The day started early. We wanted to get to the park by 9:30 so we left the condo around 8am. Initially, we wanted to catch the regular mini bus, but we had heard that it gets packed in the morning with commuters (and since it only holds 16 passengers we might be waiting a long time). We decided to catch a taxi and fortunately for us, there was one waiting at the Bus stop. I think they prey on westerners who look confused because this guy took us for a loop. Instead of taking the expressway, he took Castle Peak Road, which was under construction. So instead of taking 20 minutes to get to the MTR station, it took us over an hour. The cab fare was a bit high as well so I felt that the guy must have known it would run up the fare by taking us on this detour. Grrr. Then again there is not much I could do about it since I didn’t really speak his language.
Our luck changed as we got to the MTR station as we quickly made he train for Disneyland. Vance and I were worried that it was going to be crazy busy, but was pleasantly surprised to that it was not. Sure there was a mad rush in the beginning (especially to Space and Buzz), but after that the longest lines of the day were 20 minutes. Vance and I both gave our posters to the managers and leads of Space and Buzz that made the HKDL cast members very excited. My contact to give me an overview of Buzz still wasn’t in, but we made plans to circle back to the area later in the day to touch base. I dumped my backpack in the locker and off we went.
Hong Kong Disneyland is certainly smaller than any other Disney castle park, but it has a certain charm and coziness only found in the original park. Everything is sparkling and new and the cast members are all trying their best. It is nice to see that they all are passionate about what they do, and you can still see a bit of hesitance since they are uncertain if they are doing certain things correctly. What seems to be a pattern at most newer parks in the system is that certain sections of the park are extremely well themed and beautiful, and then the rest of the park is good, but still a bit lacking in theme elements. For example, Adventureland is awesome. Well themed throughout with the glaring exception of the Jungle River Cruise queue – looks like a holdover from Florida and not the nice version found at Disneyland. Fantasyland is nice and spacious and has a weird blend of Florida and California. Pooh looks like his Florida counterpart, but Mickey’s Philharmagic looks like it could fit into Anaheim’s Fantasyland. I do wish they had sunk Philharmagic into the ground more; the top of the show building is almost as high as the castle.
Tomorrowland probably is the lightest themed land, but somehow it works. Everything is futuristic and probably my only complaint is the queue of Space Mountain is very bland. Everything is so compact and there is lots of room to expand. Throughout the day we saw the parade (apparently an import from Tokyo and was very good), the Golden Mickey’s show at the Storybook Theater (also very good even though it was spoken in Cantonese and sung in English).
By the late afternoon/early evening we were both fried. The park was very empty and the weather at least had cooled down. We stayed till the end of the fireworks. People had said that their fireworks were not very good, but I thought they were great. They don’t use a lot of the big fireworks found at the US parks, but given the intimacy of the park it was fine. I did giggle when they used the Florida Fantasmic bubble projections on the front of the castle.
It was a long exhausting, fun day and I can’t wait to come back again tomorrow. We did manage to meet my contact and arrange for an overview of Buzz two hours before the park opens.