When I went to Shanghai Disneyland’s grand opening, I booked ended it with visits to Hong Kong Disneyland. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, this is the first Chinese Disney park that has opened. Having a more classic feel, for an avid original Disneyland goer, this had a same but different feel to it all. To begin the tour we’ll start at the resort entrance and make our way through….
Getting to the Magic Kingdom
The main transportation of getting to the Disneyland Resort is by train. There’s a dedicated metro line that gets guests to the resort. The train itself has a magic feel to it. It’s really a great first impression of the park. Mickey symbol shaped rings are where hands can hold onto. Small bronze statues that are usually found in the hub of parks are along the walls of the inside. Photographs illustrate the history of the original park, many with Walt Disney in them. The seats and overall feel of the train is very nice compared to the rest of the public transportation found throughout the city.
After a few minute trip, guests emerge from the train into a semi-victorian looking station. Green metal and brick are found throughout the two story station. The motif continues through the whole entrance plaza. For stepping into the resort, it’s a nice touch and great impression for the beginning of the trip.
The entrance plaza is quite large. There’s a small walk from the train station to the main entrance gate, but in between is a fanciful fountain with the Fab 5 plus. Mickey is located on a surfboard being raised and lowered by water spouting from the blowhole of a whale. Surrounding them are Donald, Pluto, Goofy, Minnie, and Daisy in various nautical costume and poses.
The whole plaza is very spacious and contains a lot of greenery to make it like a park. It’s a contrast to the crowded Hong Kong city with narrow streets. There are still buildings at the entrance plaza, but small one story sized ones that house things like ticket sales, information, and even a luggage storage area. Brick work is laid out on the paths. At this time, Star Wars has taken over some of Tomorrowland, and was reflected in the area music and banners that adorned the light poles.
The average opening time for the park was 10 in the morning, give or take a half hour depending on weekday versus weekend. Because of the later time, many line up to get into Main Street, which opens a half hour before the opening time. When it’s time to open the turnstiles, Mickey and Minnie are escorted on a turn of the century car into the front. They greet a specially chosen family who helps them count down the start of the operating time. It’s a memorable way to start the day at the park.
Of course what is first noticed upon entering is the Mickey Mouse shaped floral arrangement beneath the Main Street train station. These familiar sights mark this as a definite Disneyland. Plaques above arches on either side have the also familiar “Here you leave today…” But, along the walls are quite different posters showcasing attractions that are unique to the park, like Mystic Manor.
Stepping onto Main Street things appear very similarly to the original in Anaheim, with some exceptions. To the right it looks like the Opera House and Disneyana, but it’s an attraction called the Art of Animation. Inside is a photo op with Baymax, and Animation Academy. There are also a few exhibits of the process of animation. Even the Toy Story zoetrope is located here, where it was once in the Animation Building of Disney California Adventure.
One of the big difference moments for me was gazing at the middle of Town Square. Where there is usually a flag pole, this housed a bandstand instead. Mickey and Minnie posed for pictures inside of here. In all it was a nice aesthetic to the old town look of Main Street. It felt more like that small turn of the century town Walt always wanted.
One of the other very noticeable elements of this land is the brick streets. Instead of concrete for both sidewalk and street, this has brick for the street part. Again, a great old feeling aesthetic that gave the town some charm.
Much of the stores and restaurants seemed the same, though fairly unique to this Main Street. There was a coffee house bakery that sat about where Market House is from Anaheim’s Disneyland. The Emporium still has the same entrance, though it stretched down the entire Main Street boulevard. One part that was not the same was a victorian glass walled building facade that housed one “department” of the Emporium. It was about where the Penny Arcade usually sits. It was a nice break up of the usual building facades.
On the left end of the street was the Plaza Inn – still a restaurant, and one of the nicer ones for the park. Opposite to this restaurant was the Corner Cafe, equally as nice a restaurant, but smaller and with quainter decoration to it. It was also one of the nicer restaurants to eat at, and had quite the American fare assortment to it.
At the hub sat a statue that served as a logo for the 10th anniversary of the park. It was a nice draw and feature of the whole celebration. Besides this decoration, banners were on all of the light poles down Main Street. Though not a huge celebration, it still marked a lot of the milestone.
A rope always kept a boundary from the end of Main Street to the rest of the park before opening. When it was time to lower the ropes, a princess would walk out of the castle and greet a family, then taking them by the 10th anniversary logo, and all to help count down the opening time for the rest of the park. It was a delightful, and magic ceremony to behold. After, it was a mad dash to the first attraction of the day…which we will go to later on. So come back again and we’ll venture deeper into Hong Kong Disneyland!