Today was the day, Disneyland day! It was going to be huge and it was going to be hot, but my goodness the kids were excited….. and maybe the adults (we were mostly tired just thinking about it!).
Today Soren was up early and Astrid slept in (until at least 7am). We wanted to be out of the hotel not too late, and on the way over to Lantau Island. The kids were a bit feral during breakfast and didn’t want to eat which was annoying since we had a very long day ahead. We also wanted them to fill up on their free and very delicious hotel breakfast rather than us having to buy overpriced Disney snacks all day.
With the adults at least having our fill of delicious breakfast, and the kids at least eating enough to keep them going a few hours, we were organised and out of the hotel by 8.30am. Our plan was to be at Disneyland for ‘rope drop’ at 10am and it’s a bit of a long trip from the city.
In all, it’s 3 MTRs from our hotel to Disneyland but we could get there without actually going outside (aka air conditioned the whole way) as you can catch the lift from our hotel into the Pacific Place shopping mall, which connects to Admiralty station, then an MTR through to central station and a pretty long walk through to Hong Kong station (but all inside). We had unfortunately timed our run between central and Hong Kong station with peak hour, but the efficiency of the Hong Kong transport system meant that even though there seemed to be about 5 million people on the move, we kept moving at a reasonable pace and the trains were running no more than 2 minutes apart. The MTR system in Hong Kong is fantastic and all the lines were clearly marked. Even though we’d researched the connections, you could have shown up at a station and easily followed the pink signs out to Disneyland. In fact Astrid was directing us the whole way! It was virtually impossible to get lost.
It was about 30 minutes on the train out to Sunny Bay. Peak hour meant the trains were packed but throughout our whole Hong Kong stay we were always immediately offered a seat with the kids.
At Sunny Bay station the excitement escalated as we transferred across the platform and the kids spied the ‘Mickey train’. The Disneyland resort line runs directly from Sunny Bay to the park, and the train has Mickey windows, Mickey hand holds and is full of Mickey statues. We had almost reached the Magical Kingdom!
Even at the early hour the Mickey train was pretty busy, with lots of people (and kids) heading into the park for the day. We had deliberately planned our Disney visit for a weekday as the park is apparently insanely busy on weekends. We were somewhat surprised at how busy it was already, still 20 minutes before opening on a weekday. It was only a short walk from the train station up to the park entrance but there were consistent crowds of people moving through. It was already rather hot!
We spied the really cool fountains on outside the entrance but decided to come back for a better look when leaving as despite our meticulous planning we had not gotten around to pre-buying our tickets and were not wanting to spend hours in the ticket line. Somehow we lucked out and walked straight up to a counter to purchase our tickets. The wait to go through security and bag checks was significantly longer (and hotter).
You are not supposed to take any food or drinks inside the park. We had heard they were fairly lenient with water and some snacks for the kids. At any rate my snack hiding skills far exceeded the thoroughness of the security check. Given the heat we knew we weren’t going to be able to carry enough water for the whole day but at least got several litres in with us (which we later found out was worth a vast fortune).
We finally made it inside the park just as the ‘opening ceremony’ was being conducted. The second the park was opened people started running to rides to beat the lines. We had a vague plan but figured that since we were fairly close to Tomorrowland we might as well head there first.
Astrid immediately declared that she wanted to go on hyperspace mountain (Soren was too short for this ride) and given there was no line and it was a super-popular ride, we agreed but were skeptical she’d enjoy it. While Anto took Astrid on hyperspace mountain, I ran over and took Soren on the nearby orbitron, which had a 2 minute line. Soren loved the orbitron and was squealing with delight for the whole ride.
I considered going on again with him while we were waiting for Anto and Astrid to reappear but the line had gotten longer, so we instead tried to find Anto and Astrid. We should have immediately lined up again though (rookie mistake) as the line was 10 times that for the rest of the day.
We pretty quickly found a bouncy Astrid, who loved hyperspace mountain and was buzzing. Our next plan was to go over to the astroblasters (also in Tomorrowland). We managed to walk straight onto astroblasters and it was lovely and air conditioned.
