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Hong Kong Disneyland

Theme Park Guy Rating: 4.54.54.54.54.5
Date Visited:
March 07, 2008 / June 13, 2011 / June 05, 2012
August 13, 2012 / May 31, 2013
Website: www.hongkongdisneyland.com
Location: View on map

Expansion update May 31, 2013

Hong Kong Disneyland expansion, here's my opinion:

Mystic Point surely is the highlight of the three new areas, featuring a beautifully-themed and -narrated dark ride, experienced in a trackless ride vehicle with some stunning sparkle and projection effects, as well as animatronics. Danny Elfman's tailor-made supporting soundtrack greatly adds to the magic and makes for a stimulating and playful, albeit little short experience. It's not as good as 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' or 'Pooh's Hunny Hunt' in Japan, but it's a remarkable family ride unique to Hong Kong Disneyland.

Regarding Grizzly Gulch: somewhere, someday, someone important must have come to the conclusion that Asians don't like thrills - and, somehow, this has had a lasting impact on Disney's strategic decision-making.

Given that the middle-aged woman seated next to me in the just-opened Grizzly Gulch coaster screamed murderously when taking a horizontal curve at toy train speeds, this verdict may not be so wrong, after all. 'Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars' - the coaster's title that reminds me a bit of the bumpiness of saying 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' - is nothing more and nothing less than a shrunken, flattened version of the Expedition Everest roller coaster found at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida.

It's just mildly thrilling and feels more like a Swedish massage than a turbulent plane ride (congrats to manufacturer Vekoma for making the ride insanely smooth). The storytelling proves solid with two plot-and-direction twists that the uninitiated won't expect, and both theming and animatronics are as excellent as expected.

Toy Story Land is undeniably the cheapest-looking land Disney ever created,  just as the original at Walt Disney Studios in Paris. Yet, add some beloved characters and classic scores to the mix, and it works. With the three new lands open, surely Hong Kong Disneyland is now better than it ever was.


Toy Story Land Toy Story Land

Mystic Point Mystic Point

Mystic Point under construction in August 2012 Mystic Point under construction in August 2012

...and open in May 2013 ...and open in May 2013

Mystic Manor trackless ride vehicles Mystic Manor trackless ride vehicles

Starring a monkey and his traveling human companion Starring a monkey and his traveling human companion

Monkey likes the music box Monkey likes the music box

Oops, what did monkey do? Oops, what did monkey do?

The activated music box brings everything to life. Beautiful! The activated music box brings everything to life. Beautiful!

Grizzly Gulch roller coaster Grizzly Gulch roller coaster

Hong Kong Disneyland's most thrilling attraction! Hong Kong Disneyland's most thrilling attraction!

Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars POV Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars POV

First animatronic bear, rubbing up against a railway switch First animatronic bear, rubbing up against a railway switch

And back outside! And back outside!

Three coaster trains operating simultaneously! Three coaster trains operating simultaneously!

The highest point in Grizzly Gulch The highest point in Grizzly Gulch

A turning point in the ride's story! A turning point in the ride's story!

First-rate cable snap effect, followed by a backwards plunge First-rate cable snap effect, followed by a backwards plunge

Smooth Grizzly Gulch coaster tracks Smooth Grizzly Gulch coaster tracks

Grizzly bear animatronics Grizzly bear animatronics

Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars at night Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars at night

Why does the cast member on the left look so protective? Why does the cast member on the left look so protective?

Because, in Disneyland, love... Because, in Disneyland, love...

...knows no boundaries! ...knows no boundaries!

Construction Update June 05, 2012

Phuh! On a personal note, this was the last time I hiked up and down these treacherous mountains. Being passionate about getting aerial photos is one thing, being a suicidal, masochistic geek another. It's a 7 hour hike through painfully untamed jungle and they got venomous snakes up there. I am convinced people in military camps do tougher things, but these trail-free mountains are close.

Please enjoy the final and exclusive set of Hong Kong Disneyland aerial pictures, taken in June 2012 and focusing on its awesome expansion: Grizzly Gulch roller coaster (brown rock structure), Mystic Manor dark ride (grey building in the center) and Toy Story Playland (orange shuttle coaster in the foreground):


And once again: And once again:

Hiking pal Michael and The Theme Park Guy are back in the bush... Hiking pal Michael and The Theme Park Guy are back in the bush...

