Family holidays can pretty much go both ways, but when everything falls into the right place, they become memorable.
Traveling together after almost a decade, this one was going to be quite the experience. My parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, my wife, my daughter, and I, boarded a Cathay Pacific flight to head over to the magical kingdom of Hong Kong Disneyland.
What exactly made this vacation different and oh-so-memorable from the many others?
There was the obvious fact that we were celebrating something special and that too along with the entire family. Then, it was Disneyland. The very name of this institution is bound to bring a smile on the grumpiest of dwarfs – see what I did there – let along humans. And then, at the end of it, we returned with no travel horror stories to complain about.
Hong Kong Disneyland is recommended especially if you are travelling with little children. It is by far the most toddler friendly Disney as my daughter, who was slightly taller than your average one year old at the time, was able to enter almost all the rides and attend most of the trademark shows and events at the park.
Over the years since there have been many additions to the park and my daughter has been lucky enough to visit again and again – Yes! that two time more – to experience the few rides she missed out on earlier.
When I was little – Oh! those glorious days without the worries of the world – my parents took me all around the world, literally, two around the world trips.
But, as an adult I have always complained that I hardly remember anything from those travels. Being a parent now, I realize the importance of traveling with a toddler. They might not remember much, but as my mother said, “the joy and happiness you experienced at that time, be it that you don’t remember it now, was worth the trip”, and that is something I wholeheartedly agree with now.
Call it living in the moment, or getting away with half-price air tickets, in the end there is no denying that my daughter enjoyed the trip.
Hong Kong Disneyland proved to be the perfect vacation also because we decided to stay within the Disney complex at one of their two hotels. They are both kid friendly and be it playing “find the hidden Mickey among the architecture, furniture, food, basically everything you can lay your eyes on” or eating Mickey shaped food, or better yet my daughter dancing on the table in the lobby with Goofy, memories like this are hard to come by.
There’s more though.
You want to know a secret?
If any guy tells you he hates shopping, trust me he is lying, because we love it.
Our trip to Hong Kong could not have been a success without one thing; Shopping in Hong Kong. My father and I decided to break away from the ladies (my brother-in-law was doing the touristy things as this was his first trip), because if there is one thing for adults in HK, it’s the amazing array of shopping available for all budgets. Although, we did end up buying mostly for my daughter – who can be seen below in the photograph protecting her precious cargo.
Nevertheless, Hong Kong is an amazingly vibrant and safe place to walk, shop, bargain, and simply enjoy.
After five days of fun we finally boarded the plane back home and even managed to get a sky high, yet amazing, glimpse of the brightly shining peak of Mt. Everest, which also was a little scary as half the plane suddenly rushed to one side at the same time in order catch a glimpse and click photos.
Down below I jotted some Top Tips from the time I spent in Hong Kong Disneyland. These are simple observations and suggestions that might help make your trip to the “Magical Kingdom” even more special.
- Travel – The best way to get to the theme park if staying elsewhere is by Metro. Although taxis are available from central HK, Metro serves as the quickest and easiest mode. Plus they have a special Mickey Metro train for the last leg of the journey which the kids will definitely enjoy.
- Stay – If possible, try and stay for a day or two at the hotels they have in the Disney complex. There are two and both are excellent and something the kids can enjoy. It is also more relaxing and you can stay till late at the theme park.
- Stroller – Make sure you take a stroller if you have a small child with you. You will have to walk a lot. Even the walk from the bus terminal/metro station to the entrance is tiring and the last thing you want is to carry a baby with you.
- Umbrella – Carry an umbrella with you. Again since you end up waking in the open a lot, you will need an umbrella/rain coat if it rains. If it doesn’t then sometimes it gets really hot and the umbrella comes in handy to save you from the sun. The weather in HK can be unpredictable. We ended up buying raincoats in Disney as a result of not being prepared.
- Fast Pass – As in every Disney, make the most of the FastPass. Besides your favourite ride, the shows get crowded really fast, so I would suggest that use the FastPass on them. A FastPass taken in advance is a sure shot way to not miss out on anything.
- Shopping – There is a very good chance you will end up shopping at the tempting shops in Disney. Good news though, if you are staying at one of the Disney hotels, the shops will deliver your shopping to your hotel reception free of cost if purchased before 4:00 pm (or was it 2:00 pm? Please check), so you can carry on enjoying the park without having to carry bags.
- Parade – Make sure you check the timings of the Disney Parade that takes place twice during the day. You would not want to miss it, so plan your rides/shows around that. During festivals and special days, they have special parades which are even more spectacular. Although, the downside is that the crowds will be in 1000s on those days.
- Fireworks – Each evening there is a fireworks display, so make sure you stick around for that. It’s always good to start heading back 5 minutes before it ends because you can expect a mad rush at all the transport channels once it finishes. If you are staying at one of the hotels in the complex then by all means take your time.
- Rest – Even if you are staying in a Disney hotel, don’t count on going back and then returning later in the day. It’s allowed, but it is more tiring. You would have to walk back to the transport terminal, take the bus back to the hotel and the same routine back. I would recommend just resting in the theme park.
- Divide – If possible divide your theme park activities over two days. Also instead of standing in line, head over to the rides that are free and save the popular ones for later or around lunch when people are eating. If you can get to the park early (another benefit of staying locally) head over to the popular rides first and get them over with.
- Click! – A camera is obvious and a must. Lookout for spots marked all around where you are guaranteed a rather nice photograph. It’s almost like a pre-planned Kodak moment.
- Yummy Food! – There is also a wide variety of food available in the form of food courts or proper sit down restaurants. They are good to keep those stomach rats happy, but also important to sit in the shade and take breaks to get some rest.
- Pack light – It really is that simple. You will need that extra bit of space for the shopping you will do. We were lucky to be 6 adults travelling so weight problems did not arise on our flight back – and I mean baggage weight for on a personal note most of us had gained weight by that time – but don’t let excess baggage spoil your trip.
I’ve been to Disney on a day trip and also stayed at their hotel for 5 days. Maybe 5 days was pushing it a bit, but try and take out 2 days for a more relaxing experience at Disneyland Hong Kong.