Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hong Kong Disneyland Survival Tips with Children

Our children grew up with Mickey Mouse Club House cartoon, and they are very familiar with many Disney characters. It was my dream to bring my children to Disneyland, and my dream had finally come true! The highlight of our Hong Kong family trip is none other than Hong Kong Disneyland!

Tips #1: Get the two-day ticket for first timer
DaDi and I completed the whole park within a day N years ago before the children arrived and when the newer attractions like Toy Story Land were not built yet. With the children and seniors in tow, we bought two-day tickets, so we did not have to rush.

That is how we "conquered" the park in 2 days:
Day 1 (we took a coach from our hotel in Kowloon, which is included in our free-and-easy package from travel agency)
11 a.m. - Tomorrowland: lunch
12 - 3 p.m. - Fantasyland: photo taking at Fantasy Gardens, collected FastPass to "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", watched "The Golden Mickey Presented in Disney's Storybook Theater", played at "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", "it's a small world", "Mad Hatter Tea Cups"
3 p.m. - In front of Sleeping Beauty Castle: "chopped" a good spot (see Tips #11) to watch "Flight of Fantasy Parade" which began at 3.30 p.m.
4 - 7 p.m. - Fantasyland: "Mickey's PhilharMagic"; Tomorrowland: "Autopia"; Fantasyland: dinner at Royal Banquet Hall; Adventureland: Jungle River Cruise; Toy Story Land: Slingy Dog Spin
7+ p.m. - "Disney Paint the Night" Nighttime Spectacular
9 p.m. -  "Disney in the Stars" Fireworks

Day 2
10 a.m. - "Frozen Village" (available from 11 June to 30 August 2015): queue for reservation pass. Unfortunately, we had to give up because the pass we received was 5 p.m. s how, but we had to catch our flight home. There was a walk-in queue, but the queue time was more than an hour, and we were not allowed to send one representative to queue - all of us must queue!
10.20 - 2 p.m. - Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point: Mystic Manor;  Toy Story Land: Toy Soldier Parachute Drop; Main Street U.S.A.: Animation Academy

We did not complete everything, because the children were not very keen in some attractions.

Other than 2-day ticket, you may also get Magic Access Membership Card (3 types: Silver, Gold, Platinum), so that you can enjoy more than 2 days!

If you are taking public transport to Hong Kong Disneyland, be there at least 30 minutes before the opening time, because the queue at the entrance would start to form as early as one hour before the opening time! And the gate is usually opened 30 minutes before the opening time.

Tips #2: Plan ahead with the children
The day before you visit, check their official website for the timing of the performances, parades and fireworks. Get the children involved in the planning! The maps are available at the entrance of the park and the hotel service counter.

Do not miss "The Golden Mickey Presented in Disney's Storybook Theater"! It is a great musical!

[Update in December 2016]
This performance is replaced by "Mickey and the Wondrous Book".

Tips #3: Visit on weekday
We visited on weekdays, and the crowd was quite huge! The average queue time was about 20 to 30 minutes. Can't imagine what would happen on weekends and public holidays!

Tips #4: Bring caps and fans during summer
We regretted not to buy the mini battery-powered fans when we saw them at Mongkok. It was super super hot when we were there! Do bring umbrella along, whether rain or shine, it would be very useful!

Tips #5: How to get there - take the Disney MTR line
It is very convenient to reach there via MTR. If you take a coach like we did, do not forget to try the Disney MTR line! We took the train to Tung Chung (change train at Sunny Bay) to have lunch and shopping at the Citygate Outlet on the second day.

Tips #6: Drinking water and visiting washroom
Remind the children and yourselves to drink water every now and then to keep hydrated. There are water fountains outside the washrooms, so that you can refill your water bottles. During our visit, the washrooms are our frequently-visited-places, because it was very cool inside!

Tips #7:  Photo-taking with characters
At Main Street U.S.A., you may be tempted to join the super long queue for photo taking with Mickey and Minnie (N years ago, we queued for more than 30 minutes under the hot sun). But wait! Sometimes, Mickey and Minnie are also found in Fantasy Gardens in Fantasyland! The queue is much shorter (we queued for less than 10 minutes for Mickey, he went for a toilet break when it was about our turn), and there is shelter (no need to stand under the hot sun)!

