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  1. #1

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    HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    This is my first trip report, and I don't really know what to say, so I'll just play it by ear.

    I've been to Hong Kong many times before, and it's definitely one my favorite cities in the world. I wouldn't be here of course if I didn't love Disney, and that started when I first visited WDW in 1986. I didn't do much back then, but it sparked a lifelong passion that only became more inflamed when I stumbled across MiceChat last year.

    This trip is my 3rd trip to HKDL, and it has allowed me to look at it from a more objective perspective. This first part will briefly focus on my first two trips in June 2007 and December 2009.

    On my first trip, I was just skeptical. I was not crazy about it just having four lands, if you include Main Street USA. I knew it wouldn't have all the rides I would want, but the glaring omission of Frontierland seemed unforgivable.

    Armed with our lousy, but fun, PSP camera, my family and I booked a trip to HK to check out HKDL for ourselves.

    WARNING: Ugly sub 1MP pictures in this post.

    The Disney Resort buses that we passed coming from our tour bus.



    My brother's Goofy ticket.



    The glass is half full: emptiness adds to the grandness of the entrance.



    Yes, we do have a ticket for today.



    It's already after lunch and the "crowds" are still pouring in.



    We loitered around, having lunch at Tomorrowland. My brother and I have huge appetites, so we got the biggest meal we could afford. The food was just okay, but I loved the fries. You can't really go wrong with fried potatoes.



    We moved next door to Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, which was my first stab at this. It was cute, a little too carnival-y for my taste, and its Omnimover made me miss the Haunted Mansion.



    We rode Space Mountain (no lines!), and saved Stitch Encounter for later in the day when we could catch an English show.

    Small World was still under construction at this point, so we tried the only dark ride in Fantasyland, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

    This ride has a FastPass?!?



    I enjoyed it, but was disappointed that it was the only ride in Fantasyland that I actually wanted to try.

    We caught the Disney on Parade as it, uh, paraded down Main Street, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Alice seems to be surprised at everything.



    We only had a few hours left so we were off to Adventureland, which at that time was dressed up to as:

    Pirateland!



    I wonder if the Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park had any pirated mice.



    It was the crowds that did him in.



    Them pirates took Tarzan too!



    The Festival of the Lion King was a real crowd-pleaser, but I was underwhelmed. I guess after watching Julie Taymor's masterpiece on stage, this theme park version felt pedestrian. I think that even the simple Hunchback show at the MGM Studios back in the day was much better in nearly every way.



    The light shower scared of what little crowds there were that day.



    The Golden Mickeys' opening tableau



    The show was quite enjoyable and mostly featured songs from the Disney Renaissance. A surprising part of it, and my personal favorite, was "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride." It was a cute little number that had ample charm. Simple, but not barren.




    I love anything with Donald in it.



    We went back to Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain again. One ride was enough for out mom, so my brother and I scurried to ride it a couple of times to figure out at what point in the ride our picture was going to be taken, and posed a couple of times until we got the goofiest picture we could get.

    And we definitely hammed it up.



    My brother had enough, so I rode it two more times by my lonesome.

    We waited for the the fireworks and killed time by perusing the merchandise in Main Street. And the limitations of the PSP camera served a somewhat happy ye olde tyme effect.



    Wet.



    I hadn't since Disney fireworks in years, so the "Disney in the Sky" was a welcome reminder of why I love going to Disney parks in the first place.



    We went back to our hotel in Kowloon, and I had some curry for dinner.

    Ah Ka Ka Lok, a family tradition.




    All in all, I was pretty happy about what I saw. It was by no means complete, but it felt like Disney to me. Probably it was due to the music being piped in the streets, and that I could sing Disney tunes without looking like an idiot. The fireworks I think were the ones that really won me over. There's something about exothermic reactions dancing to classic Disney melodies that leaves me with a high.

    If the other parks are full meals, HKDL felt like a hearty snack. Or an kitchen experiment to replicate a foreign dish you had your vacation abroad. It was definitely not a substitute for other Magic Kingdom parks, but I knew I would come back again.



    Last edited by SirEdge; 01-16-2011 at 03:57 AM.

  2. #2

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    One question: Were these photos from your visit in 2007 or was from some other year you visited?

    In ether case, I like it so far, please add more!


