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 davewasbaloo

    Thanks for the fab write up. I do think the AP programme and crowds have taken their toll in Anaheim too. The parks are the most crowded I have ever seen with no off season.
     
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    Originally Posted By friarthe

    davewasbaloo - Point taken. I guess I was thinking about those '55 tv spots about the park, long before they added HM and PotC (undisputedly the top classic rides). That, and I have an obvious weakness for Peter Pan's Flight.

    EmmaJayne - After seeing your comment, I think I should've been more upbeat! Sell your family on the Jungle Cruise and the low, low crowds. Also, they have the (only?) Stitch Encounter, which is like Turtle Talk, but we skipped it. If you like shows, Golden Mickeys really is top-notch. Good luck!
     
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    Originally Posted By davewasbaloo

    They do not have the only Stitch Encounter, we also have it in Walt Disney Studios Paris, and we think it is a step up from Turtle Talk, much more inclusive of adults too. Shame you missed it.
     
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    Originally Posted By friarthe

    Well, with the annual pass they talked me into, I won't make the same mistake twice!

    Besides, Philharmagic was down, and I can't let the wife be the high score holder on Buzz.
     
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    Originally Posted By TDLFAN

    >>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<<

    That's OK. I forgive you.

    Nice trip report. I was there the day before you visited and was surprised at how crowded the park was in the afternoon hours and pretty much until the fireworks at closing time.

    One thing that you did not mention..or offer criticism, is the current 5th anniversary event.. the castle decoration (did you see the illumination ceremony?). How about the "Celebration in the Air" 5th anniversary parade? Did you see that? The reason why I ask is because it's easy to compare this park with the other DL parks in the World, but I personally feel the live entertainment here, while not plentiful, it is very high quality. Their new parade is one of the nicest ones currently playing in a DL park. Did you see their Lion King show? I think it's loads better than the version presented at Animal Kingdom. At least I am glad you saw Golden Mickeys.. which you may or may not know, was adapted from the Disney Cruise Line entertainment line up, and somewhat improved for HKDL..

    One more thing.. if you wanted to see the construction for the new Grizzly Mountain ride, Mystic Point snd Toy Story Land.. you needed to seat in the very last train car, front row, at the very end of the row... and you could have gotten a great view of the entire area.. So good in fact that when I did this on my visit, I could see the floor tiles are already in place for a portion of the walkway leading from Mystic Point and into the gate at Tot Story Land.

    Anyways.. thanks for the thoughts and opinion.
     
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    Originally Posted By friarthe

    Thanks, TDLFan. We ironically got the last-car front seats from Fantasyland to Main Street, and missed out on it when it would've helped! I did glimpse the pavement at Mystic Point, and wondered what the rainy season does here to construction schedules.

    We missed the castle-lighting ceremony by a couple minutes, due to an unexpected call at dinner. But normally it would be completely do-able to eat at Crystal Lotus and make it back in plenty of time to see it. Might try again...

    About the 5th Anniversary: The wife thought the castle decor looked like a Sparklett's water truck in the daytime, and even didn't realize it was the same castle as in Anaheim at first. I thought it looked nice at night, but not so much in the day. (I'd say the same for almost any decor they've done on the Anaheim castle over the years, with the exception of the great snow/icicle effects they have now.)

    One very nice touch re: the castle is, at the beginning of the fireworks, they used the gold "streamer" portions of the decoration to give a "Tinkerbell circling the castle" effect. The film projections on the castle walls fell a little flat from where we stood (about where the Plaza corndog truck would be in Anaheim) but tht might be better with seating up front. We didn't have to jockey too hard for decent viewing, which was nice!

    A lot of the 5th-year merch looked suspiciously like the 5-year merch at TDS, using a similar compass/star pattern. Am I paranoid? I've only been to TDS once, and it happened to be on their 5-year anniversary.

    Also missed the parade and skipped the Lion King show. I mentioned in my report that I'm not much of a live show person -- that was being polite. I hated seeing the fancy Julie Taymor Lion King in Hollywood, and so skipped it at both Animal Kingdom and here. But I do love nice use of sets so maybe we'll check it out next time.

    I really appreciate the tips from LPers. We never would have seen Golden Mickeys or tried Crystal Lotus without them!
     
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    Originally Posted By TDLFAN

    In regards to the 5th anniversary merchandise comparison with TDS'.. no I don't see any similarity. The fact is.. merchandise can be HKDL's worst offering.. and the 5th anniversary merchandise is just flat compared to TDS' much more stylish offerings for that particular anniversary.
     
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    Originally Posted By Spirit of 74

    <<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.>>

    How can you not buy an AP at those prices? I know they recently changed the program a bit, but my AP cost less than a one-day ticket in O-Town ...

