I lived in Hong Kong for six months as part of a student exchange and whilst I was there Hong Kong Disneyland became a home away from home. Whilst it’s not the largest or the best Disney theme park in the world, this charming park situated on Lantua Island has a lot to offer. Just 10 minutes drive from Hong Kong Airport or a relatively short trip on the Hong Kong MTR, you’ll find yourself immersed in a Disney resort like no other.
A quick note is that we last visited before a majority of new construction started to turn the park into what we’ve dubbed Hong Kong Disneyland 2.0 featuring a new castle and lands, so some elements of this review are likely to be different overtime. I’m Dominic and this ReviewTyme’s Review of Hong Kong Disneyland.
Family Rides 10 / 10
It’s a Disney theme park, anything other than a ten would be outrageous. Hong Kong Disneyland offers a huge range of attractions for the family. From a classic Winnie the Pooh tracked dark ride to a modern trackless tour through Mystic Manor, this park has everything.
Whilst this section is called Family Rides, there are several other non-ride based attractions that the family can enjoy as well. This includes Tarzans Treehouse, a walk through attraction through a giant treehouse which retells the story of Tarzan with some spectacular views of the park and Fairy Tale Forest will take you through the many princess stories with mini-dioramas of beloved scenes from Disney’s movies.
The highlight of the park is Mystic Manor, an amazing dark ride through the manor of Lord Henry Mystic who gathers exotic artifacts from around the world. Being inspired by the classic Haunted Mansion attractions, the manor starts to come alive when a mysterious music box is opened. The effects, trackless ride system, theming, story and pacing make this one of the best Disney attractions in the world and many will argue the same opinion.
As is the norm with most Disney parks around the world, even relatively small children are able to ride the more ‘adult’ attractions which opens up even more opportunity for family fun.
Thrill Rides 6 / 10
Hong Kong Disneyland has a similar line-up of thrill rides to what you’d expect to find in any magic kingdom style park, with some unique additions. Space Mountain makes a return in this park and whilst the thematic elements and queue are watered down compared to others around the world, the ride itself is still excellent. However, as of my last visit, the theming has been adjusted to Hyperspace Mountain, a star-wars version of the attraction. The additional elements are pretty neat, but the classic version and soundtrack will always be my favourite.
Also in Tomorrowland is the newest attraction to their line-up, Iron Man Experience, an enclosed simulator experience similar to Star Tours around the world. Whilst it doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking, it’s still a solid attraction and is a great addition to the Hong Kong Disneyland lineup, also getting to see yourself fly out of Disneyland at the start of the attraction is a fun little touch.
The best thrills in the park however come from Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars, a spectacular roller coaster which is a great mix of the classic Big Thunders and Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. This rollercoaster features several unexpected thrilling elements which I don’t want to spoil because they are part of the fun! The low lying, twisted nature of the track layout also helps to reinforce the idea that these mine cars are definitely running away.
The small lineup is enough to give thrill-seekers a quick fix especially within a magic kingdom style Disney park.
Experiences 9 / 10
Part of the appeal of a Disney resort is being able to constantly find different happenings around the park and Hong Kong Disneyland offers a lot in terms of experiences. Some examples of these experiences are turning around the corner in Main Street I would often find Sunny, a cast member playing songs on a mobile bicycle piano. In Tomorrowland you would often encounter the jam-itors playing different beats with their janitorial equipment.
Whilst we were there we also experienced a temporary attraction themed to Marvel super heroes. This attraction saw us literally running through corridors trying to escape from Hydra. It was a great experience and we constantly found ourselves moving through the impressive scenery saying “Damn, this is temporary!?”. This falls into an extensive history of next level temporary attractions as when I previously visited the park there was a Halloween scare maze called “The Nightmare Experiment” which was incredible.
How this is possibly the easiest park to meet characters due to the lesser crowd numbers. In other parks I’ve found that to meet Mickey or the gang it’d often require at least an hour out of your day. However, whenever I visited Hong Kong Disneyland, it would only take about 10 minutes to meet them.
Characters do roam around the park occasionally as well. I’ve seen Merlin, Alice and some wandering pirates in Adventureland.
Entertainment 9 / 10
Hong Kong Disneyland features some of the best entertainment that Disney has to offer. When we visited the shows and parades on offer were the Festival of the Lion King, Mickey and the Wondrous Book, the Flights of Fantasy parade and Paint the Night. The two stage shows both feature live singing and dancing which is, unfortunately, becoming rarer in theme park shows. Both shows are incredibly satisfying and will keep you entertained whilst you have a well-deserved break from the park.
Hong Kong Disneyland features two parades. Flights of Fantasy is the parks day-time parade and is lively, uplifting and all round fun. The flying theme means that many of the floats are incredibly large and tall! Paint the Night, the evening parade, is easily one of my favourite Disney parades and because Hong Kong Disneyland doesn’t get the traffic of the other parks, you can almost always get a front row seat, we managed to snag a perfect spot right at the start of the parade route only about 10 minutes before the show began.
To finish the day, we experienced Disney in the Stars, Hong Kong Disneyland’s nighttime fireworks spectacular. Whilst it’s the same show that opened with the park in 2005, they’ve recently added projection mapping to the castle to make it even more lively. However, as of early 2018 this show has been retired and will ultimately be replaced after the construction of the new castle is complete.