    Timekeeper
    Now the Tower of Sauron has fallen
    Also, this picture and my Avatar was taken with a Nintendo DSi System and Nyko Magnification Lens & Case for DSi.

  3. #3

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    Thanks for the pics. Brings back fond memories of PirateLand.

  4. #4

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    That first batch of pics was from 2007, this is the next one from 2009.

    It was December and my friend and I arrived at around 1:00 AM in Hong Kong.

    After a long line in immigration, we walked through customs an hour later. It was then I realized the obvious.

    It was 2AM and the shops were closed. No foreign exchange. No tourist information. No Octopus card.

    I came prepared. Somewhat. I knew that the N21 bus from the airport to Tsim Sha Tsui. But with no HK$, we were sorta stuck.

    ATMs were no help since they only accept Visa.

    I went to the 7-11 and asked the girl if I could get HK$ for my US$.

    "If you buy chocolate," she said, waving a small 70% cacao bar of Lindt at me.

    "I like Lindt," I thought. It wouldn't be such a loss.

    I also bought a chicken-turkey hotdog, which I forgot to pop into the microwave.

    Soon enough, we found the bus, which promptly left at 2:20 AM.

    The N21 bus literally went around in circles as it stopped what was probably every single bus stop around the airport and the surrounding areas. We finally reached Kowloon about an hour later, as we drifted in and out of consciousness.

    When we passed Mongkok, and saw what I thought was the Miramar mall, I stopped the bus and we jumped off and walked down Nathan Road at 3:30 AM.

    After passing a half dozen groups of Friday night revelers, I realized that we had gotten off too early and that Kimberly Road was a good ten blocks or so of walk.

    We had a quickie dinner at 7-11 of microwaved rice bowls, and finally slept at 5:00 AM.


    The rest of the day was devoted to just exploring Kowloon, and planned the rest of the trip. We decided to buy discounted HKDL tickets from the caretaker of the guesthouse for HK$335 (from $350).

    Hmmm...how do I resize these pictures?

    In December 2009, I went back with my friend, and this time, we took the MTR to Disneyland.

    I did not want to have my picture taken.


    I was giddy with delight when the Disney MTR trains came into the station with their Mickey ears shaped windows. Inside the pixie dust clearly worked their magic as it was rather pretty with its cushioned seats and Disney characters on display. Disney-fied public transport, I like it!

    As we stepped out onto the platform of the HKDL MTR Station, I was pretty impressed by the deep green metal look of the open air station. A little small. A little empty, but it was more than adequate.


    I totally dug the detail on the metal supports of the station.


    Two in one: Obligatory fountain shot and love for Donald.



    It was Yves's first time to any Disney park, so it was particularly exciting.


    I already knew what to expect, so I was about to be too impressed. I was just happy to spend the holidays in a Disney park, which was something I had not done before.

    And I had some mixed feelings when as we approached the park and heard the Christmas music playing in lieu of the Disney standards. It felt festive, but it didn't feel Disney enough. It was just like the music you'd hear in the mall. I had hoped they had gotten things a little more Disney sounding. I personally prefer the Disney Christmas album "A Family Christmas." It was cheesy, but I loved it.

    I changed my tune when we passed under the Railroad Station and walked onto Main Street. Everything was just so more festive with all the trimmings and and the Christmas tree. And since it's HK, people like putting on their winter clothes, even if it's not terribly cold, but cool enough to warrant a nice jacket.

    And I love my jacket. Bought by my dad in NYC from a dubious Italian man in a fancy car.



    Two things that were new since my last visit were the Art of Animation and It's a Small World.

    The former wasn't something that I was aware of so that was a nice little surprise. I thrive on these little informational tidbits, and I'm always drooling over concept art and maquettes. The Toy Story Zoetrope was a highlight. I wish it was bigger though.

    Oh Edna.



    When we stepped out, it was time for the "Let It Snow Christmas Parade."

    I had expected it to be an entirely different, or at least a substantially revised parade, but I was disappointed to see that it was just a redressed "Disney on Parade."

    A seahorsedeer? And isn't she cold?



    For Rex, the Santa hat is the perfect disguise!




    He was content to sit on the bench, away from the characters.



