When planning a trip to Malaysia and Singapore to visit my boyfriend’s family, I decided this would be a great opportunity to knock another Disney park off my bucket list. Adding a stop to our flight did not cost any extra, so a visit to Hong Kong made perfect sense.

We stayed in downtown Hong Kong. Hong Kong Disneyland is accessible via the metro system and is easy to get to. Our metro trip required we transfer two times. Anyone taking transit to the resort will need to switch lines to the dedicated Hong Kong Disneyland Resort line, but the system is easy to navigate. We never had any confusion getting to where we wanted to go in Hong Kong.

We left about two hours before the scheduled park opening time, to cover the metro trip (45 minutes to an hour), buying tickets, going through security, and getting into the park prior to rope drop.

The Disneyland Resort line itself was built for the sole purpose of accessing the HKDL resort, and the travel time is about six minutes. The cars feature Mickey shaped windows, hand holds, and statues of various Disney characters.

After getting off the metro there is a short walk to the park. A fountain marks the intersection where metro foot traffic meets Disney hotel foot traffic, although most hotel guests will take a bus to the metro station, which is much closer to the park entrance than the hotels.

This elaborate fountain in the esplanade features several iconic Disney characters and is a popular photo spot.

The main entrance will look familiar to anyone who has been to Disneyland, with the classic train station and Mickey topiary.

Like California, Main Street opens prior to the park opening for shopping, with a rope drop at the end of the street. The merchandise was comparable to what is sold in the North American parks.

A few photos of an early morning uncrowded Main Street:

This was a quiet day at HKDL and the crowd for rope drop was seven people deep at most. A stark contrast to the volume of people one typically sees waiting at Disneyland USA.

A small crowd watches a family take part in a welcome ceremony, while waiting for rope drop:

One tried and true rule of theme park visiting is to head to the newest or most popular attraction first. HKDL’s newest attraction is Mystic Manor and we chose to make that our first stop. We headed left through Adventureland, and then through Grizzly Gulch, to Mystic Point.

We saw very few other guests and arrived at Mystic Manor.

We breezed through the queue and into the pre-show room, where we were the only guests. The pre-show uses a film and animatronic to introduce the attraction’s storyline and the characters Lord Henry Mystic and Albert the Monkey. The Albert animatronic was very well done.

The story involves Henry’s latest acquisition: an enchanted music box with magical properties. We learn that opening the music box would be a bad idea, and that Albert is intrigued by the box. It’s no surprise where this is heading.

Mystic Manor uses the same trackless ride system as Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters in California and Pooh’s Hunny Hunt in Tokyo.

The trackless ride system allows for vehicles to travel on multiple paths, not restricted to a linear, single route, like most attractions. The benefit of this is most obvious in one scene where four vehicles circle a room multiple times while the story plays out.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the attraction story involves the opening of the enchanted music box and that chaos ensues.

Mystic Manor combines cutting edge ride technology with elaborate show scenes. It utilizes both screens and practical effects. I won’t spoil any specific details here but it’s a lot of fun. It is one of Disney’s best attractions anywhere.

Next up was a short walk to another relatively new attraction, the Big Grizzly Mountain coaster located in Grizzly Gulch.

The park walkways continued to be sparsely populated, as was the attraction queue. I stopped at the Grizzle Gulch Jail photo op.

This was a great coaster, featuring animatronic characters and a TNT explosion similar to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Anaheim. It felt similar to Florida’s Expedition Everest, which is no surprise as they were both manufactured by the same company.

Next up was Toy Story Land. It’s nicely themed, but the attractions are just low capacity carnival rides themed to Toy Story. A pleasant diversion, but something like Midway Mania is needed to make this land worthwhile.

From Toy Story Land we took the back entrance into Fantasyland. Phillharmagic, It’s a Small World, Tea Cups, and Winnie the Pooh are all the same as their Florida counterparts.

Winnie the Pooh was the only time we used a Fastpass in the park. It was only offered on this attraction and Space Mountain.

Fairy Tale Forest is a walk through attraction with miniature scenes, including some interactive animated displays. Think Storybook Land Canal Boats, but without the boats.

Fantasyland is also home to one of the park’s train stations.

The hub featured a display marking the park’s 10th anniversary.

The park’s daytime parade is Flights of Fantasy. Catchy music and a mix of older and newer characters, it’s your standard Disney daytime parade.

One of our meals was at the Royal Banquet Hall. This is one of the nicest quick service restaurants I’ve seen at a Disney theme park.

We ate some disappointing dim sum that didn’t seem very fresh, but most of the other food looked good.

In Tomorrowland we rode Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters which is the same as in Anaheim. We skipped Autopia and the Orbitron.

Space Mountain was nearly the same as Anaheim, and ran smooth and fast. The queue was unremarkable, but the loading station was quite nice.

The Iron Man Experience was closed while I was there, so I can’t give you my thoughts on that.

Adventureland offered up some new twists on classic attractions.

I noted there were a lot of side paths in the area. Adventureland in Anaheim is often a bottleneck, and this was an example of newer parks improving on design elements of the original park, thanks to years of knowledge and experience.

We watched the Lion King show here, similar to Florida’s version, and rode the Rafts and Jungle River Cruise.

In Hong Kong, the rafts take you to Tarzan’s Treehouse instead of Tom Sawyer’s Island.

Hong Kong’s version of the Jungle Cruise shares the same waterway as the rafts. The cruise begins on the open water, but later on enters a narrower show scene section with the same sights as the original. The big difference here is a smoke and fire filled finale.

The spectacular Paint the Night parade made its debut in Hong Kong. It’s exactly the same as the Anaheim version, as far as I know, with the exception of the music which was rerecorded in English for the Anaheim version.

The castle lit up for the 10th anniversary and during the fireworks:

Overall, I really enjoyed my visit to Hong Kong Disneyland. It was very much like visiting the original Disneyland, but with fewer attractions and significantly fewer guests. The chance to walk around a sparsely populated Disneyland, and ride whatever I wanted with very little wait, was great. Add in a couple of spectacular attractions that are unique to Hong Kong, and the visit was well worth my while.

Would I recommend a North American Disney fan travel to Hong Kong for the sole purpose of visiting Hong Kong Disneyland? No, not when you consider only a handful of attractions are unique to the resort.

However, if you are visiting Hong Kong or other part of the region, it makes sense to stop there as part of another trip, visiting Hong Kong Disneyland is very much worth a visit for any Disney theme park fan.

Finally, here are some miscellaneous shots from around the resort:

Our thanks to Tom Lynes for his great photos and commentary on Hong Kong Disneyland. Tom is a huge Disney fan who has visited Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. In addition, he has visited other theme parks in countries all around the world including Canada, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Malaysia, and Singapore. Please help us thank Tom in the comments below and perhaps we can twist his arm to share more stories in the future!