Friday, July 1, 2016

[Hong Kong 2015] Hong Kong Disneyland 香港迪士尼乐园



Photo By:
Elin Chow
Official Website: Hong Kong Disneyland 香港迪士尼乐园

Hong Kong Disneyland 香港迪士尼乐园 is the fifth Disney theme park location to open, and the second Disneyland in Asia to open outside of the United States. Located in Lantau island, Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest park of Disney.


Hong Kong Disneyland is a magical place where adults become kids again. It is the happiest place on earth where dreams turn into reality. Visitors to the park would feel disengage from the real world as they enter into a world of fairy tales.


To reach the main entrance of Hong Kong Disneyland, we have to walk through a huge park featuring a surfing Mickey Mouse fountain as its centerpiece. The park is huge with plenty of benches around. Around the fountain, crowds of people gathered, all eager to have their photo taken.

Price

Disneyland is one of the most expensive theme park in the world. An average family who visits Disneyland would normally end up with couple of hundred dollars missing from their wallet and prices of all-day tickets are usually the biggest expenses of them all.




Admission tickets to Hong Kong Disneyland are not cheap, but are not super expensive when you compared to other any other parks in the world. 




Prices of the tickets are as below:

Types of Ticket
Adult
(Aged 12 – 64)
Child
(Aged 3 – 11)
Senior
(Aged 65 & Above )
1-Day Pass
HKD 539
HKD 385
HKD 100
2-Day Pass
HKD 739
HKD 525
HKD 170

With 1-Day Pass currently costing HKD 539 (around RM 270) per adult and HKD 385 (around RM 193) per child, Hong Kong Disneyland has been acclaimed as the world's least expensive Disney park to visit. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice. Please check out their official website for the latest pricing.

Operating Hours

The park opens from 10.00 am to 9.00 pm daily.  Opening hours may vary throughout the year, so you might want to check out their official website for any changes before you visit the park.



Unlike any other Disneyland around the world, English, Cantonese and Mandarin are all commonly-spoken languages by the Cast Members at Hong Kong Disneyland.  Almost all the attractions and rides are in English. though some of them are available in three languages. As such, foreign tourists visiting the park should not face any language barrier at all.




All visitors are required to go through a security check before entering the park. Please note that you are not allowed to bring outside food (including snacks) or beverage items into the park (except for baby food).


The park consists of seven themed areas - Main Street, U.S.A, Adventure Land, Fantasy Land, Tomorrow Land. Grizzly Gulch, Toy Story Land and Mystic Point. There is free WIFI service available throughout the park and no password is required for connection. This allowed us update and share our happy moments instantly online while we have fun at the park.

But like most public WiFi, do not expect super fast speed. But connection are generally quite stable so we did not really have much problems uploading our pictures on social media most of the time.


Located just right above the floral Mickey Mouse at the entrance, the Main Street Station of the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad is the first thing you will see the moment you stepped into park.

Passing beneath the tracks of the Main Street Station, we entered a magical land of adventure, fantasy and discovery.

Main Street, U.S.A

Walking in, the first themed area you will come across is the Main Street, U.S.A. which starts from the park entrance all the way to Sleeping Beauty Castle, the gateway to Fantasyland. This is also where the magical experience starts.

Designed to resemble a 20th century Midwest Town, the Main Street in Hong Kong Disneyland is modeled after the Main Street in Disneyland, Anaheim, California. Unlike the other themed areas, there are no rides or any major attractions at the Main Street. The entire street is lined with numerous souvenir stores, specialty boutique. cafes and restaurants.  


Most of the souvenir shops at the Main Street offers an extraordinary array of gifts, souvenirs, Disney characters merchandises, toys and apparels for all ages. All around the park, you will also find several merchandises carts selling sundries, Disney characters plush toys and collectibles.



Walking down the Main Street, I felt as though I were transported back in time - I felt like a kid again. People often say that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, and once you are there, it awaken the child in you. Well, it is totally true.


Most of the visitors tend to lose themselves at the Main Street, often spending too much time browsing through the shops. I would recommend passing through the Main Street area quickly and visit the popular attractions located further in the park first. This is to ensure that you can enjoy the popular rides before the lines get too long later in the day. 

Most of the shops at the Main Street opens till late so you absolutely do not have to worry about not having enough time to shop. You can always browse through the shops at a more leisurely pace at the end of the day after you have explored all the other attractions in the park. Souvenirs at Disneyland, however, are often quite expensive. So be prepared to burn a hole in your wallet if you plan to bring some souvenirs home for your family and friends.