    We went to catch the Festival of the Lion King, which we caught as the doors were closing. Lucky us, we thought. We settled in at the back and enjoyed the show. Until the show came to a halt. An announcement said that the show would resume shortly, so the we all just chatted away in our seats. When the show resumed, a thunderous applause erupted. Our enthusiasm was only to be deflated a few minutes later when the show stopped again. The announcement, which sounded prerecorded, expressed regret that the show would not continue and we were all ushered out.

    Disappointed as we were, I was fascinated at the sheer efficiency that the cast disappeared. As soon as one of the floats (or whatever it is called) malfunctioned, they were gone within five or so seconds.



    Off to the Jungle Cruise, where the English line was much shorter than the Cantonese and Putonghua lines. For a good reason. It is really difficult to understand. I cobbled together a short clip to illustrate my point.



    I wonder if they'll hire people from outside HK to do the Jungle Cruise. From what I understand, you need to speak at least Cantonese to apply, which sucks since the ride quality suffers a bit from the jokes not being that clearly delivered.

    Next up was Fantasyland.

    We enjoyed Philharmagic and Winnie the Pooh.

    I can see in Three-Dee...


    Touching Pooh's rump.


    We also tried a ride I haven't tried in over twenty years: Dumbo!




    The second thing that was new for that visit was "It's a Small World."





    I think that many people from all over the world play the "spot our country" game in this ride. As a Filipino, I always kept my eye peeled for those two dolls in our traditional Filipino formal wear. They'd usually be tucked in some corner away from the main focal point of the room. HKDL's is an exception. Because many Filipinos visit (and work in) HKDL, a Filipino language version of "It's a Small World" is played as the boats pass the green hut with the two female dolls twirl their umbrella.



    I kept my ear out for it, but all I could hear was what seemed to be an endless loop of "Jingle Bells." And as our boat pulled passed the area, and the Filipino version started to play, and we were out of the room. Dang. Because the surprisingly there was relatively long line to Small World that day, I decided to save it for next time.



    Speaking of Filipino cast members, a good lot of 'em work as performers. The dancers and musicians during the parade, The Festival of the Lion King, and the Golden Mickeys.

    As for the Golden Mickeys, it was all right. I liked the Bebe and the Shang from June 2007 better. The lines were long, and that is still the tackiest part of the whole park. The posters hanging in the queue are made of what looks like tarpaulin printed with film grabs. They look like counterfeit DVD art, if you ask me.

    We took the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups for a, uh, spin. I focused myself on just the center of the cup, while Yves made us spin and spin, and before he knew it, he wasn't feeling very well.



    The rest of the night was spent in Tomorrowland. A couple of rounds on Space Mountain, Stitch Enounter, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, hot lemon tea for my sore throat from the Starliner Diner, and an annoying 30 minute wait to Autopia.



    The Lights of Winter was straightforward, but because of its relative simplicity, almost had a solemn tone to it. The snowflakes thingy that the cast members were holding up, lighting up one by one as they reached Sleeping Beauty Castle was [insert superlative here] beautiful.






    The fireworks that night was still the same, so maybe that's why I wasn't as moved by it as I was the previous visit. After all, it was my personal highlight. Then again, maybe it was because the crowd was not as appreciative. It's a form of theater after all, and a bad audience can make or break the experience.














    I guess I was yearning for a more thematic Disney fireworks, instead of a best of hits collection that didn't seem to be tied together with a story. I don't even remember hearing some songs like Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah. Although, I'm pretty sure it was there as an instrumental or something.

    We waited for the crowds to trickle out. I wanted to buy this fantastic Disney pixel art shirt, but I opted to wait to buy it at the end of the trip. I'd regret that decision since I wouldn't be able to pass by the Disney store at the airport.

    Main Street is gorgeous at night. And a little slippery thanks to the "snow."


    Tired, but happy. Till next year!


  5. #5

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    Second to the last part at this first shot at a Trip Report.

    First of all, many thanks for HKDLFAN and poohstraveler for their tips.

    On this trip, the room had a really nice view of Nathan Road.




    And a (partial) view of the Symphony of Lights at night.


    No Ocean Park for this year, because the Aqua City wasn't open yet. A disappointment coupled with the news that HKDL would postpone the 5th Anniversary celebration to 2011, and we were three weeks too early for that.

