Hong Kong Disneyland: not what I expected?

Another place I visited during my not-so-recent holiday was Hong Kong Disneyland: as someone looking for thrill rides I was somewhat disappointed by the selection, but the fact it was Disneyland made up for it.

Most visitors catch the train out to Disneyland since the station is right next to the park entrance – I blogged about it a few weeks ago. Getting there from the tourist areas of Hong Kong only takes a half hour or so.

Entry to Disneyland station

Unfortunately I was staying at Ma On Shan in the New Territories, and would have needed to change trains five times to get there – at Tai Wai, Kowloon Tong, Prince Edward, Lai King and Sunny Bay – so we drove there instead.

While Hong Kong Disneyland is just like the majority of theme parks elsewhere in the world in having a massive carpark, it differs in the lack of cars using it. All day parking was $120 HKD, which is about twice the price of a multi story carpark in the Hong Kong suburbs.

Massive carpark but it's empty: Hong Kong Disneyland

The major source of visitors to the park are the emerging middle class of mainland Chinese, who now have money to spend on holidays and western luxuries – they are easy to spot by their uniform of suit and tie.

Hong Kong Disneyland soon after opening for the day

Once at the gate security carries out bag checks, but I’m not sure what they are looking for exactly. The Wikipedia article on the park claims they also fingerprint visitors, but I didn’t see anything of the kind. Perhaps it only applies to those with season tickets, so they can’t share them with other people?

Bag checks at the entry to Hong Kong Disneyland

Inside the gate is the main station of the Disneyland Railroad, but unfortunately it was closed for maintenance during my visit. Continuing along is Main Street USA, which like the rest of the park is based on one of the original Disneyland theme areas.

Family wandering down Main Street USA

At the far end of the street is Sleeping Beauty Castle: compared to the massive castle at the centre of the Walt Disney World Resort, the Hong Kong version is underwhelming to say the least.

Sleeping Beauty Castle - can you spot the blonde in a sea of black hair?

Off to one side is Tomorrowland, where Disney’s excuses for thrill rides are located.

Entrance to Tomorrowland

The main attraction is Space Mountain, versions of which appear in a number of other Disney parks around the world. One important difference enhanced my enjoyment greatly: visitors to Hong Kong appear to be afraid of thrill rides, resulting the queues for the line being almost non-existent.

I managed over a dozen rides on Space Mountain during the day, with the round trip taking 10 minutes from ride entrance to ride exit, and a feeling that I spent more time strapped into the roller coaster, than waiting in line for another go!

Space Mountain station, with an empty train

Every time I left Space Mountain I snapped a photo of my on-ride photo: with everyone in Hong Kong being snap happy with a camera, the person on the sales counter spends their day twiddling their thumbs waiting for a customer that never comes.

On-ride photo from Space Mountain - everyone just takes a photo of the preview screen, instead of buying a copy!

The next theme area is Adventureland, which only had a handful of rides. The jungle cruise is the main attraction, with boats carrying visitors on a lap around an artificial lake. An interesting touch is the three different queues for for the boats, one for each of the commentary languages offered: Cantonese, Mandarin, or English.

Adventureland Jungle Cruise

On the other side of the lake the Disney illusion is ruined by the tower cranes looming overhead, working on the next expansion of the park.

Tower crane breaks the illusion at Hong Kong Disneyland

Meanwhile, at the other end of the park is Fantasyland, where It’s a Small World is located.

Entrance to It's a Small World, the Disneyland Railroad crosses the bridge in the foreground

During my visit it was decorated for Christmas, with a mix of Christmas carols and It’s a Small World playing. By this point I had just stared the journey, with 10 minutes left to go…

Winding through It's a Small World

How long can you cope listening to it?

Next door is the Golden Mickey’s theatre show, which was presented in a mix of English and what I assume was Cantonese.

Finale of the "Golden Mickey's" show at Hong Kong Disneyland

I have to admit, the Toy Story segment didn’t make much sense to me when it isn’t in English.

The Chinese version of Toy Story

Wrapping up the afternoon was a Christmas themed parade down the Main Street, with what seemed to be every park visitor lining the route.

Christmas parade at Hong Kong Disneyland

After the parade was over it seemed that everyone decided to head off, but since we were driving home, there was no congestion to speak of! Lets see that at any other theme park!

Driving home from Hong Kong Disneyland

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4 Responses to Hong Kong Disneyland: not what I expected?

  1. Herb Fong says:

    Speaking about your thoughts about the Castle being underwhelming as well as having no customers for those photo shops, I really do agree with you about that. And because the price of Disneyland has risen to a ridiculous $450 HKD in June 2014, one would be far more worth it for not visiting it even as a tourist.

  2. Astitchintime says:

    Well now there are a thousands of Pokemon inside. It never stops.

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