I’ve read reports that Hong Kong Disneyland can be pretty empty compared to the theme parks in the States. I totally believed that to be true, but I also knew we’d be visiting on a holiday (day after New Year’s) so I expected crowds.
My cousin gave me some pretty good advice, Hong Kong advice really since he has never been to Disneyland: “Get in when the park opens and leave before 3 PM”. So with toddler in tow, we struck out on our last day in Asia to go see the little mouse.
Getting to Disneyland
Disneyland is incredibly easy to get to in Hong Kong. You just hop on the Tung Chung line (or Airport Express) and alight at Sunny Bay. From there, there is a MTR line dedicated to Disneyland: it runs back and forth between Sunny Bay and Disneyland.
The first thing that struck me on the way to Disneyland was the empty MTR station. I mean, it’s practically unheard of in Hong Kong. So we enjoyed our relatively quiet trip to Sunny Bay. We hopped on the West Rail line at East Tsim Sha Tsui station and transferred at Nam Cheong to the Tung Chung line.
Once we got on the Disneyland MTR, things started to get a little more crowded, but still not so crowded that we couldn’t get a seat. Since the train is dedicated to Disneyland it’s definitely themed – Mickey Mouse windows, Mickey Mouse handholds, etc.
I guess I shouldn’t have expected otherwise, but when we got off the train it felt like a different world for a second. Something about the iconic Disney train station I guess. There was a crush of people (everything is stroller friendly by the way) and a line out the turnstiles so we waited it out. M of course was content practicing her escalator walking.
As we started walking up to the ticket counters, Jess finally started getting a little excited (she didn’t even want to go, come on!). Disney is obviously a master of marketing and something about the Little Mermaid banner just got her ready. Ha.
Anyway, the ticket counters looked like a mess from a distance, but people weren’t paying attention: there was a relatively empty ticket booth all the way to the left so I only had to wait behind two people. After shelling out $950HKD ($50HKG discount for being a HK resident), we were in!
It felt like the park was filling pretty quickly so we made a beeline for Fantasyland, stopping to watch a little band along the way. We decided Fantasyland would be the best place to start because it seemed to have the most toddler friendly rides.
Even thought we got in twenty five minutes after park opening, the line for Dumbo was already an hour long! So we took her on some of the rides with the shortest lines. We started on the carousel, the line was only ten minutes long. M was pretty happy riding the horse.
After the carousel, we took a ride on the teacups which had a super short line as well, about ten minutes. I guess M is too young to get motion sick because she had a pretty good time spinning around.
The last ride we hit before lunch was It’s a Small World. That song is like a virus – it’s still stuck in my head (well, M makes us listen to it all the time too). The line was super short again so we got on very quickly.
I must say, some of the stuff still seems a little racist (flying carpets?!), but I guess it’s fantasy. It doesn’t really bother me but it sure is fun to poke fun at.
At this point it was about 11:45. I’d say our biggest mistake on the trip wasn’t doubling up on rides at this point. We could have exited It’s a Small World and gotten straight back on – same with the teacups. We decided to eat lunch instead.
Eating at Disneyland
I must say, lunch wasn’t that expensive. I forgot to take a picture but I think it was only about $12 for a meal and a drink. Eating at 11:45 actually ended up working out great, after 12:00 it got very crowded very fast. There are various options spread throughout the park, but Fantasyland had the Chinese food.
After lunch, we strolled M around to get her to nap. We also grabbed some snacks – a pair of Mickey Mouse ice cream cones and a chicken leg (gotta love Asia). She fell asleep straight away – too much excitement I guess. While she was out I went on Space Mountain, there is a separate line for single riders that takes half the time (20 minutes when I was there).
There were a few people who went to the single rider line together – not a bad idea (they sat separately but it’s so dark in there who cares). I must say, I felt pretty old, Space Mountain isn’t a hardcore rollercoaster by any stretch but I was totally burnt out by it!
After Space Mountain we got caught by a parade – the crowds were definitely beginning to swell by this point. It was 1:30 PM and our goal was to get M on one or two more rides before calling it a day.
One Last Ride
While M was still sleeping, we decided to eat that chicken leg. Note to self: eat these while hot so it doesn’t start congealing, haha. The chicken leg came complete with a glove so you don’t get your hand dirty. Genius.
M finally woke up and immediately started saying “ride boat ride boat” in Chinese. I guess that long term memory is starting to kick in. We went back to It’s a Small World – 1 hr and 45 minute wait. Wow. We then had to go to Plan B.
Thankfully, the line at the Jungle River cruise was only 30 minutes at this point, so we waited in line for that. There was a warning that it might be a little too intense for children – I think it was a little bit too much for M at parts. At the end there is this gigantic wall of flame (fire gods fighting river gods or something). M didn’t freak out but did hold on to us pretty tight.
One note about the cruise, you can choose to take the tour in English, Cantonese, or Mandarin. We were going to take her to the Mandarin line but the English one looked shorter (they say all the lines take the same amount of time but I don’t buy it). Anyway, that kind of was a mistake, our guide was really tough to understand, but it is what it is. Something to bear in mind if you’re multilingual.
At this point, the park was flooded with people. Disneyland in Hong Kong definitely feels smaller. We decided to hightail it out of there, though not before we bought a Tsum Tsum from the gift shop, which was also flooded with people (we could barely move our stroller around).
Anyway, I’m here to say you can do Hong Kong Disneyland with a toddler and be successful. M definitely enjoyed the rides and her time there, her eyes were as wide as saucers over half the time there. I’m pretty sure if it hadn’t been a holiday the park would have been a lot emptier, which would have been great.
If you’re looking for some tips on traveling to Hong Kong Disneyland, Trips With Tykes has some good tips and links. I got to fulfill my wish of taking M to Disneyland and it ended up being cheaper than if we had done it in the states – thank goodness this hobby makes the world small enough for us to travel after all! Okay that was bad…
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