3 tips for Surviving Disneyland
As part of our Hong Kong trip, we decided to visit and stay at Hong Kong Disneyland. My last Disneyland trip was maybe 10 years ago, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But like the rest of our Hong Kong trip, we had a fabulous time! Although hubby is not sure if he will want to return, I would definitely go again. Heck, I’d leave now if I could! Maybe I’ve had more of a Disney childhood than he has?
I really loved how there were so many rides for toddlers. Scout went on the Mystic Point ride (I did cover her eyes at some parts like the Medusa), Mickey’s PhilharMagic a 3D movie which she watched mostly without the glasses but loved it, The Golden Mickeys, The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (loved this!), It’s a Small World (who could miss this?), Autopia (yawn), Buzz Lightyear Astro Busters – she had so much fun shooting although some parts were a little scary for her, and the Jungle River Cruise which was a little scary too because the animals look so real! And of course she enjoyed the Festival of the Lion King so much she asked for “More, more!” After it ended! And there are still a number of rides that she has yet to go on so there is plenty for the kids.
Lots has been written Disneyland, so I shan’t go into the details of each and every ride. But here are my three top tips if you’re planning a trip to Disneyland soon.
Where to rest those weary bodies.
For this trip we stayed at Disneyland Hotel. I have heard so much about how wonderful the hotel is, and it is extremely convenient to be located so near the Disneyland Park. We stayed here for 2 nights and took a 2-day Park pass. Actually we took the Play, Dine & Stay Package which included the park pass. Don’t forget to check out their promotions and offers, they often have coupons which you can download for discounts for dining. Also I hear if you buy an annual pass you get discounts on rooms and F&B and retail, which might also be worth it.
I loved the TWO king size beds (and they also provided us with a cot), the rooms are very comfortable, and we enjoyed staying there. There is plenty to explore – the jetty, the pool, the maze, and apparently you can even walk over to the Park. I was a little worried that we’d have to wait ages for the hotel shuttle during peak periods (after fireworks, etc.), but there were always so many buses, I doubt we waited more than 5 minutes each time for a shuttle.
We didn’t do the character dining because my kids are always afraid of the mascots – I’ve heard it is quite a highlight, and I imagine that for those who like that (I think I would have!!) it would probably take the stay at Disneyland Hotel up a few notches. The breakfast was pretty decent, and as we had a late start, we filled up at brunch time, proceeded to the park, and then just had a snack in the afternoon before dinner that day.
For future trips we might consider staying at Novotel Citygate (for much less) and commuting over to the Disneyland Park via the apparently pretty awesome Disney train (which we did not get to take this time!)
Keeping safe amidst the crowds.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the kidnapping stories, and all of us are pretty weary about that. We went on a Golden Week weekend, but I think the crowds were still pretty manageable. The queues for the rides though, were something else altogether but my second tip will help with that!
The only time I felt a little panicky was at night, after the night parade and fireworks session. When the crowd is dispersing, and it’s dark, and crowded, and a little chaotic, it’s hard to spot anyone. I had to be extra vigilant to keep all eyes and ears out for the kids. If I had to do it again, I’d make sure the kids had some markers on them – I’m thinking glow sticks (maybe all of the same colour, or colour combination) would probably be the best to make them stand out in the crowd!
We also dress our kids (and husband) in the same gear so that they’re easy to spot; you can easily do the same with colours. It might sound cheesy but it helps reinforce that we are a group. I haven’t succumbed to the family uniform though. Yet.
Beating the queues.
Hong Kong Disneyland is not a large park (I’d estimate it’s about the same size as Universal Studios Singapore?), and most people take a 2-day park pass. You could potentially cut the visit down to only 1 day, although with young kids I don’t like rushing. We spent 2 days there, perhaps about 6-9 hours each day, and i still felt that was not long enough!
I am more adverse to queuing when it is with young kids, and during our stay it was pretty warm as well, which made it even more trying. One of our friends recommended the Disneyland Tour Services, which became the highlight of the trip for us. We spent our first day familarising ourselves with the park, and scheduled our 3-hour Tour for 3pm on Day 2.
How the Tour works is that there will be a guide to bring you around the park and you can enjoy the rides without queueing. Yes, you will even get priority over the Fast Pass holders! You can’t help but feel like celebrities, being escorted around and cutting queues. You can go on any ride as many times as you want, so you could potentially spend 3 hours riding on Space Mountain a zillion times, but I would suggest you use the service for the attractions that have a long waiting time. The ones with shorter waiting times you can always do on your own! The guides can even suggest which seats on each ride are the best, and make sure you get those particular seats that you want.
Before we set off with the guides, they will ask which rides you are interested to go on and plan a route out for you accordingly. They also suggested we start off with the Golden Mickeys show, but going for any show while on the tour isn’t a good strategy because you’re paying for their time and the privileges. So I suggested we go on all the rides and end off at the 6pm Lion King performance, and we were able to go on rides up until 5 minutes before the show and didn’t have to queue to get in. It was fantastic ending the tour with front row seats at the Lion King, and having the performers come around to give us high-fives during the performance. Several times! If we had chosen to have gone to the Golden Mickeys we wouldn’t have had such an experience.
Since the Disneyland Hotel was a little disappointing for us, I’d rather save on the accommodation and splurge on the Tour Services. p.s. Although it is called a tour, there is no buggy service and you still have to walk the park 😀
Another way you could beat the queues would be to watch all the parades on the first day, and then on the second day while the parades were ongoing go on the rides or vice versa so that the queues would be much shorter. Many of the rides are also much less crowded in the late afternoons and evenings.
I think I need to plan a trip to a Disneyland again soon 🙂