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Story behind Mystic Manor: Imagineers get inspired by classic dark rides to create new adventures for Hong Kong Disneyland

in Disney, Entertainment, Hong Kong Disneyland, Theme Parks

When Hong Kong Disneyland officially opens Mystic Point this week, guests will witness the debut of an all-new attraction that feels oddly familiar. Though the story and characters of Mystic Manor are fresh creations for this new ride, longtime fans of Disney’s spookier side will notice some similarities to a few classic theme park experiences, but may be surprised at its high-tech differences.

There is a version of The Haunted Mansion attraction in every Disney theme park resort worldwide – except Hong Kong Disneyland. At Walt Disney World in Florida, Disneyland in California, and Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, it’s Disney’s ever-popular dark experience filled with 999 happy haunts. At Disneyland Paris in France, the same basic idea became Phantom Manor, giving The Haunted Mansion a Frontierland twist. And now in Hong Kong, Imagineers have been inspired once again to create Mystic Manor, offering a similar trip through an unusual mansion, but replacing the supernatural with mystery and intrigue blended with worldly culture.

The two videos below explore offer an extensive overview of the entire Mystic Point area and a closer look inside Mystic Manor, guided by Imagineers and executives responsible for the creations.

We’ve already shared a few ride-throughs of Mystic Manor, but these videos offer a more in-depth look at what these experiences are all about – without giving too much away – followed by an extensive interview that further explores the inspiration behind it all.


Video: Closer Look at Mystic Point experiences – Characters, store, restaurant


Video: Making of Mystic Manor with Imagineers


The Story Behind the Story

Walt Disney Imagineer Mark Schirmer is the Executive Creative Director of Mystic Manor along with Mystic Point, the new land that’s home to the groundbreaking new ride. He recently has worked on popular attractions like Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek and Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters in Tokyo Disneyland.

For Hong Kong Disneyland, Schirmer and his Imagineering team crafted an elaborate story inspired by some of the most widely-enjoyed Disney attractions of all time, knowing that what they were creating would immediately be compared to The Haunted Mansion.

“We actually embraced that,” Schirmer admitted. “That was one of the things we took on as a challenge from a design point of view. On one hand we wanted to go back to classic Disney roots and figure out what is it that was done in the days that Walt developed The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, or some of the great dark rides, and we wanted to go back to that, which was obviously core storytelling.”

15 Comments

  1. ridisneyfan

    Ricky: This is a phenomenal update. Thanks!

  2. Andre

    Ricky – Thank you so much for this awesome feature on Mystic Point. I, as many have, fell in love with Mystic Manor after the very first viewing of the on-ride videos that appeared online just a few short weeks ago. I am also of the collective that feels this themed land would fit in perfectly at Animal Kingdom. Immediately I imagined the rebirth of the Adventures Club as well as the feature attraction Mystic Manor. Of course the version I want for AK would be the definitivie version on a much grander scale, elaborating on the story and extending the overall length of the ride giving the imagineers more of a chance to flex the muscle of this new ride technology. The Mystic Point area itself would also be large enough to add additional attractions exclusive to Animal Kingdom. I am of the Disney fans who absolutely do not want to see the James Cameron’s Avatar land be developed. I did not enjoy the Avatar film and prefer that Disney focus their efforts at creating unique attractions for AK based on world cultures as opposed to film franchises. In my opinion, Movie based attractions need to be developed for DHS park, not Animal Kingdom. Here’s hoping that someday we will be able to experience Mystic Manor here in the U.S.

    On a side note, it’s interesting, but the shops and overall feel of Mystic Point remind me very much of The Tower of Terror grounds and queue.

  3. Don

    I like it but I like Haunted Mansion better because that ride has less story then this one and that’s golden because you can make your own story.
    If this would come to Animal Kingdom it would probably half as long because almost every ride there is amazingly short. Still, if it would be as good as this it would be a nice change of pace after the tangled toilets and the pirates projection thing.

  4. Dustin

    mmmmm show to be released in 2014? … typo there. I look forward to hearing more about this amazing addition to Hong Kong Disneyland…. I really want this land bad here in the states (mainly animal kingdom). I thought that feeling would pass me by now, but it just makes too much sense to me for them not to. WDW is basically half way around the world. Not many people would be able to get to both parks for the same ride

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Thanks for catching that. Fixed!

