Covering 126 hectares of Lantau Island, Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest of all Disney parks – and one of the most accessible, thanks to its own dedicated MTR line. There are seven richly detailed lands to explore: Main Street USA (where you’ll enter the park), Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point and Toy Story Land. From the rides, shows and restaurants to tips on how to get the best deals on tickets and efficiently plan your visit, here’s our complete guide to Hong Kong Disneyland.
Among the dozens of rides, some stand out as unique to Hong Kong. Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars is an exhilarating rollercoaster featuring a heart-in-mouth backward drop; Mystic Manor showcases some of the Disney Imagineers’ most enchanting special effects; and two Marvel-themed attractions bring the action: 3D motion simulator Iron Man Experience and laser shoot-em-up Ant-Man & The Wasp: Nano Battle!
For more thrills, head to Tomorrowland’s Hyperspace Mountain, a Star Wars-themed indoor rollercoaster that zips you through galaxies, and Toy Story Land’s ‘big drop’ rides – RC Racer and Toy Soldier Parachute Drop.
Fantasyland is still the main port of call for youngsters and the young at heart, with classics like It’s A Small World, Dumbo The Flying Elephant and Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, plus the immersive Mickey’s PhilharMagic 3D film.
Perhaps the ultimate throwback is a voyage on the Jungle River Cruise in Adventureland. This attraction has been part of the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California, since its opening day in 1955 and features a lively cast of animatronic animals, alongside hilarious narration from your boat’s skipper.
Part of what makes Disneyland so special is its live entertainment experiences – and since they run to a set schedule, it’s best to plan your day around them. Festival of The Lion King is a 30-minute Broadway-style production, complete with larger-than-life puppets and aerial acrobatics, while Mickey and the Wondrous Book includes song-and-dance numbers from Frozen, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. Meanwhile, Star Wars fans can master the Force at Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, an interactive show that requires registration at Tomorrowland’s Space Traders shop.
Spectacular parades starring much-loved Disney and Pixar characters riding gigantic colourful floats run daily; these vary seasonally, so check the park’s schedule on the day and snag a spot along the parade’s route early to get the best views. If it’s on, be sure to catch the Paint the Night Parade, which illuminates the evening with sparkling floats covered with more than 740,000 lights.
Full table-service meals are available at Main Street Corner Café, which serves mainly Western dishes, and Plaza Inn, a Chinese restaurant offering dim sum, run by major Hong Kong chain Maxim’s. Head to the counter-service Explorer’s Club Restaurant at Mystic Point for eclectic pan-Asian cuisine, with a menu that includes Japanese bento boxes and Javanese curries. For quick bites, fish and chips at Grizzly Gulch’s Lucky Nugget Saloon are a crowd-pleaser, as are Mickey Mouse-shaped ice-creams to cool down in the Hong Kong heat – available from the many food carts scattered throughout the park.
Want to swerve the park crowds? Make a reservation at one of Disneyland’s hotel restaurants. Sophisticated Chinese restaurant Crystal Lotus makes Disney-shaped dim sum (be sure to order in advance), while character dining experiences can be booked at Chef Mickey, Dragon Wind, World of Colour and Enchanted Garden.
Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel is the grandest of them, an elegant, Victorian-style mansion with a Mickey-shaped topiary maze and a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique catering to the whims of mini princesses. Disney’s Hollywood Hotel features glitzy Art Deco-inspired decor and movie nights with Goofy. And the Explorers Lodge has themed gardens in keeping with its intrepid adventurer theme.
The Expansion Plans
Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle is under renovation (along with the railroad that provides a tour of much of the park), which is why the much-loved nightly fireworks display has been temporarily suspended. Expected to reopen in 2020, the revamped castle will be bigger and better than before, with 13 spires inspired by different Disney princesses; the area will also play host to a new daytime show and nighttime spectacular.
The park’s expansion plans don’t stop there. A Frozen-themed area is under construction, with plans for two new attractions, alongside themed dining, shops and entertainment. Expansion of the current Marvel Hub into a larger themed area is also in the works, with rumours of a huge Avengers-themed rollercoaster. The only downside? You’ll have to wait until 2023 for everything to be unveiled.
How to Get There: Our favourite way of getting to Hong Kong Disneyland is via the MTR – simply board the Disneyland Resort Line at Sunny Bay Station. The trains run every few minutes and are kitted out in Disney regalia down to the Mickey Mouse hand holders, so it really feels like part of the experience. The Star Ferry runs to Disneyland from Tsim Sha Tsui once a day, and a number of bus routes will take you there directly.
When to Go: Try to avoid visiting during peak times – weekends, public holidays (especially mainland China’s major holiday periods) and school holidays. Arrive for the park’s opening time (10am) to beat the crowds, which tend to build up throughout the day.
Buying Tickets: Avoid long queues at the park entrance by buying your tickets in advance online. It’s worth comparing the offers available on Disneyland’s website with those available through Klook, which usually has discounted tickets. If you’re planning on becoming a repeat visitor, opt for an Annual Pass to get the best value. Want to make the day really special? Splash out on an exclusive guided tour, which comes with perks like direct entrance to attractions, priority show seating and restaurant reservations.
Planning Your Day: Download the Hong Kong Disneyland app, which shows real-time waits for all the rides. There’s also a map for navigating your way round the park, performance times for all the shows, and schedules and locations where you can meet characters for photo opportunities. If you prefer, you can pick up physical copies of the map and daily schedule when you enter the park instead.
Beating the Queues: Pick up FASTPASS tickets for Hyperspace Mountain and The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh from designated machines nearby. Available at no extra cost, these give you a time to come back, when you’ll be able to join the much shorter FASTPASS queue to board the ride. Another pro tip: hit the rides during the parades, which the majority of guests will be busy watching.
Shopping for Souvenirs: Hong Kong Disneyland features almost as many shops as attractions, mostly along Main Street USA. However, it’s worth remembering that each land has its own souvenirs, including Marvel goodies at Tomorrowland’s Expo Shop, princess-themed gear at Fantasyland’s Storybook Shoppe, and all the themed boutiques within the hotels. So if you spot something you like, it’s better to buy there and then, it in case it’s not available elsewhere.
Exploring the Scenic Surroundings: One of Disneyland’s best-kept secrets is Inspiration Lake, which is a 15-minute walk from the main park. This scenic area is free to all – no park ticket or hotel reservation required – and features a 12-hectare lake complete with a cascading fountain, glorious mountain views, an arboretum, boat and bike rentals and plenty of green space for picnics.