Last week I took my daughter to Hong Kong Disneyland for her birthday. It’s the smallest of the Disney theme parks, so some people say a half-day is more than enough. However we were flying all the way from Taipei to Hong Kong, so we went for three days and two nights to make it a real getaway.

The best reason to go to Hong Kong Disneyland is the crowds are smaller than at other parks. This means less jostling and less waiting for toddlers, and more free time and personal space for everyone. It’s way less stressful and way more fun. The next best reason is to stay at Disney Explorers Lodge hotel. Damn, I love that place so much I even wrote a separate post about it.

A note about the current protest situation in Hong Kong: Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is located on the same island as Hong Kong International Airport, so we simply took a 15-minute taxi ride from the airport to Disneyland, and vice versa on our way home. We didn’t go into the city.

Hello, Toy Story Land!

Stay at Explorers Lodge. Trust me.

I wrote a full post about how lovely and convenient the hotel is for food, relaxing and kids amenities. It gives off major Hawaii vibes, I’m telling you. I want to go back there right now.

Our room at Disney Explorers Lodge Hotel.

Download the HK Disneyland App

The best feature is the map showing the wait times for all the rides, plus the list of showtimes and parades for the day. You can download the official Hong Kong Disneyland app here. There’s free wi-fi inside Disneyland but it’s pretty spotty in places.

Another positive thing about Hong Kong Disneyland: you won’t need Fastpasses so you don’t need to keep an eye on your watch and try to plan hours around the Fastpass time slot.

Busy stroller parking section.

What to Pack for Hong Kong Disneyland

As usual, I packed our travel stroller and brought it with us. We also brought bags of my daughter’s favorite crackers, and we didn’t have any trouble bringing them into the park. Explorers Lodge provided large bottles of mineral water in our room, so we took one with us into the park both days.

Clothes wise, I packed her Disney t-shirts and Minnie Mouse ears. We brought our full diaper supply because we weren’t sure what would be available at the hotel. Oh, and her baseball cap and sunscreen for the heat. I also remembered to pack her Monsters Inc. LED lantern from Tokyo Disneyland.

Two things we should’ve packed but didn’t: her swimming suit for the pool at Explorers Lodge and her bubble machine from home. Somehow I managed to restrain myself from buying a Mickey bubble wand for her. I don’t know how, but I did it.

Wrecking havoc along Main Street with her lantern.
Yes! She’s tall enough for Toy Soldier Parachute Drop!

The Best Kid-Friendly Rides

Fewer people at Hong Kong Disneyland means shorter lines, and shorter lines meant we didn’t need to carry her for long periods of time. Going to Hong Kong Disneyland earlier in the week helps, as does going in the off-season. The weather in late October was just right. It was sunny during the day but not disgustingly hot, and comfortably cool in the evenings.

These were the most fun rides/attractions for us at Hong Kong Disneyland:

  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Slinky Dog Spin
  • Mystic Manor
  • Orbitron
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Cinderella Carousel
  • Mad Hatter Tea Cups
  • Jungle River Cruise
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Tarzan’s Treehouse
  • Ant-Man & The Wasp: Nano Battle

For most of these rides, she simply sat next to me and we had the safety rail holding us in place. I also put my arm around her so she didn’t slide around or attempt to get up.

The Toy Soldier Parachute Drop could be a little scary for kids (and adults who don’t like heights) so just be aware of that. And Tarzan’s Treehouse is a walking ride with a lot of stairs, but the views are really nice at the top.

One nice thing is that some rides like Mystic Manor, Slinky Dog Spin, Toy Soldier Parachute Drop and Ant-Man & The Wasp can sit three to a seat, so if you’re a family of two adults with a kid, you don’t need to split into two groups.

Moana: A Homecoming Celebration.
Scene from Mickey & The Wondrous Book.

Must-see Shows and Other Activities

The entertainment factor at Hong Kong Disneyland is super high, so make time to go see the shows and parades. Live shows are something we definitely don’t have much of in Taipei.

We loved the singing and dancing at Mickey & the Wondrous Book (we watched it twice). I’d suggest seeing it earlier in the day because the audience for the last show of the day gets packed.

We also enjoyed Moana: A Homecoming Celebration. Get there early enough for your kid to sit in the front row where they get to play on the drums. My daughter is a big Moana fan and her Halloween costume was “The Heart of Te Fiti”. See below.

