3-year-old Zuri is an avid fan of Disney Jr. She knows Mickey, Minnie, Donald and every member of the gang. When I told her we would be going to Hong Kong Disneyland to see Mickey, Minnie and the Disney Princesses, she got excited. To her, the main point of our Hong Kong trip would be to see Mickey and the rest of her beloved Disney characters, and everything else that we would do in Hong Kong would just be side attractions.
In anticipation of the major event, I let her watch videos of other Disney characters that she wasn’t very familiar with like Lilo and Stitch, Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear. She gamely did this “homework” even though she found Woody and Buzz not as engrossing as Cinderella, Ariel and Belle.
For my part, my homework was to prepare a Disneyland micro-itinerary which would guide us during our 1-day trip to maximize our time. The official website of Hong Kong Disneyland gave me the information I needed to do this.
Hong Kong Disneyland is divided into 7 areas, namely Main Street, U.S.A., Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Toy Story Land, Mystic Point and Grizzly Gulch. I used the park map and the entertainment schedule (schedule of parades, stage shows and character meet and greet) given in the Hong Kong Disneyland website to prepare our micro-itinerary.
Rupert, Zuri, my sister Han and I entered Hong Kong Disneyland on February 4, 2015, Wednesday, at exactly 10:12 am. Originally, we planned to arrive at 9:30 am, so that we would be there already when the park opened at 10:00 am. However, due to some delays, we were not able to leave Golden Crown Guesthouse as early as we wanted. Thus, we entered Hong Kong Disneyland 12 minutes later than planned.
By this time, the queue for the Mickey and Minnie meet and greet at Main Street, U.S.A. was already unbearably long. We skipped this because we knew there would be another meet and greet at Fantasy Garden in Fantasyland at 11:30 am. We also wanted to get to Sleeping Beauty Castle at Fantasyland as fast as we could to get Frozen reservation passes. These are tickets to the Elsa and Anna meet and greet later during the day. Stocks were limited, so we had to prioritize this. Zuri is a Frozen fan, so we had to get those tickets no matter what.
With the Mickey and Minnie meet and greet starting at 11:30 am and the Frozen (Elsa and Anna) meet and greet scheduled at 2:30 – 2:45 pm, we still had time to sample the rides at Fantasyland.
Before I give my reviews of the different rides, let me say this. None in our group are thrill-seekers. Anything that would make a three-year-old happy would most likely make us adults happy, too.
We used our park tickets to get Fastpasses to The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. A Fastpass allows you to save your place in the queue while you go around enjoying the other attractions in the park. Just come back during the time slot given to you. A Fastpass requires no additional fee. All you need is your Hong Kong Disneyland ticket.
While waiting for our turn to ride The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, Zuri decided to try Dumbo The Flying Elephant. It works the same way as a Red Baron ride. We lined up for about 25 minutes for Dumbo The Flying Elephant. The ride itself was less than two minutes long. It was a very enjoyable ride but super bitin (We would have wanted the ride to be much longer than a minute or two).
After Dumbo The Flying Elephant, Zuri chose to line up for Cinderella Carousel. Queue time here was not as long as that of Dumbo The Flying Elephant. Well, it’s just like any other carousel to tell you the truth. It wouldn’t be much of a loss to skip it. But, and the big BUT is, it is Princess Cinderella’s. When Princess Cinderella invites Princess Snow White (aka Zuri) to her carousel, how can Princess Snow White say no, right?
After the carousel ride, it was time to go back to The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. The ride incorporates a Winnie The Pooh story. However, the ride was too noisy and there wasn’t enough time for me to fully read and appreciate this. I would say this ride was just okay. Because this is a Fastpass ride, it didn’t take much of our time, so trying it was still worth it.
Upon exiting The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, we saw that the character meet and greet at the Fantasy Garden had already started. The queue for Minnie Mouse looked reasonable, so we hurriedly fell in line. After a while, Minnie took a break (Our guess is that she needed to pee). She came back after five minutes and resumed the meet and greet/pictorial.
There is an official camera but park guests are allowed to use their own camera to take pictures with the characters. A photopass is given to the guests after the meet and greet. Those who wish to see their pictures taken using the official Disney camera may do so by presenting their photopass on the same day. For those who wish to purchase a picture, HKD 100 (PHP 570) will get you one printed photo with softcopy.
