Getting to Hong Kong Disneyland involved transferring across trains near the park, but Disneyland had its own Disney-themed light rail train that made it hard to miss. The passenger cars were notably more ‘plush’ inside when compared to a standard subway train car.
The walk from the park’s train station up to Disneyland’s main gates involved passing an impressive water fountain that featured a number of Disney characters in statute form. I noticed the familiar Mickey’s Main Street Express train running over the entry gate. There was a fun majesty to it all.
Once inside, Mickey was waiting under a rotunda on Main Street, U.S.A. The park didn’t open until fifteen minutes after my arrival, so I loitered around by visiting an animation exhibit and some gift stores.
I also took note of how odd it was to notice groups of people smoking cigarettes in the park. That might have been against park rules, but the people didn’t seem to care and no one was stopping them.
The first ‘land’ that I visited was Adventureland. People were, in some cases literally, running in all directions in order to get on their preferred first ride. I chose the English-language line for the Jungle River Cruise. The animatronics on the ride itself were rather lifelike and there were some fun moments aboard the little boats, but the entire tour only lasted a few minutes long.
I wandered over to Toy Story Land for my second major exploration of the day. That area had recently opened on the far end of the park and many of the other park guests hadn’t quite made it over there yet. The Toy Soldier Parachute Drop was a fun ride that provided a nice view and some dropping thrills. I enjoyed the RC Racer ride less, as the back and forth motion of what was essentially a partial roller coaster made me queasy. I’d never been a fan of those particular kinds of rides and periodically needed a reminder as to why.
While waiting in the relatively short lines at each attraction, I had a chance to do some brief people-watching. One thing that I found amusing was a woman wearing an ‘Apple’ t-shirt. It was obviously a reference to the Apple computer company, but the shirt was also obviously not licensed by Apple, since it used a font that I’ve never seen that firm utilize.
Since Toy Story Land was situated off to the side of Hong Kong Disneyland, I noticed the tall native grasses lining the area and the green foliage was something that seemed almost foreign to me. The grass was unusually high – most of it was taller than me – and it made me realize just how little plant life Hong Kong had in it. So much of that area was simply covered in concrete or other building materials.
I next visited Fantasyland, where the main lure for me was Mickey’s PhilharMagic. That attraction first appeared at Walt Disney World back in 2003 and was notable for being a rare collaboration between the Walt Disney Imagineering and Feature Animation divisions.
The waiting area outside its theatre was quickly filled by a packed herd of humanity. The film that we eventually saw was impressive, being a crossover of various classic Disney films. It had what was probably the most striking use of 3-D that I’ve ever experienced in a theatre, even adding another dimension with water and wind effects. Finally, the projection was done ‘Cinerama’-style, utilizing multiple screens for an ultra-wide presentation.
The iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle at the center of the park seemed somewhat stripped down when compared to the same castle at Disneyland. There was not any accessible area inside it.
The “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” ride was extremely popular and had a sixty minute wait time, so I requested a ‘fast pass’ for it that would allow me to return ninety minutes later to bypass the line. In the meantime, I headed over the decidedly less busy “It’s a Small World” ride. Why that ride had little to no line didn’t quite make sense to me, but I didn’t complain.
What I did complain about, at least to myself, was the behavior of some of the small children in the waiting area. The ride was built with a massive waiting area that was composed of a maze of queuing lanes. Children ran like wild animals through the empty queues and I was surprised that their parents did little to wrangle them in. That duty seemed to fall on the Disney staff, who were notably less chipper there than in other areas of the park.
I didn’t spend long in Tomorrowland, opting only to ride on Space Mountain. That indoor roller coaster was seemingly identical to the version at the California Disneyland. I’d considered going on the Autopia ride, but the sixty minute wait turned me off.
Space Mountain provided a great example of the single rider option helping me. As a single person, I found that I could get through attractions incredibly fast. I basically didn’t have to wait in any of the ride lines, since I could either use a Fastpass or get bumped past everyone else in the single rider line.
With time to kill before my fast pass became available on the Winnie the Pooh attraction, I decided to check out some of the park’s lesser attractions. My first stop was Mickey’s Main Street Express and people were oddly pushy getting onto the train. The train ride only covered half of the park, but it was nice to get a different perspective.
While aboard the train, I noticed a little boy who was carrying on in a temper tantrum. His parents weren’t doing much to stop him and, as soon after we arrived back at Main Street, U.S.A., the little boy went ballistic. I couldn’t help but watch as he screamed, cried, and tried to become a human fence to stop his family members from walking forward. At one point, his older sister must have become frustrated with his behavior because she landed a solid hit on him with her umbrella.
I returned to Adventureland to visit the Liki Tikis site. The heat made me wish that I could spend an extended time under their water spouts. Disneyland was certainly not as much fun when it was 90 degree Fahrenheit outside and there was a 90% humidity rating. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had gotten rather sunburnt throughout the day.
Had I waited in line for an hour to board the “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” ride, I’d have been sorely disappointed. Unfortunately, the ‘story’ was hard to follow and seemed to only show moments from various Pooh tales rather than present something comprehensible.
In summary, Hong Kong Disneyland was very much a scaled-down version of the Anaheim Disneyland. It was fun to visit, but it quickly became apparent why the tickets were half the price of Disneyland in Anaheim. I will say that Disney still had an uncanny way of making people smile and there was the same familiar sense of ‘leave your cares behind’ joy that one would expect at Disneyland. The expansion of the park was continuing and in another five or ten years, it will be up to par with Disneyland in California.