Unfortunately Festival of the Lion King was closed when we were there and Sleeping Beauty Castle is under renovation until next year.

“Yes, Moana, I’m the Heart of Te Fiti.”
Mickey & The Wondrous Book is a must-see.

Another big bonus for Hong Kong Disneyland is there are so many opportunities for kids to meet the characters. We didn’t line up for photos, but we got to see Chip’n’Dale, Goofy, Woody and Jessie from Toy Story, Cinderella and Moana. You can see the full schedule of character appearances here.

Photo with Snow White.

Jedi Training is simply a must for children of Star Wars fans. There’s something completely delightful about seeing kids dressed in the robes with their lightsabers, and the Disneyland cast members training them on how to defeat evil.

Jedi Training is suitable for kids aged 4 to 12, and the cast members speak in Cantonese, Mandarin and English. You’ll need to register at the Space Traders gift shop next to Hyperspace Mountain.

Even if your kid isn’t participating, it’s cute to watch the little ones go up against Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. I saw a random dad from the back have a pointed finger stare-down with Darth Vader, then give Darth a thumbs up with a grin on his face. I couldn’t help but laugh.

Jedi Training for these newbies.
Face-off with Darth Vader.
A few restaurants were closed during our stay.

What to Eat at Hong Kong Disneyland

Food options were pretty limited during our trip with a few of the main dining options closed. Tahitian Terrace, River View Cafe and Clopin’s Festival of Foods and Lucky Nugget Saloon were all closed, as well as some of the snack carts. Plaza Inn was closed for renovations.

We only ate one evening meal at Disneyland, and it was a bad one at the Main Street Corner Cafe right before closing. If you’re staying at one of the resort hotels, I’d suggest going back for dinner there instead since the park closes at 7:30pm or 8pm. I wrote about our hotel meals in my Explorers Lodge post.

Food’s not great, but the line’s still long.

The first day, we were struck by the munchies and lined up for a corn dog and a churro at Jessie’s Snack Roundup. Not great. The second day was saved by the Mickey shaped waffle from the Main Street Market near the entrance (below), and later in the day, I had the Hong Kong-egg waffle from Karibuni Marketplace (also below). The Korean squid is good too.

Hong Kong-style egg waffle with chocolate cream. Don’t worry, I shared it with her.
Mickey waffle with syrup, berries and fresh cream.

For a more substantial bite, the Main Street Bakery sells individual slice pizzas for $48HK. I really enjoyed my vegetarian one loaded with tomatoes and basil. They even heat it up.

And of course, we threw our money at the Starbucks next door in exchange for expensive iced lattes. No shame. No regrets.

Pizzas and baked potato on the top chef at Main Street Bakery.
My vegetarian pizza was delicious.
Closed merchandise cart at Tomorrowland.

Don’t Shop at Disneyland

I love a good gift shop like anyone else, but I quickly learned that most of the stores in Disneyland sold the same merchandise. And with the thinner crowds, more than a few of the merchandise carts were closed.

My advice: shop at the huge airport gift shop on your way back home. It’s got everything. Or if you’re staying in a Disneyland hotel, buy from the hotel gift shop instead where you can use the discount vouchers.

The only things we brought at Hong Kong Disneyland were a Moana doll for my daughter and some cute cookie tins because apparently I collect Disneyland cookie tins now.

A couple of funny “only in Asia” things I saw in the gift shops: kids sun visors.
…and Disney nail clippers.

Finally, Take Your Time

With smaller crowds, you have way more time on your hands so there’s no need to rush around. The parade route is shorter and doesn’t take as long to pass by, and you don’t need to feel guilty about heading back to the hotel to enjoy the pool and restaurants since the park closes pretty early.

But honestly, the highlight of our trip was staying at Explorers Lodge and feeling a world away from Taipei. I wish there was a resort hotel like it in Taiwan, but unfortunately there simply isn’t. So I guess we should feel lucky that Hong Kong Disneyland is just a few hours away door-to-door. I can’t wait to go back.

The Moana show. The only place where her Halloween costume made sense.

Thanks to the team at Hong Kong Disneyland for arranging our park tickets and hotel stay. All other expenses we paid ourselves and all opinions are mine.