Hong Kong Disneyland
For those that don't know. I LOVE Disney. Love. Love. Love. I have limited edition Mickey hats. I still 'til this day watch Disney Channel. I know all the kiddie actors and songs. Yes. Absolutely obsessed. Sure, I may have a Master's and maybe I teach a college class here and there, but there's a little kid living inside my body. So considering how many times I travel to Hong Kong a year, you can imagine my family's confusion why I had never been to the Hong Kong Disneyland before. Actually, I've never even had an inking of desire to go. The closest I came to visiting was in 2011 when I was interning at CNN in Hong Kong. I had the chance to visit the park for free, but ultimately chose to pull over-time instead. Blasphemy, I know! You see, HK Disney is tiny. Their food choices have never enticed me to go. There's also been constant scrutiny and negative news from the park. The look of the park didn't exactly pull me there either. I also didn't like how their main castle was basically a miniature version of my local Disneyland in Los Angeles. Fast forward to last month when my nephew visited HK for the first time and wanted to go to Disneyland HK. I obliged being the awesome Auntie that I am. Alas, I thought maybe it was time for me to get a proper Hong Kong Disneyland pin and limited edition Mickey hat to add to my collection. I put on my finest Xmas sweater and headed on the subway to Disneyland. I was very excited to ride the special Disneyland train, which was supposed to be all decked out in Mickey decorations.
Here's some photos from the train ride there. I even did an Instagram video so you can get a better idea of the ride.
I wish the ride was longer. It's essentially only one stop. The Mickey decorations aren't spread out so if you get on the ends of the car, you won't be able to take a picture on the little sofas with the windows and Tinkerbell. Not ever angle is picture-worthy unfortunately. My two-year-old nephew enjoyed it though. Two thumbs up from him!I wanted to run away once I arrived at the front of the park. There were so many people that I was sure that every single ride would be a 120+ minute wait. The funny thing is that was not the case. Most of the visitors were from mainland China visiting in Hong Kong for the weekend. The biggest thing on their list was taking pictures. Any statue or character in the park had huge lines, but the actual lines for the ride was near zero! That's right! 5 minute wait for Small World. That's unheard of!
I really liked the cool sculpture at the front with Mickey surfing on Moby Dick's spout surrounding by his friends. I also loved Toy Story Land. It was really well thought out and executed. It was tiny though. Absolutely tiny! I took a few steps and I literally wounded up at another land. And Main Street looked very cheap. It looked like if I accidentally walked into a door that the whole building would fall down. Yeah... but the experience of no lines was great for a two-year-old. He had a blast. The one thing I have to say is that the ambiance really tanked. The staff didn't look like they wanted to be there. No one was happy or in character. This may have to do with the fact that they have to make every single announcement in 3 languages and also round people up in lines like cattle since their queuing strategy is non-exisistent. But c'mon! Smile! I swear everyone looked so sad. I wanted to give them all a hug. Also, not many attendees were in the park spirit. Barely anyone dressed up or had a Mickey hat. The worst part was how cheap the hats looked there. I was seriously contemplating about buying this hat though despite the material. Mystic Manor was my favorite ride. I loved the effects. I wish I could ride it over and over again. I loved the ride so much I bought a glow in the dark Mystic Manor T-shirt, which I'll be rocking at my next Disney trip and also Mystic Manor pins. For those that don't know, Mystic Manor is Hong Kong's version of Haunted Mansion. Unfortunately, this hat looked like Abu from Aladdin. Here's a video of the ride from a theme park reviewer online. His video is much clearer than the one I got on my cell phone. For the record, I got better footage of certain things that he missed though so HA!
Wasn't that the best ride ever? Every park has one ride that just knocks your socks off. This was it for me.
For the most part, the food was pricey as expected for theme park standards. We had originally made a reservation for the character dimsum meal at the Disneyland Resort, however my nephew had to take a nap so we ended up canceling and just eating at the park. I'll definitely made a point to go back minus the nephew for the cute dimsum. The most interesting food item at the park was the dried squid stand. What was peculiar was also the turkey legs, which were about 1/2 the size of the ones from our parks. I wanted to get my usual Mickey ear cookie, but the pastries at HK Disney weren't impressive. They have a partnership with Maxim's, a HK bakery chain that is more about the looks and less about good tastes.
The dining halls all had a theme, which I liked. They still were no where as well done as Disney World though. Overall, I wasn't wowed by the food, but it was ok. The worse ride of of HK Disney was definitely the Jungle Cruise. The ride has 3 different lines depending on what language you want your tour to be done in. You can choose English, Cantonese, or Mandarin. We chose English since my brother-in-law went with us and we wanted him to feel included. Wow, we didn't even know what language our guide was speaking. Worst English ever. Yeah it was that bad. It wasn't even Chinglish. I actually don't know what was going on. I remember staring at the Brits across from me on the boat and giving each other the 'What the F&*!?' look?
Aside from those minor quips, it was a nice relaxing afternoon spent with the fam. I don't think I'd ever get a annual pass to HK Disneyland, but I wouldn't rule out going there again. I do think that HK Disney is kind of like Macau, you can put all the same restaurants and high-end places in Las Vegas but it'll never be Vegas cause of the atmosphere. HK Disney just doesn't have the same oomph as Disney World or Disneyland. It'll be interesting to compare it to the Shanghai Disney once it's open. I have a feeling it'll be the same situation though. I'm in no rush to go back soon, but I'd consider going with friends that visit HK to ride Mystic Manor again.
Have you been to Hong Kong Disneyland before? How was your experience?