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Let’s be honest, the Coronavirus pandemic has left the world much changed. It’s crazy to think that I started 2020 in Hong Kong with my husband, mother and sister and actually rang in the new year at Hong Kong Disneyland. Then about a month later, borders started to close as COVID-19 swept the globe. People were confined to their homes, many were left jobless, lives were lost and well… we were all there, so there’s really no need for the depressing recap.
With a variety of safety precautions in place, I feel like life is somewhat starting to go back to “normal.” A big step towards normality is the reopening of the Disney parks. Though my visit was at the start of the year, I think much of my adventure will still be pretty applicable, with the exception of some seasonal items. So, for those of you ready to venture back to your happy place, here are some tips for 2020!
STAY AT A DISNEY HOTEL
As always, staying at an official Disney hotel made our trip way more convenient and magical. While we don’t always opt to stay at a Disney hotel during our Disney vacays, I would definitely say that it is the best option when visiting Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland. Like our last trip, we decided to stay at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel. It is the cheapest option of their 3 official hotels for those of you on a budget, but honestly, I just love its 1920’s art deco motif!
Make sure to get your front of the line tickets (1 per person) if you buy your park tickets through the hotel. Or… just buy them cheaper online and then ask for the front of the line tickets.
Aside from being fully immersed in Disney magic, staying at a Disney hotel comes with a lot of perks that make visiting the park a lot more convenient. Guests get free shuttle service, special park entrance and priority entrance passes to 2 rides of our choosing for our entire group. This time, we also made use of their luggage check-in service which allowed us to leave our baggage at the hotel while we scampered off to the park. Then, when our room was ready, they simply delivered our luggage there. No time wasted!
BREAKFAST WITH MICKEY
I suppose a tradition we are cementing with each HKD visit is wrapping up our trip with a delicious breakfast buffet at Chef Mickey. They always offer a pretty good variety Asian, American and European dishes. It is also the cheapest buffet meal for those on a budget. Our cute and magical must have items would have to be their Mickey waffles and bbq pork piggy dim sum. I’m talking plates and plates of the stuff!
Another cool thing is that you are given a ticket to meet Chef Mickey and take pictures with him whenever you are ready. 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. This is also a great opportunity to get that shot with Mickey out of the way before even stepping foot in the park.
THE MUST DO’S (AND THEN SOME)
To be honest, my “Must Do’s,” haven’t really changed since my last visit to HKD. Mystic Manor still reigns supreme as our absolute favorite ride followed by Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars and Hyperspace Mountain. I don’t want to rehash too much, so you can get a bit more info on those rides and a few others on my previous post HERE.
One show I do want to add to the list is Mickey and the Wondrous Book. The show is a live stage production that takes place in an actual theater and is guaranteed to be the BEST thing you see at HKD…or dare I say… any Disney park? The show is an amazing showcase of some of our favorite Disney jams, complete with the park’s most talented singers, dancers and actors. The songs are all in in English and the dialogue is a mix of Chinese and English with subtitles available on screens to either side of the stage. I don’t want to give away too much, but honestly I would pay money to see this show. Do not miss out!
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! is one of the newest additions to the park. This ride replaced Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and basically uses the exact same ride layout and ride system. Ok to be completely honest, it’s pretty much the same ride, but with a Marvel makeover. The walkthrough queue is pretty cool and it reminds me a lot of Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout! over at California Adventures. It’s filled with all sorts of S.H.I.E.L.D gadgets and other recognizable weapons and devices from the movies. The ride itself is a bit chaotic and it’s difficult to really take in everything that’s going on, especially if you’re focused on trying make a high score. Personally I think this ride was better executed by its predecessor, but it’s totally still worth riding.
Currently the smallest of the Disney Parks, shopping is relatively easy to do. In one day, it is completely possible to check out all the stores as you explore the park. While for most parks I recommend doing your shopping towards the end of the day, for this one I recommend doing it as you go along. Unlike other Disney Parks I’ve been to, this is the first where I’ve seen actual sale items in abundance. Several shops throughout the park have little sections with discounted items. When we went, several of the items were holiday related, but we were quite surprised to find many other items as well. So, keep your eyes peeled from some great buys.
