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AlexB

Hong Kong TR - April 2015

17 posts in this topic

Whew! After a whirlwind trip through Hong Kong this past week, the wife and I are exhausted!

I'll focus on the major attractions we visited, but i'm going to post this in pieces. Photos to come a little later on.

Hong Kong is our closest Disney park - at around 8 hours flight out of Brisbane. I first visited HKDL in 2009, and found it a little underwhelming. Being that Space Mountain is one of my favourites - I was ok with the rest of the park's mediocre offering, but it was clear the park needed more.

From what I understand, the original design for HKDL was targeted at the locals - who like less thrill, and more entertainment - So the park was built heavily around shows, character appearances and photo opportunities. The park had only one major thrill ride - SpaceMountain, along with Disney staples like Tea Cups, Small World, Jungle Cruise, Autopia, Astro Blasters, Dumbo and Tarzan's Treehouse.

My first visit I caught Mickey's Philharmagic, but skipped Festival of the Lion King, Stitch Encounter and the Golden Mickeys.

This time round, I was able to catch everything in the park, including the park's three new 'lands' - Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Manor and Toy Story Land.

Day 1 - Flight Day (tuesday)

Thanks to heavily discounted flights, our only choice was a daytime departure, which saw us arrive into Hong Kong at around 6pm. After clearing a very efficient customs hall, we walked across the concourse directly into the Hong Kong MTR Airport Express station. After picking up an Octopus each, Casey and I boarded for the 25 minute trip to Kowloon Express station. At HK$90 (about $16) it's not the cheapest way to get from Lantau Island to the Mainland (or HK Island) but it is the best value - with other options taking more than an hour. After disembarking at Kowloon Express station - we again crossed a short concourse to waiting shuttle buses (free of charge as part of the Airport Express) where various routes took you to most major tourist hotels.

We stayed at the Eaton Hotel - a fairly popular recommendation by our Frequent Flyer program as well as trip advisor and several local guidebooks. It wasn't lavish, but it was good value, comfortable (if somewhat small) and offered all major amenities. New travellers to Hong Kong should bear in mind locals prefer hard mattresses, and hotel rooms are likely to be half the size of what you're used to in a region where floorspace is at a premium. After a reasonably priced 'pub meal' at the hotel, and a short walk down Nathan road to the Yau Ma Tei MTR station to check out the route we needed for tomorrow - we crashed for the night.

Day 2 - Hong Kong Disneyland (wednesday) Part 1

Thanks to a 2 hour time difference, we were wide awake at 5am local time. We decided to check out Jordan MTR station (down Nathan Road in the other direction) in search of a decent coffee. Alas our only options were McCafe or Starbucks - the latter of which did not open until 7am. We killed another 20 minutes waiting and settled on a passable cup of joe to take back to our room to try and wake up before we departed.

Just before 8am - we headed for Yau Ma Tei. Morning peak hour seems to go for about 5 hours, and trains run every 1-2 minutes during that time so we waited very little before boarding a fairly packed train up to Lai King to change trains to Sunny Bay on Lantau Island. From there we crossed the platform to the Disneyland Resort line where 4 minutes later the Shuttle train arrived to whisk us away 'to the magical world of Hong Kong Disneyland'.

For anyone who ever wonders why so many people rave about Disney so much, all one needs to do is see the station and train at Sunny Bay. The platform was upgraded specifically for Disneyland and presents far better than any other station on the network. The trains, with their Mickey shaped windows, bronzed statues positioned all the way down the train, Mickey shaped overhead handles, starry night motifs on the roof, classic photos of Mickey and Walt riding original Disneyland trains, and a Tinkerbell themed announcement at the start and end of the trip. The station at Disneyland Resort is even more opulent, in classic 'Main St USA' style (albeit with lifts and escalators)

total trip time from Hotel to Gate was about 40 minutes - 10 of which was the walk to Yau Ma Tei.

HKDL's entrance is similar to DL california's current entrance, sans California Adventure - from the station you walk down a promenade towards a large bronze fountain featuring the classic Mickey and Friends characters, with Mickey surfing atop a giant Monstro statue. The park itself is a right turn at the fountain, with the path layouts hinting that Disney have left the design open for a second gate arrangement similar to that in California.

