Disney recently opened up this amazing dark ride over at Hong Kong Disneyland, and it’s one of the coolest, most universally charming, creative attractions I’ve ever seen.
From the outside, it looks like an eastern-themed version of the Haunted Mansion we have here in California, and with good cause. This strikes me as a more modern and accessible version of what Disney would have done with the original Haunted Mansion way back in 1969 has they had the benefit of another 45 years of technology and experience building dark rides. Hell, the little atrium scene with the carnivorous plant is almost directly lifted from a similar scene at Disneyland’s Mansion.
The other interesting thing to note is the trackless ride system they’re using. It’s hard to notice if you’re not looking for it, but each cycle of the ride pushes four cars through, and they do a sort of dance around the ridespace as they move through it, passing by one another at various points. It’s very noticeable in the finale where they’re all circling around what I can only describe as a “ninja sorcerer monkey.” It’s really cool stuff, and it’s put to really cool use here. There are also certain points where different vehicles will go into different hallways (the shattering mirror scene is a good example). Neat-o!
The Haunted Mansion is probably always going to be my favorite dark ride. It’s got charm, character, and wit oozing out of its pores. Where else can you see a 45 year-old ride where adults can get off and not know how a good handful of special effects were pulled off?
Mystic Manor has all of that (albeit without the points afforded to the Haunted Mansion based on nostalgia), and it’s based on an original IP, which has become increasingly rare in the last 20 years (I’m looking your way, Cars Land). I’d bet good money that this ride is a fan favorite in Hong Kong long after “improvements” like the new Star Tours ride, the movie tie-ins they added to Pirates of the Caribbean (animatronic Johnny Depp, anybody?), or recently-new attractions like Radiator Springs Racers have fallen by the wayside.
It’s a slam dunk in my book.
(…and I bet they sell a metric shit-ton of Albert the Monkey plush dolls over in Asia. Those guys eat that stuff up.)