Wednesday, July 27, 2016


With the recent opening of the massively magnificent Shanghai Disney Resort this June, there have been concerns that it will soon steal all the glory and customers of its older brother of sorts, the first Disney park in the Greater China area, that being Hong Kong Disney Resort. When it first opened its doors to the much surprised Asian public in 2005, some 20 years after the debut of the first ever Asian Disney Resort in Tokyo, it quickly attracted a steady market of tourists and visitors from all around its neighbors, Chinese and Southeast Asians who have long desired a Disney experience both near and affordable. It has done this in all its near 11 years of business, and even with the larger Shanghai Park now operating at full gear, Hong Kong Disney Resort will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Let’s go over the reasons why.


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Hong Kong Disney Resort is located at the northeastern tip of Lantau Island, next to Penny’s Bay, just two kilometers off from the private residential development Discovery Bay. Much like other Disney resorts, the entire complex is a series of locations and venues around a body of water, in this case the man-made lagoon Inspiration Lake which serves as irrigation for the whole resort and as a recreational center all on its own. Inspiration Lake is the largest artificial lake in Hong Kong, and features a boating dock, arboretum, jogging and bike trails, enclosed exercise and fitness stations and a children’s playground.

The water itself offers a great view with aquatic plants, an artificial waterfall and jet fountains on display. A convenience store serves as a rental center for boats and bicycles and also offers toilets and changing rooms. This is the gateway of sorts to the entire resort, accessible by a short walk from the Resort’s dedicated MTR station and public transport interchange, or via a franchise bus route. If nothing else, entrance to Inspiration Lake is free and it’s open to visitors every day, from 9 in the morning to 7 in the evening.


For people looking to live it up while at the Disney Resort, you are covered by a choice of two exquisite shoreline hotels with around a thousand rooms of accommodation between them. It’s perfect if you’re set to stay more than a day to explore Disneyland and the rest of the resort. You get a choice between the 400-room Victorian-styled Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel that is something of a younger brother to Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and the Parisian Disneyland Hotel; or for a greater chance to have more rooms available, you can check out the Disney Hollywood Hotel and its 600 rooms, with an architectural sense evocative of art deco and classic 1930’s Hollywood. You can also take advantage of their special vacation and fairy tale wedding packages.

On the off chance that you won’t be checking out and staying the Hong Kong Disney Resort until 2017, you might luck out and be the first to see the Explorer’s Lodge, and expansion hotel with 750 room and four distinctly themed areas, be it Asian (think Mulan), African (Lion King), South American rainforest (Emperor’s New Groove?) and Polynesian (a la the upcoming Disney Princess movie “Moana”).


And here we are, at the very heart of Hong Kong Disney Resort, and all Disney resorts all over the world. On its opening day back in 2005, critics were disappointed that, at having only four themed areas, Hong Kong had the smallest Disneyland ever. That would change from 2011 through 2013 with the consecutive debuts of three long-awaited expansion areas, and Hong Kong Disneyland is to this day capable of going head to head with its fellow parks around the world even the new challenger in Shanghai.

The first four areas of Hong Kong Disneyland are four of the five original classics from the first one in Anaheim: Main Street USA with its early 20 th century small-town appeal, its signature railroad and animation shops; Fantasyland, the central-most area of the park with the fairy tale motif and the dominant fairy tale castle that is iconic of Disney’s parks (for Hong Kong, that’s “Sleeping Beauty’s Castle”, like in Orlando and Paris), filled with the most memorable characters of Disney’s animated films, some ready for a meet-and- greet like Merida or Rapunzel and even Queen Elsa and Anna; Adventureland, which for Hong Kong is the largest version of all Disney Parks and featuring the traditional Jungle River Cruise, and areas featuring “The Lion King” and “Tarzan”; finally there’s futuristic Tomorrowland with the Hyperspace Mountain indoor coaster ride and the latest theme areas from now Disney-owned “Star Wars”.

The additional theme areas are just as popular: most especial among them is Toy Story Landthemed after the blockbuster “Toy Story” franchise with rides and attractions featuring Woody, Buzz Lightyear and their many friends; Hong Kong’s version of the fifth classic themed area, Frontierlandknown as Grizzly Gulch which is styled after a mining ghost town, with its star attraction being the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars; and an all-original themed area for aHong Kong Disneyland, Mystic Point, a forested place with supernatural spectacles emanating from the “Haunted Mansion-esque” Mystic Manor. Every area of course is full of cafes and restaurants to fill your bellies in.

It’s easy to see – and many travelers on Trip Advisor agree – that even here in Hong Kong Disney Resort, one day is already just not enough to, as the “Lion King” song goes, “see all that can be seen, do all that can be done, find all that can be found”. Worry not too much about having to choose between here and Shanghai; they are both magically enchanting, and Hong Kong has an edge in international accessibility. So come on by and experience the magic at Hong Kong Disneyland.

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