All the Hong Kong Disneyland attractions were officially built in 2005 and was derided as the smallest of the Disney “castle” parks.
The critics may have been right, but with the recently announced $1B+ expansion combined with existing one-of-a-kind world class attractions, this little park is BIG on fun!
Add to this a low-crowd (nearly “no crowd”) off-season visit and Hong Kong Disneyland attractions are a force to reckon with.
Patience is not the Nerd’s strong suit and neither is waiting for the expansion to be completed in 2023.
In the meantime, enjoy these 8 Hong Kong Disneyland Attractions you “can’t miss”:
1. Experience the Jungle Cruise in Mandarin or Cantonese:
Hong Kong Disneyland’s Jungle River Cruise is a bit unique in the Disney canon.
First, the waterways for the attraction are wider and less intimate than other Hong Kong Disneyland attractions. Guests cruise around an island upon which Tarzan’s Treehouse resides accessible only by raft (a la Tom Sawyer’s Island) and other lands and attractions are visible while aboard the Jungle Cruise.
Hong Kong Disneyland attractions version adds some pep with some water and fire effects.
For those of you who enjoy visiting Disney parks (you know who you are!), Jungle Cruise is known for the captain’s witty banter and it just plain falls flat when delivered in English at Hong Kong Disneyland. We tried several times, and though fluent, they Jungle River Cruise captains couldn’t compete with their stateside (or Tokyo-based) counterparts.
At Hong Kong Disneyland, this version of the venerable attraction allows guests in line up in one of three queues: English, Mandarin or Cantonese. The latter two versions are delivered with considerable more enthusiasm and the skippers often try to accommodate their English-speaking passengers with some Chinese/English variations.
This makes the trip far more interesting and an extremely unique experience at Hong Kong Disneyland!
2. Ride Mystic Manor
Mystic Manor is the first-and-only-of-its-kind Hong Kong Disneyland attractions answer to the Haunted Mansion (Phantom Manor to those of you in Paris!).
This wonderful ride combines show elements from Tokyo DisneySea’s Tower of Terror with the state-of-the-art trackless ride technology of Tokyo Disneyland’s Pooh’s Hunny Hunt to wow guests with show elements, technology and a story that is Disney at its best!
3. Explore every Diorama in the Fairy Tale Forest:
Fairy Tale Forest is the unsung hero out of all of the Hong Kong Disneyland attractions in Fantasyland.
This quaint and unobtrusive garden-like setting is home to charming self-triggered dioramas and effects in a selfie-haven for Disney stories.
Guests are encouraged to engage, watch, pose, snap and enjoy numerous Disney Classics including Tangled, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid as they make their way through the Fairy Tale Forest.
Fairies are said to inhabit this enchanted forest and a meet and greet with Tinker Bell is an option for those who are interested.
4. Scream Aboard the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars:
SPOILER ALERT: Do not research this ride. Don’t read the description on the Hong Kong Disneyland website or on a park map.
Do yourself a favor and board this attraction and just treat yourself to one of the best Disney surprises since the giant boulder at Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure almost crushed you and eleven of your closest friends. This is a sure underdog out of all of Hong Kong Disneyland attractions.
Just ride it!
5. Enjoy Some Disneyland Comfort Food:
Part of the fun of discovering Hong Kong Disneyland is trying new foods…and there are many!
From strawberry popcorn to Korean squid (you can smell it coming and going and the Nerd is not a fan), there is no shortage of snacks, beverages, desserts and meals to try.
But sometimes, when you are far far away from home, it’s nice to bite into something familiar. Enter the Hong Kong Disneyland churro (mmmmm…tastes even better than the ones at home) and the Mickey Ice Cream Bar… always a solid choice for a sweet tooth!
Want the perfect blend of new and familiar?
Pop by Jessie’s Snack Roundup for a churro and soft serve…and a little taste of home.
Nerd Alert: Order your churro from the BB-8 Snack Cart in Tomorrowland. Watch as the Cast Member grits his teeth in embarrassment and really delivers the line with all the acting chops of a Star Wars extra as he hands you a churro and says (in slightly broken English), “May the Force be with you.”
You cannot bottle this kind of Disney magic.
6. Eat Breakfast on Main Street Before the Park Opens:
Main Street, U.S.A. generally opens at Hong Kong Disneyland 30 minutes before official opening time.
Not only can you position yourself to be ready for the “rope drop” as the park opens, it will give you time to peruse the shops and grab a waffle (or hot dog or corn on the cob) for breakfast while you explore!
The stunning part?
In the off-season, Main Street U.S.A. is serene this time of day despite the fact that the park opens after 10am and, jet-lagged, you have probably been awake for 6+ hours.
7. Max Out Your Score on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Is it the air?
Do you have magical powers in Hong Kong?
Is it a hallucination caused by jet-lag?
Whatever the reason, it’s decidedly easier to score big points on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters at Hong Kong Disneyland than its California and Florida counterparts.
This, coupled with an off-season wait that never seems to exceed the Disney minimum posting of 5 minutes, makes Buzz a prime target to achieve a score that is out of this world… thank you Hong Kong Disneyland!
Nerd Alert: Always aim for any target outlined in a neon light! If none are available, aim exclusively for the diamond and triangle targets for the biggest points!
8. Be There or Be Square for the “Rope Drop”
If you have traveled to Disneyland in Anaheim and the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida, then you know how critical it is to be at the park, geared up and in the “starter’s position” at opening time (AKA “rope drop”).
The bloodshot eyes of those around you, the parents nursing their Starbucks and feeding granola bars on the go to their young is a mainstay of any Disney park visit.
Here’s the best news about Hong Kong Disneyland… during slower times of the year, the park does not open until 10am or 10:30am and the crowds present at rope drop are practically non-existent. Even after more than a decade, Hongkongers do not rush the gates of their Disneyland like the locals do in the rest of the world.
So those who stroll through the gates around 10:15am, grab a waffle (or hot dog or corn on the cob) at a food cart along Main Street, peruse the shops and cozy up to the rope with 75 of your closest friends for the official opening time will relish this wonderful cultural difference… only wondering how many years until it disappears!