Imagineering Awesome: Merlin’s Medieval Mess

This post is part of the Imagineering Awesome series

Welcome to the first post in the Imagineering Awesome series on Mouse on the Mind! You can access all of the posts  by clicking on the link at right. (There’s, duh, nothing there right now, but soon there’ll be more awesome, imaginative content than you can shake a stick at!)

Today’s post is brought to us by the super awesome Richard from Mouse Troop, a Disneyland blog that I read every single day despite the fact that Disneyland is so far off in my future that I can’t even see it on the horizon. His post was the first submission I read, and it made me SO TRULY EXCITED for the rest of this series. I hope it does the same for you.


It’s certainly an honor to be guest-posting at Mouse On The Mind! When Melissa told me the theme for this series, I knew exactly where I’d spend my unlimited Imagineering funds. Everyone’s talking about Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland, but I think we can make that ride even better by expanding it with a classic Disney twist.

Welcome to… MERLIN’S MEDIEVAL MESS, based on the wonderful and under-appreciated Disney classic, The Sword in the Stone (the ride’s name comes from a line in the film).

Ector's Castle
Ector’s Castle

Everyone in Fantasyland respects Sir Ector, and no one’s got the heart to tell him his cruddy old castle is bringing down their property values. The single-father retired knight is too busy for home maintenance; he’s training his son, Kay, for the upcoming Tournament. And, of course, he has to keep tabs on that orphan he adopted… in fact… confound it, where has Wart run off  to this time?

Ector’s crumbling castle would occupy the old Skyway station area in Disneyland. In  Florida’s Magic Kingdom, it would be part of New Fantasyland.

As we approach the castle, angry shouts, crashes and muffled explosions echo from within as puffs of smoke burst from windows and holes in the rooftops. Our path turns away from the knight’s estate and brings us to the cottage of  Merlin the wizard.

Inside, we pass a scene of Merlin telling young Wart that it’s time the lad had a tutor. We enter Merlin’s workshop and climb aboard 6-passenger cars shaped like jousting horses. Each rider gets a magic wand (er…a safe, non-eye-poking magic wand) with which to aim at targets.

Off we go! The cars run on a track, but often rock and spin as they travel. We enter Merlin’s study as the wizard casts his “Higitus Figitus” spell, sending all his possessions flying around the room. This section uses digital projection, and each object we hit with a magic blast shrinks and flies into Merlin’s travel bag. This is the “training” room, getting us ready for what’s to follow.

Heading “outside” (still in the show building), we pass Wart telling Merlin they’ll have to get through the wolf-infested woods to reach Sir Ector’s castle. In this spooky section, we fend off wolf attacks, bats, maybe an outlaw or two and…oh, what the heck, how about a gigantic bear? The film’s lovesick squirrels make a cameo appearance. Ahead, we see Ector’s Castle.

We cross the creaky drawbridge  into the main hall and  pause as Sir Ector agrees to let Merlin tutor Wart, if the wizard’s careful with the magic. Merlin tries to demonstrate a clean-the-cobwebs spell, but–as Archimedes the owl cries out, “WRONG WORDS, YOU NINCOMPOOP!”–there’s a burst of light, our vehicle lurches into motion, and…everything in the castle comes to life.

So, now the ride becomes a Sword in the Stone version of Mystic Manor–but with the target element added.

Our horse twists and spins through the castle, past living paintings, attacking suits of armor, angry animal trophies and crockery with attitude. We barely notice we’re gradually moving upward until we burst outside the show building for a quick coaster-like spin around the castle exterior. Dropping back inside, Merlin’s got things under control, but a furious Sir Ector (covered with suds from his battle with the cleaning supplies) thunders that Wart will have to repair everything once they get back from the Tournament.

Sign post
Sign post

During a brief country road scene, we encounter the witch, Mad Madam Mim, hiding in the underbrush while cackling her plans to disrupt the Tournament and make sure NO ONE ever pulls the sword from the stone.

Now we’re in London, whirling past jousting knights, market stalls and street performers–lots of fun, interactive targets, here! Suddenly Madam Mim appears in a burst of smoke, threatening to put an end to the merriment. Merlin challenges her to a duel, and she accepts.

We twist past scenes of Mim and Merlin changing themselves into various animals in an attempt to destroy each other. Mim’s cheating by bringing gargoyles and weaponry to life to help her, and it’s our job to take them out. We pass Wart, who wants to help, but needs a sword. Hey–he knows where he’s seen one!

Mim turns into a dragon, contracts the flu bug Merlin’s turned into, and collapses. Wart, unaware the battle’s over, pulls the sword from  the stone. Heavenly choir! A skeptical knight challenges Wart to a joust. Merlin suggest we take on the brute ourselves.

Now comes the ride’s speedy straightaway finale as we race along the jousting green with the knight heading straight for us! We have to light every symbol on his shield to knock him over before he reaches us.

If we succeed, we get an animatronic scene of Wart, Sir Ector, several knights and even Kay the jerk cheering us and proclaiming us heroes.

If we don’t win the joust, we get Merlin sighing that it’s a good thing his wand had one charge left to save us.

As Wart is crowned king, Merlin thanks us for our help and casts a spell on our group. We pass a large mirror. The person who got the highest score has a golden crown on their reflection! The person with the lowest score gets a squirrel on their head.

Plush owls for sale!
Plush owls for sale!

We exit into a small, tournament-themed courtyard where a drink stand sells Figgitus Fizzigus (fig-flavored soda) and Mim Malts (shakes with candy spiders). The souvenir shop carries one item: a plush Archimedes!

That’s my wish for a new ride. Disney’s got so many great classics to draw inspiration from–I hope someday they realize that, yes, people will come to the park to embrace these classics if the characters are given a chance at life beyond the vault.


Would you ride Rich’s Merlin-inspired ride? Let us know what you think in the comments below! 

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