Main

Hong Kong Disneyland Archives

June 10, 2010

Hong Kong Disneyland Tidbits

I'd like to share a few tidbits from my visit to Hong Kong Disneyland. The first is about their opening show. Each morning, guests are invited onto Main Street a half hour before the official opening time. For the next thirty minutes they are allowed to wander the shops and grab a bite to eat at the bakery. A rope keeps guests from entering the Hub.

About seven minutes prior to opening, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella stroll through the castle and over to the Hub. A family, who has been selected in advance, is waiting for them. An announcement is then made in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English, and after a short countdown, a child cuts a ribbon and the park officially opens. This is a very simple ceremony, but the Princesses create quite a stir and cameras click like crazy.


Princesses at the Castle

Ribbon Cutting


This next picture was taken next to the Tea Cups. I've never seen a warning like this on any sign in the States. It does make you wonder since all bags are checked prior to entering the park and no alcohol is served inside.


Sober Sign


Hong Kong Disneyland has a special program called “Star Guest.” Each morning, a limited number of bright yellow Star Guest lanyards are given out (free of charge) at City Hall. This is done on a first come, first served basis until that day's allotment has been exhausted. From the lanyard hangs a Mickey balloon-shaped piece of cardboard wishing you a magical day.


Mickey Cardboard Cutout

Jack with his Lanyard


Guests who wear this lanyard are frequently singled out by the cast members for special treatment. For example, while waiting in line to ride the Jungle Cruise, I was asked my name. Then, during the excursion, the skipper made several references to me with typical Jungle Cruise humor. And when I exited the attraction, I was greeted by this sign.


Jungle Cruise Sign


I was also given another cardboard Mickey to hang from my lanyard indicating that I was a “Jungle Cruise First Mate.”

When I saw the Stitch Encounter Show (similar to Turtle Talk with Crush), I was singled out by Stitch and my picture appeared onscreen with this little monster. Afterwards, I was given another cardboard Mickey. In all, I collected four more pendants throughout the day as my special treatment continued.

Hong Kong offers a great summer parade called Mickey's Waterworks Parade. Before the pageant begins, folks are warned that they WILL GET WET and to take appropriate precautions with all cameras and electronic devices. You're warned that if you don't want to get wet, there are two “Dry Zones” from which to watch the spectacle. In these areas, the “squirters” temper their mayhem.

As you might guess, the floats spray water on the guests all along the parade route. You get wetter in the front seat of Splash Mountain, but if hit by one of these water cannons, you'll definitely know you've been squirted. This is a great parade and something that would be immensely popular at the Magic Kingdom during our hot summer months. I videotaped the parade so you can see what it's all about.



My final Hong Kong tidbit is about their version of “The Festival of the Lion King.” Unlike the Orlando version, which was to be a temporary show until Beastly Kingdom was built, Disney spared no expense when building this Hong Kong counterpart. Here, the stage rotates, rises, and has pyrotechnic displays built into it. It's amazing and adds a lot of pizzazz to the show. Although the Orlando and Hong Kong shows are similar, they are also different. For example, in Hong Kong, they actually tell the story of Simba, while in Orlando, they just celebrate him.

I saw the show twice and filmed it both times. For one filming, I sat in the first row and for the other, I was on the opposite side of the theater, two-thirds of the way back. I edited the material together to create a seamless presentation. The video is in two parts and takes about 18 minutes. The actual show is 30 minutes, but I cut out much of the dialogue. If you don't have time to watch both videos, might I suggest just looking at the last three minutes of Part Two. This will give you a good idea of how terrific the stage is. Enjoy.





February 6, 2010

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror -- Part Three

In Part One and Two of this blog series, I discussed in detail the Tower of Terror (TOT) attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios. In Part Three, I'm going to give you an overview of the other three TOT's around the world. Let's start with the second tower to be built.

Disney's California Adventure

Disney's California Adventure (DCA) did not open to the rave reviews Disney had hoped for. Beginning operation on February 8, 2001, it struggled for an audience. Guests continually compared it to Disneyland next store -- and there was no comparison. Something needed to be done. DCA needed more "E" attractions.

Since DCA has a "land" known as Hollywood Pictures Backlot, similar in concept to Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Imagineers looked to Florida to see what could be copied and brought to Anaheim. It didn't take too much thought to realize that the highly successful TOT would be a natural at the California park. However, there wasn't as much land in California as there is in Florida and the bean-counters wanted to spend less building the second tower. To accomplish this, the attraction would need to be redesigned significantly.


Hollywood PIctures Backlot


In Florida, guests board the elevators in four loading zones. Each elevator has its own ascent shaft and looks into its own, separate "hallway" sequence. Once the elevators reach the Fifth Dimension Room, two vehicles merge and share a single track and move toward one of the two drop shafts. Once the elevator finishes its ride and unloads its passengers, it completes the circuit and returns to the loading dock.

This configuration required a significant amount of land, something that was at a premium in California. Also, if one of the shafts was out of service, the ride's capacity was cut in half. In addition, the Fifth Dimension Room was prone to breakdowns. It was decided that a fresh look and redesign of the attraction could possibly remedy some of these problems and bring construction costs down.

First, the Imagineers eliminated the Fifth Dimension Room. Without this section of the ride, the elevators would not need to make a complete "circle" for each cycle. This would significantly reduce the footprint of the building. Now, loading and unloading would take place at the same location. However, to increase capacity, each shaft would load from one of two floors in the boiler room. As car "A" was loading on the ground floor, car "B", which had loaded from the second floor, was experiencing the ride. But since two cars cannot occupy the same shaft at the same time, the elevators travel horizontally between the shaft and loading platforms. And finally, a third drop-shaft was added to increase capacity. Now, if a problem occurs, only one third of the attraction is out of service while repairs are being made.


DCA Tower of Terror

DCA Tower of Terror

DCA Tower of Terror


It is interesting to note how similar, yet different the attractions are from one another. Take for instance the lobby. At a first glance, the DCA version looks just like the reception area in Florida, but upon closer inspection, you can see a number of subtle differences.


DCA Tower of Terro Lobby


The Imagineers felt bad about eliminating the popular Fifth Dimension Room. To make up for this, they added a new effect. Now the elevator makes a second stop on its journey to the top of the hotel. At this floor, the elevator doors open and you see a reflection of the car's inhabitants in a mirror hanging on the wall. Rod Serling tells us to "wave goodbye to the real world." A moment later, lightning strikes and electricity arcs around the mirror and everyone's face morphs into a ghostly green and eventually fades into nothingness. In the end, the mirror's reflection reveals only empty seats in your elevator.

Another change involved the hallway scene. In Florida, we see a window at the end of the hallway that eventually floats and breaks before us. But in California, we see an open elevator at the end of the hall. When you arrive at this floor, the narration says, "What happened here to dim the lights of Hollywood's brightest showplace is about to unfold once again." Then we see the doomed five appear then disappear, in the same manner as in Florida. But in California, they reappear in the open elevator at the end of the hall, which eventually drops out of sight, taking its passengers with it. A moment later, the elevator you are riding in also drops before making its numerous ascents and descents.

