Hong Kong Disneyland, Lantau, Hong Kong
I'm in China for an adoption (3rd future enthusiast on the way: 1st girl) and I have family in Hong Kong so we decided to stop for two days to hang out and do touristy stuff. What better way to appreciate diversity of culture and natural beauty than a trip to the American corporate behemoth that is Disneyland.
I won't go into all the details right now since I'm typing this on my phone, but I did want to mention a few things while they're still fresh in my mind.
Mystic Manor - Probably the highlight of the day and the biggest surprise. It uses the trackless vehicles like TSMM and is kind of a haunted house style ride, but there's lots of spinning, explosions, animatronics mixed with projection and just a whole host of really neat effects. It was easily the best dark ride I've been on. It was funny, a little scary, exciting, and unbelievably cool. The plot is that you're in an explorer's house and there's a magic music box artifact that he found which, when opened will make inanimate objects come alive. The assistant who happens to be a monkey decides it would be a great idea to do this and the whole house full of treasures starts going nuts. Chaos ensues...
The other ride I specifically wanted to mention was Big Grizzly Mountain Minecarts. It used a ride system very much like Everest so I assume it was Vekoma. It was pioneer themed (which I don't get at all being that this is China) like Thunder Mountain. The big surprises were on the second lift almost to the top, the chain drops out and there's a backwards section (and the track looks like it crests the top of the lift, so if you weren't paying attention, you might think this was a genuine malfunction) and then once the car reverses a second time, it restarts the forward section with a decent LIM launch. Not much story or theming other than generic Thunder Mountain style rocks and pioneer equipment, but I think the neat surprises made up for it. I liked it better than Everest and quite a bit more than the two US Thunder Mountains.
Overall, the park felt way more filled out than when we were here 8 years ago. 3 new lands were added - Toy Story Land anchored by an Intamin Half Pipe which was exactly what you'd expect, Mystic Point anchored by Mystic Manor and Grizzly Gulch featuring the minecarts. With these three areas, the park has gone from half a day to a solid full day park. We spent six hours without a significant break (didn't eat - all jet lagged) and no lines and barely got everything done. There were a few things we would have liked to do, but weren't super important to us.
Oddly Fastpass was only available on Space Mountain (they have the new version ala DL) and the Pooh dark ride. It looked like it might also be available for the Frozen show (some things transcend culture) and there was infrastructure for it for other rides but no kiosks and the signs were blank.
Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters was closes for the construction of The Iron Man Experience which remains a mystery to me.
Overall, I had a fantastic day, as expected and the quality and friendliness of the staff and park were everything I've come to expect from my US Disney experiences. If Shanghai Disney is anything like HK Disney, they will be rolling in the dough.
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