Tuesday, July 23, 2013

China Day Sixteen - Hong Kong Whirlwind

When the morning dawned in Hong Kong we opened up our windows to find a spectacular view - ocean to the left and mountains to the right! Since we arrived in the dark, it was a very pleasant surprise!

We got up and got dressed and met Grandmommy and Granddaddy for breakfast downstairs. It was a nice one, although a little more American than our breakfasts in Guangzhou (I missed my miso soup!) And then we were off for some sightseeing. Right outside our hotel and the CityGate complex was the Ngong Ping Cable Car that takes people up the mountains to the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin monastery. We opted just to ride the cable car and take in the scenery without paying the additional admission for visiting Buddha and the monastery. It took a little over an hour to ride to the top, explore the gift shop and return back to the bottom.

Looking back at the shopping center and our hotel (center) from the cable car station.

The Buddha was impressive even from a distance. 
Built from 1990-1993 the Tian Tan Buddha consists of 202 pieces of bronze put over a steel frame.

So high up, the clouds and mountains touched.

Heading back into the Tung Chung metro station to catch the subway to Disneyland! This was our "Plan A" for our Hong Kong day provided that Davis was  doing well enough with the adjustment. If you've read our blog at all, you know we are huge Disney fans and we couldn't pass up the chance to see Hong Kong Disneyland when we were so close. Daryl and I and the boys had on our Disney t-shirts but we did opt to leave all of our pin lanyards back home - they were have thrown our suitcases overweight for sure!

One metro stop down was the Sunny Bay station where we transferred to the Disneyland Resort monorail. The details on the monorail were spectacular!

When we disembarked from the monorail we walked through this gate and down a long promenade that had character flags on the lamposts. That led down to this big statue of surfing Mickey. If you went straight past the statue, you headed towards the two Disney hotels (Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and Disney's Hollywood Hotel); we went right instead towards the main gate of Hong Kong Disneyland.

We bought our tickets and then headed in through the gate. For perspective, one day at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando is $95 for adults and $89 for children ages 3 and up. With the exchange rate between Hong Kong Dollars and US Dollars, Hong Kong Disneyland worked out to be $58 USD for a one day adult ticket and $41 USD for a child's ticket. It was quite a good deal!

The Main Street Railroad station with the train in front.
Main Street USA!

Stroller rental at the fire station.

So good to see that name finally on something like this!
Sleeping Beauty's castle - odd to see it against a backdrop of mountains!
We're so used to Cinderella's castle at WDW that the scale of this one just seemed small.
This park has seven lands as well as the Magic Kingdom, but they do not all spoke off from the castle. Only four were original to the park in 2005, and three more have been added behind Adventureland and Fantasyland since. The originals are Main Street, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The new ones are not found in the USA - there are two Asian exclusives, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point and Toy Story Land, which is almost identical to an area in one of the Disney Paris parks. While we are "all go no stop" in touring parks at home, our touring plan for the day was to catch the exclusive stuff first and then just to hit things that everyone wanted to try in the other lands, all the while keeping Davis in mind and how he was doing. So we only walked through Adventureland to start.

Instead of the Swiss Family Robinson house, they have Tarzan's treehouse and you have to catch a raft to get there.

The entrance to the three new lands - there's another entrance/exit in Fantasyland.
In Grizzly Gulch there are only 4 attractions: the Big Grizzly Gulch Runaway Mine Cars (roller coaster), Geyser Gulch (water play area), Friends of the Wild West (character meet and greet) and the Welcome Wagon Show (musical revue). There was also a restaurant and gift shop. We skipped the meet and greet and the show. Grandmommy took the boys to play near Geyser Gulch while Granddaddy, Daryl and I rode the roller coaster. It was awesome! Super fast, lots of turns and it even goes backwards at one point. When we got done with the first ride, Daryl and I rode it again. We used the single rider line both times and waited about 5 minutes each time.

Geyser Gulch - it was so hot the boys liked cooling off, even in their regular clothes.
The next land was Mystic Point. It had just opened in May. Again there were just three attractions here plus a restaurant: Mystic Manor, Garden of Wonders and the Freight Depot. Of those the only ride was Mystic Manor. It sort of reminded me of Haunted Mansion, but it is not scary. Parker hates the Haunted Mansion and he LOVED Mystic Manor. The storyline involves Lord Mystic, an explorer who has all kinds of artifacts in his house from his travels. His sidekick monkey opens a box that wreaks playful havoc all over the house. These are one of a kind ride vehicles (magneto electric carriages) - basically it looked like you were riding a giant magnet and the car could spin 360 degrees. We all rode this, including Davis.

Some of the pictures and treasures in the ride line. 

Next up was Toy Story Land. The theming and attention to detail were just amazing!!!! You felt like you were in a Toy Story movie. There were four attractions here: Toy Soldier Parachute Drop, RC Racer, Slinky Dog Spin, and Barrel of Fun where you could meet characters.

This looked awesome but it was hotter than blue blazes outside and the line was over an hour long. We skipped it in favor of Slinky Dog Spin, which Parker and Wesley and I rode.

The boys had no desire to ride the RC Racer - 
but they didn't mind getting their picture in the car out front. 

Outside the Toy Store. 

Davis with his souvenirs - Buzz, Woody and Zurg race cars. 

I stood in line for only about 5 minutes to meet Jessie at the Barrel of Fun. She was super sweet! 

When I caught up to the rest of the family, 
they were watching the Army Men train some new recruits. 

The other entrance/exit to this area.
Popsicle benches and Lego trashcans were among its many touches.