Staff 9 / 10
I think it should be immediately praised that staff members at Hong Kong Disneyland are required to speak conversational cantonese, mandarin and english. In my many visits to the park I always found the staff to be caring and attentive. Pin trading isn’t huge over there, but it is available and rare pins do circulate through the park. The staff that I came across got very excited when you approached them with a large lanyard full of pins, so make sure to wear your collection!
In terms of operations, the rides and shows always ran very smoothly. In the 6 months I visited the park, averaging about two visits a week, I never experienced a single breakdown or operational problem. The staff are also great at managing the crowds and looking out for their safety during events like fireworks and parades.
Also a shoutout to the Sunny, the roaming piano player. I would always hang around to watch his shows as he provided great atmosphere with a smile. He would often remember who I was, ask my day was and what I’ve been up to. He had a genuine joy about his work, and I think that is incredibly commendable.
Theming 7 / 10
Being a classic magic kingdom style Disney park, all of the expected themed areas are here. Mainstreet U.S.A, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland & Adventureland. The lands set the mood and setting, but don’t have the all-encompassing feeling that other international parks have. This is due to early budget constraints when the park first opened and they’re still trying to fix some mistakes that were made in the original construction of the park. A prime example of this is being able to see Space Mountain from Fantasyland. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Hong Kong Disneyland, we have a video exploring that very topic which can reached in the icon above.
However, the later additions such as Big Grizzly Mountain and Mystic Manor are incredible in terms of theming, attention to detail and scale and are truly world-class when it comes to their theming.
The park has made good use of the natural tropical climate in Hong Kong, with Adventureland looking the most ‘wild’ and untamed around the world thanks to the large amounts of tropical foliage.
Merchandise 9 / 10
It may be the cutesy or perhaps practical nature of the merchandise at Hong Kong Disneyland that really appeals to me, but I’ve just found that it’s very easy and affordable to find some great gifts and take homes. Whilst it may be a little bit pricey for some items depending on where you come from, overall we found the merchandise to be well-priced.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a great amount of footage or photos in regards to the merchandise, but they have a great range of theme park and attraction specific t-shirts, mugs, plush toys, tsum-tsums, jewelry, and more.
The park features actually features a pandora store where you can buy Disney specific pandora
Affordability 8 / 10
As Australians, the Hong Kong Disneyland resort is probably one of the cheapest resorts to visit just after Tokyo. The price of admission for two days at this point is around 95 USD. Whilst some people may argue that the park can be completed in full in a single day, if you want to fit in all the shows and get a satisfying amount of rides on the attractions, we recommend visiting for two days.
Food and drinks within the park are what you’d expect from a Disney park. For around 13 USD you can get a complete meal with a drink and sides. I highly recommend whilst visiting to try the caramel popcorn which is amazing and you will smell it absolutely everywhere.
Because of the relatively close distance to the city of Hong Kong, accommodation slighty off-property is always within the affordable price range. For the all-encompassing experience you can stay on property but the park doesn’t offer nearly as many benefits from staying in the hotels as other resorts. However, this doesn’t mean that the resorts aren’t amazing because I’ve visited all of them and they’re spectacularly themed, comfortable and relaxing.
Atmosphere 9 / 10
The park is surrounded by mountains that can be seen from most areas of the resort. Where there are not mountains, there is ocean and the park is far away from any built up areas of Hong Kong city. This creates a unique sense of isolation and immersion which is unparalleled to any other Disney park in the world. It allows you to truly get into the experience (Even if the mountains did dwarf the old castle, probably part of the reason they are currently fixing it up!).
The tropical nature of Hong Kong means that the park is also incredibly lush. There is greenery surrounding many areas of the park and it feels very natural, almost like walking through a nature reserve in some parts. It’s a parallel to the early Magic Kingdom style parks which were mostly concrete pathways.
Because the locals are used to fascinating nighttime lights in the neon jungle of Hong Kong, they stepped up their game with the lighting of the park at night and it is absolutely gorgeous.
Services 9 / 10
With cast members speaking cantonese, mandarin and english you shouldn’t have any problems with communications around the park. This park was designed with international travellers in mind so signage, maps and menus were never a problem.
I visited guest relations quite often to give compliments to cast members that went above and beyond. The people working in guest relations were always fantastic to deal with and were often excited that I was giving compliments as I would imagine that they’d probably need to deal to with a lot of negativity in that role.
Around the park bins were of ample supply, there was somewhere to grab something to eat or drink near-by, the toilets were well upkeeped and on the rare occasion that I needed to visit First Aid they were wonderful.
The resort also features services which makes travelling easier such as a bag checkin service near the park entrance, a merchandise holding system which allows you send your new goodies to the front gate and you can also get your merchandise delivered to your room if you’re staying on property.
Hong Kong Disneyland is a perfect first Disney park for someone or a family who aren’t sure if they will like Disney or not. The park features all the amazing things Disney is known for without the crazy crowds and wait times every other resort gets. This park is also poised to get even better over the next few years with each year featuring a large new addition to the park including a new Castle, a new Frozen land and a new Avengers attraction all coming within the next few years. Also it’s the only place in the world you can experience Mystic Manor, and in our eyes that alone makes it worth the trip!