We had a blast shooting things and decided to get back on straight away as the line was short. The ride then had an issue and was closed temporarily until they fixed it, so they gave us a fast-pass we could use to get back on later or on another one of the fast-pass rides.
Astrid and Soren were keen for another go on the orbitron, but the line was now really long, and in the sun, so we decided to leave Tomorrowland (with plans to return later in the day) and walk over to Fantasyland.
The first point of call was the teacups ride as the line wasn’t too long, only around 10 minutes, and it was shaded. It was pretty much the same as every other version of the teacups, but the kids enjoyed it!
We were right opposite ‘It’s a small world’ so we thought we’d check how long the lines were. It turns out we could walk onto the ride, which I was somewhat surprised about as they were obviously anticipating long lines judging from where all the ropes were.
I thought ‘It’s a small world’ was extremely well done. The intricacy of all the worlds was amazing and it was fascinating watching all the different moving parts. So much colour and it was clever and funny at times. I probably needed another go around to see all the detail and fully appreciate it.
It certainly wasn’t one of the fast rides, but the kids enjoyed it and I’m glad we went on, it had been on the list of things we were willing to skip if we ran short of time, but it ended up being one of my favourite rides of the day. It definitely wasn’t the version of the ride I remembered it from all those years ago at Anaheim Disneyland.
It was now getting really hot. The kids wanted to go on the Dumbo ride but line was 60 minutes so instead we opted for the nearby carousel instead. The line was claiming to be 20 minutes, and was mostly shaded, but felt longer. Eventually we had our Disneyland carousel ride. The kids always love a carousel, even if it was a little tame for Miss Hyperspace Mountain!
We then tried finding a few characters in the nearby garden, but no one was around. We’d had very little luck with characters thus far! Astrid was keen on the Winnie the Pooh ride but the line was long too (well over an hour). The ride has a fastpass but we didn’t want to use our fast pass yet.
Alas, Dumbo still had a long line so we instead took photos at the Dumbo photo spot. It’s almost as good right?
The kids were asking for a go on the astroblasters again so walked back to Tomorrowland. The line was now long and we couldn’t find anyone to give our fast-pass too (it’s not normally a fast-pass ride) so we ended up just lining up as the waiting area was air conditioned and the line was moving fairly fast. The kids (and adults) had just as much fun second time around.
After checking that the orbitron line was still over an hour (in full sun) and hyperspace mountain was even longer, we thought we’d head over to Mystic Point.
Mystic Point is a relatively new land and we had read rave reviews of the Mystic Manor ride. It was on our must do list, and we were expecting a huge line. We were somewhat surprised that it was only a 5 minute wait. It seems to be a ride the locals aren’t that keen on but tourists love!
I didn’t take many photos in Mystic manor, but it was amazingly well done and we all really enjoyed it. The It was both loud and dark at times but Soren thought it was hilarious. Even the quite scary bits he loved. Anto and I both agreed we could have ridden it again and had plans to come back later in the day if we got a chance. It was also air conditioned!
The other main ride in Mystic Point, the Grizzly Gulch roller coaster the kids were under the height limit for (I wasn’t sad about that!).
We were now getting extremely hot, the sun was ferocious! We thought we’d try another couple of rides before food as it was looking busy everywhere for lunch, and we still had snacks to tide us over (and the large buffet breakfast swilling in our stomachs).
It was over to Toystory land. The the kids were keen on parachute drop and the line claiming to be only 20 mins and mostly in the shade. While lining up I decided I was happy to hold the bags for that one (no bags were allowed) and take photos from the ground. We were getting pretty hot waiting and the line seemed to take longer than 20 minutes.
Despite the parachute drop being quite high and a fast drop, the kids were rather keen. Soren loved it and I could here him squealing with delight from the ground. He immediately wanted to go again, but we declined another wait.
The line for ‘slinky dog spin’ across from parachute drop didn’t look too long and again only claimed to be 20 minutes so we thought we’d give it a go given Soren had been really keen on it and had been asking about it for weeks. We were obviously rather weary as it seemed to take forever to get to the front of the queue and it was rather hot despite being mostly shaded.