Next up was Fantasyland. This section is bigger than the original Fantasyland at WDW and has 11 attractions: Fantasyland Train Station, Cinderella Carousel, Mad Hatter Tea Cups, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It's A Small World, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Sword in the Stone, Mickey's Philharmagic, Snow White's Grotto, Fantasy Gardens and the Golden Mickeys show. We walked past the Carousel and Dumbo and headed straight for the Royal Banquet Hall for lunch since we were all starving.

There were several different stations here with foods from different countries.
Wesley and Davis had the kids pizza for lunch that came with corn, watermelon and puff pastry plus a bottle of water and the souvenir plate.

Daryl, Parker and I had the Mickey-shaped meat pizza which came with a bowl of minestrone soup.

Silverware all packaged up with salt, pepper and a napkin.

We exited the restaurant through the gift shop and stopped long enough for Daryl, Wesley, Davis and I to get Hong Kong Disney pins for our lanyards and of course the obligatory refrigerator magnet as well! (Parker had already picked out a pin in the Mystic Manor gift shop). Since Wesley's favorite ride is Winnie the Pooh Daryl got everyone Fastpasses for later and then we headed off to Cinderella's Carousel. Davis enjoyed it and so did everyone else. 

Next up was "It's A Small World." This is always one of my favorites at WDW and this one blew that one out of the water. In particular we really loved how all the Disney movie characters were incorporated into their respective countries. How many can you find?

Mr. Serious enjoyed the boat ride and just took it all in.

Coming out of Small World, we saw the train. It had cars named for different cities and our favorite was going right by.

We headed over to Tomorrowland next. This land has 7 attractions: Space Mountain, Autopia, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, the Orbitron, Stitch Encounter, a UFO playzone and Jammitors. We caught the Jammitors show first  in front of Space Mountain. They were very good!

Then Parker spotted this and we were off! It was fairly similar to the one in the Magic Kingdom with a few differences; mainly that the line was much shorter! We all rode it one time together.

Next door to Buzz was Autopia, their version of the Tomorrowland Speedway at the Magic Kingdom. This was the longest line we stood in, about 35 minutes, but thankfully it was pretty much in the shade. And it was worth it. It was a much longer ride than back at the Magic Kingdom. Grandmommy and Granddaddy rode with Davis, while I rode with Parker and Daryl rode with Wesley.

Just as we finished the fire alarm went off and the whole ride was evacuated, as well as all the poor people in line. We were sorry for them but certainly thankful for our timing. We grabbed Fastpasses for Space Mountain while on our way to Fantasyland. It was time to let Granddaddy ride the train. We passed Fantasy Gardens along the way which looked like a nice character meet and greet area. The railroad cars are different here than at the Magic Kingdom because they all the seats face inward toward the park. Lots of great details on the rail cars.

They made us disembark at Main Street USA (the only other stop) and we had to go through the line to reboard and make the full loop back to Fantasyland. The motion of the ride put someone to sleep.

We skipped the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups, but loved the lanterns lighting the ride.
We headed back to Tomorrowland again. At the Magic Kingdom all this walking would seem a lot but this park is more compact and easy to criss-cross. Granddaddy, Daryl and I rode Space Mountain with our Fastpasses while Grandmommy took all three boys on the Orbitron by herself (like the Astro Orbitors in Magic Kingdoom).

Since we had gathered 7 Fastpasses for Space Mountain and only 3 rode, Daryl and I used some more to ride once again. Space Mountain was different as well. In the Magic Kingdom, people ride in vehicles that hold three people in a single line. Here the vehicles hold six - three rows wide and two rows deep. The ride seems smoother, and there are a lot more banked turns. While we did that, Grandmommy and Granddaddy took all three boys on Astro Blasters for one more turn there. We also blessed another family with our last two Space Mountain fastpasses - At the entrance to the regular line, I found a mom telling her little boy that they could not ride it because the line was too long and gave them our fastpasses so they could walk right on. They were so happy!

Then it was finally time to head towards the Many Adventures of Pooh for Wesley's favorite ride. It was getting to be dusk and everything was starting to light up. This time, all the boys rode in one vehicle together while the girls shared a car behind them. 

We decided to go back to Adventureland after this for one ride there on Jungle Cruise. They have 3 different lines for Cantonese, Mandarin and English. It only took us about ten minutes of waiting in the English line. The jokes were pretty much the same and it was a nice ride even in the dark.

Starving once again we headed back to Tomorrowland for a restaurant that Parker had scoped out earlier, the Starliner Diner. The menu was hamburgers and chicken fingers and hit the spot.

By now it was just a few minutes before 9pm and time for the fireworks. We headed back to Main Street USA and joined all the other people crowded in there for the show. It was the 4th of July after all, so there had to be fireworks somehow! 

There were two more songs accompanying fireworks after that, but I put down the camera to enjoy the boys' reactions. We returned the stroller when the fireworks were over. Before we left Parker wanted one last picture. We didn't make it back to this building before it closed; he wanted to get a Monsters University ID card made. But at least we got a picture of him standing outside. 

Looking back towards the main entrance as we were leaving.

And the reverse of the greeting sign at the gate. The lights to the left  are the monorail station.
Most people arrived by subway, so the lines were huge with people trying to get through the turnstiles when we got there. The rest of the family waited off to the side, while I got in line at one of the machines to buy the return fare (note to self, buy it when you arrive next time!). At least I had an interesting conversation with some Australians in front of me. When they found out I was from Florida, they were in disbelief as to why I was at Hong Kong Disneyland: "Don't you have a proper one of these at home?"

We might have a "proper" one with all the parks, waterparks, hotels and Downtown Disney.  But this was the perfect ending to our journey to China - three generations experiencing a new Disney park together and giving Davis his first taste of Disney! Disneyland is similar and yet different than our parks back home so it was fun to explore and we especially enjoyed the smaller crowds and shorter lines. By the time we got back to our hotel it was time to finish repacking and crash for the next day we would be homeward bound at last!  

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