Tower of Terror opened at Disney's California Adventure on May 5, 2004. It is 183 feet tall, making it shorter than the Florida tower which is 199 feet in height. However, the California version extends 40 feet underground. Unofficial sources put the construction cost at $90M, $50M less than its cousin in Florida.

Tower of Terror is one of DCA's more popular attractions. And like all of its cousins around the world, the view from the top is fantastic. From here you can see the Disneyland Hotel, Disney's California Adventure, Downtown Disney, and much of Disneyland.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

Like Disney's California Adventure, The Walt Disney Studios in Paris was also suffering "theme park envy" when compared to Disneyland Paris next door. And once again, TOT came to the rescue. But unlike Florida and California, the Paris park did not have a comparable Hollywood street. One would have to be created to surround the tower.


Walt Disney Studios Hollywood Section


The Paris version of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is an extremely close copy of its cousin at Disney's California Adventure. Both were designed in the “Pueblo Deco” style of architecture which is the blending of Art Deco and Native American art from the Southwest U.S. In addition, it uses the same loading system as California and has no Fifth Dimension Room, but features the mirror effect.

Paris' TOT is also the only tower to present Rod Serling's introduction in a language other than English. As the library fills, the bellboy can change from the original English recording to a French narration. Serling's voice in the French version was dubbed by a vocal artist whose voice resembled the original dubbing of the “La Quatrième Dimension” when the Twilight Zone TV show was shown in France. Both recordings feature subtitles in the opposite language.

The attraction opened on December 22, 2007. Here are a few pictures of it taken by my friend TDLFAN. Compare these to the pictures of the Disney's California Adventure tower and you can see they are practically twins.


Paris Tower of Terror

Paris Tower of Terror

Paris Tower of Terror

Paris Tower of Terror Lobby


This picture is from a Paris ad campaign.


Paris TOT Ad Campaign


Tokyo DisneySea

One of the "lands" at Tokyo DisneySea is called the American Waterfront. This section of the park is divided into three areas, New York City, New York Harbor, and Cape Cod. The time? Just after the turn of the 20th century.

One of the most recent additions to Tokyo DisneySea and the New York City section is the Tower of Terror. However, this tower varies in several ways from its cousins in the other Disney parks. In Paris and California, the exterior of the buildings have a Southwestern motif while in Florida the building has a Moroccan flavor. The Tower in Tokyo is built of red brick and has a gothic feel. To me, the Tokyo tower is the most elaborate and beautiful of the four.


Tokyo DisneySea TOT

Tokyo DisneySea TOT


Another change to the Tokyo attraction was necessitated because the Japanese are not familiar with the Twilight Zone television series. To remedy this, the Imagineers came up with a completely new storyline. Since the tours of the hotel are presented in Japanese, English speaking guests are given a handout explaining the storyline. The following five paragraphs are a direct quote from that handout.

“Welcome to the ‘Tower of Terror' tour, presented by The New York City Preservation Society. On New Year's Eve in 1899, explorer, antiquities collector and multi-millionaire Harrison Hightower III held a press conference in the luxurious Hotel Hightower to announce his latest find " a statue called ‘Shiriki Utundu' which he had acquired in a remote region of Africa.


Shiriki Utundu


That very night, the hotel's main elevator crashed to the ground with Hightower and the idol inside! Shiriki Utundu was recovered from the shattered elevator, but of Harrison Hightower III there was no sign. He had vanished. After his disappearance, Hotel Hightower was closed. People began calling it the ‘Tower of Terror.'

Rumor has it that Shiriki Utundu is a cursed statue, and that it may have something to do with the disappearance of Mr. Hightower.

As you tour this magnificent building and view Harrison Hightower's collection of rare art from across the globe, you will also hear about the mystery of his disappearance.

The tour climaxes with a ride on the service elevator up to the top floor to see Mr. Hightower's penthouse. Please enjoy the ride.”


Tour Sign in Queue


Unlike the other three towers, the queue for the Tokyo version actually christcrosses its way through the lobby.


TOT DisneySea Lobby


In the pre-show room, we see a stained-glass likeness of Harrison Hightower and a statue of Shiriki Utundu sitting on a pedestal. As the story unfolds Mr. Hightower's image changes from an arrogant robber-baron to a very fearful man. Then the lights dim and Shiriki Utundu disappears from sight. The effects are excellent and sets the stage for the terror to come.


Stained-Glass Window


From here we enter the storerooms that house Mr. Hightower's vast collection of art that he's commandeered from around the world. Eventually, we're taken to an elevator for our journey to the penthouse. An interesting note, the elevators in Tokyo's tower have shoulder harnesses as well as lap restraints. Shiriki Utundu continues to play a major roll during your rise and fall and appears over and over again.


TOT Storeroom


The exterior of the building also adds a bit of excitement to the show. Before each elevator drops, a flash of green light erupts from Mr. Hightower's penthouse and then the light travels to the window of the next elevator to fall.

Photographs of Harrison Hightower can be seen throughout the attraction. A keen eye will notice that Mr. Hightower bears a striking resemblance to Joe Rohde, designer of the Animal Kingdom.


Harrison Hightower


TOT opened at Tokyo DisneySea on September 4, 2006. I can't say that the Tokyo version of this attraction is better than the other Towers around the world. But with the storyline being so different, it does add a new excitement level. The Tokyo attraction does not have the 4th dimension room like the one in Florida. Instead, the elevator makes a second stop on its way to the top as do the Towers in California and Paris.

This completes my blog series about the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I think the Imagineers outdid themselves when dreaming up this magnificent attraction. No matter how many times I ride, I keep discovering new details.

August 18, 2008

Should you go to Hong Kong and Tokyo Disney?

During the postings of my Hong Kong and Tokyo Disney blogs, I received several emails from people asking me if it's worth the trip to travel this vast distance to visit these parks. Ultimately, this would depend on your budget and how strong your desire is to experience the foreign Disney parks, but I will give you my thoughts.

Let's start with Hong Kong.

It's a 13-14 hour flight from Chicago to Hong Kong. That's a long time to spend in an airplane. Fortunately, I had enough frequent flyer miles to upgrade to Business Class and I would recommend this to anyone who can swing it.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Hong Kong Disneyland is a nice, LITTLE park, but it still has a long way to go before it could be considered a great park. There just aren't enough rides and attractions to keep the average guest busy for more than a day " two if you're a true Disney fanatic. I chose to spend three full days here because I'm a Disney extremist and I wanted to experience everything multiple times, but I would only recommend this length of stay to a handful of my readers. Because of the lack of rides and attractions, it becomes difficult for me to recommend a trip all the way to Hong Kong, JUST to see Disneyland.

But keep in mind, the City of Hong Kong is only a 20 minute train ride away from Disneyland. And believe me, there is no other city on earth like Hong Kong. This is a magnificent metropolis. A combination of ultra modern and traditional Chinese make this an exciting place to visit. You can easily spend three days here. And a day trip via hydrofoil to Macau is also a great excursion.


