Tag Archives: Hong Kong

The Happiest Place on Earth – Hong Kong version

(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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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?)

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– 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.

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– Apparently sobriety is encouraged at this Disney.

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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!

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Hong Kong protests

I promised my family and friends that I would stay away from the protests but my curiosity got the best of me so I went for a jaunt down Nathan Road which happens to be home to my hotel and the protests.

As I walked I noticed there were fewer and fewer cars and people had begun to walk in the middle of the road, I knew I was getting close. I read that this week there have been continued clashes between the police and the protestors and the police tear down the barriers only to have the protestors build them up again. My plan was to get close enough but avoid conflict.

I could see the barrier blocking the road. It was made up of recycle bins, metal barriers, boxes, etc. There were quite a few curious people like myself. Some of whom stood on the median to get a better view. I had no desire to pass the barrier in case a skirmish did occur but it didn’t stop me from taking a few photos and noticing half a dozen policemen standing nearby, simply hanging out. The people beyond the barrier seemed to be a mix of protestors and curious people.

Further up Nathan Road were a few cones to prevent traffic from turning onto the street.

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Hong Kong and dogs

Dogs seem to be a welcome part of life in HK. At Victoria Peak there were dogs everywhere accompanying their owners on a walk around the peak or just sitting at a coffee shop taking in the atmosphere. Something I noticed in China as well as HK is that dogs do not have to be on a leash. In Datong, China, I noticed a man guiding his big Samoyed across the street by gently pushing it in the right direction, no leash in site. Small dogs, big dogs, there seemed to be no discrimination for the lack of leash law. Every city I’ve visited has had a plethora of pooches just roaming, staying fairly close to their owners of course.

At the top of Victoria Peak I noticed a sign about dos and don’ts for your dog. Leashes were encouraged for bigger dogs but it didn’t seem to say that they were required. What an interesting concept! There was also a sign for dog ice cream 🙂

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Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

For about 50 cents USD, one can cross the harbour (I added a U since I am in a British English area) and reach Hong Kong Island. Follow signs for the “Peak Tram” and 5 minutes later you will be on your way up to the top in a funicular for about $4 USD or $5.50 USD for a round trip fare.

The view from the top allows you to see all of the surrounding islands (as long as the smog has cleared). There is a path that will take you around the peak giving you a view from every angle. It takes about 45 min to do the loop. It is a wonderful shaded path and has signs about the trees and flowers that you pass.

There are homes and apartments that go for millions of dollars I’m sure. There is also a small shopping complex at the top.

I was glad I arrived before the rest of the tourists. On my way back, mid-afternoon, the line to go to up wound around the corner.

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