Take a good look at that picture again. Where in the world is Dave? Nooo…not LA. Not Florida. Give up? Sure you do!! I’m in Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, home of one of 3 Asian Disney theme parks. How many of you knew there were three? Tokyo was the first, then Hong Kong and they’re building a new one in Shanghai. And I’m here to report on the one in Hong Kong.
I have no official numbers for these things, but I’d say the Hong Kong park is about 67.8% of the size of the one in Anaheim. The same layout and features: Main Street USA, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland. Rides that are the same: Small World, Thunder Mountain railroad (called Grizzly Peak Railroad here), Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise, Disney Railroad, a tree house (in LA it’s called Robinson Family Treehouse, or used to be, here, it’s called Tarzan’s Treehouse).
What’s different? Instead of Frontierland, they have Grizzly Gulch. Instead of New Orleans Square they have Mystic Point (more of a global explorers club theme, like “80 Days Around the World”). Instead of Toontown, they have Toy Story Land. Instead of Tom Sawyers island they have Rafts to Tarzans Treehouse. For rides, they have a really nice ride called “Mystic Manor” which is a fusion of Haunted House (ride and building set up) and Indiana Jones (adventure motif). I really like this ride and it could easily work in the US parks.
What don’t they have? Tiki Room, Indiana Jones, Star Tours, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Hall of Presidents / Mr. Lincoln (duh), Country Bear Jamboree, the Golden Horseshoe Saloon, the shooting galleries, the Mark Twain boat ride, and probably some other stuff. Look it up if you really care.
They have some pretty spiffy rides in Toy Story Land that they don’t have in LA. RC Racer, a ride on a U shaped track that slides up and down and up and down, forwards and backwards, forwards and backwards. The Toy Soldier Parachute Drop, where you go way high up in the air and then free fall. And the Slinky Dog Spin. Which is sort of like a Tilt A Whirl, without the spinning. Tomorrowland has a fun Encounters With Stich show, and a laser shoot up ride called Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. And, for nostalgia buffs….Autopia!
What’s most different is the food they offer up. Where LA has just popcorn and cotton candy here they have popcorn, cotton candy AND packets of dried squid and shrimp balls. Yum!
Here’s a sampling of tasty dishes offered around the park. Not the same as in the US, eh?
- Indonesian Style Fish with Sambal Satay Sauce
- Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup
- Malaysian Style Fried Noodle with Seafood
- Bento Box with Baked Salmon
- Tandoori Chicken and Lamb Kebab
- Thai Chicken Curry and Penang Fish Curry
- Singaporean Laksa Rice Noodle Soup
- Mickey Sushi and Maki Roll
- Pork Bone Ramen Soup with Breaded Prawns
- Braised Beef Brisket with Turnip
- Baked Penne Carbonara
- Braised Mushrooms, Bean Curds and Marrow Cucumbers with Rice
One other design feature that strikes me as odd. Clearly Disney has put lots of money and care into making this just as high quality as any other park, albeit slightly smaller. However, lining Main Street towards the Enchanted Castle, they’ve opted to use painted screens for some of the facades, rather than “real” wood, paint and window facades.
Not sure why they did this. It doesn’t LOOK like they’re doing construction behind it, and inside are real retail stores. But it had the effect on me, as I walked down the street, of cheapness. And so I expected a less than great experience (which changed as I actually went through the park). So, who knows?
All signs have both English and Chinese. The Jungle Cruise had two lines, one for Chinese speakers and one for English speakers. The line for the Grizzly Peak Railroad rollercoaster was about 15 minutes long. But since I was a single, they put me in a separate line to fill in. I was one of just 4 people in that line. In the US, that line would be almost as filled up with families and groups who were happy to go single. Here, all empty while the other line was full. Strange…
Songs were mostly in English. Dialogue was mostly in English, sometimes with bits of Chinese spoken or subtitles on a screen. I mean, I GET that the British were here for a long time but they left 14 years ago, and this is China! However, I saw NO indication of mainland China control here. I’m sure there were people from mainland China, but it really felt like LA or FL. Except for the damn umbrellas. Every other person is carrying an umbrella, in the sun, so they won’t tan. And these umbrellas are hazardous to people over, oh say, 6 feet tall! LIKE ME! My sunglasses serve as safety goggles around here. Oh, and almost no one wears sunglasses. I don’t know why. Do you?
Best sign I saw all day was in the line to Small World: “You Should Be Sober and in Good Health To Ride”. Who knew drunks liked the Small World ride so much?
Cost was US$60 for the day, I think the LA cost is around US$100. Took the train from downtown Kowloon to the special Disney train that fed into the Sunny Hill stop. Cost round trip: US$ 6
All in all, not much different from the LA/FL parks. Felt very American. Which I was both wanting and curious about. The only real dissonance to me was (a) being alone and (b) seeing no Americans. Which is another thing: why don’t Americans travel? I see a good representation of Australians/Kiwis, Europeans and even Middle Easterners. But rarely do I find an American not in an organized tour. Not just Disneyland, but this whole last month. What gives, Americans??? Get out in the world!
Well, anyway, that’s the report from Disneyland Hong Kong. Well worth the shot of Americana if you’re traipsing around the globe and need it. Like I did. Disney haters…sorry.