HK%201.jpg

HK%202.jpg

HK%203.jpg

Macau.jpg


So, if you add the City of Hong Kong and Macau to your trip to HKDL, then it becomes a no-brainer. I say, “Go for it.”

If you do decide to go to Hong Kong, I would break the trip up into two sections. Stay at the Disneyland or Hollywood Hotel for two or three nights and the remainder of your stay on Hong Kong Island or across the harbor in Kowloon.


Disneyland%20Hotel%20100.jpg

Hollywood%20Hotel%20100.jpg


I've stayed at the Kowloon Shangri-La twice and was most pleased. In fact, it's one of the nicest hotels I've ever been in. It has beautiful views of Hong Kong Island and it's an easy walk to many of the sights. However, I'm sure there are MANY equally good hotels to choose from. Talk to your travel agent.


Shangri-La%201.jpg

Shangri-La%202.jpg


Now let's discuss Japan. Should you fly 9-10 hours from Chicago to visit the Tokyo Disney Resort? Absolutely!

If you've been reading my blogs, you know that I rank Tokyo DisneySea as my absolute favorite park and I rank Tokyo Disneyland as my fifth favorite out of a total of eleven. Each of these parks has much more to offer than HKDL and each requires every bit of two days to see. Also, keep in mind that you probably won't be returning anytime soon, so I would suggest spending three full days in each park to make sure you've imprinted all the sights and sounds into your brain.

Just like Disney World, I always recommend staying “on property.” If there is anyway you can afford it, stay at the MiraCosta. With the hotel located literally inside Tokyo DisneySea, it's the most magical of any Disney hotel anywhere in the world. You'll be glad you did. Also consider the new Disneyland Hotel which is right on the doorstep of Tokyo Disneyland. And lastly, the Ambassador Hotel which is just a short walk from the monorail, is worthy of your consideration.


MiraCoast%20100.jpg

TDL%20Hotel%20100.jpg

Ambassador%20101.jpg


Japan is an expensive country. If budget starts to play a part in your decision, consider staying at the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel. It's a little less costly than the Disney hotels and it's extremely convenient to the Disney monorail so the parks are still just a short ride away.


Sharaton%20100.jpg


On one trip, I stayed at an inexpensive (relatively speaking) Holiday Inn in downtown Tokyo and took the train to Disneyland everyday. It was less expensive than staying on property, but it lacked “magic” and I was more or less stuck at the park all day long as it would not be convenient to return to my hotel mid-day for a nap.

But here comes my dilemma when suggesting a trip to Tokyo. How can you possibly fly all this way and ONLY see Disney? Japan is a beautiful country. It would take weeks just to see the highlights. Do you really want to miss out on experiencing this wonderful culture?

Japan is roughly the size of California and has a magnificent railway system that can take you almost anywhere quickly and safely. But navigating in Japan can be daunting for someone who doesn't speak the language. To make things easier, I would suggest meeting with a travel agent and arrange for a multi-day tour of the country that begins or ends in Tokyo, then spend an additional 6-7 days at Disney.

Here are just a FEW of the “must see” attractions in Japan.

Daibutsu (Buddha) in Kamakura


Kamakura.jpg


Daibutsu (Buddha) in Nara


Daibutsu%20in%20Nara.jpg


Kyoto's Golden Pavilion


Golden%20Palace.jpg


The Kyoto Bridge


Kyoto%20Bridge.jpg


Osaka Castle


Osaka%20Castle.jpg


Nagasaki


Nagasaki.jpg


If you've already visited the City of Hong Kong and the country of Japan as I have, or, if you really only want to visit Disney, you might want to do what I did and combine both resorts into one trip. I figured if I was flying all the way across the Pacific anyway, why not lengthen my stay and see both resorts. It's about a 4½ hour flight between Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Getting from the airports to the resorts is easy. In Hong Kong, just hail a cab and tell him where you want to go. It shouldn't cost much more than $20US to get to the Disneyland Resort. (Honk Kong also uses the “dollar” so don't get confused.) The trip takes about 20 minutes. You can also take a train, which would be cheaper, but that would involve a transfer. And do you really want to schlep your luggage through crowded stations after just having completed a 13+ hour flight?

In Tokyo, there are a number of motor-coach counters located immediately after you clear customs. It's here that you can arrange transportation to Disney. After purchasing your ticket (about $25 per person one-way) you will be told where to wait for the bus which will be just a short walk from the counter. The trip takes approximately one hour. You arrange for your return trip at your hotel.

Even though Visa and Master Card are accepted everywhere, I always try to have some local currency in hand when I arrive. It's just one less thing I have to worry about after my flight.

One of the major enjoyments I get out of Disney theme parks is comparing them to one another. It fascinates me to see how similar, yet different, any given attraction can be.

I realize that international travel isn't in everyone's budget, but if you're one of those families that visits Walt Disney World three or four times a year, might I suggest that you only visit once or twice some year and use the money you'll save for an overseas Disney trip. You'll be happy you did.

Although I have not talked about the Disneyland Paris Resort in my recent blogs, I rank Disneyland Paris as my second favorite park. And even though I rank the Walt Disney Studios Paris as my least favorite park, I still feel the resort has a lot to offer " a lot more than Hong Kong. Not to mention, the City of Lights is just a short train ride away.

So, this ends my Asian Disney blogs. I hope you've enjoyed them. I've had a good time reliving my adventures by sharing them with you.

July 15, 2008

Reader Mailbag - Hong Kong and Tokyo Disney Parks!

I'd like to thank everyone for all the emails you sent regarding my Hong Kong Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea blogs. I'm so glad you have been enjoying the trip report and photos!

BTW, several of you have asked what type of camera I use. All of the pictures shot in Hong Kong were taken with a Nikon D80 camera and a Nikkor 18-200mm lens. The pictures of Tokyo DisneySea shot with the above mentioned camera and a Sony point-and-shot Cyer-shot 4.1 mega pixels.

Here are just a few of the emails I have received:

Monique writes: A big "Thanks!" to Jack for giving us such a terrific tour of the Tokyo and Hong Kong parks. Fantastic photos and great commentary - the next best thing to being there! Tokyo DisneySea in particular has made a big leap up to the top of my "bucket list" - great job!


Morag writes: I am loving Jack's blog about his trip to the Asian Disney parks. It has been very interesting to see how these parks have been developed and the attention to detail in DisneySea is by far some of the best I have ever seen

I have been to all of the Disney parks in America and from what I have seen and read in these blogs makes me hope that Disney will take on board some of these ideas for their American counterparts.

I too miss 20,000 leagues and would love to see some form of water attraction take its place. Keep up the good work you have made, at least me, very jealous of your adventures.

Katsumi in Tokyo, Japan shares:

Hello Jack-san. I'm Japanese and enjoy reading your blog in Tokyo regarding Tokyo Disney Resort. I'm very impressed that you know the details of TDR and Japanese culture/styles/personality.

I'm pleased to read that your most favorite park is Tokyo Disney Sea. I have only been to Tokyo Disney Resort and Walt Disney World, but my most favorite resort is Tokyo DisneySea. As you mentioned, every scenery is beautiful and I feel comfortable just staying in TDS.

