Conquering Hong Kong Disneyland: A Guide To The First Disney Park in China

Overview

 

Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005 as the first Disney resort in China.  It is jointly owned by Disney and the government of Hong Kong.  Located on reclaimed land on Lantau Island it is easily accessible from both Downtown Hong Kong and Hong Kong Airport. 

The resort is most commonly associated with the original Disneyland and for good reason.  The scale of the park is the same as Disneyland and the resort layout is very similar.  There are three resorts on site in addition to the theme park.    

When To Visit And How Long To Stay

 

Hong Kong has a subtropical climate.  During the summer months it is hot, humid, and rainy.  It is also typhoon season which could really put a damper on your vacation.  The best time to visit is Autumn and Spring for weather.  Rain is less likely and temperatures are cooler.  October is partially a good month to list for Halloween fans as Hong Kong Disneyland offers the best Halloween program of any Disney resort.

To miss crowds plan on visiting during the week and not on a public holiday.  Holiday’s and weekends will bring crowds and higher wait times.  Go during the week and avoid a holiday and you will enjoy some of the lowest wait times you will ever experience at any Disney park.    

Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest Disney Resort and 2nd least attended Disney park.  It can easily be seen in one day.  While staying onsite is great, by no means is it needed with Hong Kong so close and for anyone other than diehard Disney fans, it is probably preferable to stay in Hong Kong and take the metro to Disneyland for one day during your visit.

Money and Tickets

 

The currency of Hong Kong is Hong Kong Dollars.  ATM’s are located at the park entrance, City Hall on Main St., Mystic Point and at Disney hotels.  Major credit cards are readily accepted around Hong Kong and Disneyland.

Tickets can be purchased online or onsite.  Compared to Disney parks in the U.S., Hong Kong Disneyland are a bargain for park tickets.  Check the special offers page for deals that can provide a great value if you are planning to stay onsite or going for multiple days.  Annual Passes pay for themselves quickly if you plan on visiting for more than two days during a year.

To save a little money you can purchase tickets through an authorized reseller like Klook.  Tickets purchased online will print out a voucher with a bar code.  You may redeem the voucher for your park tickets at self service ticket counter to the right of the main entrance.   

Language Barrier

 

As a former British colony, English is very common in Hong Kong.  Disneyland Cast Members speak fluent English.  Signs around the resort are in English and Cantonese.  Dialogue on rides and shows are a mix of English and Cantonese.  Of all the international Disney parks Hong Kong and Paris are the most English language friendly. 

Getting To Hong Kong Disneyland

 

Hong Kong Disneyland is located on Lantau Island between Hong Kong Airport and downtown.    An excellent public transportation system makes renting a car unnecessary.

Airport

There are many options to get to the resort from Hong Kong Airport, which is located nearby.  A taxi will take about 20 minutes and cost roughly $25 USD.  The Hong Kong Metro or MTR takes close to an hour an requires two transfers.  From the airport take the Airport Express to Tsing Yi Station.   Take the Tung Chung line to Sunny Bay Station, where you transfer to the Disneyland Resort line which drops you off at the resort entrance.  Total cost is around $12 USD.   

Hong Kong

If you are coming from Hong to the resort, the easiest method is using the MTR.  It is recommended you get an Octopus card if you plan on using the MTR at all.  Many stores and eateries also accept the Octopus Card as payment.  Take the Tung Chung line to Sunny Bay Station and transfer to the Disney resort line which takes you directly to the resort.  Total transit time is approximately 30-45 minutes depending on where in the city you are staying.    

By Car

Take Route 8 to Penny’s Bay Highway.  Exit via Magic Road to Fantasy Road into the resort parking lot. 

     

Resort Overview

 

Hong Kong Disneyland is the small compared to there Disney resorts and easily covered by foot.  The resort consists of three onsite hotels and one theme park.  There is no shopping district outside the park as with other Disney resorts.    

Hotels

 

There are three onsite Disney hotels.  The Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, and the most recent addition Disney Explorers Lodge.  If you plan to stay onsite Disney Explorers Lodge is the best overall of the three, with the Disneyland Hotel being the most extravagant and most expensive. 

Unless you are a big Disney fan and want to stay onsite, it is recommend you stay in Hong Kong and take a day trip to the resort.  As nice as the resort hotels are, the experience of being in Hong Kong outweighs the Disney resort experience that can be found at other Disney parks around the globe. 

 

Resort Layout

 

Disneyland Park is at the center of the resort.  On one side are the hotels that overlook the bay.  To the other side is the metro station and car park.  Directly across from Disneyland Park is set aside for future development.  An eventual second gate would go here similar to how Disneyland is set up with Disney California Adventure directly across facing Disneyland.

Disneyland is the 2nd smallest park by acreage, barely berating out Walt Disney Studios in Paris.  It has seven theme lands: Main St. USA, Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, and TomorrowLand.  

