I spent last week back in Hong Kong. I know that I have not yet written about my first trip to Hong Kong earlier this year, so just bear with me. I also had not intended to return to Hong Kong so soon, despite my love for the place. However, my best friend Jamie and her family who live in Shanghai (um, also to be featured in a future post) suggested this as a good meetup place while I was still in Asia. Their plan? Taking the kids to Disneyland.
YES. I’m in.
While I am not a Disney fanatic and often use the word “Disney-fied” with a negative connotation (“House of Blues Boston looks a bit Disney-fied compared to the old Avalon, but I have to admit that the sound system is much better”), my family went to Disney World in Orlando several times when I was a child, and I have always had very fond memories of those trips. Seeing as it’s been close to 25 years since I’ve been there, I figured that I was due for a visit.
I met up with Jamie, her husband Peter, and their kids Theo and Eva on Friday, and we decided to visit the theme park right away on Saturday since the weather forecast seemed favorable. I say “favorable” and not “warm” because it was chilly!!! For the first time in months, I put on my long-sleeved sweater and jeans.
The nice thing about Disneyland Hong Kong is that its transportation system is integrated with the Hong Kong MTR, so you can easily get there from anywhere in the territory via public transportation. We caught a bus from our apartment to the Sunny Bay MTR station, where the special Disney train takes you to the park.
I was excited to be taking my first trip to Disney with young kids. Note that I write “with kids.” Maybe things have changed since I was young, but it surprised me how children were somehow a minority in the Hong Kong Disney demographic. Sure, there were a lot of kids, but there were also a TON of adult couples, many dressed in princess or Minnie gear, clicking their iPhones with selfie sticks like it was going out of style and clogging up the “pose with your favorite character” lines. (I am a bit out of the loop when it comes to what is happening in the US: has the selfie stick phenomenon hit yet? If not: oh, America. Just you wait).
That said, it was so much fun seeing Disneyland through a child’s eyes.
While Theo is a huge fan of Donald Duck and Woody, Evie the Sockless Wonder (she likes to pull her socks off when no one is looking and thereby lost about three socks over the course of two days at the park) preferred It’s a Small World and any ride which allowed her to hold a plastic bottle. Who needs toys?
Shockingly, the most nausea-inducing experience during my Disney excursion was neither the spinning tea cups of the Mad Tea Party nor the roller coaster Space Mountain, but the Winnie the Pooh ride. Doesn’t that just seem wrong? I am so proud that I went on Space Mountain, by the way. Ten-year-old Becky would have been in awe. I am NOT a roller coaster enthusiast and get motion sick fairly easily, so going on this ride was sort of my way of proving my mettle to myself. I sped through the short “single rider” line and admitted to the little girl waiting in front of me that I was terrified. She looked at me like I was a moron. Once aboard the car (spacecraft?), I said to the Chinese man sitting next to me something to the effect of “I’m sorry in advance if I throw up all over us.” He smiled but didn’t answer; whether or not he understood me, I will never know!
The ride was mercifully short and vomit-free. I’m sure my co-pilot was relieved when I finally stopping screaming. I realized that the ride’s total darkness, which is supposed to make it scarier, was actually an advantage in my case because I didn’t fear what I couldn’t see. Other than having visions that I would somehow be decapitated by the end of the ride. My panicked and crazy thought process? That I am taller than the average Hong Kong tourist. This is what happens when you watch Speed on TV shortly before riding a roller coaster.
Another fun activity was watching the daily parade. They have some pretty impressive costumes and floats: tiger-like men on pogo stilts, marching bands, and fairies riding tiny beetle-shaped cars. My favorites were the life-sized green Army figurines bungeeing (is that a word?) from parachutes :). My least favorite? The Princess float. I have nothing against Disney princesses, but there is a fine line between looking “serenely regal” and “lobotomized.” Frozen, indeed!
Riding on the Jungle Cruise was another blast from the past, as I do not think the scripts for the riverboat guides have changed in about 25 years! The management smartly arranged the lines for boats by language spoken: there were lines for English, Mandarin, and Cantonese-led boats. While I waited in line watching boats with names like Mekong Maiden and Irrawady Irma float by, I started laughing as I recognized the comedy in what I was doing. I was standing in line for a “boat” that travels on rails through the “jungle” past robotic “wild animals” when within the last two months, I had taken actual boat rides through the actual jungle on the Mekong and Irrawady rivers, seeing real elephants and other animals along the way! But you know what? The Jungle Cruise is still a lot of fun :). In fact, I think that my childhood experiences at Disney World, from seeing an island village on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride to embarking on a Jungle Cruise to visiting “Mexico” or “Norway” or “Germany” at EPCOT, helped to instill in me a fascination with different cultures and the desire to explore the world myself someday.
At the end of our time at Disney, I was impressed with how well Theo and Eva handled the long days, because I was exhausted. I am so glad that I got to spend some more time playing Fun Auntie with them and hanging out with Jamie and Peter again.
And you can take a guess as to what my favorite ride was :).
“Go over there and get your picture taken with Mickey, dammit!”