    That didn't stop us from planning the trip around a day at HKDL, and food.

    Mixed Grill from Ka Ka Lok. Questionable cleanliness, but I love it anyway.


    At K11, had some absolutely wonderful chocolate ice cream served in a take-out box. Stylish.


    Rich. Thick. Bittersweet. Smooth.


    Fabled Xiao Long Bao from Din Tai Fung.


    El Cheapo Dinner. Xiao Long Bao. Sushi with the most potent wasabi outside of Japan. 7-11 Yakitori. Homecooked chicken and brocoli from Wellcome.


    On our fourth day, we finally went to HKDL. However, since there was nothing really new to do we decided to treat ourselves to a nice breakfast.

    Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station at around 7:13 AM.


    When we arrived at Sunny Bay to transfer to the HKDL line, we were surprised at all the people. Are these all the people going to have breakfast?

    Silly us. They were all CMs. And the one beside us turned out to be on the dancers in the Festival of the Lion King.

    We chose the light breakfast buffet at the HKDL Hotel Lobby. The Enchanted Garden buffet was not only more expensive (and was fully booked that day), but Yves was afraid of mascots and would prefer to admire them from afar.

    The lobby.


    The slightly eccentric mix of Cantonese and Continental breakfasts.


    The chandelier that presided over our breakfast.


    The food was just okay. The pumpkin congee was bland. The buns were okay, the pork dumplings were good, but I've had better elsewhere.

    Ever reliable were the breads and the cereals and yogurts, but what made the meal was the small, but nice selection of cold cuts and cheeses. I certainly went back more than once for those.

    Beside our table was a Singaporean family of four and we couldn't help but overhear that the mom was displeased, and was quite blatantly scowling at her young son for his lack of proper etiquette (or he was using the wrong utensils or his fingers to get his food). Aw, give the kid a break. You're in Disneyland!

    Other than that we were really impressed with the hotel.

    The elevator.


    The mural.


    The maze.


    The dead bird.


    Yeah, about that bird. As we stepped out into the garden, near the banister of the stairs, we saw this poor bird that probably tried to the fly into the window. I called the attention of a CM who said he'd call his supervisor.

    After walking around the garden a bit, we were off the the park.

  6. #6

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    Wow, great pics of a beautiful park! Can't wait for more.
    The Right Honorable Count Boogie Bonz of Random, at your service.

    On Track for Weight Loss!


  7. #7

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    Yes, I agree - more, please??

    Also, we are planning a trip in November 2011 - can you let us know what hotel you stayed in (the 2010 hotel with a great view of Nathan road)?

  8. #8

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    Thanks! I've got one more set.

    @rkj1969 It's not really a hotel. It's a guesthouse, so if you don't mind backpacking, it's a great choice.

    It's called Tai San Guesthouse and has none of the amenities of a hotel, but has other perks. Really cheap HK$400 a night for a double room. It's tiny (and the bathroom is even tinier if it's possible), but there's a PC with broadband Internet in every room. You can ask the caretaker to cook rice for you, and you have access to a common kitchen and drinking water.

    I love it because I go to Hong Kong to go out, not to get holed up in the room, so I only go back to sleep or to cook.

    The one that we stayed in is the Burlington Branch. Send an email to the owner and tell him your requests. They'll reserve it for you once you send a downpayment via PayPal or Western Union. It's a small operation. They didn't ask for a downpayment back in 2009, but they did for my stay in 2010. I guess it's a new policy with all the cancellations. The rates go up during the Christmas season, but I was able to haggle it down to the standard rates since I reserved in August.

    H.K. TAISAN GUEST HOUSE

  9. #9

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    ORWEN: It was ever so nice of you to share your trip reports and pictures with us, SirEdge, duckling. Feel free to do this again any time. (Hugs from Morva)

  10. #10

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    Thanks Morva!

    Here's a hug for you as well. *hug*

    I'll work on this last one as soon as I finish my very real work. After that I'll see if I can excavate my pics from my first visit to WDW.

  11. #11

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    It took forever to get to this next part. And I said it would be the last, but there are just too many pictures to get through. So here's the next part.

    We arrived at the park just a few minutes after opening time, and there was big-ish crowd streaming down Main Street.

