Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Report Halloween 2012




Hong Kong Disneyland Resort


Saturday, October 20, 2012 to Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Dan and Jon


Welcome to my trip report for HKDL!

We arrived in HK in the late afternoon of Saturday 20th October.
We flew Cathay Pacific from London Heathrow direct to HK.
As per our experience before, going through customs and immigration in HK was very easy.
We got our luggage and proceeded to find our way to the train.
Getting to HKDL from the airport is interesting because, the airport is very near the resort, and yet you have to change trains twice to get there!
Overall it wasn't a complicated or painful experience. Everything in HK runs very efficiently and smoothly, and we arrived in HKDL in no time.
The train from Sunny Bay station is really neat because it is just a Disney service that goes back and forth from one side of the mountain to the other. The train is all decked out with Disney icons and is certainly a nice welcome to the resort.
The train station at HKDL is equally well themed, and very clean.
From the train station we walked to the bus stop to get the shuttle to our hotel - Disney's Hollywood Hotel.
It's a very short ride around the outside of the park boundary to get there.
We arrived, checked in and collected our tickets with ease.
We dropped all our things at the room, and made our way to the park for the evening.
Overall, getting to HKDL was easy enough, although a little expensive, and getting to the hotel and checking in was also a breeze.
When we left 3 days later we decided to take a taxi, and to be honest, that was cheaper than the train, quicker and more comfortable. Also of course it was door to door!
Next time we go to HKDL we'll take a taxi both ways to save us time and money.
Our first impressions of the Hollywood Hotel were very good, and over the course of 3 days I have to say that it became one of my favourite Disney hotels I've stayed in to date.
It is beautifully situated on the water with excellent views across to Hong Kong. The grounds and gardens are immaculately kept, and are stunning.
The hotel offers free wifi in the lobby, and paid access in guest rooms.
There is one gift shop, a lounge-bar, a main restaurant for main meals, and a quick service place for breakfast and snacks. There is an outdoor pool and various other normal facilities that you would expect.
The rooms are very well equipped with all the modern amenities that you could need, including a kettle.
You get some really neat, unique stationary items left too, and if you bag them each night, the next day housekeeping will leave you more!
I absolutely cannot fault the hotel.
It was a fabulous stay in a wonderful hotel that has excellent facilities.
One morning we had breakfast at the hotel's quick service place, Hollywood and Dine. It was ok, but I didn't like the sausage, and felt I would have been better off with something from the park. The food tried to be more Western, but had an Asian flare, that at least for me personally, I didn't like. That isn't to say the food wasn't good at all - it's just me!
One evening we also dined at Chef Mickey, which is a buffet restaurant where on select nights Mickey himself was there. Of course, he was there when we went :)
It isn't an actual character meal per se, as Mickey isn't always there.
Mickey wears his chef outfit, and stays in one location. You are seated and given a ticket to meet Mickey when your number is called.
It's actually a fairly efficient system and worked well.
Soon enough it was our turn and we met the Big Cheese!

The food was really good and I loved the look and feel of the restaurant.
Definitely would recommend it, especially if Mickey is there when you go!
From the hotel you can either walk to the park (about a 15-20min stroll along the beautiful promenade), or you can take the shuttle bus from outside the main lobby.
The bus drops you off next to the train station, which is about a 5min walk to the park entrance.
Once morning we had a character breakfast at the Enchanted Garden at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.
We had eaten there last summer, and had really enjoyed it. Seeing as it is the only main character meal at the resort, we of course had to do it!
During Halloween season the characters at the restaurant have special costumes. This time we saw Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy in Halloween costumes.

Enchanted Garden is great. The food is really good and the characters are fun. The characters and atmosphere are more relaxed there than many other character meals we've ever had, which was nice.
The HKDL Hotel itself, like the Hollywood Hotel, is set in beautiful grounds and is impeccably kept.
The service and our overall impression of both hotels was excellent.
Now, to the park!

