Our 1-day itinerary for a perfect day in Hong Kong Disneyland, balancing an efficient touring plan with sufficient opportunities to slow down and enjoy the ‘Disney Details.’ In addition to a plan of attack for doing attractions with minimal waits, this Hong Kong Disneyland 1-day touring plan features the restaurants at which we’d dine, the shows we’d see, and the details we’d try to enjoy.
None of our other itineraries are “commando style” touring plans, and we certainly aren’t going to start that approach with Hong Kong Disneyland. To be sure, we offer efficient strategy for getting as much done during a day in HKDL, but that’s more so you can do Mystic Manor and Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars ten times each (only a slight exaggeration). You won’t need to spend the day running between rides to do as many as possible at the expense of the atmosphere.
Hong Kong Disneyland is the last Disney park that would require such an approach. To the contrary, you can accomplish all of HKDL’s highlights in a single day, which is a big part of the appeal. Hong Kong Disneyland is now the quaintest and most charming castle park, and really should be enjoyed as such. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to have a plan, so we’re here with a rough outline for your day in Hong Kong Disneyland…
There are a few assumptions with this Hong Kong Disneyland itinerary: visiting on a moderately crowded day, arriving at park opening, and staying until close. These assumptions are easy to fulfill as HKDL’s laid back approach extends even to operating hours (the park has a staggered opening that rarely starts before 10 a.m.).
While this Hong Kong Disneyland 1-day plan does almost every attraction, there are some we recommend skipping and others we suggest repeating. If you have more time or want an overview of all rides in the park, read our Hong Kong Disneyland Attraction Ratings & Ride Guide post.
Let’s take a look at how you should approach this ideal day…
Relaxed Rope Drop – Like most of Disney’s international parks, Hong Kong Disneyland is a fair distance outside the city-center and commuting to the park can take an hour or more from downtown Hong Kong. Unlike those other parks, staying downtown during your HKDL day (or days) is not much of an issue, as the park doesn’t usually begin opening until 10 a.m., and some lands don’t open until 11 a.m.
Journeys with Duffy – On a normal day, the only long lines before noon tend to be for the character meet & greets on Main Street. In fact, the “attraction” with the longest wait at Hong Kong Disneyland is often Main Street Cinema: My Journeys with Duffy. This is the meet & greet where you can find Duffy the Bear and his friends ShellieMay, Gelatoni, StellaLou, and Cookie. The last of these is Duffy’s newest friend, a puppy who likes to cook cotton candy waffle sandwiches. (I’m not making this up.)
Meet & greet protocol is not always consistent, but in our experience, Duffy and friends meet in pairs. Granted, we were last at Hong Kong Disneyland in the pre-Cookie days, which was a simpler time when there was an even number of friends. It could be total mayhem now.
Additionally, if you’re doing HKDL as part of a ‘Grand Circle Tour’ of the Asian parks, and are thinking about waiting until Tokyo to meet Duffy and Friends…don’t. Hong Kong Disneyland is by far the best place to meet them. The interactions are not as rushed and the photo rules are not nearly as strict as Tokyo–so get in line twice if you want to see all or most characters.
Placid Point & Gentle Gulch – If you finish Journeys with Duffy before 11 a.m., the most practical thing to do is grab a FastPass for Iron Man Experience. (If you don’t do Journeys with Duffy at all, you should do Iron Man Experience and Hyperspace Mountain via standby.) If it’s closer to 11 a.m., our personal recommendation would be heading through Adventureland and towards Mystic Point and Grizzly Gulch, both of which normally open at 11 a.m.
Not because the rides in these lands will have lengthy waits (they won’t) but because they are the coolest and most unique lands at Hong Kong Disneyland, and there’s a very good chance you’ll have them entirely to yourself if you go right at 11 a.m.
Spend some time taking empty park photos, then do Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Trains and Mystic Manor, both of which are elite worldwide Disney attractions, and the two main reasons every Disney fan should visit HKDL. (Mystic Manor is not just one of Disney’s best new attractions, but one of Disney’s best ever attractions.) If you want to do any of the Toy Story Land attractions, this is also when you should do them. We recommend only RC Racer, which is deceptively fun, and then returning to repeat Mystic Manor and Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Trains.
Marching Along We’re Explorers, Singing the Song of Explorers – Far and away the best and coolest dining option in Hong Kong Disneyland is Explorer’s Club Restaurant, a counter service eatery in Mystic Point. Explorer’s Club Restaurant has separate bay sections for “Flavors of Japan,” “Korean Treasures,” “Southeast Asian Delights,” and “Indonesian Spice.”
Explorer’s Club is a treasure trove of detail, and a literal treasure trove of…treasure. This restaurant contains some artifacts collected by Lord Henry Mystic and is a meeting place for the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, and (fun fact for Walt Disney World fans!) some of its collection comes from the fan-favorite, now-defunct Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island. I hesitate to hype it up too much, as Hong Kong Disneyland doesn’t always open every restaurant–it’s crowd dependent–but this is the must-do dining option if it’s open during your visit.
