

The wait times for this attraction tend to be rather high, especially during bad weather as it is an inside attraction, but if you time your visit to this part of the park right then you can easily walk onto the attraction several times in a row. This was how we were able to try all four carriages and experience something different each time. If you only get the chance to ride this attraction once I recommend the third carriage!

Illustration of Lord Mystic and his vehicle invention, 1900 (Photograph taken August 2023)

The attraction itself uses the trackless ride system which means the carriages can move in unexpected and unique patterns. The ride vehicles, as a means by which to travel around the manor and view Lord Mystic’s antiquities are also part of the story - Lord Mystic invented the ride vehicle himself and even exhibited at the 1900 Paris Expo.

While I don’t consider this attraction scary, I can see how children could be reluctant to ride as some of the elements are the things out of horror films. I know, I had to remind myself I wasn’t in real danger when arrows and spears were aimed and shot in our direction (I think I may have watched one too many tv crime/detective shows where the attraction becomes real, and someone is really injured).

The effects used in the attraction are amazing and it feels like time goes so quickly but the entire time in the carriages is over five minutes, making it a substantial attraction and it is just so engrossing that you lose all track of time.

Once you board your ride vehicle there is much to see! This boarding room is the Acquisitions and Cataloguing Room. In here you’ll see various artifacts in different states of being processed. If you had unlimited time, you could spend it all reading the various object labels but alas, as this is just the loading area you must be quick to see what you can spot! At first glance you could think this was any old Museum collection area (perhaps one with bad practices but nonetheless it looks like a collection facility), especially one from the early twentieth century which shows the attention to detail of Imagineers. I was able to zoom in on at least one artifact and noticed the logo of S.E.A on the object label. (Photographs of objects in the cataloguing room pictured below, taken August 2023).

Without going into the whole story of the attraction, the basis for the ride experience is that Lord Mystic’s cheeky monkey Albert, touches the newest acquisition, a mystical Balinese music box he is not supposed to and anarchy ensues around the manor which you get to experience as all artifacts and paintings come to life!

One of the most notable attraction elements that always gave me a chill was when scarab beetles emerge from a sarcophagus in the Egyptian Antiquities section. While I’m not afraid of bugs, the use of pressurised air and the rapid movement of the illuminated creatures via projection will give anyone a creepy crawly feeling!

An element I think is super cute, is when a panda cub is blown from its painting and begins flying around the Chinese salon. I did note that depending what ride vehicle you were in though, there is a chance you’ll miss the entirety of this element.

The attraction ends with the magic returned to the box and Lord Mystic being none-the-wiser of what has just transpired.

Garden of Wonders (Photograph taken August 2023)

After you exit the attraction (via the gift shop of course), there are a few other things to explore in Mystic Point. My favourite static attraction was the Garden of Wonders, which was great for a respite from the crowds and heat.

Mystic Point tends to be a bit of a bottle neck and very busy area, but few people tend to walk into this garden area. If they did, they’d find some benches located under shady trees away from the hustle and bustle. Most days we’d reach this area after we’d visited everywhere else, so we were often in need of a quite minute to re-coup and get out of the sun. An ice cream cart is located right near the garden, so we’d grab an ice cream, re-fill our water bottles at the fountain and sit for a moment. Also, in this garden were several sculptures and photo opportunities that all tie back into the Mystic Point story.

The best restaurant located in the park can be found in Mystic Point. This is the Explorer’s Club which continues the story of the land, with the club opened by Lord Mystic as a meeting place for members of S.E.A. There are five themed rooms which feature artifacts from those places. The rooms are India, China, Russia, Morocco and Egypt. These rooms all converge on the “Collection Room” which is the central space of the restaurant where the buffet sits. Like the Mystic Manor attraction, the restaurant has lots of nods to antiquities and oddities (as they would have been called at the time) from around the world which further the story of S.E.A but also share small snippets of the history of these ancient cultures.

When we ate at this restaurant we were seated (rather ironically) in the Russia room. This is what Lord Mystic had to say about Russia and I’ll admit I do agree with his sentiment:

All in all, I found Russia rather a cold place heated mainly by borsht and vodka. Albert and I, along with several members of the Siberian Expedition, arrived in Moscow during one of their fabled Russian winters. Impressed, of course, with the architecture and the populace in general. Cheerful and helpful. But I certainly see why Napoleon had so much trouble with the place.

-From the Journal of Lord Henry Mystic, 1 April 1903

If you look closely at the placemat when you sit down in the restaurant there are nods to other S.E.A stories. Most obviously you can see a bag tags from Hotel Hightower (located in Tokyo) and the Adventurer’s Club, Pleasure Island (formerly located in Disney World, Florida before it was closed). [Placemat pictured below, photograph taken August 2023]

So, in summary, the basis for this Disney "land" is the wonder of the world around us and making it available to the public, while the Mystic Manor attraction itself, is in fact a Museum based ride (to be fair, more of a cabinet of curiosities but that is correct of the time period depicted). Who would have thought Disney could curate a ride more perfect for me?!

Mystic Manor, Hong Kong Disneyland (Photograph taken August 2023)

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