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Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Report, November-December 2015 - Part One
DisneyDan  Tuesday, December 29, 2015 11:32:56 AM
Hello everyone,

At the end of November Jon and I travelled to Asia for a multi-stop trip to Tokyo and Hong Kong. We started in Hong Kong, flew to Japan, then flew back to Hong Kong before coming back home. In this part of my report on our travels, I will be sharing with you our adventures at Hong Kong Disneyland on both ends of the trip, which ended up stretching from the end of November, until the first week of December. I am actually going to break up this Hong Kong Disneyland report into several smaller parts, as it will be quite long. Here, in part one, I'll talk about the resort overall, resort hotels, and Main Street USA (including characters and entertainment on Main Street).

During the first part of our stay, we actually stayed in a hotel in the city, and used the opportunity to visit various places in the city. You can read my report for that, which I published this week, on my Two Lost Boys blog, here. On the second part of our stay in Hong Kong we stayed on site at Disney's Hollywood Hotel. Between the two ends of the trip, we ended up having a total of four days at the resort and in the park.

Rather than jump around, telling you everything in the random order in which we did them, I'm going to group different themes together to keep everything organised and less confused.

Before visiting, we had already decided that we would be getting a Magic Access membership each, which is exactly the same as an annual pass, but with different name! We had worked out the ticket prices, and accounted for how much we were likely to spend in order to get discounts, etc, and it worked out more economical for us to buy APs rather than tickets.

I'll start with around the resort, including the hotels and esplanade.

When you arrive at Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL) by train it really is a very special experience. Regardless of which direction you're coming from, you have to use the Sunny Bay station to change on to the Disneyland Resort Line. The train from Sunny Bay to HKDL is a dedicated service, and takes you directly to the resort main gateway. The trains are super fun, and include many Disney details.

While we were there, the train stations were selling special commemorative play sets of the Disneyland Resort Line, so of course we had to buy a couple!

Once you step out of the train station, which by the way is amazing in itself (I don't have any photos from this trip, but we have taken some in the past, which I can share on the forum topic for this report if someone requests it), you find yourself at the main entrance to the resort. There are guest relations booths, a walkway to the park, and a walkway to bus stands, the parking lot and a taxi stand.
Along the walkways there were banners celebrating the 10th Anniversary, which had just started before we arrived (albeit two months later than the real anniversary date!).

At the entrance to the park is an amazing musical fountain featuring Mickey and friends, which looks especially awesome at night!

Of course, as I said, we are going to go to the hotels before the park, which means I can show you the bus station! This in itself might not sound too exciting, but I have to say, there really is something quite enchanting about the setting. Hong Kong is by far the most exotic Disney park location, complete with tropical wildlife, flora and fauna, mountains which surround the resort and a beautiful bay. So even taking the bus can be quite a thrilling experience!
You don't have to take the bus to and from the resort hotels, but it is quicker and easier if you do.

I mentioned at the start that we stayed in Disney's Hollywood Hotel for the latter part of our trip. We booked a standard rom, and as with our past experiences here, it was really very nice. The rooms are well equipped, well themed and designed, spacious and clean. The views are really pretty, too.

From various areas of the hotel, you could see the construction of the next hotel - Disney Explorers Lodge, the new 750 room hotel which is slated to open in early 2017.

One morning while staying at the Hollywood Hotel, we had breakfast at Chef Mickey. Chef Mickey is usually open for breakfast and dinner, and features Mickey Mouse himself, dressed in his chef outfit. It's not a bad breakfast, with some good options - especially for us, as we are vegetarian.

The only other current on site hotel is the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. We visited here twice during our trip, as we had reservations for breakfast and dinner at the Enchanted Garden, which is another character dining location.

Breakfast featured Mickey Mouse, Daisy Duck and Goofy wearing festive clothes. Pluto can be hit and miss, and unfortunately was not appearing when we visited. Breakfast here was ok, but not as nice as the food at Chef Mickey - at least from a vegetarian point of view. The restaurant however is always nice, and the characters were fun, and we loved seeing them in their holiday attire. In addition to the festive costumes on the characters, there was a gingerbread house set up on the buffet, and some other Christmas decorations around the place.

At dinner, the characters featured were Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Duffy the Disney Bear and ShellieMay the Disney Bear. Dinner was actually a rather frustrating experience. It took us over two hours to meet the four characters, which I felt was a bit much. There wasn't much in the way of decent vegetarian options, either, sadly. It was nice to see the characters in their Christmas clothes though.

