The latest addition, and final phase of the new expansion to Hong Kong Disneyland, Mystic Point, is finally open.
We’ve been watching this particular area develop from concrete frames into the exotic mansion from behind the construction walls and it is nice to finally see the finished product. Sadly, like the neighbouring land of Grizzly Gulch there is only one ride in Mystic Point with the rest of the area taken up with gardens and props to walk through and a food court (that I will blog about in another post).
The entrance to Mystic Manor winds its way past antiquities and hints as to the ride ahead. Currently on the few times we have visited so far the wait for the ride has been between 1/2 an hour and an hour depending on the day. Expect to queue, and if the queue is out the door as it is here, the queue to last for at least another 15 to 20 minutes once you make it inside this door (but at least you have the cool luxury of air conditioning once you get to this door).
Once you reach the turn-styles, you are herded through in groups. Firstly to wait to go into a ‘waiting room’, then you enter a room where you meet Lord Henry and his mischievous monkey named Albert. They give you a short talk about the house before you exit through doors on the opposite side of the room and end up … in another queue to board your magneto-electric carriage.
The carriages seat up to 6 people – 3 in the front and 3 in the back. The cool thing about the carriages are they have no track. I’m not sure whether they use magnets or transmitters of some kind in the floor, but it means that you potentially have 4 different routes you may be taken on in the ride depending on the carriage you end up in. Four routes because carriages go through the ride 4 at a time.
The ride takes you through several rooms in the house, starting in a room housing a mysterious box that the little monkey Alfred can’t keep his eyes off… or his hands … and from that point on magic and some pretty nifty holographic special effects ensue.
The rooms all ‘interract’ with you, whether it be paintings where the images change, urns with dancing animals, plants that want to eat you or weapons that want to destroy you. The whole ride is imbued with typical Disney majesty and makes for an ok ride. Personally I can’t help but feel there is something missing on the ride … it seems to be crying out for a more “3D” experience in terms of the rider .
My kids like it, although my son who isn’t into ‘thrill rides” doesn’t like the weapons effects at all, so if your child gets a bit jittery on rides you might want to either cover their eyes during the visit to the armoury or avoid the ride until they are older. Bethany loves it, and I have to admit the scenes with “magic” are exactly what I would expect from Disney. The story is cute, but the characters are detached from the Disney universe so people don’t connect with them as easily or feel as compelled to them.
Outside the mansion, the rest of Mystic Point is gardens housing optical illusions.
You may have to queue to get pictures with the illusions as the one directly opposite the mansion it particularly popular. We decided to bypass it and head to the griffin instead.
It seems like a winged dragon-like water creature when looked at face on.
But all is not as it seems. Great for a few photos … but not much else.
There is another ‘illusion’ with a picture on the ground you stand on. No matter how hard we tried we couldn’t get that illusion to work correctly, so felt a little let down. Since their first experience with the garden in Mystic Point the kids have never been interested in looking through it again so it feels a wasted space … a missed opportunity to include something more interactive or another ride.
The kids did enjoy looking through some of the antiquities though…
It now leaves the question where to next for Hong Kong Disneyland. Shanghai is breathing down their necks as its opening date draws closer and the three new lands they’ve just completed aren’t going to maintain the local Hong Kong interest for long if more isn’t on the drawing board.
I’ve heard a couple of rumours – one is a new resort altogether – a water park complex and new hotel right next to Disneyland. The other rumour I have heard is a MARVEL themed land (you know – Spidey, Iron Man, Hulk, etc). Personally I think both would make fantastic additions to the area but I do believe Hong Kong needs to allow enough room to continue to expand Disneyland for the coming decade. It faces fierce competition from Ocean Park and with 2 other Disneyland’s (Tokyo and Shanghai (coming soon)) breathing over their little sisters shoulder it needs to remain competitive for the local and tourist dollar or it will be the first Disneyland to fail – and no one wants to see that. The area has so much potential and while I know dollars play a big role it would be great to see a clear plan of the next phase to start chatter and anticipation amongst the various communities Hong Kong Disneyland feeds. Let’s hope they share their vision with us soon …