‘It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all…..’
I was 13 when I first experienced the joy of Disney World Florida. The continual queuing to meet characters you have grown to love through the power of story and film. The rides that generate a thrill, evoking fear through twists and turns yet secretly knowing it is entirely safe because it is Disney. I think ever since 1999 I made a promise to myself that where possible if I was in the same city as a Disneyland I would go. So in 2010 on a Californian road trip with my girls I got to visit Disneyland California, then a mere year later Mr.C took me to Euro Disney Paris as a birthday surprise. You can only imagine how disappointed I was when we visited Hong Kong back in 2015 and didn’t get to visit the Disneyland. Don’t get me wrong I am not a fanatic but no one can deny that Disney is a magical place that cannot fail to make them smile.
So here we are 2017, the sun is blazing, the sky a wonderful powered blue colour and I’m getting a second chance to visit, yay!!
We take the official Disney train from Central station and I cannot recommend getting the train enough. Firstly, to travel on the CTR is relatively cheap, it is efficient and clean. To take the Disney express is included in the CTR ticket so effectively is a free shuttle. As on entry it becomes clear that this is no ordinary, bog standard mode of transport. The seats are long and curved, coloured a rich royal blue like Mickey’s cloak from Fantasia, polished brass figures are added features secured behind perspex cylinders. The most warming of all though has to be the hanging handles. They are also shaped like Mickey Mouse, the famous red and yellow trousers he wore conformed to make the attachment to the pole and the recognisable black ears for the hand hold, my heart is tingling and the magic has begun. Two big kids fully in our Disney element and we haven’t even crossed the entrance line.
There is a distinctly more subdued atmosphere as you approach the fountain that welcomes you. The queue to get in is non-existent and even the ticket queue takes barely any time. It is much like the rest of Hong Kong, expensive, at $589 per person I can see it has taken the magic from Mr.C as he pays. There they are right under the flower engulfed gazebo as we turn the corner heading towards Main Street, Mickey and Minnie mouse. Unfortunately they are due to leave for a parade shortly but we do get to see Goofy and Pluto and it is a fabulous start. As you walk down Main Street towards the castle you get the sense that it is on the small side, but everything is emulated in much the same way as the other parks.
Due to it being nearly Easter, there are numerous eggs decorated as Disney characters dotted around. It becomes rather fun finding them in their random locations. We make our way through Tomorrowland, enjoying the Iron Man 4D experience, with a high recommendation the Star Wars rollercoaster; the pitch black surroundings give the fast, jerky ride the fear element. We see the spring time parade, the floats are seasonally decorated and all the classic characters are there. In comparison to other Disney parades it isn’t as full but, the beauty here is that you get to see more due to it being a Monday and the fact it isn’t uber busy. We head to Toystory Land and you have to applaud the creators as everything is so on point. From the giant Rex to the slinky dog ride, it feels like you are part of Toy Story. We meet Woody and the army men. I think they spend more time with you here, they interacted more with ‘hi-fives’ and several poses, the staff helpfully offering to use your camera to take pictures. It feels less pushy, not so heavy on the merchandise sales which I like, I mean we are here for the memories not tangible items to take home.
We choose to see the Lion King show, at this point being joined by my parents. The show is good!! Lasting 30 minutes it feels like a real show in its own right and not at all a sub text performance. It has moving parts and rotating stages, there’s an appropriate mix of characters, constructed animals and of course the classic songs. I’ve not yet seen the West End performance of the Lion King but if it is as good as this then I’m definitely getting tickets. If you happen to be in Disneyland Hong Kong and can’t decide what performance to watch, then I suggest this one. It has a more ‘grown up’ vibe about it.
The tea cups were classic, choosing to let my parents go in one on their own so Mr.C and I could really get some speed on our spinning. I don’t think you can go wrong with the tea cups; they are suitable for all ages and just make you laugh, like full belly wobble laugh. We had just enough time to go on ‘it’s a small world after all’ ride, following the the sound of a little 3 year old singing the famous song in French whilst being cradled in her mums arms. It was super cute.
The evening parade was one of lights, I was expecting it to be underwhelming but it was the complete opposite. The dancers were enthusiastic and interacting with the crowds, even though they were wearing the most elaborately lit outfits that appeared heavy it clearly didn’t hinder them. My favourite part of this parade had to be the Cars, from Rusty, Mack to Lightening McQueen they looked incredible. The shiny red paint from the cars, glistening under the shadows of the lights. Authentic is the only word here to describe them, they could have quite easily entered the world and created a new Cars movie right there and then. We quickly nip to the Buzz Lightening laser ride, all four of us competing to be the high scorer. There was o queue due to the parade still taking place and we all become super competitive, mine and Mr.C’s cart swing violently in 180 and 360 turns both of us eager to rack up as many hits as possible. For us this isn’t so much of a ride rather a game and in any Disney I would suggest doing it and crowning a winner.
Upon leaving we re-join the stream of people following the end of the parade down to Main Street and the castle. The crowds are in full force here everyone eagerly waiting for the firework show. They project scenes of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast (this one getting a raucous cheer) onto the castle. The songs of Fantasia play from the sound system as the sky is lit sporadically with flares of light. I can’t tell you how much I am smiling at this moment, wandering gently away from Mr.C and my parents for a better look. In that moment I regress, my eyes glaze over and I’m a 6 year old little girl fully emerged in the fairy tale land, believing that no matter where you’re from or who you are any little girl can be princess.
We move with the crowd, being shuffled down Main Street, exiting Hong Kong Disneyland, bid farewell to my parents and head towards the train station. We make our way back to central Hong Kong on the Disney train and decide to check out Times Square for some late dinner.
We enjoy some Michelin starred wanton soup, it was good but not exceptional. It feels like Michelin stars are perhaps easier to obtain here. The food has been really good but I question whether it removes the elitism associated with Michelin stars when nearly all Dim Sum restaurants have been awarded at least one. We stroll through the vibrant lights that illuminate the area, concluding that Time Square Hong Kong is not too dissimilar to that in New York, except much less famous. It has the people, lights, busy hustle and bustle and even street performers. Before this trip I didn’t even know there were more than one Times Square in the world, incredibly naïve I know. We grab some ice cream before heading back to the Rosedale hotel for our final night in this city.
There a 6 Disney parks in the world: Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, California, Florida and Hong Kong. This is my 4th Disney visited, does it have the grandeur of Florida, or the ability to view the park from an air balloon like Paris? No it does not. It is indeed smaller than the previous three I have visited and only has one aspect to it unlike the rest but it was just as magical. Provided a fabulously fun day out and an experience I will remember. It’s a shame the Rocky Mountain section wasn’t fully open but the weather allowed for Lotso and Mickey shaped ice creams (although they aren’t cheap at $5 a piece) and a chance to just enjoy some fresher air. I think if you have a spare day in Hong Kong with no plans then go, enjoy the magic, but if you have just one day left and you are yet to ride the Star Ferry or see the Big Budda then I would prioritise them.
Disneyland 4.0 ticked fully off the list!