Visitors can catch a ride on vintage vehicle from one end of Main Street to the other end. Operating hours are subjected to traffic conditions on the Main Street and services may be suspended at times and during parades.

For easy navigation, be sure to grab a copy of the guide map from the City Hall located at the entrance of the park. The guide maps are printed in traditional and simplified Chinese, as well as English, Japanese, Thai, Malay and Indonesian. 

Character-meet-and-greets are one of the main attraction of Disneyland. At Hong Kong Disneyland, visitors are able meet many of their favorite Disney's characters and get their pictures taken with them. 

Character-meet-and-greets are extremely popular in Hong Kong Disneyland and queues generally tend to build up really fast. Disney characters can be found throughout the park, mainly on the Main Street. Most visitors would usually head straight to the character-meet-and-greets near the entrance immediately after the gates open. 

Right at the entrance of the park, you will find Mickey and Minnie and it was nearly impossible not to notice the enormous line that formed around the meet-and-greet. We were actually very surprised how long the queue has gotten even though we entered the park right at the moment the park opened. There was probably about 50 people already in the line! So as much as we wanted to meet our favorite characters, we decided to give it a miss. The queue for Mickey and Minnie meet and greet was just unbearably too long and we did not want to waste our time waiting.

This was my first Disneyland trip and it was around Christmas time. Christmas at Disneyland is such a magical time of the year. At this time of the year, the entire park is transformed into a Christmas Town covered in dazzling Christmas decorations and light displays.



A massive Christmas tree stands magnificently in the center of the street, laden with gifts and presents of all kind. 

Despite being a major tourist attraction, Hong Kong Disneyland is not as crowded as we expected. In fact, it is rarely crowded with people. The park has a daily capacity of  34,000 visitors - the least of all Disneyland parks. Even so, you might still want to avoid visiting the park on weekends and public holidays if you hate the crowds and queuing.


We wanted to take photo with at least one of the Disney character, just for memory's sake. So we decided to get into one of the shorter queue to take a picture with two Disney characters whom we do not even know. However, the queue took much longer than we initially expected. We probably waited about 45 minutes in the line just to meet and have our pictures taken with two adorable squirrels.

To some extent, I felt stupid but at the same time, satisfied that we get to meet and take at least a nice picture with a Disney character. I later got to know that they are Chip and Dale and they are not squirrels but chipmunks. Most of the people around me do not know their names too. I guess they are not really famous so that is why I do not know them.

After that, we saw Goofy and Donald Duck at the other corner and were feeling tempted to get into the line. But we did not because we decided that one is enough. We certainly do not want to waste our time waiting in the line anymore.


Hong Kong Disneyland offers an impressive of dining options. There are a couple of restaurants that are Halal Certified in the park. Plaza Inn is one of the restaurant that you will find at the Main Street. This is a Chinese restaurant operated by the Maxim's Group, one of the biggest food and beverage companies in Hong Kong.

Tomorrowland

At the end of the Main Street is the Central Plaza of the park with entryways to Tomorrowland, Adventureland and ,through Sleeping Beauty Castle, to Fantasyland. We decided to take the right turn and head to the Tomorrowland first.


Tomorrowland is the optimistic vision of the future. Attractions in this area include Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Autopia, Stitch Encounter. All the attractions featured in this area are related to space travels or anything futuristic.

Starliner Diner

Located at the entrance of Tomorrowland is Starliner Diner, a counter service restaurant that serves America quick-snack foods such as fried chicken and burger with fries. With 800 seats, this is the largest restaurant in Hong Kong Disneyland.

Orbitron

At Orbitron is a rocket-spinner attraction where visitors will get to pilot their own flying saucer and control how high and low they go. 

Comet Cafe

Located next to the Orbitron is Comet Cafe, an open-air quick service restaurant offering several Hong Kong's specialties.

Space Mountain
Space Mountain, a space-themed indoor roller coaster attraction, is one of the most popular ride in Hong Kong Disneyland. The queue can be long, so be sure to get a Disneyland Fast Pass for your ride to reduce waiting time.


A Fast Pass is a "ticket" that gives you a fixed time to ride a popular ride, so that you do not have to wait in the line for your turn. The "ticket"will usually give you an hour window to return and during this period, you are free to walk away and do something else until the allocated time - probably just to grab something to eat or visit some other attractions nearby.

Make sure you return for your ride at your allocated time. You can enter via the "Fast Pass Line", which basically allowed you to skip the line and enter the ride with almost no wait. This has greatly helped us to maximize our time at Disneyland. I believe nobody would not want to spend most of their time waiting in the line for rides, especially spending so much money on the entrance fee.

