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  1. #1

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    Thoughts on HKDL...

    Just got back from a trip to HK last week and thought I'd share my lengthy observations on the park (probably stuff you've heard before from others, but here goes anyway!).

    Theming!

    I've heard a lot about the beauty of the park and its landscaping, but it seemed to me not too different than the other Disney parks. What really struck me was how young the trees looked. I think HKDL will look quite a bit different once the foliage starts to fill out. (In fact, many of the topiary animals hadn't even filled out their frames.)

    The theming is top-notch, but nothing particularly new. Main Street uses bricks instead of pavement for their street (and the cars drive slowwwww). Fantasyland relies on the chintzy "Medieval Faire" theme of WDW. Adventureland has the jungle feel of Animal Kingdom. Tomorrowland doesn't appear to have a specific style (no "The Future of the Past" or what-not) but it does look pretty amazing lit up at night!

    The walkways are enormous, like at Tokyo Disneyland, which in some places makes the theming feel less intimate. I suppose on the baby-tossing days huge paths might be necessary, but on weekdays during the off-season, the place can look mighty deserted.

    Rides?

    I'm sure everyone's seen the (slight) list of rides, and you definitely feel it when you're there. And because they're all copies from other parks, I found myself constantly reminded of what wasn't there (Big Thunder! Pirates!).

    What the park could really use is a signature attraction, something one can't find anywhere else. I suppose the Orbitron has a unique look (and sound?), but then, so do many of the carnival rides at DCA. Hopefully the next E-ticket (Adventureland really needs one) will be something mind blowing.

    I haven't been on the reopened Space Mtn in California, so the one at HK (which I'm assuming is a clone) was a new experience. I liked the new music but was a bit disappointed that Disney is still using simple painted-on 2D blacklight effects. The meteor shower (?) effect at the very end was pretty neat though.

    Winnie the Pooh is the same as Florida's (right down to the Mr.Toad picture!), but instead of the cool smoke-ring effect in Heffalump/Woozle room, here there's just a Heffalump taking your picture (available for purchase at the end of the ride, of course). And this and all the rides are in English. Is this their target demographic for this park?

    Jungle Cruise was disappointing. Very few actual show scenes, considering this is the only ride in Adventureland. You see more animals on a trip around the Rivers of America at DL than you do in HK's Jungle. There were a couple new elements I hadn't seen before (natives shooting darts & hippos with bad breath - were these added to Disneyland's JC also?), but the ones I had seen in other parks (elephant pool & animals on the savannah) were noticeably, uh, "understaffed." They had two different languages available (English & Cantonese), and it seemed pretty hit-or-miss with the skippers (as with any Jungle Cruise I guess). One skipper we could barely understand at all, though possibly this was because she was holding her microphone too close to her mouth. The spiel was more a point-and-tell (along the lines of "That is an elephant") than the corny joke-a-thon of the other parks (not necessarily a bad thing), but bland narration also made the underwhelming fire/water effects at the end even less affecting. If there was a background story to them, those skippers weren't sharing. We should have gone on a Cantonese boat at least once, just to see if the guests reacted differently. Maybe that's where all the fun was?

    Tarzan's Treehouse looks about the same as California's, except of course it's on an island. And because it's the only thing on the island, you end up having not only to wait in line to get ON the attraction but also to get OFF. Maybe they'll open a snack bar there. This park desperately needs a place that serves REAL ice cream or giant pretzels!

    Fantasia Gardens is a lot smaller than it appeared in the concept art. Just four or five gazebos very close together, with an occasional Fantasia-themed topiary standing nearby. Basically a standard meet-and-greet. But there are benches, so it could be a pleasant place to eat your choco-banana flavored popcorn, assuming they haven't run out yet.

    None of the queues are themed. Except for the inside portion of Buzz Lightyear and maybe the Jungle Cruise (a covered area like all the Cruises), it's all outdoor switchbacks! They do at least have giant fans for use when it gets hot.

    Hotels!

    The hotels are both first rate. We stayed at the art deco-themed Ambassador Hotel (where the theming even extends to the shape of the room). It was cheaper (and more "cutesy") than the more upscale Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, but I'd definitely stay there again.

    There's a long walkway from the hotels to the park, which I can only guess will eventually become a kind of Downtown Disney area. The resort could use it, too, with such few attractions at the park. Plus we would have loved to take a break during the afternoon heat to see a movie or some such.

    Fireworks!

    The fireworks show was okay (not as good as Believe, from what I remember), and relied quite heavily on projecting movie clips on the castle. There were some pretty good moments though (psychedelic walls during the Alice scene, and fire shooting from the spires during the extended Mulan sequence).

    In a brilliant (but bafflingly unadvertised) move, the park provides a television channel solely dedicated to the fireworks soundtrack. If turned on during the fireworks performance, you can watch the show from your room while the music is piped in through your flatscreen television!