We arrived an hour early than needed - mainly through overly cautious planning than any desire to sit around a fountain listening to back-to-back disney classics, but it was pleasant enough and gave plenty of time for some photos, as well as time to notice 'the little details' that Disney is known for. We'd purchased our tickets online in advance (which are discounted), and a very efficient online ticket collection station was set up on one side inside the gates, which opened 30 minutes before the park - where all you needed was the original purchaser's credit card to collect.

We then started the first of many queues (we thought) at the front gates for some more waiting. A nice little ceremony for park opening where an Aussie kid and his parents were taken inside, did a few photos before the boy and his dad used a mickey key to unlock a mickey padlock at declare the park open at precisely 10am.

I was surprised that the Disneyland Railroad had not arrived at the main station at opening, and we soon discovered it was closed. I'd read ahead for maintenance and knew that the Emporium store was under renovation (pretty much the entire left side of Main Street) - but it was still open and trading. A very clever construction hoarding was set up around the entire store, which had been covered in an image of the very store it was covering. The effect was infinitely better than plain white hoarding, but the artificial nature of the hoarding was disappointing.

It was then that we rounded the corner, and realised the Emporium wasn't the only structure under renovations.

Sleeping Beauty Castle was also under maintenance. The result wasn't fantastic.

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What do you think? I walked towards it thinking "well at least it wasn't plain boards or hessian cloths covering it" but I realised later that it was both good and bad... more on that later.

We headed straight for the plaza inn at the top of main street keen to see if the Fireworks Dinner had any vacancies. We needn't have worried as there were precisely Zero reservations. At $328HKD (About $60AUD) the restaurant offered a classic Chinese menu, followed by reserved seating in the middle of the hub for the parade and fireworks.

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Although Dinner came much (obviously) later in the day - since the menu is here - i'll say this - it was "interesting" to try a cuisine that was alien to us, and there were good points and bad points on it overall. Everything was quite tasty, although several ingredients put us off eating it all. Overall it was good to experience traditional Chinese cuisine (and probably much safer in Disney than on a street corner) but not something we'd do again. Given the price of other food options in the park - it was only marginally more expensive than anything else - but as it came with the VIP seating area for the fireworks and Parade, it was worth it, not to have to reserve our spot hours in advance like many others.

End of part 1 - Tomorrow i'll bring you (fittingly) Tomorrowland!

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HK Disneyland certainly has one of the prettiest locations for a Disneyland. I think it's on a scale with the original park, just with a lot fewer rides. I hate it when they count a water fountain as an attraction.

It's still worth visiting. I think their Tomorrowland looks very cool. I always get picked for the Stitch Encounter (especially if you sit at the back row, right hand side of the theatre). It's great when you throw them off script..

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Day 2 - Disneyland (wednesday) Part 2 - Tomorrowland

After securing our dinner tickets, we headed for Tomorrowland. Being that Space Mountain has been my favourite since my first Disney Park in 1996, it's also been one of Casey's favourites since she first went to LA two years ago... naturally that had to be our first stop. SM has a fastpass option, however - it isn't needed.

You start at the outdoor queue, where one or two staff carefully point out to you that you are about to enter a roller-coaster attraction. This is the local non-thrillseeking influence... Riders walk through a turnstile where they are held in an indoor pre-show area whilst a multi-lingual video runs on a continual loop. Groups are admitted into the loading area roughly the time of the preshow video - which is about 2 minutes. The video carefully mentions again that the ride is a high speed indoor rollercoaster in the dark. The ride also has a single rider queue - but the requirement for you to watch the 2 minute video (and then wait for the main queue to also finish the video) means single rider actually takes a little longer on a ride that has such excellent capacity.

There's not much to be said about the ride itself - a classic Disney SM experience - of course all are slightly different - and the audio guy in me cringes hearing the poorly extended looped soundtrack to fit the track, but every other part of it as good as always. Casey even decided HK's version was her new favourite... I have to agree with her when compared with the 'current' version in LA - however the original SM in LA prior to the retracking and refurb is still my favourite.

We took the opportunity with the minimal 2 minute queue time to re-ride several (5) times before moving on to our next stop...