The Fast Pass is free and can be obtained at the distribution machines located at the entrance of the attractions. Please note that there are only a limited number of Fast Pass available for each time slot, so they tend to run out very fast during peak times, especially for the popular rides. Every person is only allowed to hold one Fast Pass at a time and it has to expire before you can get another one.

Stitch Encounter
Located adjacent to the entrance of Space Mountain is Stitch Encounter, an interactive character show where visitors can interact and enjoy conversations with Stitch in real time.  The attraction offers shows in three languages - Cantonese, Mandarin and English, which last approximately 15 minutes each. 

It's a Small World
Located in the Fantasyland area, you will find It's a Small World, which was created as a tribute to the United Nations' International Children 's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).


From afar, the exterior facade of the attraction is very striking and eye-catching.


The centerpiece of the attraction is a 24 foot tall animated clock tower which will chime at each quarter hour while featuring a classic toy parade dancing to an instrumental toy soldier version "It's a small world".



As the music begins, a parade of toys will dance out from the base of the tower. Once the last doll returns into the clock, the doors at the center will open to reveal two giant numeric blocks and the clock chimes the number of times that correspond the time of the day. 

It's a Small World is a water-based dark ride located in this area. This is also the largest indoor attraction that you will find at Hong Kong Disneyland. 

The 12 minutes ride features 300 audio-animatronic dolls in local traditional costumes singing the attraction's title song "It's a small world" each in their native languages. Visitors can simply hop aboard a small boat to visit the 7 continents in the world. You will get to see the various landmarks from numerous countries such Great Walls of China, with dolls representing children around the world.



To accommodate local market, a few Asian languages have been introduced to the theme song. Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog and Korean are unique to Hong Kong Disneyland and for the first time ever, 38 Disney characters were also introduced and placed in the continent of their origins

For example, you will find Mulan in China and Aladdin and Jasmine on their magic carpet in the Middle East. Each boat could seat up to 20 people at a time so you do not have to wait for too long for a ride. Since we were early, we had an entire boat to ourselves. 

It's a Small World is my most favorite ride in Hong Kong Disneyland. The song is really addictive and throughout the ride, I feel an uncontrollable urge to sing along. This is definitely a must-see ride and attraction for me. 

While heading to our next themed area, we happened to see the wonderful Wizard of Oz walking by. So, we requested to take a picture with him. to which he happily obliged.

Flight of Fantasy Parade is a daytime parade and an absolute hightlight of Hong Kong Disneyland. I have heard so much about the parade even before I visited Disneyland and since then, I have always been looking forward to it. Unfortunately, the parade has been cancelled due to rainy weather. It was disappointing.

However, we were lucky to catch Mickey, Minnie, Duffy and friends cruising down the Main Street in an Omnibus, a gas-powered, open-air double Decker bus of the 20th century. I believe this is part of the festive celebration to get everyone into the holiday spirits. 

Adventureland

Features jungle themed adventures, Hong Kong Disneyland's Adventureland is the biggest among all Disneyland park.

Designed to resemble the remote jungles of Asia and Africa, Adventureland features a large island area surrounded by a river.

Jungle River Cruise
Jungle River Cruise will take you deep into the jungles of the world, from Amazonas, to the Okavango and the Mekong Delta. The cruise is available in three languages - Cantonese. Mandarin and English. There are separate lines for the ride for three different languages for visitors to choose from. 

The ride circles the island on a river adventure through the jungles. There will be a Disney Cast Member on board delivering a scripted narration throughout the tour. While the ride is safe, do prepared to get a little wet. Well, you can always wear a rain coat if you want to.

Other popular attractions also include a walk though attraction, Tarzan's Tree House and Broadway quality musical show, Festival of the Lion King. The tree house lies in the middle of the river and can only be reached by bamboo raft. 

While Tarzan's Tree house is nothing impressive, the Festival of Lion King Show is definitely a must-see. This is an original interpretation of my all-time favorite Disney animated film, The Lion King with songs from the movies. The show is mainly in English and there was two actors summarizing and translating the dialogues into Cantonese in order to accommodate visitors who do not speak English, There was also Mandarin subtitles projected on screen for Mainland China visitors.

Feeling hungry, we decided to have our lunch at the River View Cafe located in the Adventureland. Overlooking the river. the spacious table service restaurant can seat up to 186 people.

River View Cafe serves traditional Chinese food. Our park tickets include a set meal offering a specific selection of dishes for us to choose from. The food served by the restaurant was delicious and we had a very satisfying meal. 

