There are many reasons why Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth, and it applies to visitors of all ages.
If you’re young enough to fangirl over “Frozen” stars Queen Elsa and Princess Anna and old enough to appreciate classics like Dumbo and Aladdin, or geeky enough to understand the “Star Wars” obsession, then you need to add “Visit Disneyland at least once in my lifetime” in your bucket list.
When you really think about it, Disneyland is not that out of reach ;)
The closest Disneyland to Malaysia is located in Hong Kong, about a 4-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur. The spectacular world-class resort is a center piece in cosmopolitan Hong Kong, one of the only 5 locations in the world that is home to a Disney theme park. Because of its proximity, it makes the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort uniquely accessible and affordable.
I had the pleasure of visiting Hong Kong Disneyland for the first time over the course of a few days. If you’re planning to do the same sometime soon, here’s a handy checklist to ensure that you have a ball of a magical time and then come home with lovely stories to tell:
1. Get your tickets beforehand
The best way to avoid waiting time and the queue is to buy your Hong Kong Disneyland tickets 6 months ahead. 1-day general admission tickets (ages 12 – 64) are priced at HK$539 (about RM300) while 1-day child admission tickets (ages 3 – 11) are priced at HK$385 (about RM217). Ringgit conversions are subject to change according to currency rate, of course. It’s especially handy to get your tickets beforehand if your trip is wedged somewhere in between the school holidays. Get your tickets here.
2. Choose your accomodation wisely
It’s important to know that Hong Kong Disneyland is located near the Hong Kong International Airport. That’s about half an hour from the city. For a fuller Hong Kong Disneyland experience, and to save time and energy from having to travel to and fro, book a one-night accomodation nearby. Sometimes, you can find pretty good Hong Kong Disneyland Resort hotel deals that come with a Disney-themed room stay plus tickets! Go here for more information on the packages.
3. Shuttle every 10 minutes
If you’ve chosen to stay at one of the 2 Hong Kong Disneyland Resort hotels, great! There’s a shuttle from the hotel entrance to Hong Kong Disneyland every 10 minutes. Realistically, you could also walk if that’s your thing because it’ll take you about 10 minutes to get to the park’s entrance. But I reckon that after a long day or during summer, the last thing you’d want to do is walk. Have no fear, the shuttle will save your
day legs! Oh, the shuttle also takes you from one hotel (Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel) to another (Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel) so that in itself is pretty awesome too.
4. Don’t wait, “Fastpass” it!
There’s no “express pass” for Hong Kong Disneyland but there’s a little something that’ll allow you to skip the waiting in line, especially for the popular rides. It’s called a “Fastpass”, a ticket that allows you to come back at a designated time. Meanwhile, you can go do other things e.g. eat, washroom break, shop. When your alloted time comes, return to the “Fastpass” return entrance at the attraction, show your “Fastpass” ticket to the Cast Member, and bypass everyone else. Oh, it’s free by the way :) Details here.
5. Must-see attractions
Hong Kong Disneyland is not that hard to cover in a day if you go early and you’re not planning to go on every single ride. Depending on who you’re with, you might want to just zone in on a few that are to your liking. I personally recommend the Storybook Theatre’s “Mickey and the Wondrous Book” (brand new 2015), Mystic Point’s “Mystic Manor” (opened in 2013), and Grizzly Gulch’s “Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars“. There are also the more adrenaline rush-inducing ones such as Tomorrowland’s “Autopia” and Toy Story’s “RC Racer“. But believe me when I say that those are not for the weakhearted. You’ve been warned. And please stay on for the “Paint the Night” parade after sunset because it’s amazing.
6. Choo choo shortcut
If you want to “shortcut” your way through the park, get on vintage steam-powered train via the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad. It’ll pick you up from near the park’s entrance and take you on a 20-minute scenic tour around the park, before stopping right at Fantasyland. Each coach includes benches that face the park, so you can easily enjoy the spectacular views of Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Main Street. The Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad is also a handy way to get around quickly and easily. And because the trains are scheduled to arrive at each station every 5 – 15 minutes throughout the day, you never have to worry about waiting a long time to ride one.