Autopia. Unlike LA - the HK version runs entirely electrically, and has only one pedal with an auto-stop when you take your foot off of it. The dashboard has a neat little speedometer effect that ramps up when you accelerate - suggesting one may be doing 130-150km/h (while in fact only walking). Engine sound effects, revving, screeching tyres and other effects triggered by your enthusiasm on the accelerator complete the picture to simulate the action. The landscaping was nicely done (as always) and I would have to say I think this was the biggest queue longest wait in the park on this day. The benefits to the wait time however was the chance to get a glimpse over the construction hoarding (yes - here too) for Tomorrowland's newest attraction being sandwiched in between Autopia and Buzz Lightyear - the "Iron Man Experience". Not much to see except concrete slabs and some walls starting to take shape, but it will be interesting to see what they've come up with when it opens.

Buzz's Astro Blasters were next - and here was a perfect demonstration of how a shooter should be done. Efficient omni-mover loading system, two riders to a car - it was fun, with the added bonus of being able to spin the gondola 360 degrees and shoot from all angles. Not sure why Casey seemed to be managing to outscore me by several hundred thousand points - at one point maxxing the ride system out at 9999999. Having been on both HK and LA's version of BLAB, I think HK does it better.

We chose to move onto other rides here, instead of Stitch Encounter as the attraction runs 3 languages and our timing was off... Fortunately we got the last English show of the day later in the afternoon (as the next day in the park it didn't run english at all!). Stitch encounter is similar to 'Donkey Live!' in USS or Turtle Talk with Crush in DCA. Having seen both of those, I had high expectations for Stitch (however I haven't seen the movie - so had no background on the character)... so of course I was one of the people singled out by Stitch to have a chat. I tried as hard as I could to make the interaction difficult for him - and he shone through with flying colours. I'm still very keen to understand how they achieve the combined effects seamlessly all at once. Unfortunately we lost a lot of time in the show when Stitch singled out a group to talk to who didn't want to talk... because they didn't speak english. Turns out that out of all the languages Stitch offered, English was their best language - and it was still very painful.

Wrapping up Tomorrowland was Astro Orbiter - a space themed Dumbo attraction which we decided to give a miss as the queue was pretty long. I don't think i'll ever begin to comprehend or understand the locals and their lack of thrill-seeking nature, but the good part about it was all the good stuff had minimal waiting times.

The central area of Tomorrowland offered extensive seating, which seemed a bit of a waste considering the seating areas offered nearby at both food outlets. The park's design shows it was always set up to cater for massive numbers which just never seem to eventuate.

Tomorrowland also featured a few snack stands, a western 'fast food' outlet, an asian 'sit down' restaurant, and a popcorn cart... with only the last two of those actually open. Seemed like we were destined to be stuck only with Chinese food options in the park, and although it was by now pushing lunch time we decided to head over to the other side of the park to Adventureland and seek out something else.

Later today - Part 3 - Adventureland

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Great TR AlexB- did you end up going to Ocean Park? It has a great B&M floorless lol. I went to HK last year- had a great time, did like their Space Mountain (only one I've been on anyway!)

I'm surprised the HK version is your favourite SM- you probably haven't been on the one in Paris right?

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Day 2 - Disneyland (wednesday) Part 3 - Adventureland

We decided to skip fantasyland for the moment and trek across to Adventureland. Compared to LA, Adventureland is a bit of a disappointment - It has all the hallmarks of a 'classic' adventureland layout, but lacks substance.

Adventureland's only major attraction is the Jungle Cruise, however it takes the place of the 'Rivers of America' one would be familiar with in that region of Disneyland. The Jungle Cruise circles an island before delving into the animatronic zoo that is the cruise. Hong Kong offers the Jungle Cruise in 3 separate languages - English and (i presume) Cantonese and Mandarin. The three queues work well and the groupers do a fine job of keeping each line moving at roughly the same pace.

As I've read on other blogs (and from my past experience at the park) the bi-lingual skippers sometimes leave a little bit lost in translation. Thankfully today's cruise had a skipper who appeared to have reasonably mastered English and the delivery was reasonable, and the humor was at least understandable. The finale of the cruise is definitely a step up from Disneyland's, and a nice addition - but i'll not spoil it for anyone who hasn't yet seen it.