Attractions, shows and parades we got to experience this trip are as follows:

For Halloween season:
  • Glow in the Park Parade x3
  • Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
  • Revenge of Headless Horseman
  • Graves Academy
  • Haunted Jungle
  • Clash of Evil on Main Street USA
Regular offerings:
  • Flights of Fantasy Parade
  • Grizzly Gulch x2
  • Tarzan's Treehouse
  • HKDL Railroad
  • "it's a small world"
  • Autopia
  • Art of Animation Gallery
  • Disney Magic in the Sky Fireworks
We'll start with their regular offerings, then I'll talk about Halloween season.
The list above might look as though we didn't do a lot, but there are several reasons for that. Firstly, we have done nearly everything at the park before, and seeing as our time was short in HKDL, our main priority was Halloween season offerings.
Also, to be fair, there also isn't a lot in the park anyway!
I really like their "it's a small world" in HKDL. At night they light it up with thousands of twinkling lights that change colours. It's a really pretty sight. Also the ride itself inside is very pretty and colourful.
Autopia in HKDL is fairly standard, but does have some nice scenic areas, and the cars are electric, so they don't make anywhere near as much noise. They also don't smell like the others of the world!
We rode the train the whole way round the park too, and that was nice as it has some good views into the different lands. Unlike DLP, CA and TDL it doesn't feature a ride through the dinosaur era.
The fireworks in HKDL are pretty, but fairly small compared to the US ones. Although, I did like them and they had a lovely soundtrack.v Flights of Fantasy Parade was the same as last year, and enjoyable to watch. It has some nice floats and a good range of characters, even if it is a bit short.
This time we got to go over to Tarzan's Treehouse which sits in the middle of Rivers of Adventure.
You have to take a raft over to the island, the same way to take a raft to Tom Sawyer Island in the US parks.
The experience is fairly basic, and really no difference between it and the other tree houses at Disney Parks. Of course, the biggest difference was the view over HKDL, which is unique in itself, surrounded by the mountains.
The Art of Animation exhibit was basically the same as last year, except they had removed their massive park expansion model, and put in booths for a Halloween offering, which I'll talk more about later.
Grizzly Gulch and Toy Story Land are the latest additions to the park, and were not open when we went last summer, so it was great to see these two new areas.
Toy Story Land is more or less an exact copy of the DLP one, with a few minor tweaks.
In HKDL the Barrel of Monkeys is Woody and Jessie's meeting location, and not a store. They are currently building a new store for the land called Andy's Toy Box.
They also have restrooms and a larger snack and drinks cart (DLP has no Play Land toilets as yet, and its snack and food stand is a lot smaller).
The three attractions are identical as far as I could tell.
Overall I actually think that the land works better in the wilds of HKDL, but just feels a bit out of place in a Magic Kingdom park.
Grizzly Gulch was the area that we were most excited to see.
The brand new land consists of one major attraction, Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars, one window service eatery (The Lucky Nugget), a large merchandise cart (the Bear Necessities), a water play area, restrooms and a meet 'n' greet line. At the meet 'n' greet area you could meet Mickey, Minnie, Koda, Kenai and Chip and Dale. Sadly Chip and Dale didn't make an appearance while we were there.
There is also a small wagon that serves as the backdrop to the resident entertainment.
We rode Big Grizzly Mountain twice and I have to say, it far exceeded my expectations. It's a thrilling mine cart ride thorough a mountain (sound familiar?), but with some great twists and turns along the way! It is definitely a step out from the more traditional Big Thunder Mountain, but has elements reminiscent of its forerunner. I love the addition of the cute bears in various scenes, and the ride also travels BACKWARDS for part of it! Very cool!
There is a small musical group that perform several times per day at the wagon I mentioned, and a guitarist that wanders around too (Grizzly Joe!).
The biggest problem with Grizzly Gulch is that there is nothing much there except the main attraction, and just a lot of open space.
I like what they did with everything, but it just needs a lot more. Maybe in time.
Sandwiched between Toy Story Land and Grizzly Gulch is a brand new land under construction, and the one I am looking forward seeing the most.
Mystic Point is definitely coming along at a good pace, as we could see the main attraction building is nearly completed now. We are hoping to go to HKDL next year, and really look forward to experiencing this new attraction.

Now to the characters!
Overall HKDL doesn't have a large variety of characters, but what they do have is probably the friendliest, most relaxed and fun meet 'n' greets in the world.
I'll leave off Halloween characters for a moment, because I'll talk about those shortly.
However, we did meet:
  • Donald (sailor)
  • Belle and Snow White (yes, together!)
  • Pluto in his Chinese hat and collar
  • Woody and Jessie
  • Mickey and Minnie in their brand new Grizzly Gulch costumes
  • Koda and Kenai
  • Tinker Bell
  • PUSH the Talking Trash Can!
I think that's everyone that was "regular". We met a bunch of Halloween ones too, but as I said, I'll mention them shortly.
The lines were mostly short, and the cast and characters were great. The attending CMs were also very helpful, always willing to take your picture for you, and also were happy to find out/give you the set times of any character that you asked for! Meeting characters in HKDL was a BREEZE and I simply loved it!

