Sham Wan Tsuen, Hong Kong at 11:03am HKT.
tagged as hong kong tag leader garylawuk
Today was our last day of holiday, and in keeping with the programme so far, we tried to pack a bit too much in. :) All up early, big breakfast from the Cosmopolitan's buffet (first time we'd all managed to do this together), and then frantic packing. We headed down to reception, checked out with a HKD35 charge for a Coke from the minibar (ouch) then off to Disneyland Hong Kong in a taxi. This is a long way, but the roads were good, ride was fast and the fare was only slightly higher than the minibar drink.
We'd be told that there was a left luggage at the entrance to Disney and, thankfully, there was. Our whole day and subsequent onward journey pretty much depended on that mythical facility being real, and I was delighted to find it! We dumped most of our bags and were through the main gate at 1030, which is about half an hour after it opens. It was at this point the magical kingdom magic started, when I headed over to the guest relations office to ask a question about taxi transfers to the airport and the absolutely lovely "In" popped over and asked us a couple of questions about our visit, and then told us we'd be the specially selected guests of honour at Disney that day, and would form the opening of the town centre parade that day if we could be back at the office around half two that afternoon. Naturally, we said and enthusiastic yes. With massive grins plastered to faces we then set about hitting the rides.
Hong Kong Disney is small, about the size of the LA original, and not yet complete, there's a new section opening this year, and I guess more to follow in years to come. It's also not at all busy, I'd been told the queues would be short, and they were pretty much non-existent all day --and it was a Sunday too. We started tamely, with a old-school carosel ride in the fantasyland section, then a train ride round the park. After this we went to Grizzly Gulch, and the runaway train ride. I can't remember where, but I'd read a blog post somewhere this was the best ride in the place. Well, the Mountain Runaway Mine Cars are without question the best roller-coaster type ride I've ever been on. Not the fastest or tallest but great, great fun. And the short queues meant after the first great run, we could run round and do it again! Second time we managed to smuggle MM on despite her being an CM or two short of the minimum required. We then worked our way around to Toy Story land, and our only > 5 minute queue, which was for Tabitha, Theo and me to do the Parachute Drop ride. Then us three headed for the RC Racer, another coaster-like thing. This was terrifying, not least because a few seconds after "launch" someone behind us pulled out a camera and the ride was abruptly braked and stopped. Much shouting at everyone in Mandarin/Cantonese later and we were restarted ,but frankly Tabitha would rather have got off at this point, and even a seasoned 'coaster veteran like me found it unpleasant. It was the only ride we didn't want to go back to. But if you like your rides to leave you feeling like you're going to die, then this is the one for you. Meanwhile Jus and MM did the Slinky Dog spin, which was another long queue job!
Shortly after a lunch of sushi (for me) -- didn't expect that at a Disney park! -- we headed off to meet "In" to discover more about our starring role in the daily parade. We were taken aside into a lovely back room, which was completely "in the past" in every detail, and then our job was described in more detail. We were to be the grand parade marshalls, and basically the job is to get driven through the parade route ahead of the cartoon stars and floats, with some ridiculous mickey ears on and a giant mickey hand to wave with. And so we did, waving and smiling and waving more at the crowds of hundreds and hundreds families lining the route. Our names were tannoyed across the park for the benefit of anyone who didn't break with their schedule of rides to watch us! It was hillarious and completely surreal. We got to keep the Mickey ears as a momento.
Justine made a very salient observation while we were wheeled past hundreds of families at the start of the parade. There were lots of visitors with no kids, and many families with three generations present, but only one young child (of the age range of our kids). This is in part because Disney is just more popular with young adults and childless couples, but also because of the "one child" policy in mainland China. Although the park is in Hong Kong, and there are some international visitors like us, the vast majority of visitors looked to us like they had made the trip in from PRC proper. Makes you very aware of things you take for granted in the west, like having children.
After our fifteen minutes of fame we were straight back to the rides, we headed over to Space Mountain, which is an indoor, in the dark space/rocket themed coaster. I remember doing this at the LA Disney and queuing for hours to get in. This one took just a few minutes to get to the front, and Jus and MM joined in thanks to the use of tippy-toes. Pretty good ride, we all loved it in fact, and rode it again and again as the day went on. We also managed a shopping trip down Main Street USA and a whirl round on the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups.
Our timing was spot on, we managed one last run on the runaway train, then a charge back to Space Mountain again, then to run back to the lockers in time for the fireworks, sprinted from the fireworks to get the other bags, and then just beat the crowds to the taxi queue. We managed to get to the airport with almost an hour to spare, so checked in the luggage and headed for a Dim Sum in arrivals. I did try and encourage Air France to bump us onto a flight later in the week but they were having none of it! So the holiday ended and we ended up on a packed Boeing 777 for the schlep home, nothing like the A380 for the longhaul leg out.
All in all a hugely exciting and at times utterly bizarre last day. I'm glad we left Disney till last! It was much better than I expected and was a great way to sign off.