    <<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?)>>


    The longest lines I've seen in numerous visits to the park in 2008 and 2010 are always for Pooh, Small World, Dumbo and JC (usually in that order). I have NEVER seen Space Mountain listed at longer than 20 minutes Stand By, no matter how crowded the park is.

    And didn't realize we had a LPer in Guangzhou. I spent some time there before and during the Asian Games last fall. Very interesting city ... with incredible skyline from the Canton Tower.

    <<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.>>

    I've been in quite a few pushing 'situations' in China (I've basically lived there for six months over the past three years), but it sure can be annoying (little 90-something Chinese woman elbowing you like she's a lead blocker on a sweep!) HKDL really isn't bad at all in this regard. I've found DLP to be MUCH worse. But I have also noticed it's worst on Small World, which likely is because the queue is wide enough for 2-3 Americans (or 4-5 Chinese to stand across).

    <<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.>>

    I've never thought of Pooh, which is a carbon copy of MK's, as dark. Now, SW at TDR and DLP would be much darker in tone (but fits the story and film much better than the neutered FLA version or the truncated DL one).

    <<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.>>

    The queue is very ordinary with switchbacks outside ... once you get in, you are at load. But the attraction is great. And I love I can go ride 4-5 times in a row usually very quickly. The effects are (I think) all installed in Anaheim, but many haven't ever worked.

    <<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.>>

    I do pretty well in HK ... but I enjoy the ride because I don't know how to max it out. In FLA, there's no joy because I know how to max the game out in the first room (or second or third if I'm struggling because of the attacthced guns. That's just not fun.

    <<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!>>

    Have done it a few times here because I actually like the scenery, but the lines do build here (driving is a universal love if you're a kid!)

    <<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.>>

    I love Small World there with the mountains behind it. Still can't believe it didn't open with the park but can't believe a whole lot of how HKDL got built the way it did ...

    <<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.>>

    Been here a few times. Actually had a very good Mickey-shaped pizza and salad once and a steak another time. I do like the variety of cuisine (both Chinese and western) here. And the dining room and detailing is very nice.

    <<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.>>

    I love the show ... and enjoy both Hunchback and Tarzan parts (and quite enjoy the films as well). I know it was updated for the Disney Dream's launch to add Princess and Frog and Tangled, not sure what was dropped ... (someone want to page Leemac to the thread? :) )

    I have noticed that the Chinese have two very annoying habits. They don't understand that no flash photography or video lighting means NO ... and they don't seem to like to clap even when they seem to enjoy a show. Just what I've seen across the board ...

    <<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.>>

    I have had some excellent English-speaking guides (one that was wonderful when a boat ahead of ours died and we had to sit in front of the attacking natives for 15 minutes!) ... but I have had some that are just truly awful.

    I like the new take on JC ... and the finale ... and even the animals you can only glimpse from the RR ... but a lot of real estate and time is spent just getting around the treehouse and into the real ride.

    <<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.>>

    There used to be a baby elephant in Anaheim too. I believe I've heard its been removed and I can't recall when I last saw it (or looked).

    <<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. >>

    Yes, I got some great pictures of the site back in December. I can only imagine how fast things have moved along since with the decision to have everything done a year earlier.

    <<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.>>

    That's a nice touch ... as are the TS aliens taking your picture in T-land ... and the nice Main Street era advertising sign (think it's for the Emporium).

    <<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.>>

    Just missed the opening of the preview center ... wonder how much of the animation exhibits were removed for it. Not that they were special for a Disney fan from the States, but they did a good job of telling some animation history to an audience that might not know very much.

    <<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!>>

    You are quite welcome. I absolutely LOVE Crystal Lotus (thanks to Leemac and other non-LPers for turning me on to it to start). One of the best Disney dining experiences on the planet and absolutely the best one when economics are brought in.

    <<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?>>

    The locals get into pyro and parades in a BIG way there. The Halloween Parade had them all going bonkers over Jack Skellington and pals. It was a wild, fun scene. I have to admit I'd like to see Disney do more with pyro at HKDL just because it IS in China. They could do some amazing shows.

    I wonder if the government is a factor here (something I need to ask people about) ... I also thought that when I saw the park closed at 9 p.m. on NYE .... considering what kind of amazing party city HK can be, I found that to be very, very odd.


    <<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.>>

    Did you notice a lack of depth in the MS shops? By that I don't mean in theming, which I think is very well done, but in terms of the shops don't go back as far ... they're smaller. It was very jarring on my first visit in '08.

    Now, I just chalk it up to its unique charm ... as a part-time local ;-)

    <<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.>>

    And the food here is terrific too!

    <<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.>>

    Pan and Mermaid dark rides were both on the original planning menu for the park (much like two other lands and about a dozen legit attractions) for budget reasons. Leemac has said there's room for both in the Pooh and PhilharMagic showbuildings, but I just don't see it when I stand there looking because you also have two large food facilities and restrooms located there and I don't see them being removed for attractions.