Adventureland is also home to 'tarzan's treehouse'. Unlike other treehouses with a 'swiss family conversion', HK's version was built as Tarzan right from the start. It has several nice little touches - a crib rocking up in the treetops, some nice animatronics of some major animal characters from the film. Throughout the tree tour there are little 'books' that tell part of the story of the film as you progress through the tour.The tree is quite realistic, and also affords a nice view over the Adventureland end of the park.

The treehouse is built on what would be Tom Sawyer Island in California - this is the island that the jungle cruise circles, and unlike California, the treehouse is the only activity on the island. It requires a raft to cross the river, and to be quite honest it seems like a waste for them to have inserted the tree on the island - inaccessible except by raft. The tree does provide a great focal point to the land, but I can't help but think that a better use of the space might have been a Fantasmic-esque stage.

Another Adventureland "attraction" is the Leaky Tikis. This is a small water play fountain type attraction that in most other parks wouldn't even rate a mention on the 'attraction guide' but this park somehow makes it an attraction on level with Jungle Cruise... showing the severe lacking of attractions in this area.

Of course - HKDL have stayed true to form on 'local design elements' by installing another show in Adventureland - and what would be more fitting, than "Festival of the Lion King".

It's been said on many Disney park blogs that HKDL's FotLK is a standout to the others as it remains true to the original film. Although I haven't seen any others, I have to say I was quite impressed with how the show was put on. The show features 4 large animatronic floats - featuring a Giraffe, an Elephant, a float for Timon and Pumbaa, and a Pride Rock float with a very impressive Simba animatronic atop. Actors then re-enact the entire Lion King film in costume from start to finish - an impressive and well rounded performance featuring many of the songs from the film... A multi-levelled stage morphs and changes from scene to scene and is well utilised for best effect during the show.

Once again Adventureland hosted several different food outlets - however again - most were closed, and the only fare offered within was a sit-down Chinese affair.

Adventureland is sorely missing something - another anchor attraction to tie it all up. What it has is quality - but it needs more.

Next up - the three new lands - Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Manor and Toy Story Land.

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Another great update Alex. I agree wholeheartedly that Adventure Land is beautiful but needs more attractions & their version of the Jungle Cruise is a little lacking IMHO accept for that finale. There was a street stall you passed on the side where the Lion King show was, I don’t know what they were cooking there but BOY did it smell up that end of the river. Have fun at the next three lands & say hello to Albert for me ;-)

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Day 2 - Disneyland (wednesday) Part 4 - Grizzly Gulch

The three new lands in HKDL take little time to get through, so this part of the TR is likely to be quick (although verbose as I am it'll probably be just as long!).

Grizzly Gulch is a merging of several concepts from Disney parks - Frontier Land and Critter Country, but the main theme being a little "big thunder mountain".

Its main only attraction is the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars. The area is well themed as a western town, the concept being a mining community founded when they struck gold. It is pleasantly themed with rockery, and as you walk through the land (with the coaster weaving all around you) you really do feel 'westernised' (I'd like MW to take a look at this about how to do a western area properly - even if you only have one ride!). Even little touches - like horse-shoe prints embedded in the concrete, alongside wagon tracks.

This land yet again struggled and showed the park expected low attendance, as demonstrated by a single food outlet being opened, again mainly offering Chinese fare and some snack food like corn on the cob. Several food carts were placed out and about, but obviously closed.

The attraction listing for Grizzly Gulch also listed the Grizzly Gulch Welcome Wagon Show - sadly this wasn't on the showtimes today and was obviously a sign of low park attendance. Also listed on the 'attraction' list was 'Geyser Gulch' - yet another water play area for people to cool down in the Hong Kong heat. At a pleasant 27 degrees - this wasn't of much interest to most people - except the kids bashing away on the 'bellows' which had a water cannon attached aimed at another set of bellows across a pathway - surely a good place to have a water fight - if only the guns would actually reach.

We passed several other outlets and carts, all shuttered and clearly HKDL wasn't interested in getting our money - at least in this land anyway.