At the park, we obviously have to start at the front, on Main Street USA! Main Street USA in Hong Kong Disneyland is very pretty, and resembles Disneyland in California to a certain extent. It was obviously modelled after the original, but it has its own defined look, too, which makes it familiar but different all at once. The Christmas decorations on Main Street looked pretty, and their Christmas Tree was awesome when lit at night.

One morning we arrived at the park really early, and managed to get a place at the start of Central Plaza for when they performed the opening ceremony. Usually they pick a family to cut a ribbon to open the park for the day, and a character joins them. The morning we saw this, it was Princess Aurora.

The bakery on Main Street has some interesting items throughout the day, and worth a visit if you want something light to eat. We found some tasty treats while we were there.

Main Street USA in HKDL has a good amount of entertainment, including the HKDL Band, the Bicycle Pianist and a brass band that I've never been able to find out the actual name of! The HKDL Band and the Pianist both had a festive addition to their costumes for the season, and they all of course played Christmas tunes.

For the fist time ever on this trip, we ate at the Plaza Inn. The Plaza Inn at HKDL is very different to the other ones around the world. It has a very unique Asian style to it, including paintings of different scenes and Chinese lanterns. The food is all Asian, and they did offer a vegetarian option. We actually didn't quite understand how we were meant to order, and ended up with a lot more food than we anticipated - including a ridiculously huge plate of broccoli!

Main Street USA is the place to be if you want to meet Mickey and friends in their Christmas and 10th anniversary costumes, so of course we spent a lot of time there. The mornings featured the characters in their 10th outfits, and after 1pm they changed to be in their Christmas attire, which was a really nice idea, so that you could get both. Disneyland in California attempted to do something similar back in September when we were there for Halloween season/the Diamond anniversary - except they cut half the characters and the timings were no where near as evened out. It ended up being more frustrating than enjoyable. However, HKDL, as with everything they do, made their split greetings a pleasurable experience.

At 1pm each day, after the characters had finished greeting in their 10th Anniversary outfits, they made their way up Main Street towards the Castle, aboard the Omnibus, and performed a short show with the HKDL Band, which was cute.

We watched the day parade, Flights of Fantasy, which has been around for a number of years now. It is a fun parade though, and we enjoy it. What's funny is that in HKDL you can pretty much turn up right as it starts, and get any place you like. There really is no one in the park most of the time!

Just look at all the people!...

At night we watched the Disney Paint the Night Parade. We had seen the Disneyland version of this earlier in the year, and had liked it a lot (although it'll never be Dreamlights!). Our biggest problem with the Disneyland version was the lack of characters, and the confusing way in which it is organised. Whenever we watched Disneyland's version, I had to wonder, "Who is painting the night? And with what?" It doesn't become clear until the end when we see Mickey and friends with their paint brushes. I always feel it should be reversed, or at least the other characters beforehand should have paint brushes too. HKDL's version actually is even less character filled than Disneyland's, sadly, but it does address the paint brush issue a little better, by giving some of the proceeding performers brushes before Mickey and friends arrive. I know some people would say it is a minor thing and to just go with it, but I feel that with the way Disney tries so hard to tell stories with everything, they actually fail on this one.

As with the day parade, there was nobody there watching it, which was nice. I like having room to breathe while watching the parades, unlike at Disneyland when we waited two hours each time we wanted to see Paint the Night!

On our last day it rained in the afternoon, which meant the regular day parade was cancelled. Instead, they have a Rainy Day Cavalcade, which is a nice touch so that you don't miss out completely. Actually, it's fun to see the characters in their cute rain coats!

For the 10th Anniversary there was what was being billed as the Happily Ever After Twilight Celebration. We stood to watch this one night, expecting something to actually happen, and what we saw was just the castle light up with some brief projections, some music played, and then it ended with a big 10 being projected on the front. I don't even know how else I can describe it, other than very brief and very underwhelming! Not a lot actually disappoints me at HKDL, but this did.

The Disney in the Stars fireworks received an update for the 10th anniversary, which mainly involved new projection mapping on the castle. Disney in the Stars has never been the most extravagant display, but it is pretty, and the new projections make it a whole lot more interesting.

Finally for this part of my report, I want to talk about the Frozen Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Each night, Anna, Elsa and some performers would join guests in Town Square to light the Christmas Tree. It was a pretty ceremony, which included snowfall above Main Street, but it really got very busy. It's probably the only thing we have ever had to wait for beforehand at HKDL! (I would say it was the Frozen factor, but as you'll find out in part two of this report, Frozen doesn't really seem to be as big a deal for people in HKDL as the other parks.)

Ok, that's all for this part, as it is getting quite long! In part two, we'll discover all things Fantasyland, Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, Tomorrowland and Toy Story Land! Look out for that in the next couple of days!

Have a great week everyone,

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