Toy Story Land

Located behind Fantasyland, you will the Toy Story Land, a themed area that is based on the hugely popular Disney, Pixar film series, Toy Story.

The themed area is designed to "shrink visitors" down to the size of the toy and to play in Andy's Backyard with some of the Disney characters from the film. 

Walking in, you will easily notice that the area uses many themed props and characters from Toy Story movies such as giant Woody, giant Buzz Lightyear and giant Rex.  Everything in this area is over-sized and the purpose of this is to make us feel small. 



The area features three attractions and each is themed around a character from the movies. Unlike other themed areas, there are no dining locations in Toystoryland, although there is a small store selling some snacks and drinks.

Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin
Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin a family friendly coaster attraction offering a continuous circular ride up and down a relatively gentle incline. The ride is primarily aimed at younger children.

RC Racer
RC Racer is actually the most intense attraction in Toystoryland. The ride is a half-pipe roller coaster that is designed to resemble the Hot Wheels tracks that RC (or RC car) rides in the movies. For those who are not familiar with the movies, RC is Andy's remote control toy car. 

In Toystoryland, visitors will have the chance to climb abroad a 20-person remote-controlled RC car and ride back and froth - up and down on the orange U-shaped racetrack. Although it looks like a roller coaster, it is actually not as intense as it looks.


Do not forget to take a picture with the replica RC car located near the entrance of the attraction after the ride. 

Toy Soldier Parachute Drop

Be prepared to drop down from the sky with Toy Soldiers at Toy Soldier Parachute Drop, a parachute-jump style attraction at Toystoryland.


Visitors are strapped to a 6-person parachute and hoisted up to the top of the 25-meter tall tower. At the top of the tower, the parachute will suddenly drop to the ground and back up again.

Walking a little further in is an over-sized model of Rex, Andy's green plastic toy Tyrannosaurus Rex. This is my favorite character from the Toy Story movies.

Clenching a white rope between its teeth, the giant Rex stands guard at the other entrance of the Toystoryland. I could resist taking a photo taken with this adorable green giant and I believe everyone would want their photo taken with Rex too.

Mystic Manor
Mystic Manor is a Haunted Mansion style attraction featuring a incredible dark ride where visitors will transported to the mysterious world of Lord Henry, an eccentric traveler who travels around the world collecting unusual antiques with his mischievous monkey, Albert.

Grizzly Gulch

Walking pass the Mystic Manor,  we reached the Grizzly Gulch themed area next. 

Set amidst the mountains and woods, Grizzly Gulch is an abandoned mining town complete with gushing geysers.


The geysers will blow up occasionally, so be prepared to get a little wet at any time.


Grizzly Gulch area features only one ride - the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars. The mountain roller coaster attraction is the centerpiece attraction in Grizzly Gulch themed area where the speeding mine cars will twist and turn - forward and backwards through the Grizzly Mountain, with numerous surprises along the way.


Since the weather was really cold, I decided to get myself a cup of hot chocolate from one of the snacks and drinks cart around the Central Plaza. It was wonderfully delicious and a small sip of it instantly warmed my body up. But can you guess how much a small cup of this cost? It was HKD 30 (about RM 16)! Well, that was really expensive.

Fantasyland 

In the center of park, you will find the Sleeping Beauty Castle. With blue tower roofs and light pink concrete walls, Hong Kong Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle is an exact replica of the original Disneyland Anaheim's castle.


The castle itself is an attraction. It is an iconic trademark of Disney and one of the most photographed icon in the world. Set against the backdrop of the green mountains of Lantau Island, the castle stands majestically at the entrance of Fantasyland.



The castle is five stories tall and its spires are topped with 23.75 karats gold leaf finials. It is widely known that the castle is based on the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, but it is not an exact replica. However, the castle in Hong Kong Disneyland is a beautiful recreation of the original one in Anaheim, California.


Every night, the castle serves as a focal point for the breathtaking Disney in the stars fireworks show.

Passing through the castle, we entered the Fantasyland, a happily-ever-after-world where fairytale comes to life.

Mickey's Philhar Magic
Mickey's Philhar Magic is a 4-D film attraction located adjacent to Royal Banquet Hall in Fantasyland. The 12 minutes long show features 3D effects, scents and water, as well as a number of classic Disney characters rendered in 3D computer animation. It was a very interesting and entertaining show to watch. 

Cinderella's Carousel
Visitors will find the Cinderella's Carousel as soon as you walk through the castle. Climb aboard an ornate carousel horse and spin around, up and down to joyous music. The horses come in different sizes as to accommodate all ages. 