7. Must-try Disney-themed F&B
Depending on what you eat, prices can be a little steep but no Disneyland experience will be complete without specially curated Hong Kong Disneyland exclusive F&B menus. The park’s executive and culinary director Chef Rudy told me that everything his team of chefs prepare for guests has to go through something they call the “Mickey check”. It’s a process where the food is checked for not just its taste, but also for its presentation and nutritional content. Yes, they are that passionate because your culinary experience is that important to them!
8. What about halal food?
I know what you’re thinking – since it’s Hong Kong Disneyland, there must be close to no halal food, correct? Wrong. As a matter of fact, there are some certified halal meals available at the park (Tahitian Terrace in Adventureland and Explorer’s Club Restaurant in Mystic Point) and also upon request at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort hotels (Chef Mickey and Studio Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, Walt’s Cafe and Room Service at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel). And just how halal is halal? There are Muslim chefs working in the background to ensure that entire process is halal.
9. 10th Anniversary events galore
Hong Kong Disneyland is going to be jam-packed with activities in conjunction with Hong Kong Disneyland’s 10th Anniversary celebrations. Set to go on for about a year, the celebrations include 10th Anniversary merchandise, a Sleeping Beauty castle projection plus a brilliant “Disney in the Stars” fireworks show, special 10th Anniversary F&B menus, and more. In short, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is more magical than ever before. I’ve written about it here so go check it out!
10. Everybody loves free WiFi
Good news! Visitors can instantly share their magical moments online as free WiFi has been made available from 17th November 2015 onwards. All you need to do is locate the “Guest-Free-WiFi” and stay connected throughout the park with WiFi hotspots in all shops, restaurants, along the parade route, at the park entrance (ticket booths, turnstiles, Guest Service building, and luggage valet service), and at all indoor Guest Services locations (City Hall, Magic Access Member Service Center, strollers/wheelchairs rental, First Aid center, baby care center, and tip board). No password is required to access the service :)
11. Buy all the merchandise
All the merchandise that you see at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort stores are exclusive to Disneyland. This means that you probably wouldn’t be able to find such a wide range of Disney goodies in most Disney stores outside of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Thus, you shouldn’t leave Hong Kong Disneyland without them! So yes, buy all the merchandise. Or just buy as many as your budget/luggage capacity will allow you to.
12. Get your shopping delivered
I know how it feels having to lug around your Disney merchandise with you while you trudge along in the park. Luckily, the Hong Kong Disneyland souvenir store on Main Street has this amazing service that will take away the pain for you! Hong Kong Disneyland Resort hotel guests can get their shopping goods sent straight to their hotel’s concierge. It takes about 3 hours for it to get delivered so you can just go about your magical day and then pick it up from your hotel when you get back later. Perks of staying at a Hong Kong Disneyland Resort hotel! It’s awesome, no?
13. Last minute shopping
Forgot to pick something up while you were at the park? Fret not. There are souvenir stores at both hotels in the resort, but the one at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel (Kingdom Gifts) is significantly larger. Just take the shuttle over and get it done. If you regret not doing your last minute shopping at the resort but you have to leave for the airport, don’t worry! There’s a Disney store at the Hong Kong International Airport where you can pick up gifts at super duper last minute. Trust a super duper last minute shopper like me to discover these things ;)
Special thanks to our friends from Hong Kong Disneyland for allowing me to relive my childhood dreams and for the magical experience! And just in case you’re wondering when is the best time to go to Hong Kong Disneyland, let me just put it out there that there are 8 long weekends comin’ up in 2016 for Malaysians. No pressure or anything!
Missed out on the live Hong Kong Disneyland updates a couple of days ago? Check out the full coverage on our Instagram here.