(A quick note – this blog post is being written specifically for other Disney obsessed family members and will go in depth on my experience in the park. So get ready for a lot of Disney!)
There is just something about going to a Disney Park of any kind that gets me very excited. I was giddy as I rode the subway and then transferred onto the Disneyland Express, complete with Mickey ear windows and hand holders. Displays in the cars held statues of famous Disney characters. There is nothing quite as special as the Disney experience.
I arrived early for the 10:30am opening and apparently they let you through the main gates a half an hour before the actual opening so that you can peruse Main Street. I simply headed straight to the rope at the end of the street. I had never had Main Street all to myself before even if it was just a few fleeting moments. Ceremonies at both the main gates and at the castle preempted the openings.
Hong Kong Disney is different than the other parks. It is smaller, there aren’t as many “cool rides,” the mountainous/hilly areas of Hong Kong loom over the castle. A friend who grew up in Hong Kong but who has never been there heard that it was “lame” but that didn’t stop me, I was going to have an awesome Disney experience. I purposefully chose to go on a Monday to avoid crowds. With its overall smaller size, I feel as though it probably doesn’t get too many people anyway. The longest wait time I encountered was maybe 15 minutes. There were only two rides that were FastPass eligible – Space Mountain and Winnie the Pooh.
Besides Space Mountain and Grizzly Gulch (Thunder Mountain Railroad), there weren’t a lot of big time action rides. It needed a Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, or Splash Mountain.
Hong Kong Disney had three official languages and even offered jungle safaris in all three – Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. The Festival of the Lion King even had monkeys that translated for the English-speaking emcee.
I saw three different shows:
1) Festival of the Lion King – It was basically the same except no acrobatic monkeys. As usual, it was amazing and inspiring.
2) The Golden Mickeys – Disney’s version of the Oscars where they don’t actually give out any awards. It includes actual humans and lots of singing and dancing as they go through adventure, romance, and villain categories. It got a lot of songs stuck in my head. One of my cousins would appreciate me calling it this – The Dundees of Disney.
3) PhilharMagic – A 3D production of Donald going through various scenes. It was wonderful as well!
Since this Disney is in Asia there were some different than usual offerings of food. For instance, sushi! I stuck to Western fare for lunch (with Mickey croutons) but indulged in sushi (with a hidden Mickey in the rice) for dinner. I had the hardest and most expensive churro I had ever eaten (it’s all part of the experience, right?) and something I had never seen before – frozen banana pre-sliced and dipped in dark chocolate. The pre-slicing of the banana means you get more chocolate!
The typical “Haunted Mansion” at most Disney parks was redesigned into “Mystic Manor” and didn’t feature the cool expanding room (aka a Disney elevator) that HM does, nor does it have a ghost riding along in your people mover. The premise of the ride was a professor with a magical music box that is not to be touched. But of course his pet monkey must touch it. You then ride through a standard Disney set. It’s nowhere near as cool as the HM.
There were two parades – a day time one which I skipped and an evening one titled “Paint the Night.” They did a great job illuminating their characters. And of course there were fireworks at night, illuminating the castle. Because the park was smaller and was also in off peak hours, the park was only open from 10:30-8:30. At first I was disappointed at the lack of hours but once I realized how much smaller I came to understand it. I was able to everything as much as I want, choosing to skip the children’s rides though, I’m just too tall!
Other miscellaneous notes from Disneyland HK:
– There was not a train as a new Ironman feature was being built.
– None of the staff members I asked seemed to have any clue what “Hidden Mickeys” were (if you are reading this and don’t know then I encourage you to google it as they make your time at a Disney park much more interesting), so I had to keep my eyes peeled. I did find one on the Winnie the Pooh ride (look at the cookies). Since no one knew what I was talking about they kept handing me stickers which are now in my journal. (Does a Mickey dress count as hidden?)
– There was a Toy Story Land area feature various kid-oriented rides. They had a large alphabet puzzle that had the letters for Andy pulled out along with 3 other letters. When I couldn’t find those around, I asked a person and he said they simply hadn’t made them which I found fascinating. I feel as though there has to be a better reason as to why the letters P, S, and T were missing. There was a parachute ride and a roller coaster featuring Slinky among other rides. The Lincoln Logs pic is specifically for my father.
– Apparently sobriety is encouraged at this Disney.
Overall, I had a wonderful day at Disney! Once I got over the fact that there wasn’t a lot of my favorite rides, I just embraced it and made sure to go on rides that I wouldn’t normally go on. There’s nothing quite like Disney!