The second half of my Lantau Island day trip was spent at Hong Kong Disneyland. I realize that some fellow travelers have a rather negative view of Americans who partake in American things overseas- like it means we are ugly Americans. I’ve encountered this view on more than one trip, and this one was no different. But hey, I get used to it and just enjoy what I want to do.
I enjoy almost all things Disney, and I’ve visited most of the Disney parks around the world. I went to California Disneyland way back in 1985 when I was just eight years old. I visited Disney World for a few days in 2009. I enjoyed Disneyland Paris back in 2008. And now Hong Kong Disneyland. The only one left on the list is Tokyo Disneyland, and I intend on checking that (or at least Tokyo’s unique addition to the Disney family-DisneySea) on my next trip to Tokyo next year.
HongKong Disneyland is obviously a smaller version of American Disneyland. It is located on Lantau Island, which is where the Big Buddha is located, along with Hong Kong International Airport. Many of the icons of American Disneyland are represented in HongKong Disneyland, sometimes with a bit of a twist on them. There is a Main Street, a Sleeping Beauty Castle (though substantially smaller than Disneyland or DIsneyworld). There is Tarzan’s Tree house (as opposed to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse), a Jungle River cruise, a Hong Kong version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (called Big Grizzly Mountain Railway Mine Cars) and Haunted Mansion (called Mystic Manor here), Cinderella Carousel, Space Mountain, Orbitron, and most of Fantasyland.
Now I haven’t been to American Disneyland in nearly 20 years, so I don’t know if these new places have been added, but they weren’t at DIsneyWorld or Disneyland Paris. Toy Story Land has a couple fun rides, including Toy Soldier Parachute Drop and RC Racer. I have to say, for a Disney park, RC Racer was definitely a thrill ride as a roller coaster that rocks back and forth and achieves a nearly vertical drop.
Compared to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Hong Kong Disneyland’s version of Big Grizzly Mountain Railway Mine Car was way more thrilling than the American original. This roller coaster was faster, with sharper turns, and it incorporated elements of my favorite Disney roller coaster, Expedition Everest at Disneyworld’s Animal Kingdom. However, I felt their version of Space Mountain was a bit lacking in scary thrills that you come to expect from Space Mountain. Now granted I am not a Space Mountain connoisseur, though I wish I was. When I was at Disneyland all those years ago, the wait was two hours (this was in the days before FastPass), so I didn’t get to ride it. When I went to Disneyworld, it was down for maintenance. So the only other Space Mountain ride I’ve been on was Disneyland Paris, and that one was a terrifying thrilling ride (in all the best ways), so I was a bit let down at Hong Kong Disneyland. Maybe it was simply a space factor, so the ride couldn’t be as big as it is in other parks.
There is a nice afternoon parade to enjoy, and a fireworks show at closing time.
The weather held up the vast majority of the day, even though dark ominous clouds hung over the park all day. In fact it waited until roughly 30 minutes prior to closing before a true subtropical rain storm unleashed on everybody. This photograph doesn’t do justice to the absolute torrential rain that was pouring down.
Thankfully the rain stopped roughly 10 minutes prior to closing and the subsequent fireworks show (covered in the next post).
Overall, Hong Kong Disneyland is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and a microcosm of American Disney parks. I deliberately chose to go on a Monday, figuring it would cut down on the crowds, and I was so correct. I never waited more than 10 minutes for any one ride, and on many of the rides, they have a separate line for single riders. The one ride that did have a 30 minute ride had the single rider line and I literally walked on to the ride with zero wait. I wish more theme parks would institute this option for single riders. In fact, the largest crowds were seen during the afternoon parade and the evening fireworks show. Getting to and from Hong Kong Disneyland is super easy. Catch a ride on the Tung Chung MTR line and transfer at Sunny Bay station (a roughly 40 minute train ride from Hong Kong station) for a special train to Hong Kong Disneyland resort.