Hongkong Disneyland

Disneyland in Hongkong is on the itinerary of many tourists visiting Hongkong with kids. We visited the Orlando Disneyland when my son was just about 3 years old. At the time he was too young to remember anything much. So when we had planned a trip to Hongkong, my son being 8 years old, this theme park scored high on our itinerary.

Disneyland has its own cute little train station called Sunny Bay station. To get to it, one has to reach the Hong kong central station and take the Tung chung line to the Sunny Bay station. The Sunny Bay station is exclusively a Disney station with trains plying to and from Disneyland resort. It was about 9AM when we reached the Sunny Bay station and despite being Christmas holiday season we were pleasantly surprised to find that the station was less crowded as we waited for the train comfortably on the platform. Hongkong has an excellent MRT system with train arriving every 10 minutes and hence one does not need to wait long for the next train.

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The Disney train that plies visitors from Sunny Bay station to Disneyland resort and back. This cute train has mickey mouse windows and grab handles
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The interior of the train – Mickey mouse windows and grab handles with lounge like seats

The train stopped right at the entrance of the park and we began to see crowds forming  in the entrance, that is much likely due to the Christmas holiday season. We had e-vouchers on the mobile from klooks and had to convert them into tickets. So we headed to the ticketing machine and tried to get the tickets out by showing the bar code under the ticket scanner. But the machine could not read our e-voucher. A staff standing by came to our rescue. We found the reason why it wouldn’t read our voucher was because the bar code had to be enlarged and the mobile screen had to be made bit brighter, and after this was done, out came our tickets.

disney-entrance
The entrance to Disneyland. That house encloses a train stop where a train takes visitors around the park.

There are many theme parks inside Disneyland each theme park is reminiscent of Disney stories with rides and characters depicting that story. We first went for a train ride around the park and got off at the Magic Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom has merry go round rides and I felt it is particularly suited to more younger children. The Mickey’s Philarmagic show was about to begin and we headed into that theatre. This is a very hilarious 4D show of Mickey Mouse who is the conductor of a magic orchestra, Mickey Mouse gets late for his show and Donald Duck tried to cover up for Mickey Mouse but gets set off on an adventure instead, following Mickeys magical hat through the sky where  he meets Alladin, the sea where he meets Ariel the Mermaid and so on. Water will be lightly sprinkled on the guests when Donald Duck splashes in the sea. The sound system was so realistic that during one of the scenes it sounded as if Mickey is walking around the studio.

Next we  got on to the River safari. There were 2 queues , one for English and the other for Chinese. Surprisingly the English queue was shorter than the Chinese one. This was a boat safari where visitors will be taken on a man made river with artificial animals on either side of the banks. These animals look so realistic and they can do few movements as well. As the boat sailed through the river there was an area showing primitive head hunters, and a guy who was being chased up a tree by hyenas. There came a potion of the river having geysers which caused the boat to shake lightly. The guide for this safari was talking in different pitched voices to explain the different sights, and as she was speaking in highly accentuated Chinese English we could not understand most of what she was narrating. However we were so caught up by what was happening on the banks of the river, that we did not mind her at all.

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Replica of some of the animals. They do really move as well to give a realistic effect as much as possible. The Zebras shakes its head, the Elephant waves its trunk
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This Hippo replica rises out of the water with its mouth open. Did you know that Hippos cause the more number of human fatalities than any other animal in Africa? Thankfully this Hippo was not real.
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A lost baby elephant. How do we know the baby elephant is lost. The poor thing is not near its mother. Elephants have a strong family system and the mothers are fiercely protective of their young and keep their young close to them at all times.
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After we were done with our River Safari we saw this duo playing drums on something that looked like a metal dustbin and buckets, but the music was good though it was just drumming around.
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We then took a stroll over Fairy tale forest that has castle for each of the Disney princesses. In the picture is one of the castles at the Fairy tale forest. We later met Tinkerbell here.                          
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Toystory Land has rides like Slinky Dog which is like a mini roller coaster, a Parachute Drop, RC Racer
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The Toy soldier Parachute Drop. There was a long queue of nearly 1 hour wait time before we got on to this ride. The ride would be only for about 2 minutes. Wish we got the Express Pass to jump the queue. Would have been so worth it! All the attractions had a long queuing time and we had to forego many of the rides due to this.
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The kids loved the Churros and the Sausages. The Churros was freshly baked and served hot, we actually saw them making it when a batch was over. So yummy. This could easily be one of my favourite desserts if it was more widely available in India.
lion-king-show
The Lion King show. The only other show that we watched apart from Mickey’s Philhar magic. The show was excellent and is a must watch if Lion King is one of your favorite movie. Even if one has not watched the Lion King movie they would still enjoy this show. This was a well choreographed show with dances and songs with sound and lightning effects and characters. Truly Disney shows never fails audiences and fall nothing short of magical. Make sure to get to any show 15 minutes ahead of show start, especially during peak season as it can get too crowded and once the seating is full they don’t let in more audiences. This happened for the story book show where we got there just in time for the show to begin, but were not allowed into the show as the seats were full
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The Flights of Fantasy parade which is the most awaited show of the day. The parade is held every afternoon at 3 PM. The procession of dancers in costumes and Disney characters on floats goes along the Main street area and ends at the Disney castle. During peak season there will be crowds thronging all along the way on both sides of the street with the staff trying their best to keep the people off the street before the start of the show. 
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The dancers for the Disney Princess floats
cinderella
Cinderalla – Needs no introduction
aurora
Princess Aurora of Sleeping beauty
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Tinkerbell – the tinkering fairy
tigger
Tigger and Pooh– who was once my sons favourite when he was a toddler
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The main characters – Minnie , Mickey , Goofy, Donald, Chip and Dale can be seen on this float