It is set up similar to other Magic Kingdom style parks with the lands branching out from a hub located in front of the castle.  However, access to Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, and Toy Story Land are only accessible through Adventureland or Fantasyland instead of direct access from the hub.  The scale of the park is similar to that of Disneyland and with it comes a similar feeling of quaintness that is different if you are used to the larger scale of Walt Disney World.        

 

Attractions

 

Hong Kong Disneyland has fewer attractions than other Disney parks, but also has some of the best and most unique rides in the Disney collection.  Some of the Highlights include:

  • Mystic Manor On any list of best Disney attractions out there Mystic Manor is in the top two or three and in many cases it is number one.  An absolute masterpiece of classic Disney storytelling combined with state of the art technology.  This is a bucket list attraction for Disney and theme park fans.
  • Iron Man Experience Best described as Star Tours with an Iron Man theme.  While Iron Man is in Hong Kong he finds out that you are in trouble.  He comes to the rescue in this action packed adventure
  • Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Train A new take on Big Thunder Mountain.  The wild ride twists and turns, forward and backward.  A nice roller coaster tame of enough for younger ones, but has plenty of thrills for anyone.
  • Jungle River Cruise The best version of the Jungle Cruise in any Disney park.  Exclusive to Hong Kong, this version is available in multiple languages, so you won’t miss out on any jokes.
  • Space Mountain A classic Disney roller coaster in the dark.  Onboard audio and the track design make is most similar to the Disneyland version.

Shows and Entertainment

 

Hong Kong may not have the quantity of entertainment options as other Disney parks, but it sure has the quality.  The Festival of the Lion King in Adventureland will be familiar to Animal Kingdom guests and a great way to take a break from rides.  Fantasyland has Mickey and the Wondrous Book, one of the best shows Disney has ever produced.  This is certainly a must see on any visit and on of the few things you will have to show up early for as it will sell out, especially if it begins to rain near showtime.      

The Flights of Fantasy daytime parade is classic Disney on display as you get to see plenty of Disney characters in action.  When day turns to night, out comes the Paint the Night Parade.  Similar to the parade with the same name at the Disneyland Resort, Paint the Night uses the latest technology to bring Disney characters to night life.  To cap off your evening, Disney in the Stars fireworks is a fitting way to kiss goodnight your day at Hong Kong Disneyland.       

Seasonal Events

 

Like other Disney parks, Hong Kong Disneyland celebrates various events throughout the year.  Some of them are more local events while others are traditional western holidays that have been brought to Hong Kong.

  • Chinese New Year celebrate the new year on the Chinese calendar at Hong Kong Disneyland.  Held in late January, the holiday has special food and merchandise offerings along with characters dressed up for the occasion.
  • Easter The holiday is celebrated at Hong Kong Disneyland with decorations throughout the resort.
  • Halloween Without a doubt the scariest Disney version of Halloween time occurs at Hong Kong Disneyland. The festivities include  a special parade, decorations, and even scare mazes, which is a first for a Disney park.
  • Christmas Holiday Decorations, special food offerings, and more bring the Christmas spirit to Hong Kong.

 

Food and Shopping

 

With visitors from all over the world, Hong Kong has a variety of food options.  Anything from burgers to Dim Sum can be had.  Most places are counter service cafeteria style.  The Explorers Club Restaurant next to Mystic Manor is probably the best of the counter service bunch.  The best table service restaurant is Crystal Lotus at the Disneyland Hotel. 

Shopping options are similar to what you would find at other Disney parks.  The unique items you want to look out for are Hong Kong specific merchandise such as t-shirts and attraction specific merchandise especially Mystic Manor. 

Park Strategy

 

Assuming you go on a off season weekday, you won’t have to worry too much about strategy as the wait times will be fairly low throughout the day.  One thing to keep in mind is that traditionally Hong Kong Disneyland opens later than other parks.  A 10:30 opening is common and so getting to the park before it opens can be accomplished without having to get up too early. 

Only three attractions offer FastPass.  In order of most desirable. 

  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Iron Man Experience
  • Space Mountain 

Winnie the Pooh will have the highest wait time usually and if you want to see it be sure to hit it first thing or grab a FastPass.  The ride is similar to those at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom and so there is no need to see it unless you really enjoy it.  Winnie the Pooh is very popular in China and so even a decent but not spectacular Winnie the Pooh attraction will be popular. 

As the newest attraction Iron Man is the second busiest attraction.  Keep those two things in mind and then simply enjoy the park at a leisurely pace.  One of the best attributes Hong Kong Disneyland has is being able to truly enjoy the park without having to race from attraction to attraction and fight crowds.  Again this is assuming you don’t visit on a holiday. 

Final Tips

 

  • Download the official Hong Kong Disneyland App for wait times and show schedules.  
  • Check the schedule for hours.  The park typically opens at 10:30 and can close early in the off season.
  • Wi-fi is available in the hotels and in the park.  Coverage is spotty in the park, so have other options if internet is a must. 


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