We headed into the Mine Cars, where an elaborately themed queue line took you on a journey past incredibly well done mining theming (if WWF is to get an upgrade - they should check this out). Quite genuine, with photos of "miners" here and there - taken in front of actual parts of the coaster course. My only complaint is that too many switchbacks were unavoidable. The ride clearly was a walk-on, and yet the queueline was easily a few hundred metres when it didn't need to be. The actual result of such a queueline was that the ride would hold waiting for people in the last 100 metres of the queueline to walk their way to the front. I like that Disney do their queues well, and one should always have the option to walk through it if one should wish, but there should be a shortcut line for riders who just want to keep riding to be able to queue back up without walking a half marathon.

The storyline for the coaster (and herein lies the critter country connection) was that bears were wreaking havoc around the mine. You depart the station quite quickly into a downhill corner and ride up and down a few little hills before the first lift, where near the top you discover the first of the bears causing problems - this one scratching his butt up against a lever that switches the track from the 'green' track to the 'red' track marked with danger signs. Of course... we're going down the 'danger' track. What followed was a leisurely run through some more hills and valleys without much thrill except the occasional headchopper. Eventually you find yourself on a track up a hill where a chugging steam engine drives the wheels that run the lift hill until at the very last moment the cable visibly snaps, flying into the air and sending you backwards through more well themed canyons and valleys, past 'geyser gulch', unfortunately extremely sedately, slowly and smoothly. You slow down further as you back into a cave, where overhead more bears are playing with explosives. Naturally (after the necessary time for the switch track to lock in), the bears blow the dynamite, and a burst of compressed air, bright lights and smoke sends you launching out of the cave again, this time for a much more enjoyable, fast run through even more canyons, with more impressive headchoppers until very quickly (too soon) you arrive at the brake run back into the station - where you again see the bears who have crashed their own mine cart through a wall looking very happy with themselves, before rounding a corner back into the brake run.

From a speedpace perspective - I'd say the launched section was similar in speed to Jet Rescue. The other sections were slower than that. The ride overall was enjoyable, but i feel it lacked some of the excitement that it's Big Thunder counterparts have.

I cannot praise the theme of the ride enough, it was very well done - the coaster itself, whilst enjoyable, just seemed to be a bit of a let down compared to my expectations. I feel like the 'local touch' has played a part here, downplaying the ride experience for the sake of the local market and tastes.It could have been so much more than what it was, but considering the market it was targeted to, i'd say they've done a stellar job at making up for the lack of thrill with an incredibly well done theme - the whole area was akin to Radiator Springs Racers in terms of it's desolate theme and well suited queueline.... However RSR had more thrill to it.

Next up - Mystic Manor

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Day 2 - Disneyland (wednesday) Part 5 - Mystic Point

Disclaimer here: Whilst many of us are familiar with Disney Dark Rides and their concepts - Mystic Manor is a unique ride-story and theme, unlike any other Disney dark ride attraction. If you haven't experienced Mystic Manor - there are spoilers within the below TR. If you don't want to know what's coming before you get a chance to ride it - i'd suggest skipping over the spoiler section in this part of the TR.

So after a bit of time off (and sorry for the delay) we continue with the next instalment – Mystic Point.

Like Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point was part of the major expansion project to HKDL to try and develop a greater offering for the park. Where Grizzly Gulch is a melding of themes from other classic Disney attractions and lands, Mystic Point star (only) attraction – Mystic Manor is intended to take the place of the classic Haunted Mansion. The ride does well to offer something different, which was clearly their intention (otherwise they’d have just built a haunted mansion in it’s place).

The ride experience is different to HM – there are no ‘doom buggies’ or ‘omnimover’ vehicles here. Each ride vehicle is capable of independent movement – following pre-determined trackless pathways akin to Toy Story Mania in California Adventure, or Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. The bonus here is that each ride experience can be slightly different depending on which car position you take (4 launch at one time, and frequently change position throughout the ride) with several paths offering a different adventure on each ride.

The theme of the ride itself differs from HM – there are no ‘departed spirits’ or ghosts – due to differences in Chinese Culture. Instead it offers more of a fantasy based theme, based on a magical music box.

