This Hong Kong Disneyland ride guide covers attractions in the newest Disney theme park, located on Lantau Island in Hong Kong, China. It includes many attractions cloned from Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, plus a few unique, flagship attractions. This guide contains short reviews and numerical scores for every ride and show in the park. If you’re planning a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, this is a great place to start when determining what to do and when to do it. The guide will give you a rough idea of an itinerary, based upon our visit to Hong Kong, but we’ve thus far spent only two days in the park, our wait times’ analysis is purely anecdotal.
We’ve tried to keep this guide to Hong Kong Disneyland’s attraction as objective as possible with enough description so you’ll know whether particular attractions will appeal to your group. This Hong Kong Disneyland guide includes headliners, smaller attractions, and shows. Due to its relatively low number of attractions and limited waits at these attractions, you probably won’t want to skip much here, but we’ve still divided the list into “Top” and “The Rest” sections in case your time is limited or you’d rather enjoy the ambiance of the park or its dining.
Since its opening in 2005, Hong Kong Disneyland has developed a reputation of being an incomplete park full of clones that isn’t worth the time of an American guest who has visited Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Regardless of whether this reputation was deserved at one time, it no longer is. In the last few years, Hong Kong Disneyland has opened three new mini-lands that include Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars and Mystic Manor, two of the best attractions Disney has to offer. Add to this a selection of other solid rides and a great setting, and Hong Kong Disneyland is a park that is really coming into its own.
Still, this doesn’t change the fact that it’s a one-park resort in a foreign country with a surplus of unoriginal attractions. Everyone but the biggest Disney fans or those visiting during the Halloween or Chinese New Year seasons will probably be able to finish the park in a single day. Because of these things, we do not recommend a visit to Hong Kong Disneyland solely for the park. This shouldn’t be a problem, because Hong Kong is a culturally-rich metropolis and a visit to it is an easy stopover on most flights to Tokyo (the hotels at Hong Kong Disneyland could be considered “airport hotels” given their proximity to Hong Kong International Airport). So there’s minimal cost in spending a day or two here, besides the time, for those already visiting Hong Kong or heading on to Tokyo Disney Resort.
This guide will mention similarities and differences between attractions in the US parks and Hong Kong Disneyland where pertinent to determine what can be safely skipped (should you so desire). Hong Kong Disneyland is a 1-day park, and most guests will be able to accomplish all they wish to see in that one day. If you approach the parks with an attraction checklist and that’s it, you’ll certainly only need one day. This guide is written in English on a site catering to US Disney theme park enthusiasts, so it’s written with the assumption that you’re a Disney fan. If you’re not, our recommendations might be extreme.
Numerical scores are on a scale of 1 to 10, and only take into consideration overall quality relative to that specific type of attraction. Dark rides are judged against other dark rides, roller coasters are judged against other coasters, etc., to create a relatively level playing field. Attractions are rated based upon how much their target audience will enjoy them. In our ratings, we only consider how well done the attraction is, overall and within its category, when experienced by its target demographic.
Disney in the Stars Fireworks (9.5/10) - Hong Kong Disneyland’s nightly fireworks display, set to a montage of Disney music. This is similar to Wishes in the Magic Kingdom and Magical at Disneyland. I prefer this show to both of those due to its soundtrack and more engaging set of bursts. There are spinners on the face of the Castle and a wider spread of near-level fireworks than found in the US parks. There’s also something to be said for being able to vaguely see the mountains in the distance as the fireworks explode, reminding you of the bizarre mix of theme park/tropical environment/major metropolis in which you’re standing.
Disney’s Flights of Fantasy Parade (9/10) – Hong Kong Disneyland’s daytime parade debuted during the park’s 5th Anniversary and is very solid for a daytime parade. There are some cool floats (the lead Mickey Mouse balloon float is very impressive and definitely the highlight) and the music is very catchy. It has two show stops, and features a combination of more traditional floats and higher energy acrobatic performers. It’s especially popular in the hub around Sleeping Beauty Castle, so should up at least 30 minutes (more if it’s busy) in advance to stake out a spot for the parade.
Mystic Manor (10/10) - Trackless dark ride “tour” through manor/museum with displays coming alive due to enchanted music box. Mystic Manor sets the new gold standard for Disney attractions. There really aren’t enough superlatives to describe this attraction (that bears little resemblance to the Haunted Mansion attractions to which it’s often erroneously compared). Its exterior is beautiful, the queue sets the tone for what’s to come, the pre-show introduces the attraction’s memorable characters, and then the main ride itself blows guests away with a combination of ride technology, an engaging story, details, and beautiful music. Videos and photos don’t even begin to do this incredible sensory experience justice. Setting aside history, nostalgia, and everything that makes fans biased towards certain attractions, this is arguably the best attraction Disney has ever done. Mystic Manor alone is reason-enough for a stop in Hong Kong Disneyland if you’re a Disney fan visiting Asia. Despite its incredible quality, we never encounter any waits for Mystic Manor. If you visit on a busy day, it likely will have lates, and should definitely be prioritized.