  5. Rick Blight

    I went to Hong Kong Disneyland early this morning, I was so excited waiting for the rope to drop. Today is May 17, 2013 and this was the opening day of Hong Kong Disneyland’s newest attraction “Mystic Point”. I have visited many times each Disney theme park around the world. I love Disney, everything Walt stood for, and as a child growing up in the 60’s, Walt was on every Sunday. You know what I’m talking about here I’m sure!

    I have seen Buena Vista Street, Carthay Circle Theater, Cars Land, and New fantasyland. You know I see new attractions, streets, and lands that the imagineers are working overtime to remember Walt. I have been to Tokyo & Paris Disneyland, been to Walt Disney World for the first Christmas on December 1971. I love everything Disney. It is like they have finally thought about it for the first time in decades, “let’s make Disney California Adventure (DCA) an extension of Disneyland”. “Let’s think about what Walt might have done”? If Main Street U.S.A. is so successful, then why can we not extend that theme to DCA? As a result we have been given some of the best entertainment from the Disney Company in decades. Walt is back, and I love every second of it! I feel that we are in some of the most exciting Disney stuff, that we have ever seen.

    Okay, this brings me back to Hong Kong Disneyland this morning at 9:30am, I could not nearly hold myself. Mystic Point was about to open, we have waited three years for this day! Every week when I visit Hong Kong Disneyland, I would walk past the construction and wave at the workers building what I believe to be a worldwide Disney attraction. I mean, look at Cars Land, this has to better all of that!

    I will give you a fair and equal description of my day, I went on Mystic Point seven times, I ate at the Mystic Point restaurant, and I bought my pins at the Mystic Point shop. I will use a rating system out of ten, ten being the best and highest rating possible. I may even have a couple of rants, so please excuse me if I ramble a bit.

    I walked through Grizzly Gulch nearly running to the huge wood and brick gates of Mystic Point. Once through the gates, I could not believe my eyes, this was incredible! In the back of my mind I said to myself, step aside Cars Land, this is Disney at its best, and it is all here in my Hong Kong Disneyland. I ran straight to the line up and stood my spot. I must tell you that the theme of the architecture of this zone is incredible. Disney has stopped building lands so it seems, but we now get zones. A “zone” means 15 attractions that consists of 14 photo opportunities, one ride attraction, one gift shop (maybe), and one sort of food outlet. So far to date, all counter or cart service. On a side note, I do not like it at all when Disney calls a photo opportunity an attraction, please give me a break. Been there and done that gets real old for attractions that are only a photo opportunity! One photo is good, been there done that, no need to do it again, sigh.

    I rate the architecture of Mystic Point to be at least 9.8, it is beautiful and wonderful. I now could not wait to get in the door, I was at times jumping up and down wanting the line to move faster. I first walked through a lush outdoor garden winding my way to the entrance of Mystic Point. The only down side while I was waiting in the garden area of Mystic Point, Grizzly Gulch was about 2 yards away at times, the western music show that was going on at that time (good show by the way), was the only thing I could hear, but I was in Mystic Point Zone. Hong Kong Disneyland has totally lost the point of land separation by sound. I thought to myself that it was okay, not really a big deal I guess, I was being far too critical. In this garden there was no real story telling and the theme was greatly lacking I thought. I give this garden area a 6.0.

    I can see the door of Mystic Point!

    Once through the door, and a couple of line wind backs, we started to see some pictures on the wall of this area, but still no story yet. I walked through the door, and we were introduces to The Adventures Club, who Henry was the owner of Mystic Pont, and this is where he lived. Now inside we winded our way back and forth several more times, this was okay, this is Disney. There still was no real story told as yet, we knew that Henry lived at Mystic Point. The next are gave us many more clues.

    There were maps on the walls of the interior layout of Mystic Point. This was really cool as we now knew that there are eight rooms to explore. To be honest there are only seven rooms as one room is visited twice. I held back a bit to study the maps, but the cast members really wanted me to move along. I thought that was not a problem, but I did not have a chance to study all of the rooms as yet. We then walked into a room very nearly like the first room that stretches at the Haunted Mansion. I was going nearly nuts at this point, I would give this room a 8.0 for theme, but a 5.0 for show. Suddenly the lights went out, I nearly screamed out that we are here! The show was a short slide show where Henry introduced himself as the owner of Mystic Point. He then introduced Albert his pet monkey who wanted to play with Henry’s magic music box. Henry invited us in to see his house, and to see all of his artifacts that he has collected in his journeys around the world. I never really did sort out how Albert the monkey fit into all of this except that this monkey is Henry’s pet. Please remember I did go through Mystic Point seven times. Well the room did not stretch, we can’t have it all, we walked through a door that had just opened, we are on our way!

