If you know me at all, you know that I am a HUGE Disney fan. So when my friends and I decided to visit Hong Kong in January 2018, I demanded a day for Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL). Here are some of the things I learned while planning for our trip and while at the parks.
HKDL is currently undergoing a long and pretty thorough refurbishment. Over the next few years, different attractions are going to be getting face lift and a new Frozen themed land will be added. The castle refurbishment has already started. We were very lucky that we caught the castle 2 days before the walls went up around it. So be prepared for some closures and walls up around the park. Check the official HKDL website (and fan sites) to see what’s closed during your trip.
Tickets direct from HKDL website or parks cost HK$619 (US$79). But we used the website Klook to book our tickets for HK$526 (US$67)! That’s over US$10 in savings! If you’re going with a family, that’s a lot of savings!
*Don’t forget: ALL HKDL tickets include FastPass. You do NOT need to purchase this separately. Only 3 rides have FP at HKDL (Ironman Experience, Hyperspace Mountain, and Winnie the Pooh) but they do come in handy so don’t forget to take advantage of that!
While on the subject of Klook…. Klook also sells HKDL Meal Coupons. There are a couple different sets. We purchased a 2-in-1 Meal Coupon for each person for HK$138 (US$18). The website description is a little confusing but this coupon includes:
- 1 combo meal
- Valid for Signature or Deluxe restaurants: Explorer’s Club, Tahitian Terrace, Royal Banquet Hall, Clopin’s Festival of Foods or Starliner Diner
- 1 HK$5 discount on one bottled soft drink/bottled water
- 1 frozen lollipop/ice cream bar or popcorn
Considering that some of the combo meals alone cost over HK$138, this was a GREAT deal. Some of the meals were big, so we ended up having two meals for lunch, and the 3rd for an early dinner (since we had plans to eat dinner outside the park later).
Nearly every restaurant was closed. We had lunch at Explorer’s Club and dinner at Royal Banquet Hall. Both had lotsss of options. and I have no complaints about the food. Neither restaurant was crowded, we hardly waited anytime to order and had no issues finding seats.
I used my 1 Frozen Lollipop coupon for the classic Mickey Ice Cream Bar (It was hot at 2pm in Hong Kong!)
How Many Days?
At least in January 2018, the operation hours were 10:30am-7:30pm. It was definitely very weird waking up after sunrise and having a full sit-down breakfast before heading to the parks.
If you’re NOT a Disney person, one day is enough to do the things you most want to do.
If you ARE a Disney person, I recommend two days. I think normally one would have been enough. But now that the park is opening late and closing earlier, it’s not enough time to actually enjoy the park. We ran from attraction to attraction trying to fit in as much as possible…finding time to eat wasn’t easy. We didn’t even see nearly half the attractions.
Most wait times were 5-20 minutes long. The longest wait time I saw was 40 minutes somewhere in Toy Story Land.
5pm and Main Street is empty
Gates open 30 minutes before the scheduled park opening. So, getting to the park about 1 hour before official park opening is enough. We accidentally arrived 1.5 hours before park opening and were the first ones in line at the gate.
When the gates open 30 minutes before park opening, you are allowed into the Main Street area. Ropes will be blocking off access to the other lands. During this time lots of characters (we saw Minnie/Mickey, Chip/Dale, and Daisy/Donald) were out for photos near the flagpole. Since it was the Chinese New Year celebration all the characters were wearing their fancy Chinese outfits.
Since we were first to the gate, we were also at the front of the Minnie/Mickey line and were able to do Donald/Daisy too within the 30 minutes.
When the park official opens, other blogs recommended to start with Toy Story Land. But if you don’t have kids and aren’t interested in carnival rides, skip it. We started in Tomorrowland and grabbed a FP for Hyperspace Mountain before heading to the Iron Man Experience. By the time we finished Iron Man it was exactly time for our FP and we walked right on.
I definitely recommend NOT shopping or wasting time in the morning (which is what we mistakenly did). The park was emptyyyyy. But by 2:00 it actually got pretty crowded…well crowded for HKDL. My Hong Kong friend said she hadn’t seen it that crowded. Maybe because the weather had been so shitty the days before that and suddenly that day was a nice, sunny day??
