First HKDL Trip Friday - any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland' started by See Post, May 14, 2011.

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    Originally Posted By friarthe

    Hi all, very excited to go to HKDL for the first time this Friday - the only Disney park my wife and I haven't hit yet. Happy to say we'll be in southern China long enough to see all the three new lands opening up, but wanted to check the park out in its "humble" earliest incarnation.

    Any recommendations? (For food or whatever.) We've been Anaheim passholders for more or less the last 20 years, and know this will be, well, different.
     
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    Originally Posted By Bob Paris 1

    Have something else planned for the afternoon!

    ; )
     
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    Originally Posted By Witches of Morva

    ORGOCH: Us cauldron gals ain't been ta Ping Pong Dizzyland, yet, 'cause we's waitin' fer 'em ta finish buildin' the park!

    ORDDU: But we hope you have a wonderful time while you're there, friarthe, duckling! You'll have to come back here and give us a trip report.

    ORWEN: Be sure and share your pictures with us, too!
     
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    Originally Posted By FerretAfros

    Make sure you catch the shows. Even if you're not really into entertainment that much, they're very well done. I think that the Golden Mickeys is possibly the best show I've ever seen in a theme park. The Lion Kings show is also very good, but not to my taste as much; I know there are plenty of people who think it's even better than The Golden Mickeys. In both shows, it's interesting to notice how they deal with the language issue, including parts in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English.

    The Jungle Cruise is also very different than the other versions, and worth checking out. Be preparred for a lot of sympathy laughs to try and break the awkwardness that seems so common with the jokes on a boat full of non-native English speakers.

    For food, I'm a fan of the Royal Banquet Hall in Fantasyland (where Snow White is in DL's FL). They have a fairly wide variety of food, and it's all pretty good. If you're looking for something a little fancier, I've heard good things about the Plaza Inn, which serves Chinese food.
     
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    Originally Posted By davewasbaloo

    If I were going to HKDL and interested in food, there is one place I would totally make a priority - The Crystal Lotus in the DLH. Think chinese restaurant meets Napa Rose/Victoria and Alberts (kind of). Now I am going on 2nd and 3rd party reviews, but I would love to try it myself.
     
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    Originally Posted By SuperDry

    <<< Have something else planned for the afternoon!

    ; ) >>>

    Someone beat me to it!

    <<< We've been Anaheim passholders for more or less the last 20 years, and know this will be, well, different. >>>

    When you enter Town Square, you will be eerily surprised at just how familiar the place looks and feels.

    Actually, I think you can make a full day of it at the resort: if you get there at park opening, you can get most of the shows and attractions knocked out by late afternoon. Then, you can head over to HKDLH and spend a bit of time checking out the hotel and grounds, then dine at Crystal Lotus. I'd make reservations for an early seating, around 5 or 6pm. Then, after dinner, head back to the park and enjoy the nighttime entertainment and ambiance. With the dinner break at the hotel, you should be able to have a full day from park opening to close.
     
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    Originally Posted By Spirit of 74

    If you've been to every other Disney park, then you need to put yourself in a different frame of mind for HKDL.

    It absolutely is a full day park IF you see both shows (E-Ticket caliber), the new 5th Anniversary Parade (which I just missed out on, but looks terrific) and take in the shops and dining.

    If you are only interested in rides, then you could be done and disappointed in literally 4-5 hours.

    I really like the Corner Cafe for table serve and Taitian Terrace (Indian)for quick serve. The Royal Banquet Hall has a little bit of everything from various Chinese cuisines to pizza and steak.

    The best dining locale in the resort is the Crystal Lotus at the DLH. Beautiful dining room overlooking South China Sea, gourmet food and not pricey by Disney (or even HK) standards.

    The beauty of this park is in the details and entertainment and detailing ... but it is still a DisneylandLite.

    None of the attractions are going to blow you away ...but the versions of Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise and Small World are all well-done.

    The pyro show is nice, but its more of a projection and Disney music show.

    Other questions, ask away ...
     
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    Originally Posted By Witches of Morva

    ORWEN: Yes, I have a question. What are the next attractions they're going to be adding to this park after Mystic Manor and Grizzly mine car ride?
     
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    Originally Posted By Bob Paris 1

    Don't you old biddies have crystal balls?

    Or was that a scurrilous rumour I heard down at the Morva Bath House?
     
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    Originally Posted By davewasbaloo

    As long as you all play safe....
     