    Music!

    Great use of music, all through the park and hotels (they even played some of the Tower of Terror tracks in the Ambassador lobby). The volume level is high, but not overwhelming, so if you just want to sit and soak in the atmosphere (and until they build more rides, you'll have plenty of time), anywhere there's a bench is the perfect spot...

    And if anyone has read this far, I'll eat my hat.

  2. #2

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    Re: Thoughts on HKDL...

    Eat your hat, I read it.

  3. #3

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    Re: Thoughts on HKDL...

    Quote Originally Posted by BoogaFrito
    And if anyone has read this far, I'll eat my hat.
    Done.. so wheres you eating your hat?

  4. #4

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    Re: Thoughts on HKDL...

    (btw nice review)

  5. #5

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    Re: Thoughts on HKDL...

    Whoa, good thing I don't own a hat...

  6. #6

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    Re: Thoughts on HKDL...

    Quote Originally Posted by BoogaFrito
    Winnie the Pooh is the same as Florida's (right down to the Mr.Toad picture
    Uncanny. I said the same thing word by word in my HKDL trip report!

    I suppose the Orbitron has a unique look (and sound?), but then, so do many of the carnival rides at DCA.
    Did you see the hidden Mickey in the big round planet on the center of the ride?
    There were a couple new elements I hadn't seen before (natives shooting darts & hippos with bad breath - were these added to Disneyland's JC also?)
    No, but DL's JC have this great little effect now when your boat cruises thru a midts of very hungry and agressive pirahnas (sp?). DL's JC also lacks the watery and fiery ending of HKDL's which I thought was great. In fact, I feel HKDL's JC is one of the best things in the park, albeit a bit short in duration.
    This park desperately needs a place that serves REAL ice cream or giant pretzels!
    Or a churro cart at least.

    We stayed at the art deco-themed Ambassador Hotel (where the theming even extends to the shape of the room). It was cheaper (and more "cutesy") than the more upscale Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, but I'd definitely stay there again.

    (they even played some of the Tower of Terror tracks in the Ambassador lobby). The volume level is high, but not overwhelming, so if you just want to sit and soak in the atmosphere (and until they build more rides, you'll have plenty of time), anywhere there's a bench is the perfect spot...

    And if anyone has read this far, I'll eat my hat.
    Start eating because not only did I read it all, I was paying attention too... which means... you lied to us!!!

    You never stayed at the Ambassador Hotel. But if you really did stay in the same great hotel I stayed at when I visited HKDLR, then you stayed at Hollywood Hotel.

    ...And I agree with you... there is more time to go before HKDL achives some level of "worth" but I honestly believe this little park has a lot of potential, and the resort perse, what little is there of it now, is simply charming and beautifully landscapped. I actually like it better than WDW's expansive property and hope they do not destroy it with tacky billboards, such the case in Orlando.

    Thanks for sharing your thought and trip report.
    Last edited by TDLFAN; 04-05-2006 at 08:58 PM.

  7. #7

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    Re: Thoughts on HKDL...

    Did you see the hidden Mickey in the big round planet on the center of the [Orbitron] ride?
    Hmm. Didn't see that one. I did notice that some of the hidden Mickeys from Florida's Pooh weren't in the ride at HK (or maybe I'm remembering wrong?)...

    DL's JC also lacks the watery and fiery ending of HKDL's which I thought was great. In fact, I feel HKDL's JC is one of the best things in the park
    It's one of the only things in the park! I agree though, adding pyro to a Jungle Cruise was a great idea, but I thought the execution was a little off. As it is, it feels tacked on, like it has nothing to do with anything else on the ride, as there really isn't much explanation as to what is going on beyond some vague thing about fire and water gods (the skipper may as well have said "Let's pause here, so we can demonstrate some fire and water effects."). But it might have just been our skipper(s)...

    You never stayed at the Ambassador Hotel. But if you really did stay in the same great hotel I stayed at when I visited HKDLR, then you stayed at Hollywood Hotel.
    Oops! Which is funny, considering I stole a ton of bathroom accessories and stationery all with the words "Disney's Hollywood Hotel" on them. So is there an Ambassador Hotel? Maybe in Tokyo?

  8. #8

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    Re: Thoughts on HKDL...

    Quote Originally Posted by BoogaFrito
    So is there an Ambassador Hotel? Maybe in Tokyo?
    Yes, the Ambassador Hotel is in Tokyo Disney Resort.... and while they are similar.. TDR's Ambassador Hotel is more restrained in theming than the happy go lucky Hollywood Hotel at HKDLR. See the differences for yourself:

    http://www.disneyambassadorhotel.com/index_e.html

    http://park.hongkongdisneyland.com/h...telLandingPage

    Both Hotels feature stunning Chef Mickey eateries and lots of retro art elegance.. Disney style. I can see why anyone would be easily confused...

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