I want to make a specific mention to the cast of HKDL.
When we were there last year we loved the cast members for their friendliness and helpful nature.
We were certainly not disappointed this year either!
I can honestly say that the cast members in HKDL are the loveliest, friendliest people of any Disney Resort. They are always so happy and cheerful, and always willing to help in every way they can. Their guest service is excellent and I highly commend them all, and thank them for their hospitality.
While we're talking about the CMs, in HKDL the CMs all usually carry a rather large variety of stickers with them. All different characters, designs and themes are covered, and you are quite free to ask any CM for a sticker, or two, or 50 LOL! I'm serious, the CMs are amazing, and if you happen to like all the stickers they have, they'll just hand them to you! We also love pin trading, and the CMs in HKDL all have lanyards like Paris and the US parks (Tokyo doesn't do pin trading). What we really liked is the fact that all the pins on their lanyards were so varied and different to regular junk found on the lanyards at the other parks. We traded somewhere in the region of 100 pins in the 3 short days we were there! We got rid of all our rubbish traders for event pins from the lanyards! Amazing!
I also want to mention upkeep and maintenance.
HKDL has exceptionally high standards, and the entire resort is immaculately kept. The whole resort is set in stunning grounds with a lush, tropical, welcoming feel. It is by far the very best location (place/city) and setting (nature and environment) of all the resorts.
I definitely think that all the other parks could take a leaf out of HKDL's book and adopt their high level of upkeep and grounds keeping.
There is just one thing that falls down a little at HKDL with maintenance, and that's the Castle. I am not convinced that they have painted the Castle in its 7 short year, and it does look like it could do with a new coat of paint, as it is looking a but faded.

The merchandise in HKDL is great. Both this year and last year we found that they have a good variety and at very affordable prices. Many prices are lower than what they would be in all the other parks, and I feel like it's more interesting and diverse. They have some really neat t-shirts, plushes, pins, toys, games and other items. I really loved shopping at HKDL, I just wish there were more stores and that the stores weren't so small! The size of the stores and the general lack of stores in most areas is quite shocking, especially for a Disney theme park.
Don't get me wrong, what they had was good, and like I said above, I loved shopping there - but it's really odd that they didn't make them bigger when there are wide open areas around the park that serve little purpose. And to make things even weirder, since our last visit they have expanded one of the Main Street stores to now include a brand new glass conservatory because they needed more retail space! Why was the park built like this? Very odd!

The food at HKDL was pretty good, and overall we were impressed with the variety, quality and relative cost of the food and drinks across the resort. Again though, as with the stores, they just need more. A lot more. They need more table service. They need more indoor counter service. For a country that has such a diverse food culture, and a region that suffers from heavy tropical storms, there were too many outdoor places selling the same kind of food. Variety was definitely good though overall - they just need more!

So, for Halloween Season at HKDL, we saw all of the following:
  • Glow in the Park Parade x3
  • Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
  • Revenge of Headless Horseman
  • Graves Academy
  • Cursed Jungle
  • Clash of Evil on Main Street
  • Various park-wide entertainment things such as the yo-yo location, the Electronica thing in Tomorrowland and Trick or Treating
  • Decorations
  • Met Halloween Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Chip, Dale, Daisy and Pluto
  • Met Jack and Sally
  • Various Halloween themed bands
  • We also saw how Boo-tique, Choose Your Dark Side and the Gaming Zone - but we didn't take part in those.
We really LOVED Halloween at HKDL.
The decorations on Main Street, I admit, were not my cup of tea though. They were a bit, well, odd. I think they were trying to go for one gothic look, but it didn't really come off too well. For me at least.
Their Halloween is a little strange too, because, they actually only have the Halloween things on peak days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). So, things such as the Parade, Clash of Evil, Revenge of the Headless Horseman, Graves Academy, the special lighting and park wide soundtracks, Cursed Jungle, Trick or Treating, and all the things in Tomorrowland (ElcTRONica, Yo-yo, Boo-tique etc) were only on those select days.
However, all the VIPs in their special outfits were still out on the regular days. Jack and Sally were just peak Halloween days.
When the Halloween offerings were up and running, they had some very cool things.
Clash of Evil on Main Street was basically a Vampire vs. Werewolves concept, where a lot of Vampires and Werewolves would roam Main Street, and at select times go to "battle" with each other.
It was pretty neat to see anyway, and was a different idea for Halloween. Linked to the Clash of Evil, they had something called Choose Your Dark Side which was an interactive activity where you could go to a booth at the Art of Animation and find out which Dark Side you belonged to (Vampires of Werewolves). There was more to it than that, but we didn't take part, so I'm not sure what else was involved.
All around the park, and especially on Main Street, there was special lighting, smoke effects and music throughout the Halloween evenings. All were very well done, and created a great atmosphere.
The ElecTRONica thing in Tomorrowland was pretty much just what they had previously in DL CA, but more tame. They had performers, music, lasers etc.
The Boo-tique was a special Halloween face painting area.
The yo-yo thing in Tomorrowland is something I wasn't entirely sure what it was. We saw a guy with some yo-yos, but beyond that it could have been anything! LOL!
The interactive Gaming Zone was where you could play Disneyland Adventure in either the Princess or Peter Pan mini-games.