Mickey and Minnie saying goodbye to each other after their toilet break!

Tips #8: Get the FastPass
During our visit, the FastPass available was for "Space Mountain" and "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh". Oh, what is FastPass? Basically, you insert your park entrance ticket into the FastPass machine to get the FastPass, it has specific time for you to come back. You get to to enjoy the attraction by "jumping" the queue! This will save you some time! Our strategy was to get FastPass for "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" before we joined the queue to watch "The Golden Mickey Presented in Disney's Storybook Theater".

Tips #9: Get the children to collect the stickers
The children were delighted to receive various stickers from the cast and the staff. We had dinner at Royal Banquet Hall, we walked in and out to the washroom a few times, and the children received 3 different stickers from the nice staff at the entrance!

Tips #10: Purchase the Magical Coins as souvenir
At HKD15, you can get a coin with Disney character. The machines can be found around the park and at the hotels, and different machine has different prints. You can pay by three HKD5 coins or Octopus card.

Tips #11: Strategic location for watching the parades and fireworks
In front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, there is a circle at the end of Main Street U.S.A. In our opinion, one of the best spots is near the entrance to Adventureland. For Mickey's fans, this spot is the best place to watch "Flight of Fantasy Parade", because the parade team would stop for a few minutes, and this is the spot where Mickey's parade float is!

This is also a great spot for "Disney Paint the Night" Nighttime Spectacular, remember to stand on the side that faces Sleeping Beauty Castle to enhance the visual impact. You may stay there after the night parade, rest for about 40+ minutes before the fireworks commence at 9 p.m.

[Update in December 2016]
Another strategic spot is near the entrance of Tomorrowland, facing the Sleeping Beauty Castle. When the parade team stops for a few minutes, the performers would invite children sitting behind Mickey's parade float to stand up and dance together!

Tips #12: Learn to draw Disney characters at Animation Academy (Main Street U.S.A.)
The art pieces at Art of Animation inspired the children to learn how to draw Disney character. The lesson that we attended was to draw Olaf. The lesson was conducted in Cantonese, so I had to be the translator to explain to my children how to draw.

Tips #13:  Warning for Mystic Manor
The turning of the cart is quite fast, and some images may be too scary for the children. Don't say I am a spoiler, this one gave the children and me a shock! See the shaky photo at the bottom, you can tell how shock I was!

Tips #14: Complete the experience with Disney hotel stay
After the 9 p.m. fireworks, the children were very tired. Staying in one of the Disney hotels would be convenient. We booked two twin rooms, and we were thankful to get connecting rooms. It was very thoughtful of the hotel staff to provide the bed guard at the side of each bed! Each bed is big enough for one adult and one child!

Tips #15: When to take out / put down the camera
Yes, take plenty of photos / videos of your loved ones, not only the parade casts and fireworks. I took photos of the children's excited / tired / surprised expressions, their funny poses at the gift shops with the merchandises (so I don't need to buy every. single. item.), as well as bonding moments with their grandparents.

One thing I have to remind myself - do not watch the performances and fireworks behind the camera lens! Put down the camera and savour the special moments with the family! I know it can be hard, especially for those who have great interest in photography. During fireworks, my suggestion is to take photos / videos for only the first few minutes. After all, the sky above the Sleeping Beauty Castle turned very hazy after a few shots of fireworks.

Tips #16: Be mentally prepared that dining in the park is quite expensive
A set of grilled chicken rice at Starliner Diner (Tomorrowland) cost us HKD98 (SGD17+), and a set of sushi at Royal Banquet Hall (Fantasyland) cost HKD118 (SGD20+).

Grilled chicken rice set

Sushi set

Thinking of "smuggling" a pack of chicken rice in? There are staff checking your bags at the entrance! I think the nearest place to have a cheaper meal would be at Tung Chung, but travelling to and fro can be quite time-consuming.