    Maybe I'm just missing something because I've heard the same from a friend at WDI ... but no one has 'splained it to me when I'm standing there in front of the buildings trying to picture it.

    <<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.>>

    Every CM I've dealt with in EVERY visit to Lantau has been wonderful ... every last one.

    <<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!>>

    Look forward to seeing them and enjoy the rest of your trip.
     
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    Originally Posted By Spirit of 74

    <<They do not have the only Stitch Encounter, we also have it in Walt Disney Studios Paris, and we think it is a step up from Turtle Talk, much more inclusive of adults too. Shame you missed it.>>

    Agreed.

    I am not a big fan of Turtle Talk. I think I saw it 3-4 times when it first opened between EPCOT and DCA.
    I don't ever want to repeat that.

    But Stitch just works better, especially for adults because he is a naughty little blue doggie.

    It is now something I try and see every time both in Paris and Hong Kong.
     
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    Originally Posted By FerretAfros

    >>The effects are (I think) all installed in Anaheim, but many haven't ever worked.<<

    As far as I know, only the meteor/comet prop at the top of the second lift hill was installed in DL. It's just been sitting there in the dark since the ride reopened in July 2005. Although they have had a couple different overlays to the attraction since that time (Rockin' Both Parks and Ghost Galaxy-twice), they've never managed to light it up. It's a neat enough effect in HKDL that I've always wondered why they've never used it in DL. Instead of the neat Tron-esque effects between the first two lifts, DL installed something similar to the tubes in WDW's ride, with the flashing blue lights. I much prefer the HKDL version, as it really sets the mood, and actually feels semi-futuristic, instead of like something leftover from 1975.

    >>There used to be a baby elephant in Anaheim too. I believe I've heard its been removed and I can't recall when I last saw it (or looked).<<

    They moved the elephant at the exit of the Treehouse in DL in either late 2004 or early '05, during the Jungle Cruise's big refurb ("Something Gnu is Coming") shortly before the start of the 50th. It's now on the shore, standing right next to Trader Sam. Skippers tend to introduce it as Ellie, but I've heard a couple names (careful, she has a cold!). I heard a rumor that it was originally taken from the ride, in the elephant bathing pool scene, but I'm not sure if it is the same figure, or just a copy.
     
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    Originally Posted By friarthe

    >>There used to be a baby elephant in Anaheim too. I believe I've heard its been removed and I can't recall when I last saw it (or looked).<<

    Trust LPers to put my knowledge to shame. I was hitting the Park about once every 2 weeks in 04-05 and I swear I had no idea the baby elephant was there. Then again, I didn't go to the treehouse much.

    <<Did you notice a lack of depth in the MS shops? By that I don't mean in theming, which I think is very well done, but in terms of the shops don't go back as far ... they're smaller.>>

    I did notice something was missing, but didn't put my finger on it. The street seemed shorter to me, but that didn't seem right. We actually spent less time there than in Anaheim since my favorite shops (Disneyana, the DVD/CD store, and the refurbed bank) aren't there. Never had much use for character t-shirts myself, but I'm a sucker for the kind of retro fanboy catnip they serve up in California these days.

    <<I am not a big fan of Turtle Talk. I think I saw it 3-4 times when it first opened between EPCOT and DCA. I don't ever want to repeat that.>>

    Did it once at DCA and, despite being very impressed with the actor and the tech, don't feel the need to go back. I wondered if Stich's almost non-verbal speech made that a better crossover here in China.

    <<Just missed the opening of the preview center ... wonder how much of the animation exhibits were removed for it.>>

    What's there now is the Toy Story zoetrope in the north side of the room, a recap of the "new golden age" stuff in the middle where you enter, and previews of the new lands in the south section of the building -- which felt like a little more than 30% of the space. (I could be wrong about the North/South -- I'm using what would be N/S from Anaheim.)

    <<And didn't realize we had a LPer in Guangzhou. ...Very interesting city ... with incredible skyline from the Canton Tower.>>

    I'm pretty new to China, but Guangzhou is the best. It's "real" China, but only a couple hours from HK. I can see the top half of the Canton Tower from my "patio" (the roof of the building next door, which you can climb onto) and it's a real treat.
     
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    Originally Posted By friarthe

    <<>>There used to be a baby elephant in Anaheim too. I believe I've heard its been removed and I can't recall when I last saw it (or looked).<<

    Trust LPers to put my knowledge to shame. I was hitting the Park about once every 2 weeks in 04-05 and I swear I had no idea the baby elephant was there. Then again, I didn't go to the treehouse much.>>

    I did wonder if it was the same as the Trader Sam baby elephant. Two of them show up in HK's Adventureland, the second being at the very end of Jungle Cruise, as a filler between the fire/water scene and the dock.
     

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