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    Originally Posted By friarthe

    <<The best dining locale in the resort is the Crystal Lotus at the DLH.>>

    Swear that read "best drinking locale" for a second. Thought someone had read my mind...

    Thanks for all the tips -- keep them coming! Won't get on that HK bus til Thursday night.
     
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    Originally Posted By davewasbaloo

    I did hear the vodka bar where the bottles burst into flames there is very good too!
     
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    Originally Posted By friarthe

    Had a killer time at HKDL today. Do trip reports go here? I don't see a section dedicated to them for non-US parks.
     
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    Originally Posted By davewasbaloo

    Glad you had a great time. Sadly, the non US sections do not warrant a trip report section, so here is great. Would love to read it!
     
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    Originally Posted By Bob Paris 1

    Seriously witches.

    No response to THAT?


    Seriously?
     
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    Originally Posted By friarthe

    Ok, here goes. This is a tad long, but it's my first trip report, so sorry if it seems self-indulgent.
     
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    Originally Posted By friarthe

    Friarthe's HKDL trip report, Friday May 20 2011:

    Rope drop:
    We arrived in plenty of time for rope drop, and were lucky to take advantage of a deal where we got one annual pass and one 1-day ticket for only slightly more than two 1-day passes. (Guess we’ve been suckered into coming back a couple times this year!) Everyone in the crowd was extremely polite, esp. the CMs. The ground was spotless, which is especially rare in China.

    A nice family from Taiwan was pulled out of line next to us and led inside to help the CMs welcome everyone to the park – the first guests of the day! It was a cute ceremony.

    Crowds (or lack thereof):
    When they let us in, the park was empty for quite some time. We headed straight for Pooh, assuming (correctly, it turned out in the end) that it would be the biggest draw for the crowd. We were the only ones in line for Pooh, and almost the only ones in like for Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear next. The crowd did steadily build up during day, with streams of people lined up outside around 2 pm. The park ended up with short, but noticeable, lines by mid afternoon. The kids’ rides (Small World, Pooh, Buzz) had longer lines than Space Mountain all day. The “flat rides” (Dumbo, Astro Orbiter, etc) which are also popular at our local park (Chimelong Paradise in Guangzhou) had consistently longish lines. Autopia also had a long line, but that may be due to the confusing loading process, in which they were releasing a fleet of cars at once, then waiting for them all to fill up again to send everyone out at once. (Any former Autopia employees able to help explain this?)

    When we first decided to move to China, I geared up for culture shock regarding lines. All the books said that pushing and shoving to get into elevators/rides/stores is a big shocker for Westerners. In fact, this is rarely the case (maybe thanks to government campaigns around the Olympics and Asia Games), and in Hong Kong it seems not to happen at all. However, Small World was a madhouse in line, maybe because the queue was too wide. I have no idea how many people cut us off or if we cut anyone else off accidentally. This didn’t happen anywhere else, including the somewhat chaotic Golden Mickeys queue.

    Attractions:
    So here are a few thoughts I haven’t seen online, which I thought I’d share. My apologies to whoever has made the same remarks in the past and I missed them – probably everything is on the internet somewhere. Here’s what we saw/rode, in order, with thoughts:

    Pooh – Same as Florida. They included a nod to the lost WDW Toad ride in Owl’s house, which was nice. So, does anyone else think this ride is a bit too “dark” for a Pooh-themed ride? The books/movies are sweetness and light (compared to Pinnochio, Snow White, or Alice) but the ride focuses on all the traumatic bits. I remember my nephew being scared of the Florida Pooh ride when he was 3, and it makes some sense.

    Space Mountain – So different (weak themeing in line) and yet so similar -- the same track as Anaheim, exactly. Lights were up a bit too bright so the track was always clearly visible, but the meteor effects were nice. The supernova effect at the top of the highest hill before the action really starts does “explain” why suddenly the ride starts whizzing along after so much build-up. LOVED hearing the Anaheim Space Mountain music again.

    Buzz Lightyear – Much more difficult gameplay than in Anaheim, possibly because all the targets that move were moving swiftly. Got my worst score ever – the wife had twice my score, so maybe it was just a bad day for me! But they did adjust the “levels” at the exit so it’s more likely for someone to improve and move up a level. (Have I ever reached anything besides “Space Scout” in Anaheim???)

    Also, there’s a very nice effect in the “Zurg’s control room” scene of Planet Z spinning towards Zurg’s ship that explains the crash-landing much more clearly.

