Road Test: Disneyland's Mystic Point
There's a new magical zone at Hong Kong Disneyland. Mystic Point, just like Grizzly Gulch, was conceived for the theme park by US-based "imagineers" (their real job title) in conjunction with local visitor analysis.
So, what's it like? My 10-year-old son, Joshua, was already familiar with the zone's main attraction, Mystic Manor, having visited the park on a school trip.
He told me it was focused on an old explorer and his companion monkey, who opens a box that contains an illuminated energy force that sparks some unexpected illusions. All this is experienced in the form of a ride through a darkened house. Some of it was almost scary, he said.
On our visit, we queued up for the ride-through picture and artefact-filled rooms that show the intrepid pair on their exotic travels, some of which made us smile.
Then we reached a reception room, where an automated Henry Mystic, the explorer, popped up to introduce himself and Albert the monkey - who ignored instructions to keep a lid on a recently acquired music box. "Magic dust" escapes.
In the next room we boarded a radio-controlled electromagnetic carriage, to be whisked around rooms in which the colourful dust swirled, bringing life to all manner of artefacts it touches.
Automation, projections and other sensations, along with an enticing soundtrack, amused and surprised. A tip: the first and third cars get the best perspectives of the AV effects.
The manor's facade is pleasing, drawing on architecture from Mystic's travels - a Victorian balustrade here, a Spanish dome there.
The Garden of Wonders offers great photo opportunities and family fun. Optical illusions invite strollers to line up to appear in fantasy-like backdrops. One relief scene "shrinks" the visitor through the clever use of depth of field.
It's fun to run through the Freight Depot, a mock Old World train platform, surrounded by exotic interactive relief panels, masks and weaponry. These are scattered around a stage where costumed dancers represent the far corners of the globe.
The Explorer's Club restaurant serves up a pleasing menu of Southeast Asian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Western fare. The fun-conscious Blueberry Mist soda - a fruit and ice cream float that glows from within - is a kiddie winner.
Verdict: An entertaining, and thought-provoking new corner of the theme park. It introduces the idea of cultural exploration to young ones and offers some healthier-than-expected dining options.
Entry tickets to Disneyland cost HK$450 for adults, HK$320 for kids under 12. Food is not included. hongkongdisneyland.com