Jungle River Cruise (8/10) - Comedic boat ride through the jungles of the world. Jungle River Cruise has the same premise as the Jungle Cruise–the skipper is still the star of the show, with the scenery as a backdrop for their jokes. Three separate lines are available, for Cantonese, English, and Mandarin and boats. While we have had a blast with the Jungle Cruise in Tokyo that is only in Japanese thanks to the mannerisms of our skippers, we made the mistake of doing the English version in Hong Kong. Instead of the skipper being a native English-speaker, ours was (presumably) a native Cantonese-speaker. It just didn’t work, but that’s not a knock on our skipper, who clearly gave it her all. Comedy that’s dependent upon delivery is hard enough in your first language, so I can’t even imagine trying it in a second language. We recommend seeing it in Cantonese or Mandarin, and just enjoying the ride. Fortunately, that ride has been enhanced with better effects and a really impressive finale. Due to having three lines for different languages, Jungle River Cruise can have long lines; we recommend doing it early in the day, after Toy Story Land if you do that.
Festival of the Lion King (10/10) – Acrobats, singers, and other performers in tribal attire and vibrant costumes, plus barges with Lion King characters and other creatures enact scenes from the Lion King in a very lively theatrical show. There’s a lot of stuff going on, but unlike the Animal Kingdom abstract version, this is a condensed retelling of the movie. The performers are still the highlight of the show, and everything in this version feels less temporary than the Animal Kingdom version. I prefer the abstract style, but this lacks the audience ‘animal sounds,’ which was nice. Regardless, an amazing show that is absolutely worth seeing. This version is in English with supplementary performers repeating some lines in Cantonese.
Tarzan’s Treehouse (8/10) - Similar to Tom Sawyer Island, this is a walk-through/play area on an island (in the center of the Jungle River Cruise) that is serviced by ferry. This is much more than just the Treehouse at Disneyland. There’s plenty to do on the island without going into the treehouse, with areas to explore, and several interactive exhibits. Tarzan’s Treehouse itself offers stunning views of the park, too.
Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars (10/10) - Themed roller coaster with Audio Animatronics and a section that goes backwards. Think of it as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad meets Expedition Everest with a slight dash of Country Bear Jamboree. The result is a great mix of thrill ride and detailed Disney attraction, with some really lovable bears. While I have a soft spot for Space Mountain at Walt Disney World, I think this might be my favorite Disney coaster anywhere. This is like a milder version of Expedition Everest, although it also made Sarah nauseous the one time she did it. This had mostly short waits during our visit, but it has the potential for longer lines. We recommend doing it first thing on your way back to Toy Story Land (if you’re doing those attractions).
Animation Academy (7.5/10) - A drawing class, plus the adjacent ‘Art of Animation’ (we don’t consider that a separate/distinct attraction). For those interested in sketching a character, the drawing class is fun. The walk-through Art of Animation portion includes an awesome Toy Story Zoetrope, maquettes, storyboards, and background paintings of Disney characters.
The Golden Mickeys (8/10) - Stage show that is either a great parody of Hollywood awards shows, or just an oddly-conceived montage show. The host interviews various Disney characters who are at the awards show, with musical numbers occurring throughout the show. It’s basically a montage musical show within the framework of the awards setting. The awards show is more than just superficial pretext, which is a plus. The show is in Cantonese with English subtitles, which likely cause the nuance and comedic delivery of spoken language to be lost (other guests were laughing). We suspect this would be cute and humorous if it were in English. (Anyone who has seen the Disney Cruise Line version care to weigh in?)
Mickey’s PhilharMagic (10/10) - 3D montage film mostly from the “Disney Animation Renaissance” cleverly tied together with Donald Duck. Children of the 90s are sure to love this film, but really, anyone should enjoy it. The theater in Hong Kong was specially built for PhilharMagic, so it’s a little bit nicer of a venue than the other parks’ venues that show PhilharMagic. This show is in Cantonese.
it’s a small world (8/10) - The classic boat ride featuring the children of the world. This was the first version to feature Disney animated characters (certainly a divisive addition, but one we don’t mind), and it does the best job of integrating them. It also seems to be the longest version of the attraction, with scenes not found elsewhere. Unlike the Disneyland Paris version, this maintains the original Mary Blair style, and executes it well. Nothing tops the Disneyland version of ‘it’s a small world’ for us, but the Hong Kong Disneyland version is a close second.
