Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Monkey Mischief at the Manor

Yesterday was the first day of the lunar new year.  This year is the Year of the Monkey, and it's only fitting that I mark the occasion with one of Disney's marquee monkeys... Albert.

What, were you expecting Abu or Terk?  Well, this is a Disney park photography blog, so the star of today's post is the adorable protagonist in Hong King Disneyland's spectacular Mystic Manor.  This marquee E-Ticket attraction is often liked as Hong Kong's version of the Haunted Mansion, but other than the eclectic prop building with similar form and some semblance of supernatural occurrences, the two rides really aren't that much alike.  The Haunted Mansion is about grim grinning ghosts, prankish spirts, and generally dead creatures.  Mystic Manor, on the other hand, features relics and artifacts brought to life by the power of a magical music box.  And it's Albert, the impishly curious pet monkey of Lord Henry Mystic (owner of Mystic Manor, of course), who sets all of this off by opening the proverbial (and rather literal) Pandora's [music] box in this ride.

In the pre-show, Albert makes a quick appearance while Lord Henry Mystic narrates his personal history.
Lord Mystic's newest acquisition is an ancient music box said to imbue inanimate objects with life!
Albert seems quite enamored and curious with this treasure.
The attraction begins with guests aboard trackless ride carriages being ushered into the Acquisitions and Cataloguing Room, where Lord Mystic's many artifacts await to be organized into his exhibits.


Of course, after Mystic welcomes us and leaves, Albert appears, intent on discovering the secret of the enchanted music box.
Albert's touch opens up the box, and the magic inside is released into the room in spectacular fashion!
Everything touched by the color pixie dust comes to life, and the next room bursts into music as a result.
The catchy tune and theme of Mystic Manor is scored by Danny Elfman.  Albert takes in the wonderful medley.
After passing through a couple of other rooms, we meet Albert again the Solarium Room, where some plants have gained some rather Little Petshop of Horrors characteristics!

And still, curious Albert tempts personal harm by poking the greenhouse's venus flytraps.
Things get a little more harrowing in the Arms and Armor Room, where a samurai has sharp intentions.
Albert starts to sense that he may have opened up more than he can control!
Things get worse in the Tribal Arts room, where dart spitting tiki's have trapped him against the wall.
Poor Albert! All he wanted to do was see what was inside the music box!
Guest proceed right into the climactic Chinese salon, where they spin around a jade monkey king statue.
The magical forces have formed a maelstrom within the room, swirling Albert around and tearing the newly enchanted paintings off the walls, much to their characters' dismay!
In an amazing sequence, the entire wall breaks away, revealing Albert caught in a whirlwind that has practically engulfed the entire manor!  It's an incredible effect in person.
All the while, the Mystic Magneto-Electric Carriages continue to spin around the monkey king.
Somehow, everyone winds up back in the Acquisitions and Cataloguing Room, where Albert struggles to contain the magic.
Finally, he manages to close the music box...
...and finally, everything returns to normal.
Albert breathes a sigh of relief.
Just then, Lord Mystic reappears, asking if Albert has opened the music box, warning that there may be some truth to the legend after all...
Albert, ever playing innocence, shakes his head.  And Lord Henry Mystic is apparently none the wiser.
And that, in a nutshell, is the ride!  There are several scenes I did not feature this time around, because Albert wasn't directly in there.  But the ride as a whole is the most impressive experience I have ever ridden.  This is Disney's best ride ever, at least to my judgment, and it really brought that Disney magic back for me.  I rode this multiple times during last year's trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, and each time, I was filled with the childlike glee that I had during my first visits to Walt Disney's Original Magic Kingdom. 

Hong Kong Disneyland might be a far trek for people to travel, but any Disney fan would be remiss to skip out on the park, if only for this marquee attraction!

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