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Uncovering the best family holidays

Hong Kong, China

Disneyland Hong Kong: Not The Happiest Place On Earth 

“To all that come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land.

It has that thing - the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement - I knew when I was a kid.

Disneyland is not just another amusement park. It's unique, and I want it kept that way. Besides, you don't work for a dollar - you work to create and have fun." Walt Disney

Walt Disney would roll over in his grave if he took his kids to Hong Kong Disneyland… 
Or rather melt in his cryogenically frozen capsule. 

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So our expectations were high. Josh & I had visited LA’s Disneyland and absolutely loved our adventure. So when the chance to take the kids to Hong Kong Disneyland rolled around we were tingling with excitement.

We took a tram to the train station, then a train to Sunny Bay Station. From Sunny Bay Station you can get the Disney train, which comes regularly and was exciting in itself. Mickey windows and a short ride and you are at the Disney station.  Total transport costs for 4 people less than $10.

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There is no clear signage on where to go or what to do, but follow the crowd and you’ll easily locate the entrance. 

We bought our tickets online, but there is no savings to do so, just skipping the ticket queue when you arrive. Admission for one-day ticket was about $50 per adult and $35 per child. Under 3 are free. Total for the 4 of us $135 AUD. You simply need to bring your credit card to the Guest Services counter and they issue you with your tickets and map. I did not bring my ticket and he told me I would have to repurchase my ticket and claim a refund later. I showed him my passports, and other forms of identification and eventually he accepted it was me and gave me the tickets.

During this stage Josh had been in the turnstile queue and I raced to him just as he reached the front of the line. Through the turnstiles and into the "happiest place on earth".

We hit the Guest Relations straight up and swapped our stroller for two very cool Disney strollers, which the kids were eager to sit in straight away and started our walk down Main Street. These are about $15 each and you must leave a deposit. They do not do double strollers, like Ocean Park or Universal Studios Singapore. But they are so easy to push, have nice shade for the kids and have the kids name on them so you can locate them with the hundred others being pushed around.

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The entry is magnificent. The beautiful Sleeping Beauty castle inspired by Neuchwenstein sits in front of amazing mountains and beautiful blue sky. After some happy snaps of when we were still happy we then made our way to Adventure Land.

Our first ride was a quick boat ride over to Robinson’s Tree House. Mia loved running all over this tree house and enjoyed touching and playing with everything. Caius, not so much.

This & It’s a Small World were the only “rides” my kids went on. The rest of the day went quickly downhill from there. As we walked from ride to ride the queues got longer and longer. Toy Story Land had waits anywhere from 40 minutes to 80 minutes. I don’t think they quite understand that a Toddler doesn’t do waiting. Mia and I tried for one, but gave up and ended up stumbling onto Woody & Jesse.

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If only we paid for this, Mia was satisfied. Her little eyes lit up. Her giddiness uncontrollable as her favourite movie characters came to real life. She was all smiles and hugs and in awe. It was a sight to see and I cherish that moment forever. At 3 years old, Disneyland is real. The characters are real, the environment is real. And while us as adults can be harsh on Disneyland and the terrible price we pay to not go on a single ride… All it takes is meeting Disney characters and the kid’s dreams have been met.

Towards the end of the day I started chatting to a lovely Irish lady. I asked her if they had gone on any rides and she said no. She had asked someone if it was a Public Holiday or was it always like this and they let her know it was Chinese School Holidays. School Holidays? $#&*** Expletive I didn't say, but wanted to. How in all my pure organisation, in all my freakin research did I NOT know it was Chinese School Holidays?!

The Disneyland dream went up a notch, as I realised this was not a normal occurrence. When we went to LA Disneyland I actually researched the quietest times of the year to go and the quietest days. We had a great time and in 3 days got the whole park plus California Adventure park done. My lack of knowledge let me down and I let Disneyland slightly off the hook…. But still there should be some rule about how many people they let in the park, I mean poor Walt – this is money making in its purest form not “the happiest place on earth”.

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So now that you know about the horrible waiting that led to our frustrations let’s get to the good parts.

Two parts of the park had small water play areas. It was a hot day and soon our kids were soaked to the bone in their clothes. A small watering hole in that country-type land provided actually nearly an hour of fun and even I got in to cool off.

Down near the Buzz Lightyear ride (not in Toy Story Land) there was another small area packed with kids. I sat on a bench and laughed as my two tired toddlers splashed each other and ran circles around the other kids. Later when my 3 year old ran off to see Buzz Lightyear and perform her best Buzz pose for the camera I was told off by a Disney staff member that my daughter had to put some clothes on. Haha. She’s 3, with no shirt on, playing in water. I ignored her request.

