Disneyland Hong Kong

During a time of particularly nice weather in November ’05, while on a trip to Hong Kong I decided to visit the newly opened Disneyland Hong Kong.

After arrival in town, I found that an ample amount of literature concerning the park was widely available. I picked up my brochures from the Tourist Information Office at the Star Ferry Kowloon.

Tickets for Disneyland may be purchased at the park, online or at the Hong Kong MTR station. Regular adult admission was HK$295 (near US$38) or, on peak days, HK$350 (US$45). Disney hotel guests have free entry to the park, and package tours are available through Gray Line Tours in Hong Kong (phone 852/2388-7111 or visit www.grayline.com.hk). These latter pick you up and return you to your hotel and include guide service, coach transfer and park tickets. Adult tickets were quoted at HK$520 or HK$580 (US$67 or US$75).

I chose to travel on my own using the excellent Hong Kong MTR service from Kowloon on the Tsuen Wan line and transferring to the Tung Chung line to Sunny Bay. Here I transferred to the Disneyland Resort line, a brand-new, totally automated service that shuttles between Sunny Bay and the park. The park has a new, very large train station with Disney cast members available to give directions.

From the station, it is an easy 3-minute walk to the patio in front of the park entrance. This area features a large fountain with figures of various Disney characters at play. I found that this patio area is quite popular with locals, who like to go there and picnic even when they are not going to the park.

I had departed my hotel in the Mong Kok area at 8:45 a.m. on a warm Friday for the easy journey and arrived at the park at 9:20 for the advertised opening of 10:00.

I bought my ticket (HK$170, or US$22, for seniors) at one of the entrance kiosks and was in the park at the castle end of Main Street by 9:35 a.m. waiting for the standard dropping of the rope and subsequent mad dash for the first attraction of the day. While waiting, and throughout my stay, I noticed park patrons appeared to be mostly locals and that very few Westerners were there.

At precisely 10 the rope was dropped and I joined the group heading for Tomorrowland. I was among the very first at Space Mountain. I obtained a seat in the first row of the first car and was soon off on the ride. My impression is that the ride, while very similar to other Space Mountains, was somewhat slow and not quite as exciting. Later reading indicated that thrill rides are not as popular in Asia as in America and hence may have been the reason to “tame” the experience somewhat.

The park itself is laid out in the same manner as Disneyland/Magic Kingdom, with the various areas radiating from the central hub. The absence of Frontierland and New Orleans Square has eliminated Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. Indeed, the entire park is about half the size of Disneyland in Anaheim. An expansion in Tomorrowland is under way with the ongoing construction of Autopia.

After Space Mountain, I continued through the park trying the rides offered and found that most were very similar to those found in California, Florida and Paris. The Jungle Cruise, however, was a bit shorter than others, with several of the riverbank attractions omitted.

The people who were present at opening time were quickly absorbed into the park and it never felt particularly crowded. This had the beneficial effect of cutting down waiting times for almost all of the rides, making it easy to see everything in one day.

There were the usual food venues throughout the park selling familiar Disney fare. Most menus did, however, include some type of local dish. I chose a “standard” Disney lunch of burger, fries and Coke for which I paid HK$50.

I was able to see the afternoon parade without a problem, finding ample space at the curb in front of the Opera House. The parade was well done and would fit in at any of the Disney parks. The various shows that were presented throughout the day all were entertaining and exceptionally well done and were well received by the audiences. On this, Disney did not stint in the least.

I visited all of the stores and found therein merchandise comparable to what is found throughout the Disney pantheon and at similar prices. All of the Disney cast members I encountered were uniformly polite and helpful and spoke excellent English.

All in all, the park likely would not disappoint any Disney afficionado. The only complaint might be the park’s size and the consequent lack of all of the rides and attractions to which one might be accustomed.

In the evening, my departure from Disneyland and return to Kowloon went as smoothly as the trip out. It had been a pleasant day’s visit, and I can recommend it to any Hong Kong visitor who would like to add a bit of Disney Magic to their trip.

Annandale, VA