Zuri was starstruck! Minnie Mouse was a hit. She was charming and cute in true Minnie Mouse fashion. She hugged and kissed our little girl. Zuri was absolutely delighted. In her mind, she really met Minnie Mouse the TV star. Even the adults couldn’t help but feel excited.
After meeting Minnie Mouse, we saw Pluto in one of the gazebos. The queue for Pluto was surprisingly short, so though we were already hungry, we didn’t pass up the chance to meet another Disney character. We only lined up for about ten minutes. However, when it was already our turn, Pluto excused himself (Our guess again is that he had to pee). He came back after 5 minutes. True to form, Pluto was super funny and silly. He also hugged Zuri who was on a high. Pluto is now Zuri’s favorite dog.
Because Rupert, Han and I were all starving and had aching feet already, we planned to head straight to the Royal Banquet Hall for lunch after meeting Pluto. However, as soon as Zuri saw Mickey Mouse in a nearby gazebo, she ran to him while calling his name. With the sound of our 3-year-old’s voice saying “Mickey! Mickey! Mickey!”, what else could we do? We followed the little girl on her way to meet Mickey.
Meeting Mickey was Zuri’s happiest moment in Hong Kong Disneyland. This Disney original character has a certain charm that’s hard to explain. What’s harder to explain is the fact that his charm also works on kids 30 years older than Zuri.
Finally, it was time to eat. Where else would Princess Snow White/Zuri have her meal but at the Royal Banquet Hall, of course. Royal Banquet Hall is found at Fantasyland. It is an air-conditioned hall that has statues of the Disney Princes and Princesses and has four food stations, namely Grill, Sushi, Dim Sum and Kettle. Grill serves American classics. Sushi serves Japanese food. Dim Sum serves Chinese food. Kettle serves pizzas, pork chop, carbonara and spaghetti. Credit card payment is accepted.
We ordered food from Grill. Each serving was huge enough for two and the food was tasty. I would say the price was reasonable enough. HKD 120 -140/order (PHP 685-800/order).
We finished eating at 1:45 pm. We had already missed the 1:30 pm Golden Mickeys Show, so we headed instead to Adventureland to watch Festival of the Lion King. According to the reviews I read online, this is a must-see. I was eager to know if I would feel the same way about this stage show.
We arrived at 1:50 pm, 10 minutes before the scheduled start of the show which was 2:00 pm. People were still waiting outside. Soon, everyone was allowed to enter the theatre. When everyone was already seated, I saw that the theatre was almost full. The show started at 2:05 pm. By this time, Zuri already gave in to exhaustion and was already fast asleep in my arms.
Rupert and I were impressed by the huge elephant, giraffe and lion props that soon came out. We tried to wake Zuri up so that she wouldn’t miss the spectacle, but she was too tired. She just nodded her head and went right back to sleep.
The performers gave a solid performance. The singing was powerful. The dance routines were well choreographed and well executed. The effects were true to the theme of the show. Yes, I agree, it’s a must-see in Hong Kong Disneyland. Be warned though that some elements of the show may seem frightening to very young children. While we were there, a crying little boy and his family rushed out of the theatre in the middle of the show because the effects were too much for the young boy.
Festival of the Lion King ended at 2:30 pm. We would have wanted to try Jungle River Cruise and Raft to Tarzan’s Treehouse at Adventureland, but the Frozen (Elsa and Anna) Meet and Greet which we had reservation passes for was scheduled at 2:30 – 2:45 pm. We had to get through a thick throng of people who watched Festival of the Lion King the same time we did. And we had to run all the way from Adventureland to Sleeping Beauty Castle at Fantasyland to get to the Elsa and Anna Meet and Greet before 2:45 pm.
Good thing we made it there on time. Otherwise, Zuri would have been so disappointed. While we were in the queue for Elsa and Anna, some park guests tried to join in the fun but they were prohibited from doing so because they had no reservation passes. It was a good decision to get those Frozen passes as soon as we entered the park.
Zuri was not as hyper to meet Elsa and Anna as she was with Minnie, Pluto and Mickey, probably because she just woke up. Anyway, she still enjoyed the encounter. Queen Elsa was very regal in her icy blue gown while Princess Anna was her bubbly self. I think Rupert enjoyed this meet and greet even more than Zuri did because he had a teeny-tiny crush on Elsa.
