Disneyland 101: A Big Girl’s First Time in a Little Child’s Theme Park (Part 1)

NO one is ever too old to enjoy Disneyland.

This, I proved myself when I first visited Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL) as part of a media familiarization tour. My age then, 23.

Feeling much like a big girl, I had all the energy to experience fun and thrilling rides, as well as the perennial excitement of meeting iconic Disney characters. Indeed, Disneyland preserves the child in all of us—and that’s just, magic.

But in a theme park as grand, intricate and spacious as HKDL, the challenge is how to maximize your day or two. Just think about all the themed areas to enjoy, endless shows to see, and countless meet-and-greet opportunities with Mickey and friends.

First published for The Manila Times in 2013, here’s a helpful guide to guarantee the most unforgetabble time at HKDL.

Familiarize the theme park

Hong Kong Disneyland is one of only five locations in the world that is home to a Disney-themed park. Opened in 2005, it offers immersive and unique Disney experiences for all ages to enjoy.

Over the last few years, HKDL has gone through expansions. Latest additions include the Toy Story Land (2011), Grizzly Gulch (2012) and Mystic Point (2013), all of which are original concepts created solely for the Asian Disneyland.

And in time for the holidays in 2016, the first Marvel-themed attraction opened in the form of Iron Man Experience. It is located at Tomorrowland.

Completing the parks are Fantasyland where Sleeping Beauty Castle is the centerpiece, the Adventureland where the Jungle River Cruise is found, and the Main Street, USA, where the daily parade takes place.

To date, the park has received over 38 million guests from all over the globe, with a large number coming from the Philippines.

The park opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., so it’s best to come early and leave only at closing time!

Enjoy all you can

If you do stay at the hotel for three days and two nights, then you can have ample to time to experience as much rides and shows you can.

The Flights of Fantasy Parade that goes around Main Street USA begins at 3:30 p.m. It features characters from different Disney shows aboard beautiful floats. Besides the Fab Five, you’re sure to see Lilo and Stitch, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, Lion King and the Disney Princesses.

At 8 p.m. at the castle forecourt, the Disney in the Stars fireworks show lights up the entire park and signals the end of the day. Reminisce your childhood as the fireworks display dances to the music of timeless Disney theme songs.

For the thrill seeker, do not miss the Space Mountain, which is ranked as one of the Top 5 attractions by Filipino guests. It is an exhilarating voyage through the dark universe on an indoor rollercoaster!

Other favorites include the Jungle River Cruise at Adventureland, and Mickey’s Philharmagic at Fantasyland.

Try to avail of the Fastpass available at participating attractions to save you time from lining up. This wise tip may just earn you extra time to board the Hong Kong Disneyland train and go around the entire park.

Stay at a Disney hotel

In my 2012 interview with former HKDL vice president for operations Noble Coker, he recommended guests “not to cheap themselves out” and “find time to complete the whole Disney experience.” What he meant by this is not just to visit the park, but to also stay in one of the two Disney hotels. These are the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel.

And while a little bit more expensive, you will see that in the long run, you’ll actually get a better deal. For starters, the room can accommodate up to four people for big groups or families travelling together. Secondly, you’ll save money on transportation because travelling to and from the park is free of charge with round-the-clock shuttle service.

And finally, convenience is at the utmost for parents with children who need a midday nap, or those who constantly forget things, since the park is just 10-minutes away from either hotel.

Up Next: Special Attractions, and Meeting Mickey and Friends (Part 2)


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