It’s that time of the year again when I have to plan for our family vacation. Seventy days to go and it’s Christmas! For the past several years, my family has been spending the holidays abroad. Time away from home gives us the opportunity to literally leave all our cares behind. It’s also a special time for us to bond and to see the world one place at a time. There is a common denominator though. Ever since the birth of my daughter, we have visited Disney parks in different parts of the globe.
Thanks to Facebook, I have our photos neatly chronicled in my online albums. Each visit had it own set of highlights which in turn gave us uniquely wonderful memories. For first time travellers and those who want to experience what it’s like to be in “the happiest place on earth,” here’s a Disneyland capsule guide that you may find useful.
When in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Disneyland (311 acres) is the smallest of all the Disney parks. If you start early, one day is enough to enjoy all the rides as well as see all the attractions. The first time we went there (which was eight years ago), we stayed at Disneyland Hotel. My then 4 year old son had a blast finding all the hidden Mickeys in our room. The downside was there were no nearby restaurants so we were forced to eat hotel and park food which was expensive and very limited. By the time our 3 day trip was over , we couldn’t stand to look at another Mickey shaped pancake!
Our second visit was more enjoyable. We stayed in Novotel Hotel Citygate which was right next to the premium shopping outlets. From there, it took us less than half an hour to get to the park via train. Remember to secure a map upon entering the gate. Take note of the time and place of the parade and the fireworks, the shows you want to see and avail of the FAST PASS as this will save you the hassle of standing in long lines. Must-try ride? Feed your need for speed and ride The Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars at the Grizzly Gulch!
When in Japan
Tokyo Disney Resort houses two parks – Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea. We spent the holidays in Japan last year. Hotel rates skyrocket during this season so book early! Check the weather as it gets very, very cold. We had to contend with the freezing temperature AND rain. Not a good combination at all! So pack heavy jackets and buy heat patches to keep you warm. Another problem is the language. For a tourist destination, we were surprised that hardly any of the locals speak English. It would be helpful to learn phrases that will help you order food, ask for directions and for prices as well. You may also feel left out in the mini-tours and interactive attractions —unless you understand Japanese.
The upside? Tokyo Disney Resort is hands down the cleanest among all the Disney parks. The people are also very disciplined. We saw people patiently sitting down (for hours!) and braving the cold while waiting for a show to open. “It’s a Small World” (Disneyland) and “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (DisneySea)are the rides we enjoyed most as a family.
When in the USA
Disneyland Resort in California is our destination of choice(4 visits and counting!) You will need at least 3 to 4 days to experience everything. Buy Disney park-hopper tickets so you can shuttle back and forth Disneyland and California Adventure. Right outside the resort is Downtown Disney where you can eat, shop and listen to music.
My ultimate favorite place here is DISNEY ANIMATION– (Holly woodland, California Adventure). Here you can find the Sorcerer’s workshop where there’s a magical book that asks you questions about yourself and in the end reveals which Disney character you are, Animation Academy where different Disney film clips are simultaneously shown on gigantic screens and Turtle Talk With Crush (a 20-minute interactive show where the audience get to talk with the turtle from FINDING NEMO.
The biggest Disney park Walt Disney World (Orlando) deserves its own review. With Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios – there are a gazillion things to do there!
So where are we headed this time? Well, there’s only one Disney park we have yet to visit. Audrey Hepburn couldn’t be wrong when she said, “ Paris is always a good idea!” Au Revoir!