The attraction kicks off (as with most Disney dark rides) with an elaborately themed queue – this one indoors (mostly) and incredibly well air-condtioned (it was quite cold actually). The queue (Like Grizzly) is exceedingly long – although not as unnecessarily long as Grizzly, and with far more to keep one occupied if waiting a long time (we didn’t). The queue has many framed pictures showing history of the Manor, the adventures of Lord Henry Mystic, and his little companion Albert – a monkey akin to Abu from Aladdin, but wearing more Chinese garb.

At the end of the queue you pass through turnstiles into an open waiting area containing more pictures of Lord Mystic and floorplan layouts of the Manor, including what each room is ‘themed’ for. After a short wait, guests are admitted into a sort of library – the room is Octagonal, and is very reminiscent of the Haunted Mansion pre-show lift – used to transport guests below the berm to continue the ride on the outside of the park boundary. In this case – it is used as a projection room – we hear Lord Mystic welcome us to the Manor and talk about the tour we’ll be taking today – with him showing slides of his adventures. We also meet Albert for the first time, as he cheekily pops up out of his hiding place to say hello. Lord Mystic also talks about his latest acquisition – a magical music box – which Albert appears to have quite an affinity for. After completing the slide show, an alternate door to the room opens and you proceed down another corridor – this one not quite as elaborately themed. Whilst this section appears to be an additional queue (Queue D), it would appear it’s use as a queue is minimal as ride vehicles already stand at the ready for boarding.

After the necessary loading tasks are out of the way, 4 ride vehicles proceed into the first room (‘scene 3’) which is set up as the ‘acquisitions and cataloguing room’ – here is where Lord Henry’s latest trinkets and souvenirs from his trips are stored, pending display within the manor. Front and centre, in pride of place is the new music box. After making a brief appearance as an animatronic, he leaves us to go in search of Albert – who naturally – promptly appears behind the music box the second Lord Mystic closes the door. Cheekily, he marvels at the music box before opening it – where the room fades to black momentarily before being lit up by ‘musical light’ – this light (what appears to be points of blue and green laser) tell the rest of the story through-out the manor – as little touches of the light indicates the effects of the music box on the contents of the manor itself.

Now that the scene is set, the ride vehicles whisk you away into ‘scene 4’ the music room, where the score of the music box is reinforced by many musical artifacts displayed within the room. Albert appears atop a giant organ which provides the melody for the soundtrack, as the ride vehicles tilt you this way and that in order to fully appreciate and experience all aspects of the room.

‘Scene 5’ – Mediterranean Antiquities is our next stop – with ride vehicles forming into single file, proceeding past numerous wall hangings and pottery that come to life as you pass – accompanied by the laser light leading the way. A tribute to Haunted Mansion is within this scene – both the transforming Medusa, and the ‘following busts’.

Our next scene – ‘Scene 6’ – is the ‘Solarium’ – predominantly Albert getting into a tricky situation with some giant Venus Fly Traps, before the ride vehicles form up onto two different channels – ‘Scene 7a or 7b’ (depending on your ride track) – both themed as a Nordic chamber. The room is arctic-ly cold, before an enchanted mirror comes to life and blows icy breath to spin you about. Each room is an identical, albeit mirror-image of the other.

‘Scene 8’ – Arms and Armour – features a large array of Suits of Armor, Cannons and other medieval weaponry – all enchanted by the music box. A couple of cannons off to the side have been bewitched – one containing Albert, whilst the other takes aim at your carriage before firing directly overhead. Vehicles split again in this room, taking either a path past some singing suits of armor, or another with various weapons hovering about.

‘Scene 9’ – the Egyptian antiquities has the ever present scarab beetles escaping from the mummy’s sarcophagus, before the room goes black and guests are lightly hit by special effects designed to simulate being attacked by the scarabs – water and wind combine to great effect.

‘Scene 10’ – Tribal Arts – feature many carvings, singing totem poles, an artefact spewing forth lava and other items reminiscent of the Tiki Room (on purpose) round out this section before we are shot at by blowdarts and tribal archers – which fortunately miss us, but as we spin around – we see that unfortunately the archers and tribal warriors were aiming at Albert – who is now pinned to the wall by various weapons, darts and knives.