The slinky dog ride was OK but probably not worth the wait, and we couldn’t sit together as despite the correct number of people getting let onto each round of the ride, people insisted on pushing in so we were separated around different sides, each with one of the kids.
Slinky Dog ticked off, Soren wanted to go on the RC Racer (the other ride in Toy Story land) but was sadly too short. We were now desperate for a sit down somewhere cool and we were totally out of water, so we had to go and obtain some before we dehydrated. There was nowhere near by with aircon and snacks that we wanted, so we walked back to Mains Street.
Once in Main Street we still couldn’t find anything with both air conditioning and seats, but we eventually got some overpriced but cold drinks and some pork buns and sausage rolls for the kids and then found a shady-ish spot to sit down. It was now after 2pm and we were all feeling hot and somewhat like roast chickens. We attempted to reapply our sunscreen but it was melting off as fast as we could put it on.
By the time we had lunch and a drink it wasn’t long until the 3pm ‘Flights of Fantasy’ parade. We were pretty sure we weren’t going to last until the end of day parade so the 3pm one was a must. We found a spot on Main Street under a tree, kind of in the shade (well as much shade as we could hope for). Soren was being awful and was very over-tired, so despite the stifling heat I strapped him to my back in the ergo and he was asleep in seconds.
What is better than standing around in an oven like heat, doing the same with a very sweaty 12.5kg toddler strapped to your back.
We all wanted to melt and the parade was taking forever to get down to us. It was tempting to walk away and get on some rides but we were glad we persevered as it was amazing.
The floats were spectacular, the dancers and characters were all fantastic. The parade was so well done that every second of standing around dripping in sweat was worth it. We couldn’t believe Soren was missing the parade, he had been waiting weeks to see Mickey and his friends, and here they were in front of him and he was snoozing away. Soren was so tired there was no way we were waking him up, but it was tempting.
Astrid, on the other hand, got to see the whole thing and was bouncing up and down with excitement as each float came down. When she got picked to run onto the street to dance with Tigger, you couldn’t wipe the grin off her face!
The performers did so well in the heat, some of them must have been hot in their costumes. It was definitely a more impressive parade than the ones I’d seen many years ago at Disneyland!
We were feeling recharged after the amazing parade, especially Astrid who was literally dancing down the street!
We decided to soldier on and go to Adventureland. Soren had been wanting to go to the treehouse but we thought we’d try the jungle cruise first. Surprisingly the lines for the jungle cruise were only 20 minutes and although it was very hot the lines were shaded and moving. We were trying to make it to the 4.30pm Lion King show so were hoping the wait wasn’t longer than predicted.
Finally on our cruise and it was pretty entertaining (predictable but well done). The animals were rather life-like and the kids loved them. We had been kind of hoping to get wet and cool down a bit, but instead we got even hotter as we went through the smoke and fire! This was apparently hilarious for the kids.
We decided we didn’t have time to line up for the raft over to the treehouse and instead ran over to the Lion King show, and luckily got a spot before they closed the lines. There was a short wait in the heat before we were ushered into the air conditioned theatre. The thought of air conditioning and sitting on our butts for 30 minutes was very appealing at this stage of the day!
Despite it being packed we got seats about half way up and could see fairly well, the kids did need to be on our laps so they could see well. The aircon was blissful! I’d read good reviews of the show and it lived up to expectations, the show was spectacular. I had decided not to take photos so I could enjoy it, but was cursing myself afterwards as I would have lots shots of it. The kids loved the floats, giant animals and the amazing costumes and dancing. It was highly engaging and definitely half an hour well spent. This is the one and only photo……
We had limited stamina left for too many more rides, it was now 5pm and we wanted to leave before the kids got too feral. The kids voted they wanted to try either Winnie the Pooh or Dumbo. The Dumbo line was still 50 mins so we opted for Winnie the Pooh as we had a fast pass we hadn’t yet used. The line was over 1 hour but we pretty much walked straight on with our pass. That was a relief as I wasn’t feeling committed to a long wait at this stage of the day.
