Monday, April 22, 2013

Why A Mystic Manor Attraction Belongs at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney has been working on a very large expansion for Hong Kong Disneyland, with the grand opening of an updated version of the Haunted Mansion, called Mystic Manor coming soon. This appears to be an impressive new ride and while a video can't do this attraction it's full justice, if you haven't seen it yet, you really should take a look because it simply looks amazing. 

Many in the Disney community have been impressed after seeing this incredible new attraction video, and I will readily admit, I am one of them.  It is a great new foray into the dark ride world.

Most people who originally saw this attraction thought that something similar would be a great addition for Epcot's Imagination Pavilion.  And I can easily see how that would work for the extremely dated attraction.  Bring back the beloved Dreamfinder, add Figment, and a new story and you have something that will easily draw crowds back to a pavilion that currently is not so popular.

However, as soon as I saw this video, one thought popped in my head.  This attraction, as it is almost, would actually work best at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  It would be a wonderful new addition to a park that sorely needs a new addition.  (That is why they are bringing Avatarland into the mix.)

Granted, I am not a fan of cloning, but I know it is a practice that has been done since the beginning of time at Disney Parks.  I also am ok with this cloning venture because there is a very slim chance I will ever get to Hong Kong.  Nor do I think the average park goer will ever get to Hong Kong.  So, I am taking a step back from my dislike to cloning and amending it to being more ok with it, as long as the attraction isn't on US soil.  

But why would this more whimsical/magical attraction be a great fit for the more logical Disney's Animal Kingdom.  At first blush, they really don't appear to go together well.  Animal Kingdom is too seated in reality.  And yes, that is partially true.  However, it was always the plan to include fun and fanciful into the park.  That is why Beastly Kingdome was on the docket for so many years.  And is something that guests still clammor for.  That is why Avatarland, much as it may be maligned by those of us who are Disney fanatics, is still a go.  Because the park needs to be less like a zoo.  (They try...really they do...but to many, it is still just a fancy zoo with theme park attractions in it.  I am sorry to say it, but it's true.)

Here are my reasons for why Mystic Manor is a MUST BUILD for Disney's Animal Kingdom:

  • Yes, as I mentioned, in it's current format, Mystic Manor is themed around magic.  The magic of opening the box and the excitement that happens once it does.  It IS an updated version of Haunted Mansion.  However, it is also themed around the adventures that these characters (the old man....whose name I don't know...and Albert the Monkey) have taken in the course of their lives. Hmmm...sounds familiar....wait...that sounds like something out of the Adventurer's Club.  All about celebrating the adventures of these characters.  And which park would this type of experience work in, Disney's Animal Kingdom.  So, even in it's current format, it would work because it celebrates the adventures of these two travelers, and the artifacts that they have brought back with them, including this mystical music box. A very Animal Kingdom type celebration.  
  • It has a loveable character.  One of the main things that people go to Disney parks for are the characters.  It is what they are great at creating.  It's why the movies are so incredibly successful.  And Disney has been very successful at creating new characters in the parks.  While Duffy isn't big here, he's HUGE in Japan...and we have the most popular loveable character over at Epcot in Figment.  This is why having a unique character for Disney's Animal Kingdom is a great idea.  It's why it worked at Epcot too.  People come to Disney parks for the characters.  That is no secret.  It's why Epcot seriously bombed when it first opened.  People asked...where are the characters.  This is part of Animal Kingdom's problem too.  Yes, they do offer characters, but if Figment can help make Epcot beloved, then Albert could help to make DAK beloved too.  People feel an attachment to a character created for that park and they immediately feel a connection there.  It's why some of us 30 year olds still love Epcot.  You can't shake Figment.  (Well, and for some, the other stuff was cool too.)  If Albert were seen as a sort of mascot of DAK, I have a feeling things would be better in that park.  And he is precocious enough, much like original Figment that I just think it would work.  People would connect with him, therefore they would connect more with the park overall.
  • Tied right into having a loveable character finally for the park, you have a very LARGE ability to sell merchandise.  Just think of the exclusive merchandise offerings that Disney is missing out on in that park.  Sure, it's neat to have a Kilimanjaro Safaris shirt or a hat with the Yeti on it, but think of how gaga people go over merchandise at the other parks.  If I had to guess, I would say that DAK doesn't see the merch sales that the other parks see and that is because there isn't really an attraction where people HAVE to have something to remember that!  You add that furry fluffball of've just sold yourself a bunch of stuff because people are gonna want something with his cute face on it.  Disney is a company and they love to see Dollar Signs...this attraction screams dollar bills.
  • It is a brand new concept!  Did you know that it has been 7 years since Disney has built something that wasn't based off an already established character at Walt Disney World?  Expedition Everest was the last attraction that has no character tie in.  That is a long time!  And even if something were greenlit tomorrow, it would still take about 2-3 years for it to actually be built and open.  That means 10 years plus will have gone by since we'll see a completely original idea in Florida.  That is an exorbitantly long time.  Especially for a company that is known for it's unique attractions.  It's what made things like Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Pirates, Horizons, the Great Movie Ride, and Soarin great.  These were brand new ideas, that weren't tied to any previous characters that had unique stories.  This is what is missing resort wide!  It is what I've been crying out for for years.  Where is the unique?  Here, we have a great new story with amazing updated technology.  It will appease the Disney Geeks, as well as the first time visitor.  It's win-win.
  • IT IS A RIDE!!!!!!  This is a park that is heavy on the animal portion of your visit.  (Makes is Disney's Animal Kingdom.) But the park is awfully low on actual rides.  (I believe there are like seven total.)  And it certainly doesn't have any dark rides in it's doors, something the park is sorely missing.  Adding a ride like this would do what I believe Toy Story Midway Mania did for the Studios.  It will be something that the whole family can enjoy and I would bet it would have large lines throughout the day because everyone will enjoy the whimsy.  There is very little the whole family can enjoy in the form of rides at DAK, making Mystic Manor a very welcome addition.  
So, those are just a few reasons I had on why Mystic Manor would be a perfect fit for Disney's Animal Kingdom.  What do you think though?  Would you like to see it in the park?  Would you like to see it in another park or another version?  What reasons do you have for it fitting here or anywhere else?  Let me know on the Facebook page.  (Or in the comments).  

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    Anonymous said...

    Disney needs to add the following 3 rides to really get the park going..Indiana Jones, Mystic Manor and Journey to the Center of the Earth...not can't just go after any movie that did well and think it belongs in the parks...If disney does end up going through with this avatar project it will be a huge failure.

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