Dumbo The Flying Elephant
Hop atop and soar through the air with Dumbo The Flying Elephant. Obviously, this is a nice and tame children ride based on the 1941 film, Dumbo. Both adults and children alike will love flying around in Fantasyland with  Dumbo The Flying Elephant.

Other attractions include the Mad Hatter Tea Cups, a ride inspired by the Disney film, Alice in Wonderland , The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, a dark ride based on the film, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and The Golden Mickeys, a Broadway quality musical show.

In the Fantasyland area, you will also find the Fantasyland Station of the Disneyland Railroad. A 20 minutes ride on the steam-powered train will provide a great overview of the park, though the views were nothing amazing. The five car train can carry up to 250 passengers, with each scheduled to arrive at every 5 to 15 minutes throughout the day. The queue generally move fast, so you do not have to worry about waiting too long for a ride.

The Cinderella's Carousel is especially beautiful at night, glowing in the dark while it spins around to the music.


Hong Kong Disneyland was celebrating its magnificent 10th anniversary when we visited. In fact, the park is celebrating its 10th anniversary in a year long celebration, starting from mid November 2015. 


The Sleeping Beauty Castle looks dazzling at night as it stand illuminated beneath the dark sky.



The weather was very cold and wet on the day we visited. It has been raining the whole day. But I prefer cold to hot weather. The cold weather actually makes it feels more than Christmas. 


The spirit of Christmas comes alive at the Main Street once night falls, with enchanting Christmas Illumination taking place every day at dusk. 


The illumination ceremony starts with the Christmas tree lighting, and one after another, all the lights and buildings along the Main Street leading to the castle light up the night with dazzling colors. It was spectacular - just the perfect place to celebrate Christmas!


A trip to Disneyland would not be complete without watching the fireworks. So, if you are visiting Disneyland, make sure you stay till end of the night to watch the Paint The Night Parade and Disney in the Stars firework show. Both the nightly parade and fireworks show are always one of the greatest highlights of any Disneyland around the world. Definitely a must-see!


Sadly, we did not get to watch the Paint The Night Parade. Again, it has been cancelled due to persistent rain. Of course, I was feeling really disappointed since I have been looking forward to it for the entire day.


We were worried that Disneyland will cancel the nightly fireworks display too. But luckily, they did not. The fireworks show starts at 8.00 pm every night. I would recommend anyone to arrive early to secure your preferred viewing spot before it gets extremely crowded. Apparently, everyone would want the best viewing spot.The Main Road just in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle starts to get crowded with visitors as early as 7.00 pm. This is undoubtedly the best spot to watch the fireworks show.

Just 30 minutes before the fireworks show, we started reserving our spots. We were told by our tour guide that the best spot to view the fireworks is from the Main Street Railroad Station, It was a nice spot as it was not crowded with people. This means that we can enjoy the fireworks without having to squeeze with the crowds. The Railroad Station is located close to the park entrance, which allowed us to leave easily after the show. This is especially great for people who do not want to deal with the crowds after the show ended.

Disney in the Stars
Disney in the Stars fireworks show is a show that combines music, fireworks and special effects. As the music begins at 8.00 pm sharp, dazzling display of bursting color instantly lighted up the night sky above the Sleeping Beauty Castle. Animation are projected on the castle while stories are told through synchronized songs and dialogue. It was incredibly amazing. This was probably the best fireworks show that I have watched so far.



However, everything is more distant from the Railroad Station. We could not see the projections on Sleeping Beauty Castle because we standing a little too far away. The massive Christmas tree in the center of the Main Street obstructed our view, which was frustrating.

But on the other hand, we actually got a nice panoramic view of the fireworks, though it will be perfect if the Christmas tree was not there to block our view. After all, the Disneyland fireworks are designed to be viewed directly from the Main Street where you will get a great view of the castle projections and fireworks up close. 



As soon as the fireworks ended, everyone begins to make their way back to entrance of the park. If you are hoping to make a quick exit, I would suggest that you stay near to the entrance at the Main Street like us.


A commonly asked question is"Is one day enough?" I think it really depends on individuals. Even though Hong Kong Disneyland is small, one day is definitely not enough for us to explore and cover all the attraction in the park.

Even so, we had a magical and unforgettable winter experience at Disneyland. I would recommend anyone to spend a day or two at Disneyland, especially when you are traveling with kids. This is an one-of-a-kind attraction that is sure to delight both adults and kids! 

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 3D2N Company Trip Summary + Itinerary for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 3 days in Hong Kong. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for the latest updates on my 3 days adventures in Hong Kong! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.

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