In the Tomorrow Land section, there was a preview to Iron Man experience that begins on Jan 2017. By now we were tired of waiting around for rides but we decided to see this as there was not much queue for this attraction at the time we went and moreover my brother is a Marvel Avengers fan. There were models of Stark Industry and Iron Man’s flying vehicles. After we went through this mini exhibition, we were given 4D glasses. We were told it “activates” when the mission begins. We queued at a door and then after a while the door opened and we sat in a room with seats that had seat belts. We were told not to take pictures I presume it is for safety purpose. The show was about how Iron Man saves the city and when he flew we felt as if we also were flying with him in his vehicle with all sorts of things coming straight at us. The show was cool and quite fun. 

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The Disney castle, the place where the final show is played. A lovely castle with a moat around.

We decided to call it a day and just wander around Main Street, U.S.A until the Night Parade begins. The Main Street, U.S.A began to get lighted up for the night. The Main Street, U.S.A is where usually the souvenir shops and restaurants are. Don’t miss to munch on the cute mickey mouse shaped waffle with cream and chocolate sauce in its ears. 

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There was a 15 minutes Carol Show as it was Christmas Holiday season, followed by artificial snowflakes in the main street for 10 minutes. The snowflakes were mostly foam being sprayed from the buildings on either side. By this time Disneyland was freezing cold and I am pretty sure it went to single digit temperature that night. People were purchasing discounted Disney blankets and wrapping it around themselves and we too purchased a couple of them. 

Shortly after, it was time for the Night Parade. In the Night Parade all the characters and floats were lighted up too. The characters stroll through the main street towards the Disney castle. The visitors throng on the pavements on both side of the streets to witness the parade. This is also an excellent show. After the Night Parade there is a fireworks show at 9.30pm which is also supposed to be very good, but by then the kids started getting very tired and whiny that we thought it is best to leave. Also we wanted to avoid the rush at the Disney station after the fireworks as this is the last show. So we left after the Night Parade to the train station. Being terribly cold outside, the warmth inside the train was so welcoming. 

If you are going to see Disneyland for the first time then don’t miss it. And families with kids may not want to miss this even though they may have seen Disneyland in other places or in Hongkong itself. We have been to Disneyland in Orlando which is much bigger, but I think Disneyland will never become boring despite how many times one has been to, especially for kids and for those adults who are are still kids at heart;-). My brother had exclaimed that in Hongkong the only place where he had seen people smile was Disneyland. After being in Hongkong for a week and reminiscing about it after being back I think this is so true. Typically most people in Hongkong have stoic expressions on their faces, but at Disneyland every staff member is so polite and smiling which shows that Disney invests a lot in hospitality training of its staff. Everything is perfect in Disneyland. The shows especially are truly magical. . 

Notes: 

  1. We purchased the Disney tickets from Klook. They have discounted tickets of 10 – 20% off.  klook’s website – http://www.klook.com
  2.  If going on peak season like Chinese new year or Christmas/New year it is better to get the Express Pass so that one can jump the queue for the rides. We felt that we should have got it atleast for those of us who were interested to go on most of the rides
  3. Plan the shows properly and when going during a peak season, get to the show aleast 15 minutes in advance, as most likely the show will get house full and they wont allow any more guests. All the shows are a must watch at Disneyland
  4. To watch the night parade with young kids I suggest to take the 2 day pass. The first day one can watch up to the Flights of Fantasy parade, and the 2nd day one can take rest in the morning and arrive in the evening for the evening shows , the night parade and the fireworks. 
  5. And last but not the least, if visiting in December during the Christmas holidays, Disneyland will be terribly cold. Make sure the kids are dressed for winter. that means carry a good wind proof jacket , sweater, gloves, winter cap with ear cover, muffler, wear socks and shoes, as towards evening it can begin to get too cold for comfort. 

 

 

 

 

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