Disney’s Asian Sensation

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Leeanne Bland visited Hong Kong Disneyland and believes it could well be the ultimate holiday destination for Australian families.

After the exciting, but frenetic, pace of 10 days in Hong Kong, rounding out our family holiday with a Disneyland finale was a welcome relief. Even better was the timing.

Although done accidentally, our trip coincided with the end of a week-long Chinese Festival Holiday that at times, seemed to have Hong Kong bursting at the seams with people. But, going to Hong Kong Disneyland the day after this Chinese holiday had finished meant the park was practically empty. The rumoured queues were infrequent, and when they did exist, happily they were very short.

We visited in the Australian Spring (Hong Kong’s Autumn) and a good time of year to travel to Hong Kong – warm enough to swim, but not so hot that spending a full day outdoors becomes a chore.

We stayed at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel. With a nod to the glory days of the golden years of Hollywood and the big screen movies, staying at the hotel was almost a holiday in itself. I am sure that even without the daily visit to the park, we could have enjoyed a fabulous family break in the hotel alone. Whether it was the piano shaped swimming pool with slippery dip (which my son Harry loved), an entire day’s worth of kid’s activities - every day - in the Malibu Toyshop, enjoying snacks and drinks poolside, a massage and facial for mum, or dinner at Chef Mickey (declared the “best restaurant I have ever been to” by my 8-year old-daughter Amy) we all loved the facilities and activities on offer.

When it came to Disneyland itself, the shuttle bus travelled between the Park and hotels regularly which made it a breeze to get to. Once at Disneyland Park we planned our day, deciding to tackle Main St on our way out and head, instead, straight to Sleeping Beauty Castle, then through to Fantasyland. Here, there wasn’t a single attraction that didn’t have appeal. A particular favourite, however, was the Dumbo ride, made all the more special because of the passenger with rather large black ears, and his girlfriend, who had decided to take ride in the Dumbo car right behind us.

The rest of the land was a whirl of fun taking in Mad Hatter’s tea cups, Snow White’s grotto, the Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh and, that iconic Disney attraction: It’s a Small World. Here the 3D Winnie the Pooh was a personal favourite of Amy, who enjoyed how real it seemed.

There was lots of appeal in Tomorrowland as well. Harry enjoyed the Buzz Lightyear ride -“were you could spin around and shoot Zurg!” A bit of a ride fanatic, even at the tender age of six, Harry also loved the car ride Autopia as did his sister, who had to go on it three times! The heart stopping, indoor rollercoaster Space Mountain, however, was a little too much for them both and probably more suitable for braver visitors.

Exploring Tarzan’s tree house in Adventureland was a popular pastime, and we followed it up with a ride on the Jungle River cruise. Not to be missed is the the fabulous Festival of the Lion King. As lavish as a Broadway show, this colourful pageant of music and dance tells the story of Simba and the road that he travels before becoming King. After the heat of the day, the air-conditioned comfort of the theatre was a nice bonus.

When it came to the famous Disney Parade, the night-time spectacular, including awe inspiring fireworks, was made all the more exciting for the kids as it followed a Halloween theme. Harry loved the Halloween theme and Jack Skellington but that was as scary as they wanted it to get, with Amy a little frightened by the haunted hotel.

Any visit to Disneyland is going to involve photographs with the stars of the show. And Hong Kong was no exception. Taking advantage of the fact that the queues were virtually non-existent, I would have to say that we managed to get photos of the family with every Disney character conceivable.

While many of the rides in Disneyland Hong Kong were perfect for our kids, that’s not to say that there aren’t still thrills and spills available for teenage Disney-goers (or, in our case, a thrill-seeking dad) who’ll especially love Space Mountain plus high tech interactions with animated characters, great Broadway-style shows and more.

Regardless of age, if you are travelling to Hong Kong with kids, a visit to Hong Kong Disneyland is unmissable fun.

To help plan your magical Disney holiday, visit www.creativeholidays.com

Our top tips

1. Smaller than its American cousins, Hong Kong Disneyland is the best for children under 10.
2. Stay at one of Disneyland Hong Kong’s two great feature-packed hotels for an even greater Disney experience.
3. Plan to start your day early. Arrive at opening time and head straight for the main attractions to beat the queues which, on busy days, can take up to an hour.

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