My kids are very unlucky in having a theme park challenged mother. I have no clue how they found out that Hong Kong Disneyland exists but they did, and they have bugged us to go for what seemed like years. When we finally made it happen it was as good as they had dreamed – and less painful for the parents than expected. At 4 and 6, they were a very good age for Disneyland, and the park had enough rides to keep both of them happy. At this age, they are also easily impressed and didn’t insist on seeing the fireworks or doing every single ride in the park – which suits me just fine. And from the parents’ point of view spending time in Hong Kong easily compensates for any theme park related hardship.
Hong Kong Disneyland with young kids, a guide:
1. Choose your day
We visited on a public holiday and by 11 AM many of the rides had hour-long queues. Given that many of the rides suitable for young kids are nothing spectacular, we didn’t wait but skipped those in favour of those with less queues. Apparently weekday mornings are quieter so aim for that if you can. By buying your tickets online you can skip the ticket queues at the gate although they seemed to move swiftly.
On a hot and busy day, we were done by late afternoon. Because of the crowds, we covered maybe half of the rides, one show and the parade – perfectly enough for us. If you want to do the whole shebang (the shows, the princess makeover, character dining, fireworks etc.) then you may want to get the two-day ticket.
2. Plan ahead
Have a look at the map and the rides before your trip. If there is a ride you don’t want to miss, head there first thing in the morning. Majority of other visitors move slowly and stop for photos on the Main Street. At opening time, the rides are empty and you can have a few rounds without queuing. If you want to see specific characters or shows, see the schedule and build your day around those times.
We didn’t meet with any of the characters – for my two, it was enough to watch the princesses pose for photos with other kids. The parade – fairly spectacular but involves waiting around in the heat – had most of the characters, except for the ones from Frozen. If you have Frozen fanatics in the house, you may want to check the schedule for when and where they appear.
Die hard princesses may enjoy the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique‘s makeover experience – it is recommended that you book this in advance. Many girls come to the park already dressed up as princesses – following the tiny royalties made it easy to find the right train at the HK station!
3. See the shows at Hong Kong Disneyland
The shows are very cool – great performances and welcome breaks in an air-conditioned space. Lion King is like a mini-Broadway show with not only music but superb special effects. Kids and adults enjoyed it thoroughly and thinking about ticket price for such a show elsewhere makes thrifty parents purr. If the park is full, get there in good time and bring water for the wait if it is a hot day.
4. Use the fast passes
There are only a few rides with fast passes but the system is great. Pick up passes from the machines outside the ride before heading elsewhere or for lunch and come back at the designated time to skip the queue. Luckily one of the rides with this system was our favourite: the Space Mountain – a thrilling roller coaster in the dark. My four-year-old claimed to love it but I wouldn’t take littlies that get easily scared.
5. Collect stickers
Every staff member has a pouch full of stickers to give away to kids. Kids can have a fine collection at the end of the day. Sticker-hunting also makes queuing a bit more bearable!
There is a lot of information out there to make planning your trip easier. I found these blog posts particularly useful in getting the most out of your visit:
LaJolla Mum’s Tips for visiting Hong Kong Disnelyland
Trips with Tykes: 10 Tips & Tricks for Visiting Hong Kong Disneyland
Jetlag & Mayhem: Hong Kong Disneyland with Young Kids
Sassy mama’s 10 Survival Tips for Hong Kong Disneyland