    Autopia – The landscaping is really beautiful. I missed the whimsy of the Anaheim or Paris rides, and was a little sad that our track didn’t include the cool overpass that loops out around the water play area in Tomorrowland. Would’ve ridden it again, but that line is long!

    Small World – A very nice version of the ride, though nothing will ever top the Mary Blair original. But seeing the rainforest scene still in its full glory was great, and the finale seems more like a coherent celebration and less like a review of all the countries we’d seen on our trip. Also, including the Star Ferry and Hong Kong in the Asia section is class.

    Lunch – Ate at the Royal Banquet Hall at the suggestion of FerretAfros. Decent food, great variety! Like a fool, I got excited about the pork ribs and rice (which I could have any day back home in Guangzhou) and missed out on the thrill of western treats. There are a lot of nice princess theming touches, like the stained-glass windows in the eating area. Overall, one of the best counter-service areas I’ve seen at the parks.

    Golden Mickeys – Shows are not my thing, but this was very well put together. Some very talented people in the cast, including a guy who sang very well, their half-naked Tarzan, etc. Good special effects, very nice use of the screens and the stage.

    Sadly, the show is firmly rooted in 2005, and the references to Hunchback and Tarzan only made me say, “Oh yeah, they made those movies, didn’t they?” Funny how Toy Story 2, Little Mermaid, and Beauty & the Beast didn’t seem out of place, though. Note to Disney – corporate synergy is good business, but you can’t declare something a classic til time has decided for you.

    Jungle Cruise – Funny how so much of the river’s real estate was eaten up by the ferry crossing for Tarzan’s Treehouse. Once the ride really began, it seemed like it all happened too fast! The thing I will remember most was the unfortunate delivery of our guide, whose English was far more stilted than most of my ESL students in Guangzhou. No condescention meant—goodness knows I couldn’t do a tenth of what she did with my pitiful Chinese! But the delivery was so far off I found myself laughing at all the wrong parts.

    The fire vs. water battle at the end was exciting.

    Tarzan’s Treehouse – Just like the Anaheim version, though some interactive portions seem to have been replaced with automation – the part where you can touch Tarzan’s face in the book to see a part of his life, for instane. (And of course it’s on an island, though I was hoping for the island to be developed in an interesting way a la DLP’s pirate caves.) Also, there’s an AA baby elephant at the exit to add a little fun. Funny enough, my favorite part was the bathrooms, which were hidden away in a cave and barely marked.

    Train – We tried to see the new construction through the slats—unlike other DL railroads, the outside of the park is blocked off by closed windows, so it was difficult to see much, but we did get to peek at the tracks for the new Grizzly ride and the Slinky the Dog ride, which is well underway.

    Non-AA animals have been thrown along the tracks throughout the Adentureland section, and were appreciated – the Chinese tourists were VERY excited to see each one, and chattered about them a lot. It would have been nice to have more real scenery like in Anaheim or Paris, or a bit of fantasy like the Grand Canyon and dinosaurs.

    The Preview Center (in the Opera House on Main Street) was great. LOVED seeing models of the three new lands being built outside the berm. All look fabulous. The animation section was essentially a reduced version of the Art of Animation room at DCA, but the Toy Story Rotoscope was VERY appreciated by the locals. Again, one of the nicest parts of HKDL is seeing all the attractions with fresh appreciation thanks to visitors from HK, Macau, and Taiwan, who ooh and ahh at everything.

    Dinner at the hotel – oh my goodness, that is one classy hotel. Right up there with Grand Californian, and miles above Swan & Dolphin for tastefulness and class. We went to Crystal Lotus for dinner (thanks Spirit of 74); had to wait ‘til 6 to eat, but the food was superb (crispy duck appetizer, scallops and silky tofu, pan-fried noodles) and the service very good. Made reservations at City Hall, but they weren’t really necessary in the end. The only issue happened when our waitress, who clearly was not a drinker (pretty common in mainland China, maybe in HK too?) had no clue what I meant when I asked for a vodka martini. She brought back something very weird (sweet vermouth & vodka on the rocks in a tumbler), but when I told her it wasn’t really what I’d asked for, the bartender came out. Very nice guy, super professional, apologized and brought a superb dry martini. On the whole, we thought the meal was pricey, but then realized we’d only paid about $70 US. Ha!

    Fireworks – Nice show. No unnecessary pop music intro and exit, which (for me) is the only flaw in Remember, Remember Holiday, and Magical…. Just solid movie fare. Short show, which was fine. The crowd was very into it. Seriously, why don’t people (including me) get this excited in Southern California?