    First is Art of Animation, and it was jam-packed. Hardly the right environment to soak in all the artistry. The light streaming in the main door did not make taking pictures an easy task. A lot of guests from the mainland were talking loudly and elbowing around that we decided to just get out of there.




    It's really hard to take a decent shot of Belle. Especially one without that dang reflection.





    Aurora, singing her heart out. This the first scene I ever saw from the film and the disembodied prince with an owl head always creeped me out. I guess it reminds me of a ghost.




    I've always been a Thumper and Flower guy. Bambi? Not so much.

    There were just so many people who just wanted to see every single quickly that we got annoyed and hopped on the train to Fantasyland.

    It was still mostly empty, so we got onto the carousel, a ride I had not been on since I was a kid.





    I'm not sure if I still remember how these things work.





    Yves really got into this whoever pulleth the sword thingy.





    I, on the other hand, was a little more subdued. As usual.





    The royal couple.





    The obligatory shot of the castle. We had some more taken, but they didn't turn out that well.


    Since this was a "do what we didn't do last year" trip, we moved onto Tarzan's Treehouse.

    Confession time. I've been the US parks numerous times, but I've never ever gotten on the rafts to cross over to Tom Sawyer's/Tarzan's island. We always have only one day at the park and it never seemed a good idea to cross the river when there are hour long lines to the E tickets.





    The island. She is calling.

    As you already know, the Jungle Cruise goes around the island and it has it's fans and it's critics. I had sat on the fence on the issue, believing that at the very least it was good that they tried a new configuration.

    Once on the island, I really needed to go. That's what I got for having a buffet breakfast. I found that there was a really well-hidden toilet in the cave. It was rather cozy and I was free to settle my business in private. A chilling thought entered my mind as I left. It felt so isolated that it shouldn't be a place to go to on your own at night. Especially if you're a lady.





    The baby elephant at the end of the walk-through attraction. I apparently entered the wrong way.





    Not quite the utilidor. But a rare insight backstage, as a CM left the janitorial cabinet open.





    Apple core. I love the detail on this thing. You could see where the fruit is still supposed to be moist and where oxidation has set in. Most realistic prop ever? Or errant CM strikes again?



    Slowly moving up




    This was not part of the plan.



    Okay. It's official. I like this treehouse and the view it allows.



    What a gorgeous view of the Jungle Cruise.


    And they never knew what was in store for them. Unless they're Disney fanatics that have memorized the patter to the ride.



    This means they're British.




    Tarzan's private...erm...quarters. Nothing to see here.




    The Porters' Paraphernalia.


    We took the raft back and got a good look at the giant cranes working on the Grizzly Gulch expansion.



    But not before noticing that our skipper was a nice lady CM named....



    *edit*.

    I'm sorry, I couldn't resist. She was really nice. Any of the Chinese people explain where this nickname could have come from?
    Last edited by dland_lover; 08-07-2011 at 09:47 AM. Reason: Cast Member's name, and photo showing name tag removed, per MiceChat policy

  12. #12

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    ORWEN: Thank you for sharing all your pictures with us, SirEdge, duckling! They are appreciated very much! I was wondering, by the way, why the bronze statue of Phillip and Aurora has those cracked lines all through them. When we see the Anaheim, CA version of that same statue, it has no cracks like that. Hopefully they can be rubbed out.

    ORDDU: In the meantime, we're counting on you and HKDLFAN to be around to share even more photos with us of the Hong Disneyland expansion when it's completed. We would imagine that you're very excited about the new attractions that will be added to this park. After they have added Mystic Manor and Grizzly mine Train, the park will come across as a full day's attraction park.

    ORWEN: I wish you ducklings had a night time parade over there--like the Electrical parade--to add even more of a reason to stay after dark. Maybe some day they'll add more night time entertainment, too.

  13. #13

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    ORGOCH: Whatever happened ta that tasty lookin' apple core, by the way, SirEdge, ducklin'? Made me hungry when I saw it!

  14. #14

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    So glad you're back! and thanks for the link for the guesthouse - I'll be visiting in September!!

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    Re: HKDL Trip Reports: 2007, 2009 & 2010

    Thanks for the great photos SirEdge. Brings back lots of memories, can't believe it's been almost a year. Don't worry ORDDU I'll be around soon

    Now back to the world of revision and exams....

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