Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest Disneyland in the world and as such it is a great first introduction to the magic of Disneyland for young kids. It’s easily accessible via public transport, the crowds aren’t as big (compared to Tokyo Disneyland for instance) and you can knock it off in one day if you need to.
Any Disneyland visit can be an intense experience for little kids so here are my Top 15 tips for visiting Hong Kong Disneyland, especially if you have children under 5 years.
While Hong Kong Disneyland’s maximum capacity is only 42,000 compared to the gigantuan 100,000 at Tokyo Disneyland, if you can arrange it it’s still better to go on off-peak days. Hong Kong residents have annual passes which means on weekends, public holidays and school holidays it’s a popular destination for locals.
We visit on a Thursday in winter and are pleasantly surprised by the small crowds, especially in the morning.
Get there no later than 9:45am
Hong Kong is a late-night city for everyone, even families, so everything opens a bit later. Hong Kong Disneyland generally opens at 10am but they start letting people into Main Street from 9:45am for an opening time of 10am (and if it’s opening at 9:30am then main gates open at 9:15am). At 10am there is a ‘rope drop’ in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle when you can officially enter the rest of the site.
Getting there at 9:15am/9:45am means minimal queueing for at least your first two or three rides. From around 11am the park gets busier, with 2-3pm being around peak time.
Book your discount tickets ahead of time
To save queueing up at the ticket office book your tickets online. We buy discount tickets from Klook, another discount site is Viatour. We receive our e-ticket in minutes and we don’t need to print out the tickets, just scan them from your mobile.
Note that pre-purchasing a ticket still means you have to line up to enter but we barely have to wait, mostly it is for the bag security check.
One day or two days?
You can buy 1 day or 2 passes. As our kids are too little (and too scared) for at least half of the rides we anticipate spending 4-5 hours there and thus only need a one day ticket. If you go-go-go you will be able to see most things in one day.
A two-day pass allows you to go at a more relaxed pace, maybe split out to 2 x 4-5 hour sessions and to revisit your favourite rides. You may need to do this if you’re visiting in summer as the heat and humidity can be brutal.
We are so tired by the end of the day that we don’t make it to any of the night time events eg the apparently spectacular evening light show. We also didn’t bother with any of the big parades and shows as the kids were too freaked out by the noise – so when the parades are on it’s the prime time to line up for popular rides.
You don’t have to stay at a Disney hotel
When we visited Tokyo Disneyland I highly recommended staying at a Disney hotel or one of the six Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotels to minimise travel time between the park and your accommodation.
As Hong Kong Disneyland is a smaller theme park and can be done in a day, there’s no need to stay at a Disney hotel. We leave Wan Chai, take several connecting MTR lines to reach Hong Kong Disneyland and the trip takes about 45-60 minutes one way. The MTR is quick, clean and comparatively cheap.
Download the app
Before you go download the Hong Kong Disneyland mobile app. The best feature is that you can check wait times for attractions – for instance, once queue times start getting to 30 minutes for everything we know it’s time to leave. You can also browse maps, see schedules and check out where there are character meet and greets.
Grab a FastPASS
A FastPASS is a ticket with a time window for entry later. It may still mean queuing at your allotted time, but a significantly shorter wait.
There are only two FastPASS rides – The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Hyperspace Mountain. As The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is the only one suitable for us our strategy is for the fastest person (T) to have ALL our entry tickets and to run to the FastPASS booth to get tickets for the earliest time possible.
Bring a hat, sunscreen, snacks and a water bottle
My tactic for dealing with queues is to use the time to go to the toilet, apply sunscreen and eat snacks. There’s also a bit of street entertainment that happens once queues get long.
There’s not a lot of shelter while you’re lining up so bring a hat for hot days.
We decide that our Disney souvenir will be water bottles so don’t bring any with us. Note you are technically not allowed to bring outside food or drinks into the park but they seem ok with a few small snacks and a bread roll.
Souvenir shop before 1pm
I’m not sure whether it was a temporary offer but on entry we were provided with a voucher for 10% off all merchandise (with some exceptions) if the transaction was completed before 1pm.
If you decide to make use of the offer have your purchases decided by 12:30pm as everyone else is using the voucher too and there’s a queue to checkout in time for 1pm.
The largest and most complete collection of souvenirs is at Emporium on Main Street.
It’s ok to bring a pram
Hong Kong Disneyland is very pram-friendly, with wide paths and accessibile ramps/lifts where necessary. Most rides and shows require you to park your pram in a designated area before you line up. No one seems to worry about leaving prams or valuables in prams.
You can also hire a pram if you don’t want to bring your own.
Head first to Fantasyland and Toy Story
For young children Fantasyland and Toy Story are the most suitable areas.
In Fantasyland our kids love the Cinderella Carousel, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, Dumbo the flying elephant and It’s a Small World. Of those rides I suggest going on Dumbo the flying elephant first as it’s one of the most popular rides and there are not as many available seats as some of the other attractions.
Fantasyland also has a Fairy Tale Forest where you can meet Tinkerbell!
Toy Story Land brings the iconic movie to life with huge sets and figures. The rides are a bit more intense than Fantasyland so suitable for slightly older kids.
See the Festival of the Lion King and the Mickey’s PhilharMagic
While the rides are a main attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland going to see a show is a good opportunity to sit down and chill out.
The most popular show is the Festival of the Lion King, with spectacular costumes, dancing and singing in a condensed 30 min version of the Lion King movie. Highly recommended.
We also visited the Mickey’s PhilharMagic because showings are frequent and the lines are short. It’s a 4D short movie involving Disney characters and extra sensory additions such as spraying water and the smell of pie!
Forget the character meet and greets
My approach to the character meet and greets is that they provide a low return on investment. The queues to take a photo with a Disney character are often very long and when your time is limited it’s best to focus on the attractions and shows. Definitely do NOT get distracted by characters when you first enter in the morning and the ride queues are still short!
Don’t expect your kids to love every ride
The Hong Kong Disneyland website allows you to sort rides in each park for those that are suitable for babies and kids under 3 years.
However, some of those rides deemed suitable for young kids can still be still terrifying.
Lady AB hates The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh as quite of bit of it is in the dark, the noises are quite loud and at one stage of Winnie’s dream there are lurching and leering puppets. She cries and hides under the seat then refuses to go into ‘It’s a Small World’ because it’s indoors!
There are both Asian and Western restaurants in Hong Kong Disneyland but we find the queues too long everywhere so opt for snacky food. Try the delicious Mickey Mouse waffles and ice creams!
With Klook you can buy a meal voucher to go with your entry ticket. While you do save money the reviews indicate that you will waste time lining up at the entrance to redeem your voucher as you can’t do it at the restaurant. So we decide against purchasing a meal voucher.
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What are your tips for making the most of Hong Kong Disneyland?