Unlike most of our trips, our trip to Hong Kong was short (but sweet) with Hong Kong Disneyland being our primary reason for visiting. Researching this trip wasn’t as easy as I though it was going to be. Surprisingly, there isn’t a whole lot of current info on the park in English and the stuff that is there is usually from a parent’s perspective. It’s good stuff, just not entirely what I was looking for. So here are some tips and info that I hope you find helpful.
STAY AT A DISNEY HOTEL
I’d have to say that staying at a Disneyland hotel was the best decision we made for this trip. Not only did it fully immerse us in all the Disney magic, but it came with a lot of perks that made visiting the park a lot more convenient. We got free shuttle service, special park entrance and priority entrance passes to 2 rides of our choosing (to name a few). We also got our tickets at the front desk, so we were totally prepped and ready to go the next morning!
BREAKFAST WITH MICKEY
We hadn’t planned on it, but we decided to try the breakfast buffet (with Chef Mickey) at our hotel, the Disneyland Hollywood Hotel. We arrived at 7:30 am (opening) to find an almost empty restaurant, which was awesome! They offered a pretty good variety of Asian, American and European dishes. Of course, the foods to note would have to be their Mickey waffles, Winnie the Pooh banana bread and bbq pork piggy dim sum. All cute and magical must have items. Another cool thing is that you are given a ticket to meet Chef Mickey and take pictures with him. It’s all very organized, so everyone has a chance to get a nice picture without the chaos of waiting in a mob of people like in the park. If you have kids or just love Mickey, this is a great opportunity to get that shot with him out of the way before even stepping foot in the park. No fuss, no hassle.
We decided to visit the park on a Thursday because (in my experience) visiting any Disney park on a weekend is pure and utter chaos. We arrived about 30 min before the official park opening and were surprised to see how empty it was. We were through the lines and inside the park in no time at all. What’s great is that although the park didn’t open till 10:30 am, they started letting guests into Main Street around 10:00 am. This was the perfect opportunity to look at all the stores and browse/compare merch without wasting valuable park time.
DOWNLOAD THE APP
Moving on to the actual park. I had downloaded the HK Disneyland app the night before and it actually proved to be very helpful. My hubby always loses our park maps, so this was a quick and convenient way to navigate our way through the park all day. The best part of it is that it shows all the ride wait times in real-time, so we were able to plan out our day pretty easily. You can also see where and when characters are roaming the park, but honestly there are characters everywhere all the time. It’s pretty awesome.
Having been to a few other Disney parks, we could immediately feel how small this park was in comparison. We were able to move pretty quickly between the different lands to catch shows or make fast-pass times, which actually wasn’t a bad thing. Also because you could cover the park so easily, it wasn’t crowded and the guests were pretty laid back. We didn’t experience any shoving, pushing or line-cutting. WE LOVED IT!
THE MUST DO’S
We spent the day checking out the park at our leisure and hunting for stuff we hadn’t seen at other parks. We actually spent a lot of time in Tomorrowland, which was mostly Star Wars-themed with a dash of Marvel. Stormtroopers and Captain Phasma came out for photos at some point, I picked up a Porg plushie from the gift shop and I had the pleasure of meeting the fiercest little Rey cosplayer ever.
We also got to check out Hyperspace Mountain which is Star Wars themed and much faster than the one at Disneyland. The ride is fairly short, but because of that there aren’t any points where the ride actually slows down. It’s just 100% speed and 100% awesomeness! My hubby is not a rollercoaster fan, but even he couldn’t deny how cool it was (despite his screams of terror).
The Iron-Man Experience is one of the newest additions to the park and is exclusive to Hong Kong Disney. This ride has a very similar concept to Star Tours. It takes place in Hong Kong and you are given a tour of Stark Expo by Jarvis until things go wonky and you end up in the middle of a battle. I don’t want to give too much away, but it was a lot of fun!
Fantasyland doesn’t have nearly as many rides as the one in California or Tokyo, so we didn’t spend too much time there. Mickey’s PhilharMagic is definitely a fun watch especially if you’ve never seen it before, but I recommend checking out Fairytale Forest. This is a fun little maze that takes you through various princess worlds in a storybook fashion. It has different interactive points and lots of great photo zones. It may be aimed a little more toward children, but honestly it’s just an enjoyable and beautifully Disney inspired walkthrough with lots of artwork from one of my favorite artists, Brittney Lee.
Grizzly Gulch is the equivalent of Disneyland’s Frontierland, but on a much smaller scale of course. It features only one ride, but what a ride! Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars is now one of my favorite rollercoasters. I don’t want to give anything away, so let’s just say it’s full of surprises. We waddled off the ride delirious with laughter and a little bit shaky (in the best possible way). If you do get priority passes from staying at a Disney hotel, I’d suggest saving at least one for this ride. Using the pass takes you from the entrance straight to the ride itself, there’s absolutely no wait.
