When in Hong Kong
Once upon a time, I had an incredible opportunity to travel to Asia! So it wasn’t actually that long ago, just in August of 2016. My roommate and close friend lives in Hong Kong (when she isn’t in school) and was headed back to visit right before our fall semester began. We decided to make a full trip out of it that I could tag along with. We planned on being in Hong Kong for about a week and then Thailand the second week. Of course I wasn’t going to Hong Kong without a visit to Disneyland!
Going to a Disney park outside of the US is a very unique experience. There was a lot I loved about Hong Kong Disneyland and there was some things that were ehh. Overall, it was an incredible experience. I feel bad for HKDL, it really struggles compared to other parks. The location is hard to get to and there isn't anything by it. It is easily a one day park, so I can see why it isn't as popular. That being said, I would go back in a heartbeat! Like any Disney park, there are really unique aspects to it. Here are my thoughts and pieces of advice for your next visit!
My darling friend is not a Disney person, so she allowed me “one Disney day” which was enough time to be honest. Hong Kong limits their crowd levels within the park so it really isn’t as busy as the US parks. Since we were staying at her house, I did not stay at a Disney resort. I wish I had feedback to give here, unfortunately I do not. But when I go back, I would most likely stay for a night or two just to experience it. To get to the park, most people will take the train. The last leg of the trip is a transfer onto the Disney line. Similar to the monorail, just a little more “normalized” like a train.
The park itself is located on Lantau Island and the only other thing around is the airport. While it may be out in the middle of nowhere, the hills and green background easily make it the most beautiful Disney Park out there in my humble opinion. We arrived a little after park open, which was 10 am. Can I just say I love how I didn’t have to wake up at 6am to be at rope drop and get a bunch of stuff done?! We didn’t buy tickets in advance, but the lines at ticket windows were very minimal. A one day ticket is $589 HKD, about $75 USD. They sell 1-day and 2-day tickets, after that it makes more sense to simply buy an annual pass.
Once we made it through security and the turnstile, I was immediately handed a COUPON. Yes, believe it or not, Disney handed out a coupon for merchandise purchased before noon that day. I could not believe my eyes, I could save money at Disney? On top of that, there were discounted merchandise tables. In all reality, it is due to the fact that this park is struggling financially, so much so that in the last fiscal year, it lost money. They will try and sell every piece of merchandise, even discounted. They are making changes to help this issue which I will mention at the end.
The weather was rainy and overcast, but having experienced WDW in the rain more times than I could count, I didn’t mind. It usually means less crowds, which was true in our case. Unfortunately my friend got sick about 2 hours into our trip and had to go home, which left me alone. She felt so bad, but honestly I LOVE being at the parks by myself. It allowed me to do whatever I wanted without feeling bad for making someone wait forever for certain things.
Cast members are extremely helpful and all speak English, so there isn’t any true communication barriers you should be worried about. Food was something I wasn’t sure on before visiting, I am an EXTREMELY picky eater. I found there is quite a range in different types of food, but you can find "normal American food" for picky eaters like myself. Since it is a smaller park, there are very few sit down locations and a handful of quick service locations. There were a lot of snack options, which was great for me!
Entertainment here is quite impressive. The performers themselves are wonderful, and they get especially excited when someone is from the states. (Wonder why that is...). They have numerous princesses as well as “fur characters” out and about. Since it was raining, there were limited people wandering about. Luckily I did get to meet a few fun friends, but most importantly I got to see Duffy for the first time since he left WDW and meet Gelatoni!! Duffy, ShellieMay, and Gelatoni are huge in all the Asian parks, so it was fun to finally meet a new character that is so loved there.
The shows are superb and even though the rain cancelled both parades, I know they are popular each day. They host the original Paint The Night Parade, I was a little sad I didn’t get to see it. But I had just seen it in Disneyland a few weeks prior, so the sting wasn’t as bad. Mickey and the Wondrous Book is incredible and a must see when you go. I have to say this is one of the major draws when going to Hong Kong Disneyland, I could watch it all day and never get sick of it. Ever. Another familiar show to us WDW goers is Festival of the Lion King. I didn’t take the time to see it since I only had one day, but I’ve heard great things about the show here.
For attractions, while they are limited, there are some amazing rides here! A majority are common attractions (Space Mountain, Dumbo, Jungle Cruise), a few are unique to the park. Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars, Mystic Manor, Toy Story Land in general are all worth the wait. I wish with all my heart we had Mystic Manor in the state parks!! I would describe Mine Cars as if Expedition Everest and Big Thunder Mountain had a baby, it is a good in between. It also hosts a single rider line, whoo! I rode Mystic Manor twice because I loved it just that much. It is a trackless ride that is the “happy” version of Haunted Mansion. You are in the Professor’s house with all of the artifacts he collects and his monkey Albert gets you into trouble. It is an absolute must do. Toy Story Land rides are more tame but will boast large wait times, be sure to check it out in the morning to avoid crowds.
Merchandise–The Real Winner. I couldn't walk into a store without wanting to take half of it home. It's a good thing I was on a budget or else I would be broke still. Asian parks have all the good souvenirs, I promise. I mean Duffy has his own store. I got a few exclusive pins, the 10th anniversary ears, and a few other fun smaller items.
One day was plenty to see what I wanted and not feel rushed. Even though it rained most of the day, I didn't mind it at all. I am happy to experience a park in the rain, there is something magical about it. I didn’t stay to watch the fireworks, I had a feeling it wasn’t a spectacular show and my ride had come to pick me up, so I didn’t want to make them wait. If you are ever in Hong Kong, definitely take the day to experience Disneyland. It is unique and very low crowds in our standard. Plus, who doesn't love a new castle picture for their collection?
Hong Kong Disneyland has long struggled financially and it finally began to lose money. As I was walking through, all I could think to myself is they needed more “uniqueness” to the park. You look at Tokyo Disneyland and they have so many unique aspects like a whole park, DisneySea. I told many people that I loved going, but there was nothing to keep me for more than one day in the park. And now with Shanghai open, they have lost tourist traction from mainland China. And not 6 months later, Disney made an announcement. Hong Kong Disneyland is getting a full makeover equipped with a new castle, Marvel Land, Frozen Land, and a Moana stage show. They have began construction already and it will be a few years till completion. For full details, follow this link.
Have you ever visited Hong Kong Disneyland, if so, what was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments!