Around this time last year, DB headed to the US with some mates to celebrate one of the group’s 40th birthday. In one day they conquered Disneyland and California Adventure.
DB wanted to share this experience with his boys. Late last year one of the newspaper travel supplements reviewed the new Toy Story Land at Disneyland Hong Kong. In an act of spontaneity rarely seen in our house, we decided we would go as early as possible this year. And started saving.
We wanted to go to Disneyland Park for 2 days. Where should we stay?
Someone suggested Breakfast with the Stars where Disney characters visit while you’re eating at one of the Disney hotels. The airport is on Lantau Island – the same island as Disneyland. The hotels were in close proximity to Disneyland. It was decided. We’d stay for at least 3 nights at Disneyland.
In the end we decided to stay the whole 6 nights there. In part because it was cheaper than elsewhere. In part because I could think of nothing worse than packing everything up after 3 nights to move to another island for 3 nights to then turn around and get back to Lantau Island for our departure.
We stayed at the Hollywood Hotel. It’s the cheaper, more family friendly option of the two Disney hotels. From the moment we walked in to the hotel we were immersed in Disney. As DB describes in his blog post “..it was a magical place of unreality”.
Staying there really did make the experience feel special. The iconic (as Squidge became very fond of saying) image of Disney – Mickey’s head – was everywhere.
We stayed in one room that had double beds. They were clean, comfortable and spacious enough given we were always out and about and only really in the room when it was time to sleep (you can see good photos via TripAdvisor). We got complimentary Disney slippers that we’ve brought home, Mickey themed shampoo & shower gel, and Disney cartoon cups for our toiletries with, you guessed it, Mickey tops. Oddly we had to request sheets. Who in their right mind would sleep in Hong Kong under a doona?
The main criticism we have of the room is that the tv, while playing kids (Disney) shows around the clock didn’t have a dedicated movie channel for the adults (not THAT kind of adult movie). Given that our kids were in bed and asleep by 8:00pm there wasn’t a whole lot for us to watch, nor did the tv include a DVD player – so take your own.
Free wireless internet access was available in the lobby and restaurants. It was great – we used it to Skype phone home (we went with credit of $9.00 and came home having only spent around $2.00 for 10 minutes of calls to Australia).
The grounds are beautiful. Lots of room for the kids to run, adults to stroll. There’s a playground – our 8-year-old was probably getting too big for it (but that didn’t stop him!). The pool was lovely. People on TripAdvisor had complained about the lifeguards, I didn’t find them rude – just cautious. The kids made really good use of the slide.
There was, no surprise, a toy shop. I think normally there are two, the larger one used for kids activities. At the time we were there it had been closed for refurbishment.
There is a free shuttle bus that runs at very very regular intervals throughout the day. It does a circuit route between the two hotels and the theme park. I don’t think we ever waited more than a couple of minutes for a bus. It was an extremely good service.
At the time we were there one of the restaurants, The Sunset Terrace, was closed. However there remained 3 options for food in the Hollywood Hotel. Chef Mickey was the buffet style restaurant (open all day); Studio Lounge was a bar – come informal cafe and The Hollywood Diner was available in lieu of room service.
We ate at Chef Mickey twice – once for breakfast and once for dinner. The food was great (highly recommend the Bircher muesli, while the kids no doubt would recommend the Mickey shaped waffles). For breakfast it was around $80 for the 4 of us, dinner set us back $130.
The Studio Lounge was great for a casual dinner and apart from the one meal at Chef Mickey we ate here every night. At 6:30pm a screen would descend behind the bar and a Disney movie would play for the kids to watch. There is a dedicated kids menu – good value for around $11 for a 3 course meal but the choices are limited after one or two visits. Our kids had that one night, pizza another, and then moved on to the adult options. Depending on our choices (and if they included a glass of wine or not!) dinner there set us back around $70 – $80 for the 4 of us.
Most mornings we had breakfast at The Hollywood Diner. We could choose from a cooked Western or Asian breakfast but didn’t bother. Each morning it was the same. A bowl of fruit to share, yoghurt, corn flakes, milk and a couple of croissants. $32 for breakfast for the 4 of us was pretty good value. Had we bought supplies at Tung Chung which was a short train ride away, breakfast could have been a bit cheaper.
There was nothing however, stopping us as guests of the Hollywood Hotel, from eating at the Disneyland Hotel. Our second morning we walked to the other hotel for Breakfast with the Stars in The Enchanted Garden. It was great fun. The food was similar to that of Chef Mickey but it was a bit more expensive – $120 – but we did get to have photos with Mickey, Pluto, Goofy & Daisy – woot! It did feel enchanted – even for the adults.
In terms of accessing other attractions in Hong Kong from Lantau Island, it was a bit protracted – requiring at least 1 bus and 2 or 3 trains. Having said that, the transport system is amazing and we made very good use of the Octopus Cards to tag on and off the MTR (thanks to my friend Anne who had been recently and gave them to us).
The Disneyland Train Station is at the entrance to the theme park and once again, the brand Disney is constantly, but rather delightfully, reinforced.
We didn’t end up getting to see some Hong Kong attractions such as Victoria Peak and the famous Ladies’ Market – there was a limit to how much walking and sightseeing we could fit in given our distance from some of it. But in the end that wasn’t why we went to Hong Kong. It was to do Disney – and that we did.