|Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Report - Part Six||
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 10:32:27 AM
Welcome to the final, albeit delayed, part of my Hong Kong Disneyland trip report.
There are just a few things that I wanted to talk about that did not really fit into the other parts, as they were more about the individual lands.
So I want to now just mention the 5th anniversary happenings, summer events and a couple of other special things that we did while we were there.
Since last September HKDL has been celebrating its fifth birthday, and this year made some additions and changes to the entertainment line-up.
The biggest and best new thing is the Flights of Fantasy Parade which debuted earlier this year and features eight main units.
These include: the opening Dumbo / title float. It is very small and is accompanied by musicians. The second I guess is technically the first main float of the seven main units. It is the super cool Mickey and friends airship. Unit three is Winnie the Pooh and friends. Unit four is the Princesses upon their swan. Unit five is the jungle friends (Lion King, Jungle Book etc). The sixth is Tinker Bell in her neat self-crafted balloon. Seven is my personal favourite – the Stitch float, and eight is the Toy Story gang.
The music from the parade is actually identical to California’s new parade, Soundsational. Since this parade debuted first I can only imagine that either Soundsational copied the music, or when the parades were being designed they intentionally meant for the music to be adapted for both parades. Either way it is a little cheap of them to do this. The only difference is that instead of the word “Soundsational”, they sing “Flights of Fantasy”.
The other similarity is in some of the costume designs. Both Soundsational and Flights of Fantasy share some common designs – but both take inspiration from Tokyo’s spectacular day parade, Jubilation. Things include the monkeys from the jungle units and the dancers from the princess units.
The only other real similarity is that they both lack quite a lot of characters in comparison to the Magic Kingdom, Tokyo and Paris day parades.
Other than that the two new parades are very different, and to be honest I am glad that Flights of Fantasy is different, as I much prefer it over Soundsational. We were lucky enough to see both parades within a few weeks of each other, and both being fresh in mind, and of course taking so many photos as we do, I can say that I really liked Flights of Fantasy a lot, despite being somewhat short, whereas Soundsational actually left me feeling a bit underwhelmed.
The problem with Soundsational is that the float designs are very basic, and very flat. I know that Loren has tried to explain to me multiple times why they did this (something to do with being paper cut outs), but that effect really fails on me because they look like just that – cut outs. They have no dimension or personality to them. Flights of Fantasy on the other hand has some stunning floats. You only have to look at some of our pictures here to see the difference.
Here is the Mickey float from Soundsational, followed by Flights of Fantasy.
Here is the Tinker Bell drum from Soundsational, followed by Flights of Fantasy.
Here is the Jungle float from Soundsational, followed by Flights of Fantasy.
I hope you get the idea. I will leave it at that for the parade, and let you be judge on which you prefer, but I do love Flights of Fantasy’s design so much better than Soundsational.
Moving on now to the summer offerings at the park.
I was a little sad because every year they have always done some sort of Stitch themed summer event, but of course we went to Hong Kong and they change it! This year was Cars 2, which seems to be really popular there. I have never been overly struck with Cars. It was a good movie, but that’a as far as my affection for it goes.
They had some “Rev Up You Summer” events, namely some interactive games to take part in around the park, somewhat similar to how the Kim Possible thing works in Epcot.
They did also have one small show in front of the Castle titled Lightning McQueen Live.
The only other summer specific thing we saw was Mickey and Minnie greeting in Fantasyland in their beach outfits.
We were lucky enough to see the fireworks while we were there, and although nothing special, it was nice to see fireworks at a different resort. They were pretty, although low to the ground like how they do them in DLP. That’s not a problem, but just a curious difference. In DLP part of the problem is that they have a small town behind them and they cannot set off huge rockets every night. In Hong Kong they are pretty much in the middle of nowhere. The only reason I can think of is that I do know the land around the resort is somehow protected or is a specified area of beauty (or something similar – I don’t recall exactly) – maybe they cannot have rocket shells landing there?
All the same, the fireworks were nice, and I’m glad we got to see them.
As far as general meet ‘n’ greets around the park go, I have to say my impression at least, was that it seemed a little sparse.
I mentioned in my Fantasyland part of this report earlier in the month that, while we were there Duffy, Pooh, Mickey, Minnie and Pluto were meeting. We also got to see Rapunzel near the Castle, and to the best of my recollection, Belle, Cinderella and Snow White near the Snow White Grotto.
Tinker Bell also has a special area set up for the 5th Anniversary at the back of Fantasyland. She greets guests in her old outfit from the US parks. I actually prefer this outfit to the newer one they use in FL and CA.
We didn’t see anyone in Adventureland. In Tomorrowland we saw Stitch and Buzz and I do think they meet fairly often there.
On Main Street all the Big 8/Mickey and Friends meet in the 5th Anniversary outfits.
Apart from that I don’t think there was really anyone else out. It could just be the time of year, or just not being the right place at the right time. Who knows, but it did feel like there were not so many characters about.
The 5th Anniversary this year saw a couple of additions, the parade being the main one of course. Tinker Bell who I already mentioned, was also new for the 5th Anniversary and is being promoted as the main “celebrity” or “mascot” of the 5th celebrations (for want of a better term).
Tied to the fact that Tink was now meeting in the park they also had a Castle lighting ceremony each night, simply titled Tinker Bell Castle Illumination. The Castle has been decorated for the 5th, and features some gold trim and dangly decorations. Each night there is a light show with some small sparkly fireworks on the Castle to light it up for the night.
It is basic and not really anything amazing, but worth seeing once I suppose. The Castle does look nice with the lights, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to experience it again.
Finally we come to the last part of our trip, which saw us enjoy a special and exclusive dinner at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel Conference Center. We were treated to some amazing food and cool characters including Snow White along with The Prince and all the Dwarfs, Cinderella with Prince Charming, Suzy, Perla and the Fairy Godmother, Marie, and finally all the Big 8 in the 5th Anniversary outfits. It was really a very special and unique experience.
As I had said in a previous part to this report, the Cast and management that we were with on this trip were exceptional. Everyone we encountered was simply wonderful and had the guest experience close to their heart. They love Disney and it comes through in their passion for their job.
If only all the other parks could follow their example. I think that the other parks could really learn a lot from the Chinese about guest service. We thank them dearly. It was truly amazing.
My final thoughts are this. Although Hong Kong still has a long way to come before it is a true multiday vacation destination, it does have some really cool and unique touches. The park is exceptionally maintained, and the setting is beautiful. The Cast are the best in the world, and they have some unique shows, parade and merchandise that all come together to make any trip to HKDL truly magical.
We really look forward to experiencing HKDL again in the future once it has expanded its offerings, and are keen to see it grow into the spectacular Disney destination that it deserves to be.