Last weekend we took the kids to Hong Kong to visit Disneyland. I had not been to HK Disney in almost 7 years, we visited the park at the end of our Honeymoon trip back in Sept/Oct. 2005. Since then HK Disney has gotten a bit bigger, but it is still small compared to for example Disney World in Orlando.
We left Shanghai on Friday morning and took China Eastern for the 2 hour flight. Despite just flying economy on this trip they treated us well (Grace and I both have platinum cards for Skyteam): we could go into the first class lounge with the whole family and a small bus took us from there directly to the plane. The airplane itself was quite old (no video entertainment in the seat for example), but Scott did not mind: he has a theory that older planes are better, because they shake less during the flight! For some reason he remembers a lot of his flights and he can still tell me during which flights we had turbulence. Well, he was lucky because there was hardly any turbulence both on the way to and from HK this time, so according to him his theory was correct.
In Hong Kong we took 2 taxis to the Disneyland Resort (my parents also joined us on this trip), just a 20 minute drive from HK airport. We had a quick meal in the hotel and then took a taxi to HK Island. We could have taken the metro, but the taxi is at least as fast and much more comfortable with kids. We then took the Peak Tram to the Peak, the top of the mountain high above Central Hong Kong. It’s one of my favorite places to go for a run, but this time we just did some sightseeing with the family. We enjoyed the view, had some ice cream and walked the road around the Peak itself (about 3 km).
One of my friends recently moved to the Peak, so I looked at some of the real estate prices. They are totally nuts, there are apartments for tens of millions of dollars listed here (big apartments, but nothing that justifies such a price IMHO) and one listing had a price of over USD 100 million… I guess the latter one just wants to rent out the place or the listing was a mistake, because I can’t imagine anybody paying such a huge amount of money for an apartment.
Anyway, after the Peak my parents took the kids back to the hotel and Grace and I walked to the Mandarin Oriental for a casual business meeting. After the meeting we took a taxi back to the hotel around 10 PM. I had a glass of wine with my parents on their balcony overlooking the South China Sea and then ordered a late night Chef Salad while almost falling asleep over my plate. I realized I was exhausted and was in bed before midnight.
The next morning we had breakfast in the hotel and then took the shuttle bus to Disneyland (later I found out you can also walk, it’s less than 15 min). The kids were very excited, especially after having seen some of the Disney characters during breakfast already. Although it was a Saturday it was relatively quiet in the park, the main reason being that it was a working weekend in China, so there were not a lot of “Mainlanders” (as they are called in HK) visiting.
We first walked to the castle where Elaine took pictures with a few princesses – for some reason she knew exactly who they were, but I had no clue. I wonder where she picked up that information. Then Scott wanted to go into the Merry-Go-Round, so I stood in line with him (less than 10 min). He loved it so much, I really believe simple attractions are just as fun for kids as more elaborate ones.
The next stop was a Jungle Cruise, which I loved but which was too scary for Elaine. She was almost crying because she was so afraid during the boat ride. You can really see that Scott is a bit older now, he was also a bit afraid but still enjoyed the ride.
Next up was Toy Story Land where the kids took some pictures with the Toy Story figures and where we looked at some of the atractions. It was quite warm (about 25 Celsius), so we went for a drink and some food afterward.
The kids were not very hungry and during lunch Scott announced that he wanted to go into the Merry-Go-Round again. My dad quickly finished his food and took Scott there. I took some pictures, Scott was extremely happy to be going round and round on a horse again. After that Scott saw the Dumbo flying elephant attraction and he asked me to go with him. Here the line was a bit longer and we had to wait about 20 minutes before we got in. Once again Scott loved it, he literally had the time of his life. Too bad it was quite busy, otherwise we could have gone again.
Grace then mentioned that to me that the park could potentially make a lot more money if they would sell tickets that would allow you to go into attractions without waiting. I told her that it was unlikely that a US company like Disney would do this. This might be accepted in Asia, but not by Americans. But I was wrong: after doing a bit of research I found out that you can buy tickets for about USD 500-600 per day that let you board all attractions without waiting, and which is valid for a small group. It was not very busy in the park, so it was no big deal, but this may be something to buy when we should come back in the future. Now we did not do certain rides because the lines were 30-60 minutes and to get a fast track pass is a hassle (you have to come back at the right time).
We did a few more rides, incl. Space Mountain (just my dad and I – a great roller coaster ride in the dark), and then watched the daily parade. When that was finished we went back to the hotel for a drink and to relax in the pool before dinner. The hotel has a great slide in the outdoor pool, Scott loved riding it but Elaine was still too small to enjoy it.
Then we went for dinner, the hotel provides a very good buffet dinner. Really good quality (from lobster to mussels and from Indian curries to Japanese sashimi, plus of course tons of other foods) and with the entertainment of Mickey Mouse and his friends walking from table to table. Scott and Elaine were so happy and we took a lot of pictures of them with the characters.
After dinner I was very tired again and went to bed quite early. When I relax I need a lot more sleep than when I am working… On Sunday we again had a big breakfast, then packed our suitcases and went off to the park one more time. This time it was much more busy and we mainly walked around with the kids. Coincidentally we met Josie and her husband + 2 daughers (Josie is a good friend and a former INSEAD classmate of Grace) in the park as well, we had not seen them in a while.
Around 1 PM we walked back to the hotel and took taxis to the airport. We had lunch after check-in and immigration, and then walked to the gate, just in time to board the flight back. Again an old China Eastern plane, so again Scott was happy – and again no turbulence! We arrived in Shanghai around 6 PM where the driver was waiting to pick us up. We had a great weekend in Hong Kong, glad I took the time out of my schedule to do this.