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy was the first of the two, with California following later. It is interesting to compare, because we rode California's several times last year, and it actually as an overlay is very similar but better.
Being the first one, I guess HKDL was the Guinea pig, but they also haven't improved it to match the latest one in DL. There was no build up with any pre-show alterations like CA, and the effects on the ride were less intense.
Overall I really like HKDL's Space Mountain, and Ghost Galaxy adds an interesting twist, but it isn't anything to write home about!
The Cursed Jungle was basically Adventureland pumped with smoke and sound effects, and populated with random demons and creatures that didn't really try very hard to scare you. LOL!
Their Glow in the Park Parade, which was on 3 times during the weekend days that we were there, was really cool. It had a good number of characters, had some neat floats, a good soundtrack and the characters had some good costumes.
It of course doesn't rival Boo To You in the MK, but I do think it is probably more interesting than CA's Cavalcade.
Now to the last items for Halloween, which caused us a lot of intrigue, and I'm sure some of you have also been wondering what they are! I am of course talking about Graves Academy and Revenge of the Headless Horseman.
The basic idea, and the simplest - but most unflattering way - of describing them are as scare/ghost houses.
You walk through and things jump out at you. That is the basic idea. Now, take some Disney magic, a Hong Kong twist, and mix it all up and you get a very neat, thrilling experience!
Jon and I are certainly not the kind of people that normally partake in this sort of thing LOL! But, we were there, we had flown all the way around the world to see their Halloween offerings, and so we had to try them.
Graves Academy was designed to be a school where all the pupils and teachers were dead. The place had fallen into decay, and there were some horrific happenings within it's walls through it's history.
Revenge of the Headless Horseman was a circus tent, sideshow and freak show rolled in to one. Again, everyone was dead, and it sported a grim history.
I have to say, I give HKDL top marks for the most imaginative and excellently themed temporary walk-thru attractions! The atmosphere, design, setting and the thrill that they gave were altogether exhilarating, scary and thoroughly immersive all in one!
They are of course not at all like anything you would find in the US or Tokyo Parks, but that's what makes HKDL's Halloween unique.

I really enjoyed all of their Halloween offerings a lot, I just wish it wasn't confined to the weekend only, as it makes it difficult to see everything when you are limited for time.

I now want to give my final thoughts on our trip to HKDL.
This was our second trip in a year and half to HKDL. The first time we visited in July 2011, we really fell in love with it, more so than we imagined we would. This time around, I was completely won over.
Halloween Season is a blast.
The Cast are the absolute friendliest and most helpful you could ever meet. And they LOVE to give stickers!! The park is absolutely immaculately kept.
The atmosphere is calm, friendly and inviting.
The merchandise is varied and is definitely cheaper than all the other parks.
The hotels are stunning and set in beautiful grounds, with fantastic restaurants.
Getting to and from the Resort to the airport is cheap and easy in a taxi (where else can you say that?!)
Their use of modern technology is a refreshing change, and something that the other parks need to address. They had wifi in a lot of places. The Autopia cars and the Main Street Vehicles are electric. Even the parade route ropes have LED lights on them.

Of course there are some negative points, such as the overall size of the park and the number of attractions, stores and restaurants. They need more in order to feel like a full sized Magic Kingdom park. Also like I mentioned, Halloween was peak days only.
The park hours can be a bit short too, and when you are staying on site, there is next to nothing to do once the park closes.

But, those very few, small negatives are massively outweighed by the sheer beauty of the park and it's surroundings, the Cast and everything on offer.
I truly LOVE HKDL, and cannot wait to return next year when the brand new Mystic Point is open!

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