Mystic Point Opening at Hong Kong Disneyland
As most people who know me know, I have been very impressed with Hong Kong Disneyland. However, one of the few criticisms that I have heard, and that I consider to be valid, is that there are few rides for kids over 10. While this is great for those of us with children UNDER 10, Disney loses this audience to Ocean Park as a result. However, the opening of both Grizzly Gulch and now Mystic Point is a step in the direction of correcting this. Both of these new sections of the park are clearly geared toward slightly older children. I have already reviewed Grizzly Gulch in a previous post but Mystic Point opens this week, and as one of our writing group had the privildege of attending, I thought I would share our insights. I will set this up in the same format as I have for my Disneyland Hong Kong app so that it will be easy to follow.
Entering the Brain of an Eccentric Adventurer
Mystic Point is described as “the site of mysterious forces and supernatural events in the heart of a dense, uncharted rain forest.” While the land is small, it is nonetheless impressive. Hong Kong Disney has a tradition of attention to detail, and it is present in every little nook and cranny of this new “land”. It is supposed to be the home and grounds of Lord Henry Mystic, an eccentric but well traveled adventurer. There is lots to see and discover outside of the obvious. But on the obvious side, Mystic point consists of one new major ride, a new “attraction”, a new live show and a new restaurant. Some of these are more appropriate for children than others, but I will detail that in the appropriate sections. But the centerpiece of this new “land” is Mystic Manor, home to the eccentric world traveler Lord Henry Mystic and his collection of exotic international artifacts, so I will get right to that bit.
Mystic Manor: So Much More than A “Haunted House”
The storyline of the ride sees guests touring stately Victorian mansion and private museum of Lord Henry. To facilitate this tour he has invented a “Mystic Magneto-Electric Carriage” which takes visitors through his mansion where they can view his extensive array of fine art and antiquities. However things don’t go to plan, when Lord Henry’s mischievous pet monkey Albert, unleashes an enchanted music box’s magical powers bringing everything inside the house to life. The visual and tactile effects on this ride are just short of breath taking. Add to that the fact that legendary composer Danny Elfman (he of Oingo Boingo & Tim Burton Fame) created the soundtrack, and you need no more incentive to go.
This new “ride” is a real advance in technology for Disney parks. If you have been to other Disneyland resorts, do NOT be tempted to think of this as “Haunted Mansion-HK version”…it is not. It’s not just carriages that ride along on a track. It’s probably more like a mix between “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” for those who have been to Universal Studios in Orlando and “Star Tours” in Disneyland Paris. It is an immersion experience. In each ride, one gets a front row experience of the 40 visual effects created by 36 projectors. Each ride carriage can be positioned in any direction at any given moment, so guests will not know which way they are going next. This also means guests will enjoy a different experience each time they ride.
There is a caveat to this wonderful technology though, which is that this is NOT a ride for younger children. Despite the fact that Mystic Point isn’t your typical ‘haunted house’ attraction, my girlfriend’s 7-year-old and his ultra daring friend found it scary. It does have some quite disturbing visuals, including a beheading, a young girl who turns into Medusa and people throwing knives at the beloved pet monkey. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for the toddler/preschool age group. So don’t let yourself be lulled into a sense of security by the fact that there are no age or height requirements. So let me stress this again, this ride is NOT DESIGNED FOR LITTLE ONES. But if you have a particularly brave or older grade-schooler then definitely go for it, the special effects are something to behold and worth more than one ride as you certainly miss things the first time around. If you happen to be in the park for a date night, then it is a spectacular choice for adults ;).
Height Restrictions: N
Other Attractions: Playing and Plays
Garden of Wonders:
This is Mystic Point’s version of the play area that one finds in every “land” in Disneyland Hong Kong. It is different in that it is, once again, more of interest to older children. It consists of a variety of sculptures and mosaics. Many of these have “viewing points” which create interesting 3D illusions. If you go, make sure you check out the various artifacts from every possible angle because you may miss an interesting effect. This is not as interesting for really little ones, but it is fairly shaded so that can help on a warm day. This area is also designed for the requisite photo ops.
Height Restrictions: N
Mystic Point Freight Depot
This is the “live show” entry in Mystic Point. The good news is that that you can watch an impressive show (in both Cantonese and English) by Lord Henry’s grandnephews who share stories from their adventures. They also introduce friends they’ve have met along the way, from far away lands including Native America, Egypt, Bulgaria, India and Mexico, which adds to the international feel of this whole area. The bad news is that it is outdoors, so it’s not a place to escape the heat. It’s worth stopping to see it if you are nearby when it is playing, but it’s not something to plan your day around. Nor should you feel like you need to force your kids to stay for the whole experience. It’s best if observed until the interest fades….and then moving on.
Height Restrictions: N
Taming the Beasts: Eating in Mystic Point
Explorers Club Restaurant
Cuisine: Southeast Asian
Style: Table Service
Ambience: More upscale
Kid Friendliness: Low to Moderate
The “adventure” ambience of this restaurant will probably be appealing to most kids. But the food is definitely for the more adventurous palate as well, and I probably wouldn’t recommend it for kids who are not completely comfortable with the Asian food experience. The menu consists of dishes from Korea, Indonesia, Japan and South East Asia, with dishes ranging from baked octopus, Thai style pomelo shrimp salad, Nasi Goreng and baked salmon. Not a chicken nugget or burger in sight, which will be much to the horror of kids like mine. All that being said, they DO have a glow in the dark blueberry float drink that is sure to be a hit with most kids! There are also vending carts nearby, so you can always just get snacks if you don’t want to brave a sit down meal with your little darlings.
Overall, I think this is Hong Kong Disneyland moving in a good direction. It’s an addition to the park with what is clearly an excellent “E ticket” ride in Mystic Manor…aimed at older grade-schoolers, pre-teens and teens. This makes the park more versatile for those parents with children of varying ages!
** Thanks to Tamara Toon for all her help on this one!