It's no secret that I was the most excited about this day over any other. I was going to Hong Kong Disneyland!!
Hong Kong became an idea in the middle of the year as we were talking over a Thailand/Laos trip. Adele was the first to mention Hong Kong as a stopover. And my ears instantly perked up. "There's a Disney park in Hong Kong!!" I exclaimed to anyone who would listen.
I've long maintained one rule of travel. If I'm visiting a location with a Disney park, I get one day at that park. No one has to go with me. I'm not forcing anyone's hand. But I will spend one day at the park.
As we were planning our trip to Hong Kong, I reminded Adele and told Kat of this rule. They both had time to think over their decisions. Kat was a hard no from the start (she's not an amusement park person). Adele was in. It was time for the planning to begin.
Hong Kong Disneyland is one of the smaller Disney parks. It seems to be more of a "forgotten" park. With Tokyo being the gold standard and Shanghai being the shiny new park, Hong Kong is just there. But it's Disney. And I was going!!
I'd already knocked another foreign Disney park off of my list. The visit to Disneyland Paris was harder than expected only because of the lack of ease of their website and booking the hotel/buying tickets. Hong Kong Disneyland was a completely different story.
Maneuvering the website was easy. Buying tickets was easier. The one tip I have is to look under the Special Offers before buying your tickets. I was able to find a "Play and Dine" deal which included one free meal for the price of HKD$539. The standard ticket price is HKD$589. So...that worked.
The tickets were purchased. The research was done. All I had to do was wait. Even when hanging out in Hong Kong, my thoughts strayed to "only two days to Disneyland!!" It's kind of a sickness. The night before Disney, I had the route planned. The park opened at 10a. And I'm very much a "get to the park for rope drop/leave the park when being kicked out by the janitors" kind of girl, so leaving our Airbnb at 830a would give us enough time. At least according to Google Maps.
Adele asked the night before what time we'd need to leave. Kat was going to visit the Big Buddha while we were at Disney and would be going with us towards the Disneyland Metro stop. I announced 830a would get us there in time. Adele paused for a moment. "Is that time negotiable??"
Kat chose that moment to go grab some wine. I think the word, "Daaaaammmmmmnnnnn" was muttered under her breath as she walked to the kitchen, hoping to either miss the fireworks or have wine to go with the fireworks. And with a straight face, I said, "Of course. Feel free to arrive whenever you want. But I'll be there at 10a." We all laughed and Adele conceded. She just isn't a morning person. I can't fault her for trying to sleep a little more.
Getting to Disneyland
Making your way to Disneyland is quite easy. All you have to do is hop on the Metro. We were on the Island Line. So we hopped on the Metro to Central and transferred to the Tung Chung Line where we stopped at Sunny Bay. On the Tung Chung Line, we met a woman from outside of Toronto who was rolling solo to Disney. Loved it!!
Kat kept on the train at Sunny Bay, but we jumped off and waited for the train at the Disneyland Resort Line. It's one train that just goes back and forth to the two stops. Sunny Bay and Disneyland. This is a train that isn't too hard to figure out.
When the train arrived, you knew you were in the right place. Windows were in the shape of a Mickey head. The train had comfortable seats. And statues of Disney characters. And Mickey-shaped hand things you hold on to while standing (you know, the hand things!!). I was very happy.
|You know, the hand things!!|
Arriving at Disneyland
I had printed tickets that needed to be traded in for actual ones at either the main ticket counters or at Guest Services. Considering I always go to Guest Services at home, I figured I'd go there in Hong Kong. And it worked out perfectly. We traded in our printed confirmation (bring your printed confirmation and the card you used to buy the tickets) for four tickets. Two park tickets and two dining tickets. I appreciated the Star Wars theme.
Main Street USA
Main Street USA is seemingly a carbon copy of every other Main Street USA. There's the camera shop on the right. The interconnected stores on the left. The closer you get to the castle, the bakery and ice cream shop come into view.
And then there's the castle.
The castle at Hong Kong Disneyland is the Sleeping Beauty Castle. It is almost an exact replica of the castle in Anaheim. While the castle in Anaheim looks small after visiting Orlando, the castle in Hong Kong looks practically dollhouse-like due to the size of the mountains in the background.
|Oh, hello there!!|
We took a left at the first spoke and walked into Adventureland. Adventureland was very similar to the many of the other parks. Jungle Cruise is the main attraction in this land, surrounding the other main attraction, Tarzan's Treehouse.
|We did not get wet.|
Jungle Cruise is always a good time. There were two lines, one for an English guide. One for a Chinese guide. We obviously chose the English guide.
|Tarzan's Treehouse from the Jungle Cruise boat.|
|I just love how Tarzan (a completely forgotten movie at home) is still a thing here. The movie is wonderful.|
Grizzly Gulch is the Hong Kong Disneyland version of Frontierland. The main attraction here is the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars. A cousin to Big Thunder Mountain (only the BEST of the Disney mountains - and I will fight you on this stance), Big Grizzly Mountain blows the Big Thunder Mountain rides out of the water. My only regret was that I only rode the ride once.
|I could never get a picture with the coaster going by.|
|I just loved the little old lady reading a map in the coaster seat.|
Mystic Point is a land that is uniquely Hong Kong. Mystic Manor is the main attraction in this land and it is easily my favorite ride in the park.