STICKERS & BUTTONS
Stickers and buttons are some of the best freebies you can get at HKD and I’ve received so many questions about how I go about getting them when visiting the Disney Parks here in Asia. Honestly all you have to do is start at City Hall right on Main Street. There you can get your free occasion button and a couple of stickers. After that, it’s just a matter of asking the cast members who work the rides, the shops and man the information centers. Some of the best stickers are ride or character related, like the adorable R2D2 sticker I got from the Star Wars: Command Post. So don’t be shy, get out there and ask around!
More than anything else, having two full days at the park allowed us to really indulge in all the park food. Having 4 people in our party on top of that… well let’s just say we left no food uneaten.
Every HKD visit begins with a Mickey Waffle from Main Street Market. We always end up eating at least 2 because, YES, they are that good. Typically, you will only see “Mickey Waffle” on the menu, but there are usually 2 kinds to choose from (original and a seasonal flavor). This time, they had a Mixed Berry Mickey Waffle. It wasn’t as good at the apple waffle we had last time, but it still hit the spot. The waffles are all priced the same, so be sure to ask what flavors they have when you go.
Market Street Bakery, previously Market House Bakery, is where you will find some of the cutest bakery goods the park has to offer. We always go there for their super cute donuts which are typically called “rings.” What’s most important to note about them is that they are less donut and more chocolate dipped bread. They are very soft, but far less sweet than a standard donut. That being said, we really enjoy them. This time around we went for their Christmas Mickey & Minnie Rings.
On our last visit, we had lunch at Crystal Lotus, located inside the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. The experience was so enchanting, we knew we had to let my mom and sister try it for themselves! Truthfully, while the dim sum is incredibly adorable, the taste of certain menu items might be a bit on the bland side for western tongues. This is something we hadn’t considered until we took my mom and sister.
Despite the difference in tastes, there were a few items that were unanimously delicious. Once again, the Little Green Men Pork and Vegetable Buns were the best bang for your buck. They were super soft, the filling was flavorful and the bun was completely stuffed! We also enjoyed the Golden Minnie Shrimp Dumplings, which were a bit lighter in flavor, but absolutely beautiful. The real winner would have to be Mickey’s Seafood Glutinous Pancakes. They were crispy, a bit chewy and full of flavor. Plus they came with this amazing sweet and spicy dipping sauce. We definitely had to resist ordering a second serving.
While HKD popcorn doesn’t hold a candle to the popcorn over at Tokyo Disneyland, the Caramel Popcorn is still incredibly delicious. We pretty much munched on popcorn for 2 days straight and even for a bit on our way back to the airport. This time around, I got to tote around my popcorn in a super cool Millennium Falcon Popcorn Bucket with LED lights. I think this may be my most cherished bucket to date.
Unlike our last visit, there’s now a Starbucks on Main Street which was a huge relief for those of us who don’t quite come alive until after our first cup of coffee. While I did indulge in more than one cup of Starbucks, I couldn’t leave without also grabbing a Star Wars Latte at the Main Street Bakery. It’s a latte that come with a chocolate Stormtrooper pop to stir into it and it was one of our favorites the last time we were at HKD. If you’re not one for coffee, definitely opt for the hot chocolate that comes with a chocolate Darth Vader pop to stir into it. You won’t regret it!
Needless to say, Disney Park experiences will be much different post COVID-19. There are lots of precautionary measures in place like temperature screenings, enforced mask wearing and hand sanitizer dispensers installed throughout the parks to keep guests safe. Of course there are many other changes including a new reservation system, so be sure to check out their website HERE before planning your trip. On the bright side, the castle transformation has reached its final stage and it looks amazing! Can’t wait to see what the park has in store for us this year.