When I went to Asia in July, I had the incredible opportunity to visit both Hong Kong Disneyland and the most-recently opened Shanghai Disneyland park.
Going to all six of the Disney parks that are scattered around the world has been on my bucket-list for quite some time now. I grew up going to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, I now work at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and I’ve just crossed off Hong Kong and Shanghai! Hopefully within the next few years, I can make my way to Tokyo and Paris and then officially put a big ol’ check mark in this bucket-list goal.
Hong Kong Disneyland:
My first international Disneyland experience! This was also my boyfriend’s first time ever going to any Disney park- international or domestic.
We hopped on the metro straight for the Disney resort station. Walking down Main Street still felt familiar and nostalgic but with an untouchable twist. Do you go to Disney in the morning and not get Mickey waffles? Absolutely not, so we stopped for a quick bite to fuel us up for the day.
Before wandering around the park and experiencing the attractions, I had to go take in the scenery of this new castle!
You guys… just look at those sweet hills behind the castle. To see actual nature and mountains in the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty’s castle made my heart cry tears of happiness.
After I was through with gazing at the castle, we explored Adventureland and went on our first attraction of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! Later, we went to the land of Mystic Point, which definitely isn’t something here in America. Following that, we stopped by Toy Story Land before going into Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Toy Story Land was way cool! Once again, this is another feature that the American Disney resorts don’t have.
Hong Kong Disneyland was much like the Disneyland here in California, USA but on a smaller scale. There weren’t as many attractions and it was definitely smaller than both Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, but it was an amazing experience nonetheless and I know if we didn’t go I would’ve regretted it big time!
Shanghai Disneyland Resort:
THIS castle speaks for itself and I’m pretty sure I could’ve fainted from looking at this beautiful piece of architecture for too long. Shanghai Disneyland’s castle is the biggest castle in any of the six parks across the globe. It’s inspired by several Disney princesses, and not just one– like the Cinderella castle of Magic Kingdom or Sleeping Beauty castle of Disneyland.
When I was in China during my volunteer semester, I heard rumors about Shanghai Disneyland opening the year right after we leave. How heartbreaking, right?
“I was so close!” I thought. “Afterall, when am I ever going to be back in China? I’m going to have to wait years to experience Shanghai Disneyland!”
LOL. Life is so damn weird, spontaneous, and unexpected. How was I supposed to know that just 8 months after leaving, I’d be back and walking down the (short) Mainstreet U.S.A. of Shanghai Disney, called Mickey Avenue?
Alright, now the DL on the actual park. It’s big… and it’s spread out. That’s the main difference I noticed between not only Shanghai Disney, but Hong Kong Disney too, in comparison to America’s Disney parks. Because Shanghai Disneyland is so spread out, I feel like there’s not a lot of decoration, structures, and essentially things to do. They have rides, and they have characters and their meet and greets, but in comparison to the immersion experience here in Disneyland, CA or Magic Kingdom in Orlando, there’s not much to it.
They have their themed lands, as all the parks do. They have Mickey Avenue which acts as a portal to transport us into the Disney mind set. They have their attractions, their shows (in Chinese), their Mickey ice cream bars and their crowds. Finally, they have the most beautiful castle I’ve seen and laying my eyes upon it proved to be everything I thought it would be. However, I felt something was lacking. I felt as though the bare minimum had been done to immerse the guests in the Disney experience. Because it was so spaced out, it seemed like there was a lot of empty space. There weren’t decorations and my senses weren’t overwhelmed like they usually are here in America. My tummy had butterflies flying around happily, but in a different and foreign way than what I’m used to here.
Every Disney park is going to be different. Don’t misunderstand by observations of Shanghai Disneyland– I was still so happy, giddy, appreciative, and joyous that I had the incredible opportunity to visit the newest Disneyland park in the world! Seeing the castle alone made the whole experience worth it. If you’re a Disney fanatic like I am, I would 100 percent recommend visiting an international park if you ever get the chance. It’s so interesting and fascinating to observe the cultural influence on the park and the differences between the park you’re so used to back home and a foreign one.
Four down… two to go!
If you’re interested in seeing clips of the Disney resorts of Shanghai & Hong Kong, as well as snippets of other parts of my Asia trip, click the video below to watch!