After the Frozen Meet and Greet, we went to watch the Flights of Fantasy Parade at 3:00 pm. We watched it near the Sleeping Beauty Castle View Area.
Flights of Fantasy Parade consists of seven units. The first unit features the following characters: Dumbo, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald and Chip ’n’ Dale.
The second unit features Winnie The Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger.
The third one has the Disney Princesses Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora (of Sleeping Beauty) and Belle (of Beauty and the Beast).
Lion King follows the Disney Princesses.
The next unit features Tinker Bell.
This is followed by Lilo and Stitch.
The seventh and last unit shows the Toy Story Gang , namely Woody, Jessie, Hamm, Buzz, Rex and the green paratroopers.
Zuri loved the Flights of Fantasy Parade. The highlights for her were the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse characters, the Disney Princesses and Winnie The Pooh and Friends.
After the Flights of Fantasy Parade, we tried to catch the 3:45 pm Golden Mickeys Show. However, the theatre was already full and we were told to come back at 4:00 pm for the 4:45 pm show. While waiting for 4:00 pm, we decided to explore Tomorrowland.
I would have wanted to ride Orbitron and Rupert would have wanted to try Autopia, but the lines were too long. Estimated waiting time for Autopia was 60 minutes. All of us were not in the mood (aka scared) to try Space Mountain, a Fastpass blind indoor rollercoaster-type attraction with big drops. Stitch Encounter is an interactive 15-minute live video chat with Stitch. Rupert was curious but, in the end, we decided to give this a pass and went instead to Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is basically a shooting game aboard a moving conveyance. Each park guest gets a laser gun to shoot the targets with. The more targets you shoot, the higher your points. Zuri did not enjoy this ride at all. She gave her gun to Daddy Rupert. With a laser gun in each hand, of course, Rupert enjoyed himself. I also did not enjoy the shooting part and soon completely gave up on it, but I enjoyed turning our moving ride around. My sister Han says this is her most favorite ride. She has a knack for shooting things.
At 4:00 pm, we went back to Golden Mickeys. We fell in line and waited for 30 minutes before we were allowed inside the theater. After another 15 minutes, the show started on time at 4:45 pm. Honestly, if it was just me, it wouldn’t be worth the wait. Especially after seeing Festival of the Lion King, the Golden Mickeys seemed too tame. However, I know it targets small children and I was with a 3-year-old fangirl. Zuri said she liked the show.
Golden Mickeys is conducted in Chinese, with English subtitle. I know Zuri would have enjoyed it more had it been done in English. That way, she would have understood what Mickey and the rest were saying. I guess this part of Hong Kong Disneyland is more for the locals. Anyway, Zuri still appreciated it even though she couldn’t understand a word.
The Golden Mickeys Show ended at 5:15 pm. By this time, Fantasyland was already quiet and most of the people seemed to have moved to the other parts of the park. From the Golden Mickeys Show, we proceeded to “it’s a small world” which is located beside the Golden Mickeys Theatre. We were encouraged to try this ride because, at that time, the estimated waiting time was just 5 minutes.
“it’s a small world” is a boat ride through a whimsical display of singing children from different parts of the world. The song “It’s a Small World” is played through out the ride. It was a nice and stress-free ride.
After “it’s a small world”, Zuri asked her Dad for some chocolate ice cream. We bought one scoop of chocolate ice cream from Small World Ice Cream for HKD40 (PHP228).
By 6:00 pm, we realized that we had three more areas to cover (Toy Story Land, Mystic Point and Grizzly Gulch) and we would soon run out of time. We went to Toy Story Land next. When we got there, Woody was having a meet and greet at the Barrel of Fun. In the interest of time, we skipped this. I asked Zuri if she wanted a picture with Woody and she said no. She’s not really a Toy Story fan.
Perhaps the most thrilling ride (by the looks of it) in Hong Kong Disneyland is found at Toy Story Land. It is called RC Racer. Obviously, this ride is not for us.