Also I'm happy to see that you like Big Band Beat (BBB). The reason I bought annual pass for TDS is that I want to see BBB every week. Singers, dancers, musicians and Mickey & his pals are edgy, and this show seems perfect for me. The section after "Sing Sing Sing" always makes me excited.

I hope that we have chance to see BBB together at your next visit to TDS. I'm looking forward to read the rest of your blog.

Jeanine, who previously blogged about her Tokyo Disney Trip shares:

Great blog! For more information about the back-story on Tokyo's Tower of Terror, there's a long and elaborate webpage (in Japanese) on it at www.tot1899.com.

DisneySeas is a fantastic park! I actually wound up buying DVDs and guidebooks in a language I don't even speak just to have more information on it.

Cathy Mullen writes:

I have enjoyed reading your Tokyo Disney World blog. Right now I have a friend visiting a relative in Tokyo and she is planning to visit Disney while there. She has been sending very interesting emails about her adventures so with her emails and your blogs I feel right there too!
Maybe someday I will get a chance to visit myself because the park looks so lovely and they have my favorite parade- the Electric Parade!


Jen shares:

Your blogs about Disney Tokyo and Disney Hong Kong have been extremely enjoyable to read. The pictures are great and you do a tremendous job describing your experience. I look forward to your blog every day. Thanks for sharing your experiences with readers like me.

Debbie Hudson exclaims:

Wow, Jack! Absolutely STUNNING!

I am really glad you wrote the blogs on the Western Parks; I've never seen any of them, and honestly, I had no idea (really) what DisneySea was.

That place is just amazing! I cannot believe the lushness of it. Just stunning--I can't use any other word to describe it. Wow, I think if I could ever afford to visit one of the other Parks, that would have to be it.

V-E-R-Y nice!!

MaryAnn Eckenrode writes:

I just loved it. Your trip to Japan must have been fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. If you every make book of this trip, keep me in mind. I'm just so impress with everything, words can't describe. Thanks for your time. It was greatly appreciated.

Lastly, Tom Zamorski shares:

I wanted to thank you for a wonderful, comprehensive and well photographed tour of Tokyo DisneySea. Frankly, it's unlikely I'll ever get to see it first hand so your tour let me enjoy it, albeit from afar. Thank you very much for the hard work you put into bringing this exotic destination into our homes.

And from Jack........Again, my thanks to everyone.

Now, on to Tokyo Disneyland!

June 10, 2008

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort - Overall Opinion

Now, onto my overall opinion of the Hong Kong Disney Resort.

The two hotels are wonderful and the service is outstanding. The ONLY complaint I had with the resort is that you cannot charge purchases made at Disneyland to your room. This policy needs to be changed.

The surrounding grounds and roadways are beautiful " just like you'd expect from a Disney resort. The walkway between the Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland is very pleasant and the bus transportation is efficient.

Hong Kong Disneyland


Hong Kong Disneyland is a nice, LITTLE park. From what I've read, it can be expanded and I hope this is correct. It definitely needs some more attractions. But it doesn't need “off-the-shelf” rides.

I believe that Disney built “Disney's California Adventure” and the “Walt Disney Studios Paris” as cheaply as they could. I don't feel that way with Hong Kong Disneyland. This park has much better “bones.” Nothing looks cheap here as it does in the two afore mentioned parks. Over the years, if Disney continues to add good attractions, this park can take its place as a top-notch Disney destination, but I don't think it's quite there yet.

Hong Kong is a magnificent city! I would highly recommend visiting this fascinating place. And if you're reading this blog, you're obviously a Disney fan. So if you're planning a trip to Hong Kong anyway, you should definitely add and extra day to see Disneyland. But I would not recommend the 14 ½ hour plane trip (Chicago to HK) just to see Disneyland.


Here is MY raking of Disney's eleven parks:

1. Tokyo Disney Sea
2. Disneyland Paris
3. Disneyland California
4. Epcot
5. Tokyo Disneyland
6. Magic Kingdom
7. Animal Kingdom
8. Disney's Hollywood Studios
9. Hong Kong Disneyland
10. Disney's California Adventure
11. Walt Disney Studios Paris

June 6, 2008

Hollywood Hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

Since I'm a Disneyphile, I wanted to experience as much as possible while visiting the Hong Kong Resort. So, even though I was staying at the Disneyland Hotel, I made a special trip over to Disney's Hollywood Hotel to take a look around. I was very pleased with what I saw.


Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel


The hotel's architectural style is art deco. Given this, and the Hollywood touches they have added, the resort has a very glamorous feel about it.


Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel


Like the Disneyland Hotel, this hotel also sits on Penny Bay and many of the rooms take advantage of the view.


Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel


The grounds are beautifully landscaped. The pathways that connect the various areas of the resort are all given names such as Hollywood Blvd. and Sunset Blvd.


Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel


One particular pathway is named Mulholland Drive. This roadway winds its way from the hotel to the Bay and you can find a number of vintage automobiles along the way.


Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel


I really liked the Hollywood Hotel. It has a more “friendly” feel to it than the formal Disneyland Hotel. In fact, I'm fairly certain I'll choose this resort on my next trip to Hong Kong.

Next up, my recap review of Hong Kong Disneyland.

Read my entire Hong Kong Disneyland Blog

its a small world

Overview Hong Kong Disneyland and Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 2

Hong Kong Disneyland The Hub and Fantasyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland and Disney on Parade

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

Hollywood Hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland

June 3, 2008

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

There are two Hotels at the Hong Kong Disney Resort, the Disneyland Hotel and the Hollywood Hotel. Since I wanted this trip to be extra special, I stayed at the Disneyland Hotel which is the more expensive of the two.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


As you can see from the pictures, it is very reminiscent of the Grand Floridian at Disney World, only smaller. Since the hotel sits on Penny Bay, I decided to book one of the most expensive, standard rooms so I could enjoy the view. When I arrived I found that Hong Kong Island and its imposing skyscrapers were well within sight of my balcony. However, Hong Kong is often hazy and smoggy and the best view I had of the skyline was a ghostly image. However, I have no regrets, I could still watch ships pass by and see islands scattered in the distance. The building jutting into the bay is a ferry landing that brings guests to the resort from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The check-in area of the hotel is nice and has a number of beautiful oil-paintings of Disney landscapes.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The lobby is impressive. Massive windows offer a sweeping view onto manicured gardens and Penny Bay. An elevator sits to one side of the room and is encased in intricate ironwork. If you look closely, you can find Mickey and Minnie.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


Also in the lobby is the Grand Salon. Here you can enjoy a continental breakfast or High Tea. Since Disneyland didn't open until 10am, I chose to eat breakfast here each morning. This was truly a highlight of my trip. The service was impeccable and the atmosphere lush. I felt like a celebrity eating in such surroundings.


Grand Salon at Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Grand Salon at Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


My room was very nice, but it didn't knock my socks off. There were two queen-sized beds, a dresser with a flat-screen TV above it, and a nice table and chairs. Internet access was available for free.


Room at the Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The balcony was small, but big enough for two chairs.