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (7/10) - Interactive ride through shooting game set in the Toy Story universe. This is a reasonably popular attraction in Hong Kong Disneyland, but it’s essentially a direct clone of the Disneyland version (which is superior to the Walt Disney World version). If your time is limited and you’ve done the Disneyland version, skip it. If you’ve only done the Walt Disney World version, do this one. FastPass is available, but you probably won’t need it.
Orbitron (6.5/10) - Spinner ride similar to Dumbo; this one makes it onto our ‘top’ list because it has cool UFO ride vehicles, and offers great views of Space Mountain and the mountains behind Hong Kong Disneyland. Side by side seating is also more comfortable. Do it at dusk when the neon is coming on and the mountains are still visible.
RC Racer (6.5/10) - Steel shutter ‘half loop’ coaster where guests strap into the RC car from Toy Story and go back and forth on the track. As guests are parallel to the ground at the top of each side of the track, this is deceptively thrilling and offers cool views of the park. Do all of the Toy Story Land attractions first thing in the morning, if at all.
Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad (6/10) - A railroad ride around the perimeter of Hong Kong Disneyland with scenic surprises along the way. Inferior to the Disneyland Railroad, but still worth doing to see parts of the park you otherwise wouldn’t.
Stitch Encounter (?/10) - Interactive attraction where Stitch interacts with kids in the audience. We’ve heard it compared to Turtle Talk with Crush, but we never did it. It’s in both English and Cantonese, with alternating showtimes. Because of that, its popularity, and its low capacity, it had the longest waits in the park during our visit. Because of the way these showtimes work and the lack of FastPass, there’s really no good strategy besides waiting. We suspect the first and last shows are the lowest for crowds, but we’re not certain of that.
Space Mountain (9.5/10) – Space Mountain a dark roller coaster through outer space. This is our favorite version of Space Mountain in terms of the attraction experience (Paris gets the nod for its beautiful exterior). The LaunchPort load area is a bit different than the Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland versions, as it has glowing planetoids overhead. It’s the main ride that gives it the edge, as not only does it have on-board audio, but a cool “Hypergate” launch and projections similar to Ghost Galaxy at Disneyland during Halloween (Ghost Galaxy actually originated in Hong Kong). Use FastPass in the afternoon or evening for Space Mountain.
Autopia (5.5/10) - Kids might like it as it gives them a chance to drive in interesting futuristic environments and large track. This differs from other versions of Autopia in that it’s actually a bit futuristic…assuming the future involves aliens. There are also some in-car sound effects, and fun billboards along the way.
Cinderella Carousel (5/10) - Garden variety carousel located behind Sleeping Beauty Castle. (Isn’t it odd the Cinderella has a carousel behind the castle that’s home to Sleeping Beauty?)
Dumbo (6/10) - The iconic Disney spinner attraction. The highlight of this version is that it’s behind Sleeping Beauty Castle and offers a nice view of the mountains behind Hong Kong Disneyland. Otherwise, it’s nothing special.
Mad Hatter Tea Cups (5/10) - The spinning teacups at every castle park in the world.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (6.5/10) - Fantasyland dark ride through the world of Winnie the Pooh. Due to its otherwise complete lack of Fantasyland dark rides, this one is very popular. As best we could tell, this was a near-identical clone of the Walt Disney World version. If you do this, use FastPass. We went on slow days, and it was the second-longest wait in the park.
Slinky Dog Spin (5/10) - The tamest of the Toy Story Land attractions, a ride with Slinky Dog essentially chasing his tail as it spins in circles. Do all of the Toy Story Land attractions first thing in the morning, if at all.
Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop (6/10) - A tame, slow-moving up and down drop ride themed to Toy Story. Do all of the Toy Story Land attractions first thing in the morning, if at all.
This leaves out some additional photo ops (which are listed as attractions on the map!), small play areas (in abundance in Hong Kong Disneyland), entertainment, and character meet & greets, but it’s all of the significant, year-round attractions. You should have the time to do virtually everything on this list in a single day. Make sure to take time to enjoy the park’s dining (including afternoon tea!), too.
Which of these attractions interest you the most? If you’ve been to Hong Kong Disneyland, what are your favorite attractions? With which of our ratings do you agree and disagree? Anything else to add? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!