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In LA my favourite ride was Space Mountain. You know the roller coaster in pitch dark? As we were passing it in Hong Kong I spotted the Singles Line – oh how I love the Singles line. Ride wait 40 mins, singles line? "Go right through madam, shouldn’t be more than 5 minutes". Awesome ride, scared the begessus out of me. Stoked I got to do at least one ride and it was a goody.

We took the kids on It’s a Small World ride, one that I loathed on our last visit as a couple, so boring. But with two very tired toddlers it was a Godsend. Relaxing in a boat watching little talking dolls sing the same song over and over again was so much more entertaining as the kids pointed out every little detail. 

BUT our favourite part of the day had to be the shows. My 3-year-old daughter was entranced through all productions completely and even my 2-year-old sat still for the majority of the Lion King, not so much the Mickey Awards. The Lion King production was spectacular with fire dances and costumes. The Mickey Awards was a musical number of some of the great Disney shows. In between we also caught the magical parade… Holding a 3 year old back who just wanted to run and hug each float as they walked, rolled, skipped, skated, bounced by.

Lunch was in a super crowded food court. Food was good. Seating and noise was horrendous. Food is pretty expensive here, don’t expect much cheap food. Even LA Disney with their 50 cent churros had food cheaper than here.

We finished our day by catching the free shuttle to Hollywood Disney and having dinner at the buffet. It was expensive, however you can obtain a discount on their promotions page sometimes. We thought Mickey would make an appearance at “Chef Mickey” but no. It was something my kids were looking forward to so much and at the end of a very long day they didn’t cope with the disappointment and broke down in tears. I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money here.

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We skipped the fireworks and started our trek home, exhausted, tired and us adults feeling disappointed and, specifically me, peeved off about only going on one ride.

If we ever go again I will make sure there is no school holidays, public holidays, king’s birthdays, president elections or any other such nonsense. Next time I’ll go in the rain too if it allows my kids the chance to enjoy a world made for them, but not accessible to them because of the crowds.

I know this place must be fantastic for kids, if we had the opportunity to do any of it, so I will not write it off as a never go, but do your research and I really hope you have a better day then we did.

Please let me know if you did…

And if you do decide to go you can find the latest hotel prices here for your stay in Hong Kong. 

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Here's what you have to say...

"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Tahlia on
First blog I've read geez ur a gorgeous girl made me miss ur gorgeous quirky assertive honest beautiful face!! Xxxx
Posted by InsideJourneys on
Wow, Erin. That was quite an experience.
I visited Disney some years ago -- I ran their marathon and we stayed on the property. I was shocked at the prices. I couldn't imagine what it cost a family to vacation there when tickets were so expensive and every little souvenir cost double, triple what something similar would cost outside of Disney World.
I'm glad your children had a good time - the memories they made will last a lifetime!
Posted by Anne on
I took my 5 year old to Disneyland LA for the first time last year and I still thought she was too young for those lines. It would be great to have a separate littler (and cheaper) park for toddlers up to 5 or 6, then they could "graduate" later to the bigger ones. :) We went on a Tuesday and the lines were still long...Thankfully my girl doesn't seem to be bothered to go again, we only live an hour or so away!! :) Still it sounds like there were highlights on your visit... .there always are!!!
Posted by karin holmes on
It sounds like the kids had a good time, they usually don't see the bigger picture of what is wrong, the simplier things are usually the surprise....
xx
Posted by Bernice on
Oh Erin what a shame about the masses!:( I've been there about 4-5 times and once when I was pregnant. I went in peak holidays and it too was a nightmare! Even though people could clearly see I was pregnant they still pushed and shoved:/ but the other times it was great as I made sure that it wasn't peak times so lines were short and there wasn't many issues with overcrowding.
The wait times were short plus you can get a fast pass which is great it makes the wait time shorter. When I went to Disney in Florida. Years ago I remember wait time were very long 30/45 mins but again I think it was peak time and summer holidays for them when we went.
Posted by Travelling With Kids Travel Blog on
Hey Erin,

We were in Hong Kong in 2010 and LOVED it, but didn't do Disneyland. We are planning a trip back to Hong Kong and china next year and Disneyland is part of the plan, which the children are very excited about, would you say that it is a similar size to maybe dreamworld or movie world on the Goldy?

As I have a teenager now I just want to make sure that it has enough to keep him entertained, I know the kids will love it, but I think we are just getting older, and everything is in a different perspective.I will just map sure that we don't go during peak holiday season!!!xxx
Posted by Michele {Malaysian Meanders} on
That school holiday really made a difference I think. We went the Sunday before Christmas because that's when we were transiting through Hong Kong. I thought lots of other people would be there, and we'd just have to withstand the crowd. Instead, the place was practically empty other than in Toy Story Land which had just opened. We were THE ONLY people on It's a Small World. We were the only one on the boat, and all the other boats were empty. No one else was in line. Everything other than Toy Story Land went very quickly.
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