    So some thoughts about the differences… When the Anaheim and Hong Kong parks are so incredibly similar, it’s the tiny differences that really make themselves felt. For instance, the charm of a “useless” feature like the Main Street Fire Dept with its engine is lost when transformed into a practical feature (in HK, the stroller rental area is there). The movie preview windows on Main Street – admittedly just a museum of old previews for the last 6 years – is much more interesting than HK’s dioramas of rides at HKDL itself, which amount to little more than a checklist of major attractions.

    On the other hand, Tahitian Terrace uses a lot of the Tiki Room gods and the singing tiki poles (minus the singing) as décor, and it was awesome to see them show up as a reference.

    The decision to leave out relatively low-popularity dark rides from Fantasyland makes sense, but why no Peter Pan? It’s probably the most Disney of all Disneyland rides. Classics like Pirates or HM could be replaced with other E-tickets maybe (Mystic Manor), but Fantasyland without much fantasy in it is weirdly hollow. Makes the whole land seem like one big meet-n-greet station.

    Employees – Without an exception, the HKDL employees were stellar. I’ve had a growing frustration with Anaheim’s cast members over the past ten years—they’ve grown more and more robotic, unable to interact with people like human beings. I suspect this is from curtailed training, running (less qualified) applicants through a more military orientation and demanding less responsibility from CMs for their own judgement. (I have no insider knowledge – any light a current CM could shed would be interesting.) But at HKDL, the CMs listened carefully and attentively, dealt with my issues and helped out, and were wonderful. No screaming, light-waving people at the end of their rope. The only person I saw who looked worn out was Rapunzel, and given the heavy polyesther outfit she was wearing, the length of the lines to see her, and the heat, I’m impressed that she was keeping up the level of energy she was.

    We took a lot of photos specifically for a LP audience (a lot of the windows on Main Street, etc) but I’ll have to find some time to post them when we get home. Don’t want to miss out on the rest of our vacation!
     
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    Originally Posted By Witches of Morva

    ORDDU: Very nice trip report, friarthe, duckling. Thank you for taking the time to give us all your reactions and insights.

    ORWEN: And as for YOU, Bob Paris 1, duckling, I DO have an answer for you! Yes, we could look into our crystal ball to find out the answers to just about ANY thing. But sometimes the things we learn scare us to death--like the times we've found out who would win the various presidential elections before anybody else. Information found out ahead of time can be horrifying! So we don't like to take any more chances.

    ORDDU: Aside from that, it's much more interesting to just wait and discover things at the same pace as you do, duckling. It adds a certain romance and mystery to a coven's lives. Surely you understand.

    ORGOCH: Why don'tcha's tell Bob Paris 1 the dang TRUTH! The old crystal's got a crack in it makin' it so it ain't as reliable as it used ta be. Them lame excuses yer handin' out ta the poor sap just makes yerselves look cracked!!
     
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    Originally Posted By EmmaJayne

    Thanks for the detailed trip report... my family is currently tossing up between a trip to Hong Kong or Hawaii for Crhistmas this year.. I am campainging strongly for HK and much of my argument is based on being able to visit HKDL.. I'm going to read selected bits of this trip report help in hopes of swinging them all in my favour!
     
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    Originally Posted By davewasbaloo

    I am enjoying the Trip Report, thank you so much for sharing.

    >>>Autopia also had a long line, but that may be due to the confusing loading process, in which they were releasing a fleet of cars at once, then waiting for them all to fill up again to send everyone out at once. (Any former Autopia employees able to help explain this?)<<<

    I am not an Autopia cast member, but this is standard operating procedure at Disneyland Paris too.

    Glad you enjoyed Crystal Lotus, I cannot wait to try it myself one day.

    >>>The decision to leave out relatively low-popularity dark rides from Fantasyland makes sense, but why no Peter Pan? It’s probably the most Disney of all Disneyland rides. Classics like Pirates or HM could be replaced with other E-tickets maybe (Mystic Manor), but Fantasyland without much fantasy in it is weirdly hollow. Makes the whole land seem like one big meet-n-greet station.<<<

    While I agree they should have had more dark rides, it shows different strokes. Even as a child Fantasyland never did much for me. To me it is not a valid MK style park without PotC and HM (they are the only 2 must rides for me). Hence my lack of opening day excitement for HKDL. But with Grizzl Gulch and Mystic Manor, I am jonesing to get over.
     

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