Anyways. No morning shopping! Get everything done by 1:30 that you want to finish and is important to you. Because by 2 the lines got longer. As I said, the longest wait time I saw was 40 minutes…..for Disney World and other Disney parks 40 minutes is still short. But for HKDL, considering the extremely short park hours, 40 minutes is long. One ride an hour isn’t enough time to see everything.
Here are the attractions that I recommend doing in the morning because A) they are unique to HKDL, or B) they are the same as other parks but have some changes that make it special.
- Hyperspace Mountain: Space Mountain with a Star Wars overlay. Amazing amazinggggg. My favorite version!
- The Iron Man Experience: Star Tours with an Iron Man theme.
- Mystic Manor: HKDL’s take on the Haunted Mansion. Veryyyy different and amazing.
- Big Grizzly Mountain: imagine if big thunder mountain and Expedition Everest had a baby
- Jungle Cruise: Slightly different from the WDW version that I know. There are three different language lines. Our English guide was veryyy cute.
Everyone’s favorite ride to hate: Small World. DON’T SKIP! This version is by far my favorite!!!! It’s not necessary to do this in the morning as the wait time is generally low all day long. This is version is farrr better from the WDW version and even nicely incorporates Disney characters as Small World-style dolls. I realllllly enjoyed it.
Characters from Aladdin nicely blended into Small World
Skip if you’re short on time and have been to another Disney park before:
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: This ride is really popular in HKDL and is one of the 3 attractions with FP. But if you’re short on time it’s fine to skip. It’s exactly the same as WDW version.
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Mad Hatter Tea Cups
- Cinderella Carousel
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic: One of my favorites that I made sure to squeeze in…but exactly the same as WDW. (It’s in English.)
- Toy Story Land: This land is soooo cute to take photos in and meet characters, but the attractions are like carnival rides. Only worth it for kids.
In the afternoon, make the parades and shows your priority while fitting other attractions in between. We didn’t see Festival of The Lion King show so I can’t comment on that. Mickey and the Wondrous Book was amazing! It’s still pretty new so it has some of the newest stage technology. The show is in Cantonese but there are subtitles shown on a screen on the right side of the stage (songs still in English). Both parades, Flights of Fantasy and Paint the Night, were amazing and must-sees.
Definitely, definitely try to meet characters. As I said, in the morning during the 30 minutes before official park open, lots of characters were out on Main Street near the flagpole for greetings. The interactions with characters at HKDL were the best I’ve ever had. They really spent lots of time with you, joking around, making different poses for photos. When people were taking photos with one character, the other usually came towards the line and gave everyone waiting some super cute poses. It was amazinggg. I’m super shy, even with characters, but they made me feel so welcomed and loved. I literally almost cried when meeting Mickey and Minnie because they were just soooo lovely.
There’s pin trading in WDW, but in HKDL it’s stickers! Almost every castmember has a pocket full of Disney stickers. All you need to do is ask nicely and they will give you one (or sometimes a handful!). There are lotsss of different kinds of stickers that you can collect. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to where to find certain stickers. We got multiples of a lot, especially the Chinese New Year ones, so we handed them out to cute kids in lines and other Koreans we saw in the park. A lotttt of people didn’t know about collecting stickers!! Ask as many castmembers as possible so you can get lots of different kinds. Castmembers wandering the park or standing bored at ride entrances will happily give you a sticker.
*Dont ask castmembers inside attractions at the boarding area. They are pretty busy and I’d be annoyed if I was trying to work hard and was bothered about stickers
Like WDW, HKDL has package pickup outside the park. So when buying anything bulky, you can request to pick it up outside the park when you leave.
If you visit during the Chinese New Year season, there are lots of special souvenirs like cookies in New Year theamed tins, Tsum Tsums wearing dog costumes for 2018 which is the year of the dog.
I picked up a Hong Kong Disneyland New Years pin, as it is my tradition to buy a special pin every time I visit the parks. (Please don’t ask me about the 2013 WDW pin I lost on some random bus in Busan that I still occasionally tear up about…)
OK! I think that’s everything! Comment below if there’s anything else you’re curious about!