The bathroom was adequate. However, it did not have a separate door for the toilet area. Carved images of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs could be found on the mirror and the toiletries also had their likeness. I sure wish Disney World still offered toiletries like these.


Room at the Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Room at the Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Room at the Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The one outstanding feature for me was the shower. Living in Florida, I'm used to water restrictors, but I guess Hong Kong isn't worried about saving water. When I turned on the nozzle I was almost knocked over by the force of the spray. I was in heaven.

The grounds of the hotel are beautiful. In the center of the hotel is a Victorian maze with Mickey Mouse in the middle. It's about four feet high so adults can see over the hedges, but children are completely hidden.


Exterior photos of the Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Next to the maze is a gazebo for weddings and other celebrations.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The hotel has two restaurants, the Crystal Lotus (which I did not eat at) and the Enchanted Garden Restaurant (which I did eat at).


Enchanted Garden Restaurant  at Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The Enchanted Garden Restaurant offers character meals and an international buffet. The buffet was interesting as it did offer a few “western” dishes and some pasta, but 80% of the “international” was Asian. Foods from China, Japan, Korea and much of Southeast Asia were offered. All of it was attractively displayed and also very tasty.


Enchanted Garden Restaurant  at Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


While eating, Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto made the rounds and a professional photographer was on hand to snap your picture. And let there be no doubt, the Disney characters stir up just as much enthusiasm in China as they do in the U.S.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong


To get to Disneyland form the hotel you can walk or take Disney transportation. The walk is nice and it takes about 15-20 minutes. The walkway is extensively landscaped and is a most pleasant way to start your morning. The bus is quicker but not nearly as relaxing.


Walkway from hotel to Hong Kong Disney Park

Walkway from hotel to Hong Kong Disney Park


I do have one complaint about the hotel. You can only charge purchases made at the hotel to your room. You cannot charge purchases made in Disneyland to your room. I was shocked. I'm so used to this convenience at Disney World it never occurred to me that a newer resort would not offer this same service.

In my next blog I'll talk about the Hollywood Hotel and give you my overall opinion of the resort and Disneyland.

Read my entire Hong Kong Disneyland Blog

its a small world

Overview Hong Kong Disneyland and Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 2

Hong Kong Disneyland The Hub and Fantasyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland and Disney on Parade

June 1, 2008

Hong Kong Tomorrowland & Disney on Parade

The last land I will be talking about at Hong Kong Disneyland is Tomorrowland. Like Fantasyland, it feels small compared to other parks.


Tomorrowland Hong Kong Disneyland


The first attraction I'll be discussing it Orbitron. This is your typical, hub and spoke space ride. What sets this attraction apart from its cousins in other Disney parks is that you sit in flying saucers instead of rocket ships. This is a nice variation. Another thing I like is that each party (all guests sitting in a particular saucer) is given a “boarding pass” with a number that corresponds to a given saucer. This eliminates everyone scrambling for the nearest seat and stops guests from splitting up after the fact and taking up more vehicles than were originally allotted. Once everyone is seated, the attraction host collects all of the boarding passes.


Orbitron Hong Kong Disneyland

Orbitron Hong Kong Disneyland

Orbitron Hong Kong Disneyland


I was disappointed with one aspect of Orbitron. When Disney built the “Magic Carpets of Aladdin” attraction in the Magic Kingdom, they put in front and back seating, just like they did for Orbitron. But the Magic Carpets have a second joy stick in the back seat that controls the pitch while the front seat controls the height. Orbitron does not have this second joy stick. It should have.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is the exact same attraction as was built in California, Tokyo, and Paris. All of these versions came after the Magic Kingdom's so a nice improvement was made " your laser gun is attached to the ride vehicle via a cable, thus allowing you to pick the gun up and aim with more accuracy.


Buzz Lightyear Hong Kong Disneyland

These are the "Fast Pass" machines for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.

Buzz Lightyear Hong Kong Disneyland

Buzz Lightyear Hong Kong Disneyland

The Autopia attraction harkens back to the “freeway” design of the original Autopia in Disneyland California. However these cars are electric, not gas powered. When a car pulls into the station, it is automatically connected to a power source and its batteries are constantly charging while guests load and unload. However, each car has its own speaker and an internal combustion putt-putt sound is broadcast while en route.


Autopia Hong Kong Disneyland

Autopia Hong Kong Disneyland


This Autopia has three, separate roadways that wind over, under, and next to each other. I really enjoyed this simple ride, but it did have the longest and slowest moving line of any attraction in Hong Kong.


Autopia Hong Kong Disneyland

Autopia Hong Kong Disneyland


UFO Zone is another “so called” attraction. It amounts to a collection of space craft strewn out over a “soft pavement” area with water fountains and spouts for someone to run through. In other words, it's a play zone for children. Don't get me wrong, it's very cute and the kids loved it, I just have a problem with them classifying this as a full-fledge attraction.


UFO Zone Hong Kong Disneyland


Space Mountain is the one “E” ticket attraction in Tomorrowland. This is a single-track roller coaster like Tokyo and California, however, I really can't tell you if the track layout is the same. Paris is also a single-track coaster but it has a loop.

If you're a fan of the other Space Mountains, you'll like this one.


Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland

Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland

Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland

All safety instruction are given in three languages.

Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland


This is the loading and unloading area.


Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland


I think my favorite attraction in Tomorrowland was Stitch Encounter. Located in the Space Mountain building, Stitch Encounter uses the same technology as Turtle Talk with Crush in Epcot. Here, guests get to have a real-time conversation with Stitch. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of Stitch, but I loved this attraction. It made me laugh both times I experienced it.

Since Hong Kong Disneyland must deal with three languages, Stitch Encounter needs to accommodate this need. Outside the attraction is an ever-changing sign that lists what times the shows will be performed in each language. This information is only posted here so you must walk by and plan your day accordingly.


Stich Encounter Hong Kong Disneyland


There are two counter service eateries in Tomorrowland, Starliner Diner and Comet Café.

Starliner Diner

Comet Cafe


I ate lunch at the Starliner Diner one afternoon and ordered fried chicken. When I got to my table, I noticed a small, clear plastic envelope with something in it. When I opened it, I found a pair of plastic gloves to keep my hands clean while eating my greasy food. Nice.

Fried Chicken


Like all Disney parks, Hong Kong also has its own parade. Here are some pictures.


Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Read my entire Hong Kong Disneyland Blog

its a small world

Overview Hong Kong Disneyland and Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 2

Hong Kong Disneyland The Hub and Fantasyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland and Disney on Parade

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

May 30, 2008

Hong Kong The Hub and Fantasyland

Before entering Fantasyland, let's start in the Hub.

One of the first things you might notice is that the Partners statue (Walt & Mickey) is not present here like it is in Florida, California, and Tokyo. In Paris it's located in the Walt Disney Studios instead of Disneyland. I don't know if Disney has plans to add it in the future, but for the time being, Hong Kong is missing Walt.

The Hub is also home to Snow White Grotto. Once again, in Disney's desire to inflate the number of attractions in this park, the Snow White Grotto is listed. The Snow White Grotto also exists in Disneyland California (in the same relative location) and in Tokyo Disneyland. Neither of these parks lists it as an attraction.