    No we were not on our way, there was two long hallways, one with a switch back, and nothing on the walls, no photos, no further story. I did kind of feel that we were in the basement of the manor, but I was still not sure. At the end of the second hallway I could now for the first time see the trackless buggy. I stood there watching but it seemed really clumsy, but I still could not see everything really close up. In the loading area, I was not sure if we were in the basement of the manor, or dockside at some port. There were some cool artifacts around. Again there were strong hints of the Adventures Club.

    We then move into the first room, four buggy groups were sent off in one lot. In this first room I found myself being really confused, the story was all over the place. Albert shows up in front of this magic music box, and stands there looking at it. Then Henry welcomes us again, and reminds Albert not to open the music box. Henry takes off, and Albert opens the music box to a shower of LED light that were really cool. The lights that came out of the box started to wake up the artifacts, there was a stone statue head from the Haunted Mansion that said something, but I could never understand what he said. There was also a mummy that spoke something, we went on our way to the next room that was the music room.

    Around the music room there were many instruments hanging on the walls, and they all started to play. The buggy that we were in spun around so that we could see all of the instruments playing music. Suddenly we went into the next series of rooms. Most of the rooms had photos on the walls, some of the photos had video built around it, but it was just boring. In the solarium there was a man / woman eating plant. It was all one sided because this buggy was being thrown around to make you look at the next scene so to speak. I remembered the smooth action of the Haunted Mansions Doom Buggy being a smooth ride. This ride was not smooth at all in mystic point. In fact it reminded me of the Toy Story attraction at DCA. There is nothing wrong with Toy Story, but this buggy just did not fit the Mystic Point attraction at all. One cool part were four knights armors hanging on the wall in one other room. The knights were holding their helmet in there arm, and the helmets were singing. I wondered if this was a rejected scene from the Haunted Mansion.

    We then went into the China room to see a short video playing with Albert trying to get the music box out of a tree. I have no idea what all of this had to do with China, I was very confused about this room. The next room brought us back into the first room that we visited, Henry pops back up and asks Albert if he had touched the music box? We then went through a door, and unloaded.

    As I have said I rode the attraction seven times, but after seven times I still never really got what was happening. I tried to look at and listen to something different with each time I went through the manor.

    The buggy with no track was clumsy, not smooth, and at times throwing us around, but with no meaning. When looking at the photos on the walls, we would look one way, then in a one action, do a 180 turn to see the wall that was behind us. This action was rough, in no way smooth, and not enjoyable at all. To load the buggy was very slow, and each time I went, it seemed it took forever to get going. This was not first day jitters, they had a soft open for quite a while already so the cast members knew what to expect. It would have been better for faster loading, and much more intimate look around Mystic Point. The trackless buggy sits on top of a huge hockey like platform, thus it is at least 18” off of the ground. I just felt like we were far to high up. All of that aside, it was just far too slow to load. I give the trackless buggy a 2.0, and I pray that Disney never uses this in another attraction again.

    To be honest with you, I guess you can tell that I’m really disappointed about Mystic Point. It is a go once, been there and done that. The Haunted Mansion never gets old, I was tired about Mystic Point after the third run. I give Mystic Point a total of 3.5 points. I have “NO” desire to return back to see Mystic Point as the story is very confusing, with no point. Really it is a LED light show, with some video through the house. Whatever else that was there it looked far so plastic, rather that looking like old artifacts. A few cobwebs might have been nice, Henry keeps Mystic Point way cleaner than it should be. I did see “Mark” the imagineer who designed Mystic Manor, and I looked the other way, I did not want him to ask me what I thought of Mystic Point.

    In short, Hong Kong Disneyland Mystic Manor is a “miss” for sure. Hong Kong Disneyland has nothing new in the pipeline, thus I guess we are stuck with Mystic Manor for some time to come.