It was a toss up between Slinky Dog Spin and Toy Soldier Parachute Drop. Both rides allow small kids like Zuri and we would have wanted to try both, but due to our limited time, we could only ride one. Toy Soldier Parachute Drop is said to be a gentle drop. However, I wasn’t sure exactly how gentle it would be for Zuri and I didn’t want to risk scaring her. I didn’t want to potentially spoil her fun especially when we were already nearing the end of the day. Zuri had already tried rollercoaster-type rides before (without loops) so I figured Slinky Dog Spin, which works like a Caterpillar ride, wouldn’t be too much for her. So, we lined up for Slinky Dog Spin.
It was a 45-minute wait, but Slinky Dog Spin was worth it. This is one of my most favorite rides. I liked it so much I would have done it again if only the line wasn’t too long. Slinky Dog Spin is an all-fun no-fear type of ride. After the ride, Zuri said that it was a bit scary when the ride went fast and that it wasn’t her favorite, but she also wasn’t scared enough to make a fuss.
It was already 7:00 pm when we reached Mystic Point. “Disney Paint The Night” Parade was scheduled at 7:00 pm, but we decided to skip it in favor of Mystic Manor ride at Mystic Point. The Mystic Manor ride was Han’s must-do in Hong Kong Disneyland so we prioritized this. Besides, we already watched Flights of Fantasy Parade earlier during the day and we figured one parade was enough.
Maybe because everyone else was going to watch the parade, there was no queue when we arrived at Mystic Manor. Yippee! Another stress-free ride. I’m so glad we did not miss this ride. It was exemplary (in my book). This is my other most favorite ride. The effects were good with plenty of surprises here and there. Zuri was startled many times during the ride and she couldn’t wait to get out when the ride was over. She was really scared but she, again, did not make a fuss about it. Brave girl.
After Mystic Manor, we walked to Grizzly Gulch. The main attraction in Grizzly Gulch is Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars. This is an outdoor rollercoaster-type thrill ride with big drops (no loops). Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars does not allow children less than 44 inches in height, so I had an excuse to stay behind to look after Zuri. Waiting time was just 5 minutes, so I encouraged Rupert and Han to try the ride to maximize their Hong Kong Disneyland experience. The two had a blast! Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars had the right amount of thrill, nothing of the “I thought I would die” sort.
It was almost 8:00 pm when Zuri said she wanted to try Mad Hatter Tea Cups at Fantasyland for her last ride. From Grizzly Gulch, we walked hurriedly to Fantasyland. Good thing the ride was still open when we arrived. There was a queue but it was short. After less than 10 minutes of waiting, we had our turn at the Tea Cups.
It was a fun ride. The rider can control how fast he wants the tea cup to go. Up to this day, Zuri says the Mad Hatter Tea Cups is her most favorite Hong Kong Disneyland ride. When I ask her why, she says, “Because it was okay for me and it was not too fast.” Han also enjoyed taking a selfie video while riding a tea cup and I had so much fun watching her. The video turned out nice but she looked so ridiculous while taking it.
“Disney in the Stars” Fireworks was scheduled at 8:30 pm. This is the very last event in Hong Kong Disneyland before the park closes. Minutes before the fireworks display, the whole area from Sleeping Beauty Castle at Fantasyland down to Main Street, U.S.A. near the park entrance was already full of people. We positioned ourselves near the park entrance/exit.
We waited for the fireworks display just to see what it was all about. Han also wanted to stay for the fireworks to complete her Disneyland experience. Usually, Zuri hates fireworks because she doesn’t like the noise. I was surprised when she told me that she liked the fireworks at Disneyland. She said she liked it because of the background music which was a Disney Princess song. She said that without the song, she wouldn’t like it at all.
Halfway through the fireworks display, we decided to leave the park ahead of the other park guests. We figured it would be hard to leave Disneyland the same time as thousands of other people with a kid in tow.
According to reviews, you might find yourself queuing for a very long time if you leave the park after the fireworks. I guess we made a good decision to leave early because we did not have a hard time catching a train on our way back to the guesthouse at all.
I asked Zuri what activities she enjoyed the most and why. Here is her list of Likes in order of preference.
1. Character Meet and Greet (Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Queen Elsa, Princess Anna)
2. Flights of Fantasy Parade (especially Mickey and friends, Disney Princesses and Winnie The Pooh and friends)
3. Golden Mickeys (because she likes the characters)
4. “Disney in the Stars” Fireworks (because of the Disney Princess background song)
5. Mad Hatter Tea Cups (because it’s okay and not too fast)
6. it’s a small world (because it’s not too fast and no scary things inside)
7. Dumbo The Flying Elephant (because she likes flying)
8. Cinderella Carousel (because it’s not too fast)
9. Lunch at Royal Banquet Hall (because of the yummy burger)
10. Disneyland Resort Line MTR ride (because of the Mickey Mouse handles)
I asked Zuri what rides she didn’t like and why. Here is her list of Dislikes.