Snow White's Grotto Hong Kong Disneyland


Sleeping Beauty Castle (also counted as an attraction) is a carbon copy of the one in Disneyland California. The one exception, this castle does not have a walk-thru depicting the story of Sleeping Beauty. However, from what I understand, the walk-thru in California has been permanently closed for security reasons. Once again, to list this as an attraction is stretching it. There is absolutely nothing to experience with the castle except to walk through it.


Hong Kong Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle


Hong Kong Fantasyland has the following attractions:

Mickey's PhillharMagic: Although housed in a different building, the attraction is identical to the Magic Kingdom's and is presented in English.


Mickey's PhillharMagic Hong Kong Disneyland


Dumbo The Flying Elephant: This attraction is a copy of the ride at Disneyland.

Dumbo The Flying Elephant Hong Kong Disneyland


Cinderella Carousel:

 Cinderealla Carousel Hong Kong Disneyland


Fantasy Gardens: This is a character meet-and-greet area. A number of paths wind through topiary of Fantasia characters and lead to a number of covered gazebo-like pavilions where you can have your picture taken with Mickey and the gang.


Fantasy Gardens Hong Kong Disneyland

Fantasy Gardens Hong Kong Disneyland

Fantasy Gardens Hong Kong Disneyland


Mad Hatter Tea Cups:


 Mad Hatter Tea Cups Hong Kong Disneyland


The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: This is the only “dark” ride in Fantasyland and it's almost an exact copy of the one in the Magic Kingdom, even down to the picture of Toad handing Owl the deed to the property. The only difference I could detect is instead of the elephant blowing a smoke-ring at you in the “Heffalumps and Woozles” room, your picture is taken.


Winnie the Pooh Hong Kong Disneyland


it's a small world: This attraction is located outside of the train that circles the park, similar to Toontown at Disneyland California. See my first Hong Kong blog for more information about this attraction.

Walkway to Small World Hong Kong Disneyland

Small World Hong Kong Disneyland

Small World Hong Kong Disneyland


Fantasyland Train Station:


Fantasyland Train Station Hong Kong Disneyland


The Golden Mickeys: This show was originally presented on the Disney Cruise Line and a modified version was created for Hong Kong Disneyland. It is staged in the Storybook Theater and is presented in Cantonese, with simplified Chinese and English subtitles. In essence, this is an awards show giving recognition for heroism and romance. Numbers from Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast are presented. All of the songs are in English. The show is approximately 30 minutes long.


Golden Mickeys Hong Kong Disneyland

This is a great show and plays to packed houses. I saw it twice and it was just as enjoyable the second time around.

There are two eateries in Fantasyland, The Royal Banquet Hall and Clopin's Festival of Fools. Both are counter service establishments. I ate at both of them. They were fine, but nothing out of the ordinary. The Royal Banquet Hall is exceptionally beautiful.


Royal Banquet Hall Hong Kong Disneyland

Royal Banquet Hall Hong Kong Disneyland

Clopin's Festival of Fools


Read my entire Hong Kong Disneyland Blog

its a small world

Overview Hong Kong Disneyland and Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 2

Hong Kong Disneyland The Hub and Fantasyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland and Disney on Parade

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

Hollywood Hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland

May 28, 2008

Hong Kong Disneyland - Adventureland Part 2

Adventureland in Hong Kong Disneyland


The next two attractions in Adventureland are “Rafts to Tarzan's Treehouse” and “Tarzan's Treehouse.” Disney counts these as two distinct attractions, but I have a problem with this. Since all you can do once you've ridden the rafts is visit the treehouse (and you must ride the rafts in order to experience the treehouse), I hardly feel you can separate the two. But once again, Disney is desperate to increase their attraction count in Hong Kong.


Treehouse Hong Kong Disneyland


The rafts are the same make and model as the ones we ride to get to Tom Sawyer Island. The only difference, the rafts here bear the names of Kala and Terk. The dock is uninspired and there is no shade for the queue.

01%20Rafts.jpg

02%20Rafts.jpg


Once you reach the island, you walk through a grotto-like area with waterfalls and lush foliage. You even pass by an audioanimatronic baby elephant that squirts water. This is a nice touch.


08%20Treehouse.jpg


I liked Tarzan's Treehouse. I have never believed that all rides need to be of the “E” ticket caliber and this attraction proves my point. It's pleasant to look at from afar. Almost anyone can enjoy it. It's simple. And it will make you smile. What more do you need?


03%20Treehouse.jpg

04%20Treehouse.jpg

05%20Treehouse.jpg

06%20Treehouse.jpg


When I first saw Tarzan's Treehouse at Disneyland California, I wished that Disney would upgrade the Swiss Family version here in Florida. Kids today aren't familiar with the Swiss Family Robinson movie. They are with Tarzan.

The final attraction in Adventureland is “Festival of the Lion King.” Before I talk about the Hong Kong version, I'd like to give you a little history lesson.


10%20Festival%20of%20the%20Lion%20King.jpg


When Disney was planning the Animal Kingdom, their plans called for “Beastly Kingdom.” This was going to be the land where mythical beasts lived and played. But pesky budgets got in the way and it was decided to hold off building this area until a later date. In the meantime, Disney decided to build Camp Minnie-Mickey as a sort of place holder. This would help give the park a more complete look at opening, could be built relatively cheaply, and would eventually be removed once Beastly Kingdom was given the green light. Thus was born the Festival of the Lion King.

Theatrical shows are generally cheaper to put together than building a full-fledged ride. And to save even more money, Disney used old parade floats from Disneyland California. They also built an open-air theater. Why build walls if you're just going to tear them down at a later date? And finally, they used relatively inexpensive bench seating on risers. In the scheme of theme park attractions, it wasn't a major investment to build the Festival of the Lion King theater.

What Disney didn't bargain for was this show becoming the major crowd-pleaser it became. As Beastly Kingdom was moved further back on the burner, the Festival of the Lion King's popularity continued to grow. Eventually it was decided to enclose the theater (thank goodness) and I have no idea what would happen if Disney ever did decide to go ahead with Beastly Kingdom. There would be a major outcry if they ever contemplated removing this popular show.

Since the Hong Kong version of this show was intended to be permanent, Disney pulled out all the stops when building this theater. First, the theater was enclosed right from the start. Next, the floats were custom built, not leftovers. And finally, the actual stage area is spectacular.

The basic layout of the theater is the same as the Animal Kingdom's " a theater in the round. And like Florida, the four floats enter from two sides and take their place around the theater. But their entrance is a little more spectacular. As each float enters, it rotates and pivots before finding its spot. These floats are not on fixed tracks so they have a freedom of movement not available in the Animal Kingdom.

The stage in the center of the theater is fantastic! During the show it frequently rotates and rises in three concentric circles as the dance numbers demand. This effect is used well and adds a nice flair to the show.


11%20Festival%20of%20the%20Lion%20King.jpg


Unlike the Animal Kingdom's version, which is just a “celebration” of the Lion King, the Hong Kong version tries to tell the story of Simba. And instead of four leading actors, the Hong Kong show only has one. A leading lady introduces the show (in English), sings, and tells the story. She also has two monkey-like sidekicks by her side who translate the story into Chinese.