Tips #17: Be mentally prepared for inconsiderate people
We managed to get a spot in the front row when we watched "Flight of Fantasy Parade". When the parade started, a couple squeezed all the way from the back to right behind us. They almost stepped on our children who were sitting down, and the lady screamed right into our ears when she was excited! Despite our gentle not-too-gentle reminder, they still pushed forward. There were also occasions when some people cut queue or push the others. It was not like that when we visited the park N years ago. Anyway, just be mentally prepared for this kind of encounter.

Tips #18: Strategy to visit "Frozen Village"(available from 11 June to 30 August 2015)
Be at the entrance of the park punctually at its opening hour. Appoint one representative from your group, pass all the entrance tickets from your group to the representative, and the representative runs to "Frozen Village" to get the reservation passes! All the passes were given out by 10+ a.m. when we visited. There is walk-in queue, but the queuing time is more than an hour, and every one in the group must be in the queue, you cannot send a representative to queue for the whole group.

What are your tips for visiting Hong Kong Disneyland with children?

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  1. You seemed to have a great trip! We hated Disneyland hk! Hahaha bad experience and hope the Japan Disneyland will win us back!

    1. May, I understand what you mean. I visited Tokyo Disneyland before, and it was indeed more enjoyable than HK one when we didn't experience pushing by inconsiderate visitors.

    2. Yap those you-know-whos. Super spoil the fun.

  2. The last time we went HK Disneyland Lil Pumpkin had a go at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Such a dream come true for all the little princesses! ;)

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    1. Ai, it must be an enjoyable and memorable experience for Lil Pumpkin! We didn't bring our girl to the Boutique as it was a tad out of our budget.

  3. You got great tips here! I like tips #9. hehe. The shot with the firework over the castle is lovely. I didn't get to stay till the fireworks, what a waste.

    1. Thank you Ashlyn! Visit there again when your child is older!

  4. 10 minutes to take photo with Mickey Mouse??? That's crazy!! In Tokyo Disneyland, the queue is at least 1 hour I would think?? I went Hong Kong Disneyland once and there was black storm alert that day. Like sian to the max because all the outdoor rides closed. BUT, the alert was liften and they reopened halfway through the day. And since the park was so empty that day, we didn't have to queue for anything! lolol...

    1. Bumble Bee Mum, yes, just 10 minutes! Good that you didn't have to queue!

  5. The last time we went to Disneyland Hong Kong last December, my kid was so grouchy because of the queue for all the rides. Perhaps we will be back when he is slightly older!

    1. Shermeen, my children also complained a bit because of the hot weather and long queue. But after the trip, they still talked about visiting there again!

  6. Very handy tips for visiting HK Disneyland! We've brought Dana there when she was 2. Didn't know about the Animation Academy and the collection of stickers then. Thanks for sharing! :D

    1. Angie, it was a great experience for myself and the children to learn how to draw Olaf! They were so happy to receive stickers from the staff at the entrance of the restaurant!

  7. I love the Fastpass system at the Disney parks. It is SO great.

    1. Debs, me too! Just plan strategically to minimise waiting time!

  8. Useful info especially when we're planning to bring my girls there hopefully in 2016.

    1. Claudia, hope your children enjoy the trip! Have fun!

  9. Those are such great tips! I remember the Mystic Manor thing - luckily I pre-empted it and covered my girl's eyes before she saw it! She was just 2 years old, so I think better not see lah. Haha. Wish I could go back again soon!

    1. MummyEd, it was great that you covered your girl's eyes in time! It was scary!

  10. hi...nearest MTR from my hotel is olypmia. how do i get to disneyland? im a little confused on the transport ,. thank you!

    1. Hi Kathryn, from Olympic, take the Tung Chung Line (orange line) bound for Tung Chung and alight at Sunny Bay, then at Sunny Bay, walk to the platform opposite to take Disney Line (pink line). You can refer to Hong Kong MTR official website for the colour of the lines that I mentioned: http://www.mtr.com.hk/en/customer/services/system_map.html


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