1. Mystic Manor ride (scary effects)
2. Slinky Dog Spin (fast ride)
3. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (scary character)
4. The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (scary storm)
For Zuri, her most favorite parts of the trip are those that involve seeing her favorite characters in person. Eight out of ten in her list of Likes are all found at Fantasyland (We watched the fireworks display from Main Street, U.S.A.).
As for me, my most favorite parts of the trip are the character meet and greet (Fantasyland), Festival of the Lion King (Adventureland), Mystic Manor ride (Mystic Point) and Slinky Dog Spin (Toy Story Land).
Next time I find myself in Hong Kong Disneyland, I would love to try the following: Jungle River Cruise (Adventureland), Raft to Tarzan’s Treehouse (Adventureland), Orbitron (Tomorrowland), Autopia (Tomorrowland), Toy Soldier Parachute Drop (Toy Story Land), Disney Princess Meet and Greet and Paint the Night Parade.
All in all, we are very pleased with our Hong Kong Disneyland experience. Although Zuri had been to other places, her Hong Kong Disneyland trip is a notch above the rest. At 3 years old, Zuri was able to participate more in the whole process compared to when she was younger. She knew that a trip was coming and she excitedly waited for it. She prepared by doing her own research (watching Disney videos). She also chose her own outfit (a Snow White dress). She was able to make her own choices as to what rides she wanted to try. Best of all, she will now be able to remember and have memories of this trip that she will bring with her as she grows up.
Here are the Hong Kong Disneyland park rates as of February 2015:
Standard 1-day ticket
HKD 499/adult (PHP 2,844)
HKD355/child age 3-11 years old (PHP 2,024)
HKD100/senior age 65 and above (PHP 570)
HKD 680/adult (PHP 3,876)
HKD 480/child age 3-11 years old (PHP 2,736)
HKD 170/senior age 65 and above (PHP 969)
We bought our 1-day tickets to Hong Kong Disneyland from Golden Crown Guesthouse at HKD 420/adult (PHP 2,394) and HKD 315/child (PHP 1,796) . Considering that we stayed at the park from opening till closing time and there were still many attractions we were not able to do, I say a 2-day ticket is worth it.
To get to Hong Kong Disneyland by MTR, alight at Sunny Bay Station of Tung Chung Line and transfer to Disneyland Resort Line.
From Golden Crown Guesthouse, walk to Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station. Ride the MTR going to Tsuen Wan. Alight at Laiking and interchange to Tung Chung Line. Alight at Sunny Bay Station and interchange to Disneyland Resort Line. Travel time from TST to Disneyland is about 39 minutes. Fare using an On-Loan Octopus Card is HKD 19/adult (PHP 109) and HKD 9.5/child 3-12 years old (PHP 55). To know more about the MTR ride, use the Train Trip Planner here: http://www.mtr.com.hk/en/customer/main/index.html
Park opening and closing times, parade times, show times and meet and greet times vary. Check out the official website prior to your visit for information. Once you get to the park, grab a copy of the Park Map and Times Guide for an updated park schedule. It is best to prepare a micro-itinerary to maximize your time. However, be prepared to make on-the-spot changes to your micro-itinerary depending on the circumstances during your visit. The official website of Hong Kong Disneyland is this:
Bring a stroller. There is a designated stroller parking area for every attraction. It is also advisable to bring a small pillow and a small blanket for the little ones so that they’ll be more comfortable when they fall asleep during your visit. Outside food and drinks are not allowed.
Bring an umbrella if you’re going during the hot season. If you’re going during the winter season (December to February) like we did, don’t forget to wear or bring a winter jacket, a scarf, a pair of gloves and a hat especially for the kids. A pleasantly cold temperature of 18 degrees Celsius can suddenly drop to 12 degrees Celsius like what happened during our stay in Hong Kong. Best be prepared.
Hong Kong Disneyland map taken from the official Hong Kong Disneyland website:
Thanks for reading! 🙂
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