Mystic Motel, Ladera Ranch, CA
The last time I visited Mystic Motel, that home haunt attraction made famous by the fact that it’s a full-fledged amusement park dark ride built inside the residential garage in an otherwise ordinary neighborhood in suburban South Orange County, the trip ended with myself, David and Brittney of TPR, and owner Scott D’Avanzo shooting the breeze and Scott showing us some of the latest developments of his ambitious adventure to turn his residential dark ride dreams into an actual commercial theme park called Mystic City. Given what Scott and his family have managed to do over the past years with Mystic Motel, it was no surprise to hear about Scott’s dreams to go bigger, with his company, Adrenalin Attractions, helping to craft a potential new fantastical world.
But then Scott turned his attention back home—literally—and openly pondered a more immediate idea: What if he did a Christmas version of Mystic Motel?
David and I were immediately all over the idea, joking that it would be hilarious to see a gaudily decorated Mystic Motel with all the same scenes and elements, but Christmas lights, garland, and other ornamentation thrown on over the base dark ride, similar to the Haunted Mansion Holiday—or in our minds, perhaps more comedically, the Jingle Cruise. Scott took our ideas in stride, and though he wouldn’t commit to actually creating a winter holiday overlay, he seemed to hint at a strong possibility of this happening—if he could get his wife to agree, of course.
Fast forward a month later, when Mystic Motel placed an announcement on their Facebook page. A brand new holiday attraction entitled Journey to Polar Point would be coming to this charming Ladera Ranch house, and it would be opening in the middle of December! I had no idea whether this would be a festive overlay or an actual transformed new ride, but I was certainly intrigued, so this past Monday evening, I headed over to the D’Avanzo residence to see just what Journey to Polar Point was all about.
Upon immediate arrival, it’s clear that this Christmas version of Mystic Motel would not simply be the regular Halloween ride with yuletide window dressing. Scott and his family and crew have spent a considerable amount of effort crafting a whole new facade, creating an iceberg with signage and lettering announcing this new attraction. Also different is the queue. Rather than line up and enter through the formal entryway of the house, guests go in through Mystic Motel’s exit, queuing in the garage driveway to do so.
By reversing the course and making a few other minor tweaks, Scott has also improved the capacity of his holiday attraction, and the line moves more quickly than Mystic Motel does. Inside, the same single-person (or two-children) carts are still there, but a notably Christmas aesthetic has taken over the space. Guests take the sub-minute ride in the opposite direction from Mystic Motel, passing through Christmas scenes at home, snowy woods, and nearing the northern lights on their way to Santa’s home at the north pole. And ultimately, with a wintery blast, they disembark at Polar Point!
The remainder of the experience takes guests through the D’Avanzo residence courtyard, where Santa Claus can be found for a meet-and-greet. Guests can also get a candy cane for their enjoyment before exiting out the front entry back onto the street. The whole attraction lasts but a minute or two, but it is positively charming. In fact, in some ways, it might even be better than Mystic Motel, because of how cohesive and more festive it has been executed. Those who’ve been through Mystic Motel this year will recognize the basic bones of the ride course and certain effects and elements, but ultimately, rather than just Christmas lipstick, Journey to Polar Point is a unique different attraction!
All of this is a testament to Scott’s creativity and passion—with help from his family and Adrenalin Attractions support staff. Journey to Polar Point is tied to Scott’s dreams with Mystic City, the amusement park he is hoping to development on a plot of land out in Riverside County, and though the project is still very much in the planning stages, he at least wants to try to see if he can make his dream come true. Some might label this as ambitious insanity, but then again, it was crazy to build a functional dark ride in his garage, and Scott did it!
Due to popular demand, Journey to Polar Point will continue to run today through Saturday, from 5pm to 9pm each evening. Head over to 36 Lewiston Ct., Ladera Ranch, CA 92694, though it’s recommended to park on nearby Flintridge Street and take a short walk over to minimize traffic to the residential neighborhood. Please note that there is a requested $5 donation per person required for admission, with proceeds going to the fire victims of the recent California wildfire victims. But the money goes to a good cause, and the whimsical experience is worth it!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.