Adventureland was another area we didn’t spend too much time in, but we did go there to check out the Festival of the Lion King show. If you only want to check out one show here, it has to be this one. The music, costuming and overall presentation was vibrant and simply beautiful. It is a bit on the longer side with a runtime of about 30 min, but totally worth it in my opinion. You get acrobats, fire dancers areal silk artists and of course Timon & Pumba. What more could you ask for? The husband did doze off at some point, but that’s not a reflection on the quality of the show, but rather on the fact that he is becoming an old man =)
If you could only ride one thing at Hong Kong Disneyland, it would have to be Mystic Manor at Mystic Point. Unlike other Disney parks, Hong Kong Disney has Mystic Manor instead of the Haunted Mansion largely due to differences in traditional Chinese culture regarding spirits and the afterlife. So what you get instead is a unique Night at the Museum-esque of experience that is actually a continuation of the “Society of Explorers and Adventurers” theme at Tokyo DisneySea. While the haunted mansion is my all time favorite Disney ride, I’ve got to say this one is a very close second. Not only does the ride feature a musical score composed by Danny Elfman, but it also makes a lot of fun references to other Disney attractions like the Haunted Mansion and the Enchanted Tiki Room. Needless to say we totally rode it twice!
Aside from these awesome rides, each “land” in the park has it’s own little carnival game cart. Every game is different and the prizes all vary according to the area of the park you’re in. We decided to try out a maze game in Adventureland. The prizes were all jungle themed and what’s cool is that you get to pick a small prize just for playing. You get to choose between a pin or tsum tsum and if you win you get a bigger prize too. We didn’t win, but it was fun watching my husband try. Plus they gave us some free stickers and that’s always a win in my book.
For me, going to a Disney park is all about the cute themed foods. Unfortunately, due to the time we went, a lot of the snack carts and even some restaurants were closed (the downside to going on an off-season weekday). This certainly didn’t stop me from sniffing out whatever delicious cuteness I could find.
Main Street Market is a cute outdoor vending cart that serves the cutest and most delicious Mickey waffles ever. It was the first thing we ate when we entered the park and the last thing we ate when we left. Yes, they’re that good! Though they only have “Mickey Waffle” on the menu, you can actually ask for an “Apple Mickey Waffle” which comes with a delicious apple filling. It’s the same price, but way more delicious.
Market House Bakery is also located on Main Street and was the the main provider for most of our snacking needs. Since the park is so small, we just looped back around every time we needed a snack break (3 times to be exact). First we got the Darth Vader Lava Cheese Tart which was as rich and creamy as it was menacing.
Later in the day I got my paws on this adorably huge Pooh Bear Ring. I guess the easiest way to describe it would be to call it a donut bagel hybrid? It had the soft fluffiness of a donut with the breadiness of a bagel and it wasn’t overly sweet either. It was perfect and I was incredibly tempted to try the equally cute Donald Ring.
In the evening we needed a little pick me up, so we got a hot latte which came with a Stormtrooper chocolate stick to stir into it. I guess in the end it was more of a white chocolate latte, which I had no problem with. There were even a couple of park guests who came to ask me where I got it.
We went to Jessie’s Snack Roundup as we were passing through Toy Story Land towards the end of the night. I had seen that they had a churro soft serve and I had to have it! Disney churros are always amazing, but the soft serve was really good too! It was better than any soft serve rightfully should be. Leave it to Disney to make even plain vanilla soft serve amazing. A word to the wise, if you want to get your paws on one, don’t wait till the end of the night. I almost didn’t get to try it because the churros were selling like hotcakes and the person in front of me bought 10! Luckily they were making one small final batch when I put in my order. Score!
What I found interesting about my experience at HK Disney was that all the rides and shows we checked out were in English and Chinese. Where there were English speaking characters, there were also Chinese speaking characters, so we never felt left out of an experience because we didn’t understand the language. While Tokyo Disneyland was nothing short of awesome, I do feel like we missed out on some things because of the language barrier. The way they incorporated both languages into HK Disney was a big plus for me.
Overall, our experience at HK Disneyland was really great! My husband said it’s his favorite of the Disney parks we’ve been to so far. You can definitely do it all in one day, especially if you go during the off season like we did. However, we totally could have gone a second day and still found more stuff to explore or ride for a second or third time!
Right now, the castle is under construction and will be transformed to pay tribute to all of the Disney princesses. I’m not too sure what this entails, but it seems like it will be completely different from any of the other Disney castles which is pretty exciting. This is part of their six year expansion plan which will also include a Frozen and Marvel themed area. New attractions are set to open almost every year through 2023, so it looks like I will have to be going back very soon =)