The Winnie the Pooh ride was cute and well done but we were glad we didn’t wait the hour it would have been without the pass. Astrid adored the ride as she loves the Winnie the Pooh stories, so I’m glad we made it on for her.
Dumbo was still busy and all the lines for princesses were very long so we handed over several weeks salary for the kids official Mickey souvenirs. There were so many cute things but everything was so expensive that we settled on the Mickey and Minnie soup mugs as they would be useful… and they have been getting a good workout for hot chocolates since we’ve been home.
On the way out we walked back past the castle. The heat was now more manageable as the sun was lower but it was almost 6pm and Soren was exhausted and asking to leave. Astrid may have made the fireworks but Soren would have lost it.
It was an hour back to the city so we took our last photos in the magic kingdom, and went back out of the gates to check out the fountains. We were happy but thoroughly exhausted.
It was back on the Mickey train and the reverse of the trip we did that morning. It was again peak hour and pretty busy heading back through central and Hong Kong station as it was rush hour, but it was lovely to be out of the heat and just sit on the train.
We made it back to Pacific Place shopping centre and we were all hungry, thirsty and tired. We tried to find somewhere to eat, but everywhere seemed a bit too posh and expensive for our state of tiredness and stinkyness. Soren was losing the plot and tantruming on the floor of the shopping centre. Yes it had reached that point of the day where your 2-year-old is having a kicking and screaming tantrum in front of the Chanel store!
We had found an Italian restaurant that looked nice but was a bit OTT for our state of dress and energy, but we needed food so went in. It turned out to be an excellent choice. The waiter took pity on us and despite the revolting 2-year-old and the fact we all stunk, was accommodating and gave us 2 for 1 cocktails and beers and a free cheese plate. It was seriously the best cheese we had eaten in years. The 4 of us devoured it, after a long day it was amazing.
We ordered a Margherita pizza and really good tortellini with pecorino and artichoke. That plus the fresh bread and olive oil and we were all in a food coma.
The kids were rapidly fading and it was well after 8.30 pm. After 2 cocktails for me and 2 large beers for Anto, us adults were feeling rather relaxed. Luckily it was very short walk back to the elevator to our hotel as it’s connected to the shopping centre and has its own entrance with a doorman who could escort the weary travelers to the lift.
After a huge day the kids were unsurprisingly asleep pretty quickly. Despite having already had 2 cocktails, we still had our nightly free hotel ones to consume. Anto luckily convinced the hotel bar to do our nightly cocktails as takeaway as we were exhausted and kids were in need of sleep so a trip to the bar was not going to happen.
That was it, the day at Hong Kong Disneyland was done and dusted. We lasted 10 hours with a 2 and 5-year-old in stifling heat, so we did pretty well. We actually got on more rides than we anticipated and enjoyed our Disney day.
Astrid’s highlights of the day were hyperspace mountain and the parade, followed closely by the Winnie the Pooh ride and astroblasters.
Soren’s highlights was the parachute drop, followed by astroblasters, the orbitron and the Lion King show.
Anto and I both loved the parade and Mystic Manor. I also really enjoyed the Lion King show and thought ‘It’s a small world’ was very well done.
Our only real disappointments was that we didn’t get to meet any characters. We did see a few, but the lines were always over an hour or they were closing. We also struggled with the heat (which we had anticipated). We would have loved to have stayed for the night parade and fireworks but always knew that was unlikely after a long day.
Hong Kong Disneyland has a reputation as a one day park (although lots of people suggest this is no longer the case). You can definitely see a fair proportion of the park in one day but you really do need a second day to see most things, visit characters and see more than 1 show. We avoided rides with long waits and still didn’t get around everything.
Overall though it was a definitely a great day and a highlight of the whole holiday for the kids.
Statistics for Friday the 26th of August 2016 in Hong Kong: The temperature range was 29 to 35 degrees celsius, with a humidity of 79%. The heat index for the day reached 44 degrees and it certainly felt it! The total walking for the day was 12.2km.
Next up, the bird aviary in Hong Kong park, views of the city from the iconic Star Ferry and the nightly laser show that lights up the city skyline.