    I went in the gift shop, the gift shop theme is cool. All done in dark wood, this was the best part about Mystic Manor. I was looking for a limited edition Mystic Manor opening day pin, but they did not have even one. I did get a Mystic manor pin, but not limited edition, and nothing special. I did purchase three other pins. One pin was from The Haunted Mansion in California, the second pin was from The Tower of Terror at DCA, and the third pin was Expedition Everest from Animal Kingdom. By the way, Hong Kong Disneyland does not have one of the three attractions, thus sales of these pins were weak. I could not sort out why they brought in pins about attractions, very cool attractions, that Hong Kong Disneyland doesn’t have. I thought that the pins were cool, I bought one of each.

    It was now time for lunch, I went to try a new counter service restaurant within the Mystic Point zone. There was one open kitchen, with four counter service areas with different Asian foods. More rice is all I said, sigh! This turned out to be counter service, but in no way “quick” counter service at all. Okay I will give it a try, I fought my way to the Indonesian counter. Unfortunately it was completely disorganized, with complete mayhem everywhere. They had ropes set up at each counter that held no more than five people in the line, with at least 100 people in the area. Once the ropes were torn down by the mainland Chinese tour groups, it was a free for all. This is normal for me with daily life in Hong Kong, but I never thought I would have to fight my way around Disneyland. I hope that this was just the first day of full operation, they have to relook at rebuilding this counter service restaurant area to accommodate many more people. This is China right, I thought they knew this? The seating area is set up much like the rooms were set up in the Mystic Point attraction. It is a cool idea, but the artifacts they had in each room had no meaning to the room that they were placed in. I think that someone got the artifacts mixed up. Okay no worries as every table was rammed I noticed that there was some outdoor seating. I like to eat outside, so off I went.

    I sat down looking up at the manor, ready to eat my lunch, and all I could here was the scream and music from Toy Story Land. The seating area I was in was right beside Mystic Point, but I might as well have sat in Toy Story Land. This noise really took away from anything that was happening around Mystic Point. I wonder why no one thought of any land or zone separation as it is all kind of mashed together. Never mind I said to myself, let’s enjoy lunch. I ordered the battered fish, but the cast members did not know what the fish was. They told me that the fish was white, I could not fault them on that. There was an Indonesian sauce so they told me on top of the fish. There was, sigh a bowl of steamed rice with no sauce, not even soy sauce. I put my fish on top of the rice. The third dish was boiled cabbage, with one (1) slice of carrot, and one (1) slice of a pepper I think.

    There was no way that any of this food was fresh, all frozen for sure. The steamed rice was stone cold and as rice goes no taste, the cabbage was not seasoned at all and really was just boiled cabbage, and the batter on the fish was salty and mushy. The sauce that was on top of the fish had no taste because of no seasoning and also VERY salty, I ate what I could, but I only at about a quarter of anything. It was frozen food prepared poorly, no taste, and cold.

    After my sort of lunch, I missed the 14 photo opportunity attractions around Mystic Point Zone, and I went home. I will try the food again on my next trip as it might have just been a bad day for the kitchen. Disney knows what they are doing, but no one clearly tasted this food to see if was any good or not. I looked at other tables to see if people were eating their food, and they were not. A couple of people I spoke to commented that Mystic Point Zone is okay, but that was the best rating I got, the comments went down from there.

    I wonder if they could put a track in Mystic point and turn it into the Haunted Mystic Point, it’s not too late!

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Wow. Thanks for that thorough comment. I’m really surprised to hear you write of so many negative experiences there. Everything looks phenomenal from afar.

      There is definitely something to be said for allowing new restaurants to get into their groove. I’ve been to many restaurants on their first day and thought they were terrible only to return a few weeks later and everything was wonderful. So giving it another chance sounds like a good idea.

      But as for the ride… perhaps all the hype of this being Hong Kong Disneyland’s version of a Haunted Mansion prevented you from fully enjoying Mystic Manor. It’s really something different.

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  8. tntrivers

    I think this is wonderful and cannot wait to show it to my daughter. She is 8 and recently told me she wants to be an Imagineer at Disney when she grows up! Thank you for all the wonder you add to our lives!

  9. Feferi Peixes

    Awwwwwwwwww, I really hoped that this is an attraction based on a cartoon, because I really loved the characters- they are definitely adorable <3 I'd like to see a movie with them, maybe.
    But the story is really a breathtaking. The atmosphere is just awesome too!

  10. jhon

    what movie is it based off?

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