Been there, done that with Universal Studios and Legoland? Take a deep breath, arm yourselves with mosquito repellent, water bottles, hats, sunblock and snacks and off you go to the world’s most famous theme park: Disneyland in Hong Kong!
Whilst the Hong Kong version is smaller than its global counterparts and more suited to pre-schoolers and early primary age kiddos, some planning and co-ordination is still needed to navigate it with as little crying, fidgeting, whining and sweating as possible. And that’s just you, you’ll need to get the kids through it too mamas!
1. Getting There – Located on Lantau Island, the park is accessible via MTR (Mass Transit Railway), local and cross-boundary buses and all Urban, New Territory and Lantau taxis. It’s about 25 minutes from Central by either car or MTR. Parking facilities are available and ferry access landing at Park Promenade is planned. If travelling internationally, taxis from the airport cost about HK$120 (S$20) and are a 20-30 minute ride.
2. Two is better than One – Although it is possible to cover the park in a single day, you would need to be there at opening (10am), then stay for the 3pm parade and fireworks at 7.30pm. Older kids might be able to handle this but for pre-schoolers and certainly toddlers, we recommend spreading the visit over at least two days. A suggested itinerary might be:
Day 1 – Queue to enter at 10am (hello Hong Kong), cover Main Street (shops, character interaction if you are lucky and the fancy double decker bus). Also cover Fantasy Land as it has the most rides with ones conducive to the whole family (i.e. littlies). Break for lunch and if you have time and energy cover nearby Tomorrow Land. Go back for naps or a general regroup before re-entering the park about 5pm to cover Tomorrow Land (if you hadn’t already) and to catch the 7.30pm fireworks.
Day 2 – Cover Adventure Land, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point which are all at the other side of the park. These ‘lands’ have fewer rides than Fantasy Land and not everyone might be able to do them given either height and/or fear factor restrictions. (Runaway Mine Cars, Space Mountain and RC Racer are roller coasters with height restrictions and Mystic Point might be too frightening for some). Stay for the 3pm parade, making sure to find a spot by 2.45pm along Main Street or the roundabout before calling it a day.
3. Discount Deals – Children under 3 are free to enter the park. If you have older children and plan to stay at one of the Disney hotels, it is worth getting a Magic Access card. A Silver children’s card costs HK$600 (about S$99)and gives free admission to the park for a year. Together with hotel, dining and (inevitable) merchandise purchases, the card pays for itself in admission and discounts. Take along photo identification for entry to the park if using the card – a photo on your phone of the front page of the passport will suffice.
4. FastPass– Queues on a weekday are bearable and even on a Saturday if you get there at opening. FastPass is not, unfortunately, a separate ticket allowing you to bypass the queues but it is included in your ticket for certain rides (currently Space Mountain and Winnie the Pooh but check before you go for updates). You put your entrance ticket into a machine near those rides to get a FastPass. It will have a time stamp for you come back at that time and re-enter those rides with priority.
5. Snacks & Food– Restaurants and cafés serve hot or cold meals with a range of Asian and Western food depending on the ‘land’. Treat stands also abound so pack your own snacks unless you don’t mind children filled with sugar and ice and things a little too nice! Also make sure you water, water, water the kids…
6. Prams – If you do not want to lug yours along, these can be hired from the Main Street Fire Station complete with rain covers. Bear in mind the seats are hard and do not flip down to a lying position so they are unsuitable for a small baby and even a larger one might slide around or be uncomfortable. However they are perfect for carting about tired toddlers who like to sit up and have a stare.
7. Wet weather – the shows and rides go on in a drizzle but stop in thunder and lightning so pack umbrellas and/or ponchos if you are caught in one of the vast open spaces between the ‘lands’ and shelter.
8. Toilets & Hygiene – the former thankfully abound and are reasonably clean with child-friendly and baby changing facilities. Still, take plenty of wet wipes and hand sanitisers for accidents or ‘unforeseen circumstances’.
9. Favourite Things – The Mad Hatter Teacups usually demand more than one go for making mamas dizzy (tee hee) and giving kids a whirling good time. It’s a Small World fascinates all with colourful animated props and feel-good theme. Dumbo gives pre-schoolers the chance to fly their own elephants – who wouldn’t want that? Autopia allows a car practice drive (if the munchkins make the height limit but you might still have to press the pedals for them). The Festival of the Lion King is the mini-musical with impressive costumes and props, and The Flights of Fantasy Parade has everyone’s favourite characters entertaining fans of any age. The Disney in the Stars Fireworks is magical at the castle but note the weekend extravaganza is better than the weekday one. Also, if you are staying at one of the hotels, they are visible from the higher rooms without having to re-enter park.
10. Disney Hotels – Given that decent hotels abound in Hong Kong, at the Hollywood Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel you are paying for convenience and not so much quality. A free shuttle bus does 15 -minute rounds between the hotels and the Disney interchange so you can come and go as you please. Hollywood Hotel is slightly less pricey but a bit more dated and be prepared to pay for ‘extras’ at both hotels such as breakfast. If you get sick of hotel food (and prices), CityGate Outlets, a mall near the airport, is a short taxi ride away and has a well-stocked supermarket with Western deli food and wine, restaurants, fast food and good discount shopping.
Good luck, and be brave mamas – magic memories at Disney await you!
Hong Kong Disneyland Website
Park Opening hours are from 10.30am to 8.30pm. A One Day General Admission ticket for Adults and over-12’s starts from HKD450 and for under 12’s, HKD320.