...to bring you the updates you deserve! ...to bring you the updates you deserve!

Hello Inspiration Lake! Visibility deteriorated, unfortunately! Hello Inspiration Lake! Visibility deteriorated, unfortunately!

Hong Kong Disneyland expansion, here we go! Hong Kong Disneyland expansion, here we go!

Hong Kong Disneyland expansion area, June 2012 Hong Kong Disneyland expansion area, June 2012

Disneyland expansion, with Hong Kong Island in the background Disneyland expansion, with Hong Kong Island in the background

Zoom in Zoom in

Grizzly Gulch coaster (left), Mystic Manor dark ride (middle), Toy Story Land (right) Grizzly Gulch coaster (left), Mystic Manor dark ride (middle), Toy Story Land (right)

Toy Story Playland, operating since 2011 Toy Story Playland, operating since 2011

Hong Kong Disneyland expansion in the evening light Hong Kong Disneyland expansion in the evening light

Closer look, approx. 2 hours before sunset Closer look, approx. 2 hours before sunset

Hong Kong Disneyland expansion aerial Hong Kong Disneyland expansion aerial

Toy Story coaster in the foreground, Mystic Manor and Grizzly Gulch still under construction Toy Story coaster in the foreground, Mystic Manor and Grizzly Gulch still under construction

Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars coaster Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars coaster

Hong Kong Disneyland seen from a very unique angle Hong Kong Disneyland seen from a very unique angle

Hong Kong Disneyland, with both Kowloon and Hong Kong in the background Hong Kong Disneyland, with both Kowloon and Hong Kong in the background

Hong Kong Disneyland wide angle shot Hong Kong Disneyland wide angle shot

Construction Update June 13, 2011

Well, this is quite an update.

In order to take the aerial photos of Hong Kong Disneyland below, my local hiker friend Michael and I had to trek for seven hours over mountains on hiking trails that ceased to exist. We had talked about doing it for two years, but only the expansion gave us the final reason to go. This was the real Jungle Cruise, and together with the thunderstorm suprise we got up there I can say it's the scariest thing I have done since putting a needle into a wall socket when I was a kiddo! You can't see the trail whatsoever (no one must have walked there for years) and there are some perilous cliffs on both sides of the mountain. Without exaggeration, our toe nails were bleeding/falling off after that hike. Don't try to repeat it. I mean it. It wasn't funny.

We got a great view of the Disneyland expansion area: Toy Story Land with its U-shaped orange shuttle coaster and green 'Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop' attraction in the foreground, the world-exclusive and probably terrific dark ride 'Mystic Point' in the middle, and the 'Grizzly Trail' mountain roller coaster (featuring bears and dynamite) in the background. I am anxiously looking forward to this expansion since I believe it will change Hong Kong Disneyland forever.


Hong Kong Disneyland expansion, seen from Tarzan's Tree House Hong Kong Disneyland expansion, seen from Tarzan's Tree House

Grizzly Trail mountain coaster under construction Grizzly Trail mountain coaster under construction

Let's get an aerial view! Let's get an aerial view!

There are no proper hiking trails on the right mountain There are no proper hiking trails on the right mountain

Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter.

It's really been a rough hike It's really been a rough hike

Even my hiking-pro friend Michael got a bit exhausted Even my hiking-pro friend Michael got a bit exhausted

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort! Hong Kong Disneyland Resort!

Disneyland, with Hong Kong in the background Disneyland, with Hong Kong in the background

Main Street and Castle Main Street and Castle

Space Mountain and Tomorrowland Space Mountain and Tomorrowland

Hong Kong Disneyland expansion June 2011 Hong Kong Disneyland expansion June 2011

Three new lands/rides Three new lands/rides

Grizzly Trail (left), Mystic Manor (middle), Toy Story Land (right) Grizzly Trail (left), Mystic Manor (middle), Toy Story Land (right)

Grizzly Gulch mountain roller coaster Grizzly Gulch mountain roller coaster

Closer view Closer view

Mystic Manor dark ride at the back, Toy Story Land at the front Mystic Manor dark ride at the back, Toy Story Land at the front

Toy Story Land Toy Story Land

Update October 10, 2008

Little photo update: 'It's a Small World' is now open and a Halloween Special with ghost houses where real life ghosts surprise/attack harmless visitors was (temporary) operating as well. A hit with the locals, I never saw the park that packed.