To be honest, I think this is where the Hong Kong show falls short. Even if you're extremely familiar with the story of the Lion King, following their telling is difficult. I much prefer the Animal Kingdom's “celebration.”

The Hong Kong version does not have the Tumble Monkeys, which I missed. But they have retained the “flying bird” portion of the show (albeit shorter) and they have two fire twirlers, which are more impressive than our one. In addition, the stage itself adds some fire effects while the actors are tossing their batons.

The finale of the show is great. All four floats move to the center of the stage and turn to face the audience. Then the entire stage rotates and you can see each float pass in front of you. This is very impressive!


09%20Festival%20of%20the%20Lion%20King.jpg


Another interesting thing about the shows in Hong Kong… If a performance is scheduled to start at 14:00 (they use the 24-hour clock here), they will tell you to arrive at the theater at 13:50 " just 10 minutes before the show. That's when they open the doors and they are able to seat the entire theater in just 10 minutes. I liked this a lot. I hate having to arrive at a show an hour early, then sit in the theater for another 30 minutes waiting for it to start.

There are two restaurants in Adventureland, the Tahitian Terrace and the River View Café. The Tahitian Terrace is a counter service restaurant and serves Southeast Asian cuisine like barbecued noodles and wok dishes. A close observer will notice a number of tiki gods scattered around the restaurant. These tikis are the same ones that entertain guests in the preshow area of the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland California.


12%20Tehitian%20Terrace.jpg


The River View Café is a full service restaurant and sits across from the Jungle River Cruise. Despite its name, very little of the river can be seen from the dining room. It is an open air restaurant and serves meals form Southeast Asia and several regions in China. I ate lunch here one day and it was definitely the best meal I had at Hong Kong Disneyland.


River View Cafe


I also noticed that much of the background music playing in Adventureland is the same music you hear in the Animal Kingdom.

Next I'll be talking about Fantasyland.


Read my entire Hong Kong Disneyland Blog

its a small world

Overview Hong Kong Disneyland and Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 2

Hong Kong Disneyland The Hub and Fantasyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland and Disney on Parade

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

Hollywood Hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland

May 26, 2008

Hong Kong Disneyland – Adventureland Part 1

Warning, there will be spoilers in this article.


Adventurland Entrance Hong Kong Disneyland


Adventureland takes up the entire west side of Hong Kong Disneyland. There is no Frontierland here and to my eye, no place to put one. In their desperation to inflate the number of attractions in the park, Disney claims that there are five in Adventureland, but to my count, there are only three. I'll tackle these one at a time.

The first exaggeration of an attraction is the “Liki Tikis.” The guide map says, “Sway to the beat of jungle rhythms pounded out by these ‘leaky' tiki poles”


Liki Tikis Hong Kong Disneyland


These tikis are simply a redesign of the tikis that stand in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland -- and they aren't considered an attraction in Orlando, simply a bit of atmosphere. But in Hong Kong they're considered an attraction.

This area also has some drums where children can beat out a tune and a nice view of the Jungle River Cruise attraction. This is a pleasant spot to sit and relax, but could hardly be called an attraction.


04%20Drums.jpg


The Jungle River Cruise is an interesting reworking of a perennial favorite.


Jungle River Cruise Hong Kong Disneyland

06%20Jungle%20River%20Cruise.jpg


Picture Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom. Now picture the Jungle Cruise boats circling this island, except with a tropical theme. There you have it " a new Jungle Cruise ride.


07%20Jungle%20River%20Cruise.jpg

11%20Jungle%20Cruise.jpg


Language also plays a part in this attraction. There are three lines for boarding, one for speakers of Mandarin, one for Cantonese, and one for English.


08%20Jungle%20River%20Cruise%20English.jpg


A sign states that one line may look longer than another, but they all move at the same speed. For the most part, this is true. If the queue for a particular language (say English) starts to get longer than the others, they simply assign an English-speaking skipper to the next couple of boats until the lines even out.

I rode the Jungle River Cruise three times and had three different experiences, all influenced by how well my skipper spoke English. In one case, my skipper's accent was heavy and it was difficult to understand much of what he said. On another trip, the skipper spoke flawless English and he understood the jokes he was to tell and communicated them well. However, in every case, I had an enjoyable experience no matter how good or bad the skipper's language skills were.

The Jungle River Cruise has many of the same props and scenes as its American counterparts. The notable exception is that Schweitzer Falls and the indoor temple are missing.


14%20Jungle%20Cruise.jpg

15%20Jungle%20Cruise.jpg

16%20Jungle%20Cruise.jpg

17%20Jungle%20Cruise.jpg


The Jungle River Cruise does have a finale that our Jungle Cruise does not.

Spoiler ahead.

The boat navigates down a narrow passageway when all of a sudden, our route is blocked by an erupting geyser.


03%20Jungle%20Cruise%20from%20Liki%20Tikis.jpg

09%20Geyser.jpg


Just in the nick of time, we make a sudden turn to the right and are confronted with another geyser blocking our path and an evil-looking, monster-like rock formation. Smoke and steam start to spew from the crevices and then flames explode from the rock's mouth. Just when you think all is lost, we escape in the nick of time. Whew.


10%20Rock%20Flames.jpg


Another difference with this Jungle Cruise is that you get wet. Those elephants that just miss you in the American versions are a little more devilish here and seem to hit their mark. Don't worry, it's only a sprinkle.


12%20Jungle%20Cruise.jpg

13%20Jungle%20Cruise.jpg


Personally, I prefer the American versions of this attraction to Hong Kong's. But this is strictly subjective. I know others who feel that Hong Kong has made some nice upgrades, enough to make it better than ours.

Next I'll talk more about Adventureland.


Read my entire Hong Kong Disneyland Blog

its a small world

Overview Hong Kong Disneyland and Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 2

Hong Kong Disneyland The Hub and Fantasyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland and Disney on Parade

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

Hollywood Hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Overview and Main Street Part 2

I visited Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL) for my first time a couple of weeks ago. I'd like to share some of my thoughts and impressions. Warning, I may talk about certain attractions in some detail so I'm issuing a blanket “spoiler alert” right from the beginning.

For those of you who don't know, HKDL was built on reclaimed land in Penny Bay on Lantau Island. It is jointly owned by the Walt Disney Company and the Government of Hong Kong and opened to visitors on September 12, 2005.

Here is an aerial picture of the park and hotels under construction. Virtually all of the acreage you see between those two hills and jutting out into the bay is reclaimed land.

01%20HKDL%20Under%20Construction.jpg

The park has four lands, Main Street, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Adventureland. There is currently no Frontierland. The park's capacity is 34,000, but I'd be horrified to see that many people in this small park. To date, the park has not been meeting its forecasted attendance which is causing some tension between Disney and the City of Hong Kong. A friend of mine, who visits regularly, told me that I would have the park to myself as it is rarely busy.

I spent three days here. The first day was Mother's Day so the park was rather crowded. The second day was a Buddhist holiday, so once again, the park was teeming. There were no holidays on my final day so I finally had the park to myself. Yea!

