Hong Kong, SAR China – 9 & 10 October 2017
Ak and I had a quick breakfast in town before jumping on the train to Sunny Bay station where we’d connect to the Disneyland shuttle train. And then, there were were – Hong Kong Disneyland!
Walking into the park felt much the same to me as visiting Disneyland in CA or Magic Kingdom in FL – though without the teeming throngs of people. I mean, yes, obviously there were people there, but not huge crowds (though there was a bit of a slowdown getting through the turnstiles at the park entrance. Why is this process so difficult for so many? But I digress…)
First stop, City Hall! I had to get Ak his “It’s My First Time!” pin for newbs. Then we wandered through the blessedly-frigid shops and gawked at all the adorable merchandise. Main St. opens 30 minutes before the park – it’s a nice way to ease into the day.
Once Tomorrowland opened, we made a beeline to Iron Man ride to get Fast Pass, then we hotfooted it over to Hyperspace Mountain – our first ride of the day and Ak’s first ride – and first roller coaster! – ever. There wasn’t much of a line and soon enough we were rocketing through space. It’s a great ride, especially with the new Star Wars theming. We both loved it!
Iron Man was pretty fun too. It’s a Star Tours re-tread, using the same type of simulator, but with the action taking place in Hong Kong – it’s cool that they did a local take on the adventure.
As we made our way around the park, it became clear pretty quickly that we could really relax. Crowds remained non-existent and we never waited in line more than a few minutes. And we did EVERYTHING! From Small World to the crazy fun RC Racer in Toy Story Land to the hokey Jungle Cruise.
One of the best rides was the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars. It gave every impression of being the same as the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad I’ve ridden many times in CA and FL parks – but it had several fantastic upgrades. I’m not gonna tell though! But I think I rode it ten times over the two days we visited, so that should tell you something about how much fun it was.
I think the tradeoff for the sparse crowds was that a lot the restaurants were closed. Not the end of the world, but there were a lot of shuttered counter service places that sounded tasty but were closed during the week or undergoing renovations. The food at the park was just OK. There was a nice cross-section of different types of regional cuisine: Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Korean, SE Asian. Our meal at the Explorer’s Club was pretty good by theme park standards. Ak liked his nasi goreng and my lentil curry plate was satisfying.
Ak and I both enjoyed Mickey and the Wondrous Book, a live-action stage show – though we both would’ve been happier with more classic songs (“‘Brave’? ‘Tangled’? Nope, I don’t know her.”) . But then I think we’re both a bit long in the tooth to be their primary audience. One of the most fascinating parts of the show is how seamlessly they mixed characters speaking and singing in both Cantonese and English, with super-titled translations.
The parades – which honestly are one of my favorite things at any Disney park – were solid. Though let’s be honest – that villains-themed night parade can’t compete with Main St. Electrical Parade or Spectromagic. I’ll admit to just a bit of disappointment that the current Paint the Night parade doesn’t run during Halloween due to the villains parade. The Flights of Fancy day parade was super fun – and nearly every performer in the parade noticed that Ak was wearing his Disney-supplied “It’s My Birthday!” pin (OK, we were a week late, but we were still celebrating!). Disney performers are always pretty amazing – dancing down Main St. in full makeup and elaborate costumes which must be sweltering in the 80 degree heat – but still taking time throughout the parade to say hello or wish a happy birthday to folks watching the parade.
This was probably the lowest-key Disney park visit I’ve ever had – and I liked it! The park is small enough that a one-day visit could be enough – but I was really glad that we spent two days there. It added to the relaxed feel of the visit and we didn’t worry that we’d miss anything. Plus our second day was more focused on seeing shows and parades. It was a great couple of days. Of course, now we’re thinking of trying to get to Disneyland Tokyo next year… We’ll see!