Long gone are the days when you could finish Hong Kong Disneyland in a single day. Even though you’re at the smallest Disney park, there’s still a chance you’ll find yourself struggling to cram in all the attractions, shows or parades you want to catch. How do you get the best out of the smallest Disneyland? Here's how my friends and I layout our day -
1. Beat the crowds!
Hong Kong Disneyland recently introduced e-Tickets, yay! This is great because you can buy your ticket online in advance and skip booths in the morning.
What most people suggest doing to get the full Disney experience would be to get there when the park opens. This is exactly what you should do! Park hours change occasionally, but I’d still recommend arriving early. You can check when the park opens on the Hong Kong Disneyland website or by downloading the app from the App Store. During the morning to early afternoon is when the Disney train is at its most frequent, so you won't find yourself waiting at Sunny Bay station for too long.
2. Save time at bag check
Once you get off at the Disneyland Resort station, make sure you don’t have any "outside food” in your bag that might be confiscated at the bag check. Outside food usually qualifies as Subway, McDonald’s or any other big restaurant / fast food chains. Little snacks and homemade sandwiches should make it through security check.
3. Preserve your phone battery - use a map & times guide!
After security and the entrance turnstile, you’re now officially at Hong Kong Disneyland! Before you enter Main Street USA, you’ll find a stand with guide maps and times guides. These might come in handy if you don’t want to use up phone battery checking the the website or the app (save it for selfies!). Plus, if you're into it, they make cute souvenirs and/or scrapbook material.
4. Grab fast passes for Fantasyland or Tomorrowland Attractions
Once the lands open (if you arrived right when the park opens), I would suggest marching straight to Tomorrowland or Fantasyland and grabbing fast passes for any attraction you fancy there. For Fantasyland, grab them for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - this attraction is full 90% of the time. On the other hand, Tomorrowland is one of the smaller lands and attractions there tend to fill up with lines at 20 minutes or more during peak hours unless there's a parade going on.
5. Head for The Backlands (Toy Story Land, Mystic Point and Grizzly Gulch)
After getting fast passes, head towards what my friends and I call “The Backlands”. These lands consist of Toy Story Land, Mystic Point and Grizzly Gulch. These three lands open last and tend to be emptier in the morning, so playing around in the Backlands while waiting for your fast pass time slot will ensure you get the most out of the rides and photo opportunities back there. After one or two spins of Big Grizzly Mountain, Mystic Manor or RC Racer (depending on what time your fast passes are for), head back to Tomorrowland or Fantasyland to use your fast passes! After that, it's time to refuel for the afternoon rush.
6. Fuel up!
If you're peckish, have a small portion of chicken or fish and chips at the Lucky Nugget snack shack at Grizzly Gulch but if you're starving, have a meal at Starliner Diner. Dining at Disney is an entire expedition in itself. For more on the yummiest, cheapest options, stay tuned for 'Fruitful Dining for the Frugal'!
7. The perfect parade spot
By the time midday to mid-afternoon rolls in, you'll start seeing people picking out good spots for the day parade - currently the Flights of Fantasy parade, which debuted on Hong Kong Disneyland’s 5th anniversary back in 2011. What my friends and I like to do is arrive at the Storybook Theatre in Fantasyland about 30 minutes before the parade starts. This is where the parade starts, however if you want to catch the most action during the show-stop in the middle of the parade, anywhere along Main Street USA is where to go.
On a side note, if you're not that into parades, Tomorrowland is at its emptiest at this time. Now would be a great time to give Hyperspace Mountain another whirl if you haven't done so already, especially in the summer. If you're not one for pushy crowds either, get out of Tomorrowland before the parade ends because everybody suddenly realises Tomorrowland is relatively empty until after it ends!
8. Catch a show!
My friends and I consider late afternoon until the park closes
"showtime". We love catching the last shows, especially with the fireworks down for the castle transformation; watching
shows is a nice end to the day and a great way to soothe achey feet. The last show for The Festival of the Lion King happens at 6:00pm, but last show times for Mickey and theWondrous Book differ depending on when the park closes. Occasionally, the last Wondrous Book show may overlap with the Paint the Night Parade. This might not be a problem for long since the fireworks show is suspended and the night parade is the very last thing that happens before the park closes for the day.
That being said, by the time March rolls in there's one thing I'm super excited about - the "We Love Mickey!" nighttime multimedia show on Main Street USA!
That's usually how our Disney days go. Hopefully you find our little flexible "routine" useful when you visit the park.
Lastly, here's a few tips I've got to ensure you have the most magical day:
- Bring your own water bottle! Regular plastic water bottles are nearly 30HKD inside the park and there's always stations to fill your bottle up again. Plus, save the earth!
- Never lose your ticket, those always come in handy for fast passes.
- The Jungle River Cruise (in my opinion) is best done at night! Also remember your skipper's name, they always seem to like that :)
- Walk through the stores when Main Street USA is too crowded during parades.
- The washroom between Mystic Point and Toy Story Land is usually the cleanest and emptiest one.
If you want to see more of my Disney adventures, you can always check out my Instagram: @chrisace225