The park also has a transportation center that features a public train station, a parking lot, and resort bus parking.

02%20Bus%20Stop.jpg

03%20Train%20Station.jpg

This transportation center connects to the park via a beautifully landscaped, brick walkway. I'm guessing this walkway is at least a half-mile long. Along the way you'll be greeted by an overhead sign welcoming you to Disneyland. You'll also see a beautiful fountain that has Mickey surfing atop a whale's spout, surrounded by Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto engaged in various water related sports.

04%20Entrance%20Sign.jpg

05%20Entrance%20Fountain.jpg

Eventually you'll come to the ticket booths. One-day ticket prices vary depending on when you visit. A “regular day” ticket costs approximately $38 and “peak” and “special” day tickets sell for approximately $45.

06%20Ticket%20Booths.jpg

Everything at HKDL is presented in three languages, Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. Since Hong Kong was a British colony for a hundred years, most of the cast members speak fair to excellent English. Communication is not a problem.

I also noticed that many of the cast member's name tags featured “western” names like Jane, Mary, or Robert. Since these people were obviously Chinese, I asked one of the hostesses in City Hall why this was. She told me it was her “Christian” name. That many of the residents in Hong Kong pick a western name for ease of use when dealing with non-Chinese. She assured me that she had a Chinese name as well.

As you enter the park, you'll see the Train Station, which bears a striking resemblance to the one in Disneyland California. That's because Main Street and the castle are virtual copies of their American counterpart.

07%20Train%20Station.jpg

I knew in advance that HKDL didn't have nearly as many attractions as the other Disneylands and the Magic Kingdom, but I wasn't prepared for how small the park feels. I've read that it's actually 100 acres, but it doesn't feel that way.

As I mentioned earlier, Main Street is almost a carbon copy of Disneyland in California. There are two notable exceptions. First, you'll find a bandstand in the plaza where character meet-and-greets take place. The other exception is the lack of horse-drawn trolleys down the center of the street. However, the omnibus, fire truck, and other old-time vehicles still ply the road.

08%20Band%20Stand.jpg

09%20Omnibus.jpg

10%20Old%20Time%20Car.jpg

Besides the Main Street Vehicles, the only other attractions on Main Street are the “Disneyland Story” and the “Disneyland Railroad.” The Disneyland Story was a bit of a disappointment. It's located in the Opera House and all it is, is a collection of pictures of the park during its planning stages and construction. I doubt that I spent 5 minutes in here. I plan to do an in-depth blog about the Disney steam trains worldwide in the weeks to come so I'll skip Hong Kong's train for the moment.

11%20The%20Disneyland%20Story.jpg

Just like the other Main Streets around the world, Hong Kong's version is a collection of shops and eateries. For the most part, the merchandise is the same stuff you'll find here at Disney World, except it says Hong Kong.

At the end of Main Street you'll find two restaurants, the Plaza Inn on the left and the Main Street Corner Café on the right. The outside of the Plaza Inn is “all American” but on the inside it's decorated in a Chinese motif as it serves Cantonese cuisine. The Corner Café serves international and Chinese dishes. I ate at the latter and was satisfied with my meal " nothing special. (To be honest, I ate at so many Disney restaurants during the last two weeks, I don't even remember what I ordered here.)

12%20Plaza%20Inn.jpg

12%20Corner%20Cafe.jpg

Here are a few more pictures of Main Street. Stay tuned for my next blog about Adventureland.

Main Street Hong Kong Disneyland

Main Street Hong Kong Disneyland

Main Street Hong Kong Disneyland

Main Street Hong Kong Disneyland

Main Street Hong Kong Disneyland

Main Street Hong Kong Disneyland

Main Street Hong Kong Disneyland

Main Street Hong Kong Disneyland


Read my entire Hong Kong Disneyland Blog

its a small world

Overview Hong Kong Disneyland and Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 2

Hong Kong Disneyland The Hub and Fantasyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland and Disney on Parade

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

Hollywood Hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland

May 24, 2008

Hong Kong Disneyland - "it's a small world"

I just got back from a two-week Asian Disney vacation. I flew to Hong Kong and spent three full days at Hong Kong Disneyland. Then I flew to Tokyo and spent seven full days at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Wow! I had a great trip.

This was my third visit to Tokyo Disneyland, my second visit to Tokyo DisneySea, and my first visit to Hong Kong Disneyland. Since I have visited the city of Hong Kong a couple of times on previous vacations and I lived in Yokohama for two years in my youth, I did not visit any of the traditional tourists' spots as I have already seen many of them. This was strictly a Disney vacation. Just for the record, I took 2,455 pictures. Thank goodness for digital cameras.

I will be posting a number of blogs in the days to come about my thoughts and adventures, but I want to start with a specific topic that has caused a lot of commotion on many Disney web-sites of late " “it's a small world.”

Disney announced that they would be including Disney characters in Hong Kong's version of this classic attraction. They also announced that they would be updating Disneyland California's “small world.” This has put many purists in a tizzy. “How can they tamper with a classic?” they ask.

I was fortunate to be able to ride Hong Kong's version just 12 days after it opened. I am happy to report that Disney did an excellent job of incorporating these new characters into the ride. You won't find Mickey and Minnie and Goofy. What you will find is Aladdin and Jasmine on a magic carpet in the Middle East section of the ride " stylized as “small world” dolls. In another scene, you'll find Mulan in the China section, once again, looking like a “Small World” doll, not like her animated, screen persona. In fact, if you didn't already know these characters so well, you'd never realize that they were any different than the rest of the dolls.

Another nice upgrade was a plaque at the entrance to each room stating the area of the world you would be sailing into next. Not that I ever had any trouble figuring this out, but now there is no doubt where you are.

I was extremely pleased with these upgrades and I'm glad Disney is changing California's version as well. Who knows, maybe Disney World will be next…

We were told that there were 38 Disney characters throughout the attraction. I think we found them all, but it took riding the attraction four times. Here are some pictures.

01%20Bambi%20and%20Thumper.jpg

02%20Marie.jpg

03%20Cinderella.jpg

04%20Aladdin%20and%20Jasmine.jpg

05%20Genie%20and%20Abu.jpg

06%20Simba%2C%20Timon%2C%20%26%20Pumba.jpg

07%20Three%20Cabelleros.jpg

08%20Pocahontas%2C%20Meko%20and%20Flit.jpg

09%20Woody%20and%20Jesse.jpg

10%20Baloo%20and%20Mowgli.jpg

11%20Little%20Mermaid%20and%20Friends.jpg

12%20Mulan.jpg

13%20Lilo%20and%20Stitch.jpg

14%20Nemo%20and%20Friends.jpg


Read my entire Hong Kong Disneyland Blog

its a small world

Overview Hong Kong Disneyland and Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 2

Hong Kong Disneyland The Hub and Fantasyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland and Disney on Parade

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

Hollywood Hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland

Return to Blog Central

About Hong Kong Disneyland

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Hong Kong Disneyland category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Hodgepodge is the previous category.

Jack's Mail Bag is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.