Normally, this would be the area with a Haunted Mansion ride. But because ghosts and the supernatural aren't really a cultural thing, Mystic Manor was created. This dark ride incorporates the general idea of the ride, but in a completely new setting.
The general idea of this story is that Lord Henry Mystic and his pet monkey Albert are adventurers, traveling the world for cool artifacts. They bring one back that causes just a bit of trouble.
Not only is there the Mystic Manor dark ride, but there are also the Garden of Wonders and the Mystic Point Freight Depot. So you aren't confused (like we were), the Mystic Point Freight Depot is not a train stop. It's just a place to take pictures.
Toy Story Land
Similar to Disney Studios in Paris, Toy Story Land is the Pixar area in Hong Kong, but only based on Toy Story. Which seems obvious. But at the time, I may have been slightly confused, surprised at the lack of Finding Nemo attractions. I might be able to blame jet lag on this stupidity, but in reality, this is just me.
|You guys...you should be sober to ride. Keep that in mind.|
Fantasyland is one of the lands most similar to the other parks down to the Sword and the Stone. Carousels, Winnie the Pooh, Tea Cups, Small World. These rides all are represented in many of the Fantasylands.
And this is the area where I spent the least amount of time, oddly enough.
Sure, I had to visit It's a Small World (more Disneyland than Walt Disney World). And we kept talking about going on the Tea Cups, but it was always weird timing. Once Adele left for the day, I was able to see Mickey's Philharmagic (one of my favorites). But for the most part, we didn't stay here for very long. Maybe because it was so similar to the other Fantasylands. Or maybe because I just ran out of time.
Tomorrowland is currently a bit under construction, as an Iron Man attraction is set to open in 2017. Because of course I'll always miss the "next best thing."
While I'm missing out on the Iron Man attraction, I was able to see the Star Wars Takeover in Tomorrowland. Here's where I was able to meet Chewbacca (awesome!!). And Space Mountain was transformed into Hyperspace Mountain. Music and graphics from Star Wars played as you hurtled through a dark rollercoaster. So cool. But it did rattle my brain enough that I could only ride once.
|The impressive score on Buzz Lightyear is of course because I am awesome at this ride and in no way because the ride stopped once or twice and the points kept tallying up.|
|I still regret not buying one.|
Some light Jedi training, the Astro Orbiter and a Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster rounded out Tomorrowland. The only thing missing in a Star Wars Takeover was actually the Star Wars ride. But still...I got to meet Chewie.
Parades and Moments
I tried to catch as many of the parades and celebrations as possible. Because I don't think I'll be back here (or back here any time soon), I didn't want to miss a moment.
For parades, we saw the Flights of Fantasy (afternoon) parade.
And there was the Disney's Paint the Night parade, direct from Disneyland.
The Christmas celebrations were in full bloom. In the middle of the day on Main Street USA the Christmas carols began and it snowed in Hong Kong. People were very excited about this one. I knew snow was looming at home, so the excitement level for me was pretty low.
Finally, there were fireworks. Disney in the Stars not only projected scenes from movies on the castle, but also had the fireworks going off in the background. It's not different from most nighttime spectaculars, but it was wonderful.
In the 10 hours spent at the park, I had a meal and a few snacks.
|Snack #1 - Squid!!|
Lunch was covered in the ticket I purchased. We stopped at the Explorer's Club Restaurant in Mystic Point because it felt right. Entering the quick service restaurant, we looked to see many different rooms, each with its own country theme.
Once you decided what you wanted to eat, you had to pick the right "Country" to order your dish. Japan, China, Indian, these are all different areas to choose from. I ended up in Indonesia with the Nasi Goreng Combo.
|Lunch - Nasi Goreng Combo|
|Snack #2 - Milk Tea|
|Snack #2 (continued) - Egg Custard. I love egg custards so much.|
And just like that, the day was over. The park officially closed at 8p on this day. By the time the fireworks were over and I decided to make my way towards the exit, it was about 845p. I didn't do much shopping, because it was like entering Thunderdome in every store. And while I expected to walk away carting gifts for every person I've ever met, I just didn't feel it. I barely walked out with something for myself.
Overall, I really enjoyed Hong Kong Disneyland. Yes, the park is a bit on the smaller side. Yes, Pirates of the Caribbean was missing. Yes, it was only open for 10 hours. But the park also got the job done. I had been looking for a Disney fix and this park was completely satisfying. Grizzly Gulch was a fantastic ride. Mystic Manor was wonderful. Hyperspace Mountain was a Star Wars Fan's dream. The next time I go to Hong Kong, I will definitely be taking another day at Disneyland.