‘Scene 11’ – the Chinese Salon – has numerous Chinese themed artifacts upon the wall, and the whole room appears alive with the music and lasers of the music box. A central statue of a chinese figure dominates the room. As we enter, we are set upon by a maelstrom vortex, with wind spinning each of three ride vehicles into a crescendo of music and lightning – which eventually (and spectacularly) breaks down a sidewall, where we see the tornado is having a similar effect on the outside environment – and captured within the vortex is the music box, and Albert – who is desperately trying to reach the box before the entire house is demolished.

‘Scene 12’ – a return to the ‘Acquisitions and Cataloguing Room’ (obviously a copy) we see the maelstrom continue, with Albert trying desperately to close the music box and restore the Manor to its un-animated form. A short blackout (for the show control to remove the scrims from the scene) is followed by normal house lighting returning to the Manor, and Lord Henry Mystic once again appearing to find an innocent looking Albert, an in-tact music box and everything else looking perfectly normal, before bidding us farewell with hopes that we enjoyed the tour of the Manor – exiting to the tune of the music box as we approach unload.

I found a great photo of the layout as shown by two of the guys who developed the attraction:

http://www.themeparkinsider.com/art/news/d23-mysticmanorlayout.jpg

The rest of Mystic Point offers little more than a gift shop, a few food carts and a nicely themed garden – as well as a newly added stop to the Disneyland Railroad well themed with crates and cartons marked with shipping details indicating they are destined for the Manor. The railroad stop here is well needed, given the Park only offered a ‘Main Street’ and ‘Fantasyland’ stop prior to the expansion. It also offers guests an alternative stop to alight from when Fantasyland closes early for the nightly fireworks, given the only way in and out of Toy Story Land at night is via Mystic Point and Grizzly Gulch – as these three lands do not connect to the Hub like most Disney parks do – clearly demonstrating the ‘ad-hoc’ nature of these additions to the park.

This youtube video also gives a great visual representation of the ride control system, along with two individual POV mounted on separate cars within the same ride (as well as a muffled, but still very indicative version of the ride soundtrack:

http://youtu.be/YgXLCwSDLmE

Toy Story Land is next – and I’ll try not to keep you waiting too long for that. ;)

Edited by AlexB

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It's a good question - and I partly discussed this in another thread yesterday. For me - i'm always partial to the 'classic' Disneyland attraction - ie: how it was when I first sawrode it.

Although I draw similarities between the two, as MM is really meant to be HKDL's HM (but for obvious cultural reasons they couldn't just clone it) so they had to come up with their own little storyline, characters etc... - the attractions really are very different - and a comparison is difficult... you will easily be able to 'pick' which one you like better - but comparing one to the other - they're totally different ride experiences.

For me I think today's imagineers rely too heavily on gimmicks - sure the trackless systems are great - you can position your rider precisely where you want them rather than having to theme and dress everything that will be visible. There were lots of 'blank spots' within MM that in HM are cleverly covered with the appropriate theme.

Eg: the maintenance bay for HM is between unload and load - so you don't see it unless you're riding MIP - however the maintenance bay for MM is accessed through scene 5 - mediterranean antiquities - this means one of the walls in this section needs to be moveable - which also means they need to be able to set it back precisely in the same spot in order for the projection effects to work seamlessly... and just like the trackless vehicles leave tracks on the floor from the constant repetition of the same path (locals can look at Big Red Car to see what I mean), the maintenance door also left a 'track'. Whilst fairly well hidden - a person with attention to detail (or who knows where to look) will spot the door immediately.

Mystic Manor stands on it's own. It's not a 'poor man's haunted mansion', and I think it has long suffered that mantle because in the absence of any other 'concept' to compare it to, that was how it was first announced. It's not a Haunted Mansion, but it is what took the place of the HM in HK - it isn't trying to be HM - it's more like - Zombie Evilution took the place of the Vortex - they're using the same real estate, but are nothing alike in theme. The similarity stops with it being a Mansion. HM is vacant, occupied only by ghouls, whereas MM is occupied by a living and breathing (albeit eccentric) resident - there are no cobwebs in MM - everything is very clean.

I kinda feel like i'm rambling now - so i'll stop - but feel free to ask more questions if this hasn't made sense... it's kinda hard to explain without seeing them both.

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