Newly opened: Newly opened:

It's a Small World! It's a Small World!

Disney characters at Hong Kong Disneyland's It's a Small World Disney characters at Hong Kong Disneyland's It's a Small World

This exhibit will make your eyes dance This exhibit will make your eyes dance

Hong Kong Disneyland entrance during Halloween Hong Kong Disneyland entrance during Halloween

Haunted house, set up exclusively for Halloween Haunted house, set up exclusively for Halloween

Review March 07, 2008

I love Hong Kong Disneyland. There are no thrills, no ghost trains, no flume rides and apart from 'Space Mountain', which is not really the best version of itself, no roller coasters. BUT the potential of Disney's Hong Kong venture is huge! The resort is nestled between two mountains and the sea, the most beautiful setting of any Disney park in the world, and plenty of space is left for expansion.

Hong Kong Disneyland is designed to resemble the original Disneyland park in California, created and opened by Walt Disney himself in 1955. The castle looks the same, the park structure is similar and it contains roughly the same number of attractions. Highlights of the park for the time being: 'Space Mountain', a roller coaster in the dark; 'Jungle Cruise', a great new version of the classic Disney river adventure featuring amazing elephant animatronics; 'Stitch Encounter', an entertaining interactive attraction; 'Mickey's PhilharMagic', a brilliant 3-D movie featuring Disney characters on a screen that ‘magically' changes in size.

The park's current size is too small but the existing rides, landscaping and surrounding lakes are all superbly done. Visit Hong Kong Disneyland if you have kids or if you are a Disney fan and you will enjoy it a lot. However, if you're looking for thrills, don't go just yet. Wait a few years. This is the moment when you should buy stocks: the park is underrated and will flourish in the years to come.

The two Disney hotels, by the way, are absolutely brilliant: as of now, you get better rooms, better service, better pools and more peace of mind than anywhere else in Hong Kong for this budget.


Hong Kong Disneyland seen from the mountains Hong Kong Disneyland seen from the mountains

Hong Kong Disneyland map Hong Kong Disneyland map

Hong Kong Disneyland entrance Hong Kong Disneyland entrance

Main Street Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland castle Hong Kong Disneyland castle

Jungle Cruise loading station Jungle Cruise loading station

Disney's Jungle Cruise Disney's Jungle Cruise

Amazing animatronic elephant baby! Amazing animatronic elephant baby!

On the Jungle Cruise On the Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise animatronics Jungle Cruise animatronics

Jungle Cruise setting Jungle Cruise setting

Jungle Cruise climax Jungle Cruise climax

Jungle Cruise meets Tarzan's Tree House Jungle Cruise meets Tarzan's Tree House

Tarzan (doesn't move) Tarzan (doesn't move)

Perfect little animatronic elephant Perfect little animatronic elephant

Space Mountain seen from an elevated point Space Mountain seen from an elevated point

Space Mountain Space Mountain

Stitch Encounter entrance Stitch Encounter entrance

Stitch, communicating with the audience Stitch, communicating with the audience

Autopia. A terrible attraction. Autopia. A terrible attraction.

Buzz Lightyear dark ride attraction Buzz Lightyear dark ride attraction

Hong Kong Disneyland castle seen from Fantasyland Hong Kong Disneyland castle seen from Fantasyland

PhilharMagic, a brilliant 3-D movie PhilharMagic, a brilliant 3-D movie

Winnie the Pooh dark ride Winnie the Pooh dark ride

Exhibition Exhibition

Disney's Hollywood Hotel: unbeatable value! Disney's Hollywood Hotel: unbeatable value!

Lonesome Goofy Lonesome Goofy

Hong Kong Disneyland landfill in the making Hong Kong Disneyland landfill in the making

Hong Kong Disneyland seen from the plane Hong Kong Disneyland seen from the plane

Huge room for expansion here Huge room for expansion here



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