The Monkey Ride: Life, Family & A Disney Magical Moment Come to Life!

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The Monkey Ride & Disney Special Moments

On a warm September day in 2016 I was doing what every good Disney fan does. Having recently returned from my first visit to Shanghai Disneyland, I was at home watching POVs of the rides that I now missed. On that same trip I visited Hong Kong Disneyland for the 5th time and came home really missing one of my favorite rides Mystic Manor.

So after I watched POVs of Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure a few times to remind myself of why that attraction is Disney’s absolute best, I moved on to what is probably a top 5 Disney attraction Mystic Manor.

Related: Has Hong Kong Disneyland Finally Solved Disney’s Tomorrowland Problem?

A Modern Classic

Mystic Manor is a technological marvel as it features a trackless ride system and a bunch of effects not found in earlier dark rides. I really did like Mystic Manor before that 2016 day, but something would happen to make it truly special to me. Just as the Mystic Manor POV came on the screen, 1 1/2 year old Ellie stumbled into the room and she was mesmerized.

Mystic Manor tells the story of Harrison Hightower and his mischievous pet monkey Albert who live in what amounts to a museum. One day they find a music box that may have magical powers. Despite warnings from his owner, Albert decides to open the box and you find that it is indeed magical as it brings everything to life.

The Monkey Ride
Mystic Manor

A Nickname Is Born

After watching the video of the ride the first time Ellie quickly demanded that we watch it again. A slight hesitation lead to an outburst as it can from time to time with children of that age. So I played it again and do you know what she wanted after that? Yup! She wanted it a third time. Finally she temporarily lost interest, but not before she nicknamed it the “Monkey Ride”.

I am often in Hong Kong, but recently hadn’t been with my family. That meant I had ridden Mystic Manor quite a few times, but never with my wife and daughter. Thankfully that changed earlier this year when Ellie finally made her way to Hong Kong Disneyland and the very special “Monkey Ride”.

The Monkey Ride
Mystic Manor trackless ride vehicle.

Getting to Mystic Manor

After entering the park I tried to play it cool. Knowing the lines wouldn’t be bad for Mystic Manor we started on the other side of the park at the Iron Man Experience and Hyperspace Mountain. Those were mere distractions though since Jasmine and I wanted Ellie to finally experience Mystic Manor. We quickly headed back to that area of the park.

We were curious to see if she would recognize the building from the videos and she quickly did. She knew this was the “Monkey Ride” and she was excited to get inside. Quickly we went through the queue and enjoyed the pre-show. We were all set and I was having one of those parental moments of joy knowing my child was going to see something really cool. Then…

My Heart Ripped Out

She stripped it all away. After being told she was riding with daddy instead of mommy so I could film and capture this momentous occasion, she threw a fit. The entire beginning of the ride was humiliatingly ruined by her desperate attempts to escape her apparently evil father for her angel of a mother who by the way was only two feet behind us!

Thankfully she finally settled in as the world of Mystic Manor unwrapped itself around her, but her outburst must have been heard by the universe, because my recording came out way too dark! It’s one of the biggest truths about family travel and parenthood. No matter how much you build up a moment or have expectations as to how it will go, kids will ruin it every single time! (Okay maybe not EVERY single time. :)) My kids have proven it over and over.

Redemption Again & Again

When we got off Mystic Manor Ellie repeated yet another habit she retained from her days as a baby. She quickly demanded that we ride again and we did! In fact we made the rounds of Mystic Manor with Albert 4 times that day and it remains one of her favorite attractions. I’m not big on buying merchandise, but even I had to break down when I found a shirt with her favorite monkey.

This is really a story about family, travel and life. Watching Ellie throw a fit because she didn’t want to sit next to me during a moment I had built up was life’s way of keeping me just a little bit humble. She also kept me humble later that night on Main Street (see video below), but I can’t complain. After all I got to visit the Monkey Ride with my family as part of a Disney around the world trip. How amazing is that?!?

Have you ever been on Mystic Manor? Do you agree it is one of Disney’s finest attractions? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Shawn Coomer
I grew up an hour from Disneyland and spent most of my childhood at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom. As I grew up my love of theme parks and Disney grew as did my love of travel. For the past 13 years I have circled the globe with my family for pennies on the dollar. I am an expert at travel hacking, saving money, family travel and of course Disney.

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