Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland officially opened on September 12, 2005. My husband Mike and I visited the park in February 2008. I’d love to report that Hong Kong Disneyland is so great that you should hop on the next plane and check it out, but it may be a disappointment if you are already familiar with the Disney theme parks in the US, France or Japan. If you’re going to be in Hong Kong anyway and you are a huge Disney fan, it is worth visiting as a novelty.
This newest Disney theme park is aimed at an audience with a completely different set of expectations. Since the vast majority of Chinese people have never visited a Disney theme park and land is very precious in Hong Kong, Disney decided to offer a sort of “Disneyland Lite” — a tiny theme park with only a few attractions. Hong Kong Disneyland currently consists of Main Street plus only three lands: Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. In addition, it has two hotels (see below).
The limited number of rides, attractions and shows are all based on their counterparts in other Disney parks, except for Main Street Haunted Hotel, which is a uniquely Chinese take on the Haunted Mansion.
Some other attractions do have slight differences from the US parks: for instance, the Jungle River Cruise is much more elaborate than the Jungle Cruise in the US parks, with additional special effects, and there is no humorous narration.
Hong Kong Disneyland will probably always have a different emphasis than the US parks. Instead of rides and attractions, a lot of the focus at Hong Kong Disneyland is on atmosphere, shopping (you’ll find numerous shops in the park), dining (there are lots of restaurants and cafes, many of them full-service) and special events (Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel hosts elaborate weddings).
There are lots of photo opportunities and character greeting opportunities at Hong Kong Disneyland: in fact, there is an entire area, called Fantasy Gardens, that is completely devoted to this.
Various festivals and celebrations give the park a special Chinese flavor and make it fun to visit. We visited during the Chinese New Year celebrations. The parks were specially decorated with red and gold decorations, and seasonal foods and merchandise were offered.
Another interesting time to go is during the Haunted Halloween period, which takes on a unique Chinese character due to cultural beliefs about ghosts. The Hong Kong Disneyland Halloween events are much darker and scarier than those offered in the US parks.
While the restaurants in the park feature familiar names from the US parks (Plaza Inn, Tahitian Terrace) and the official website describes some of them as offering “American style” cuisine, the food offerings are distinctly Asian. You will definitely be experiencing a culinary adventure during your visit. We tried a number of foods that are not found in the US and enjoyed most of them.
Click here to see some of the photos we took during our visit to Hong Kong Disneyland in February 2008.
Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel is a Victorian-style hotel modeled on Disney’s Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World, with 400 rooms. We visited this hotel and thought it was very attractive, with high-end finishes and gorgeous inlaid marble floors. Click here to see photos of the hotel that I took in February 2008.
Disney’s Hollywood Hotel is an Art Deco design similar to Ambassador Hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort. It has 600 rooms. We stayed at this hotel and thought it offered a good value and beautiful grounds, with many fun picture-taking spots scattered around. Click here to see photos of the hotel that I took in February 2008.
There is shuttle service from both hotels to a bus stop located about 5 minutes’ walk to the park, though an entrance plaza.
Be sure to visit the official Hong Kong Disneyland website to check for any current deals and offers.
To book hotel reservations, call the Hong Kong Disneyland Reservation Center at 852-1-830-830.