Flights of Fantasy – Hong Kong Disneyland’s daytime parade is solid and worth watching. There are some neat floats, with Mickey’s balloon being the highlight, and the music is catchy. Flights of Fantasy Parade has two show stops, and features a combination of more traditional floats and higher energy acrobatic performers.
If you’re not a parade person, you could probably safely skip this, but it’s typically fairly easy to get a good spot only 15-30 minutes in advance, so it’s not like you’re sacrificing much to see Flights of Fantasy. The main downside to watching Flights of Fantasy is the heat during some times of year, and standing in the sun for so long can be brutal.
Fantastical Fun – Unlike other castle parks, Fantasyland in Hong Kong Disneyland doesn’t have an abundance of family-friendly dark rides. In fact, I think this is the first itinerary for a Disneyland-style park where we don’t recommend starting in Fantasyland.
The one traditional dark ride here is the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and you might feel compelled to do it because it’s the only one. That’s your call, but this is a clone of the exact same ride we deem skippable everywhere else it exists. Instead, we’d recommend making time for Mickey and the Wondrous Book and ‘it’s a small world’, as well as the Fairytale Forest walk-through. Do Mickey’s PhilharMagic after the walk-through if it’s hot out and you need a respite from the heat.
You might notice that we haven’t made a single FastPass recommendation up until this point. That’s because you realistically wouldn’t be crisscrossing the park in adequate time to pick up and use them, and due to FastPass being limited at HKDL to only Iron Man Experience, Hyperspace Mountain, and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. On a busier day, you should grab them earlier than this, but on a moderately (or less) crowded day, popping into Tomorrowland for an Iron Man Experience FastPass once you’re done with Fantasyland is a good idea.
Afternoon Adventure – Adventureland at Hong Kong Disneyland is home to two stage shows: Festival of the Lion Kong and Moana: A Homecoming Celebration. The former has some beautiful pageantry, but it takes a lot of time and is an inferior version of the show in Animal Kingdom (if you’ve already seen that one). Moana: A Homecoming Celebration is a smaller scale production aimed squarely at a very young audience with low production value. It’s nice if you have kids, but otherwise, both are skippable.
The main must-do in Adventureland is Jungle River Cruise, which also tends to be one of the longer lines in the park. Our hope by this point in the late afternoon is that waits have died down, and you’re looking at a 30 minute wait, at most. While the jokes don’t always land on Jungle River Cruise, the upgraded effects in some scenes make the attraction worthwhile. If waits are still long, consider Afternoon Tea at River View Cafe or an early dinner at Tahitian Terrace before doing Jungle Cruise. (For alternatives, see our Top 10 Restaurants at Hong Kong Disneyland post.)
Tour Tomorrowland – Your last land to experience in Hong Kong Disneyland is Tomorrowland, which we’ve saved until the end of the day both for strategic reasons and because this is the best time to see the land. At night, Tomorrowland has beautiful lighting and a dynamic kinetic energy. It’s fun just to gaze at the Orbitron–or ride if you have time!
However, the main priorities here are Hyperspace Mountain and Iron Man Experience. At this point, these should both be near walk-ons on a normal day. However, you really should keep an eye on wait times via the official Hong Kong Disneyland app throughout the day, and if they’re regularly 45-60 minutes for either, hedge your bets by getting FastPass earlier in the day.
Paint the Night – During its ongoing park-wide reinvention, Hong Kong Disneyland is not running fireworks. This will be the case at least through the castle expansion, which is expected to be finished at some point in 2019. You might instead be able to catch the “We Love Mickey!” projection show on Main Street. It’s cute, albeit nothing special.
In the meantime, at least there’s the Paint the Night light parade, which is like the next generation of Main Street Electrical Parade, if you’ve ever seen that. Paint the Night parade features numerous floats, including ones dedicated to Cars, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, and Mickey & Friends. It’s a high-energy light parade, with Owl City’s “When Can I See You Again?” as its theme song. We highly recommend getting a spot for Paint the Night at least 30 minutes in advance.
Close Down Main Street – On most nights, once Paint the Night ends, Hong Kong Disneyland will be closed. However, if you’re lucky or the parade runs earlier, you might still have time to run back to Tomorrowland and do one of those rides again (or just soak up more futuristic evening ambiance).
If it’s impossible to get to other lands, take your time lingering on Main Street, which typically remains open for shopping 30 minutes or so after park closing. We recommend walking up to the second floor of the train station, where you can see the mountains behind the park–even in the dark, they’re pretty!
All of this should be fairly easy to accomplish in a single day at Hong Kong Disneyland, no matter what time of year you visit. As Disney fans, we normally spend a second day at HKDL, doing Mystic Manor and Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars over and over and over and over and over and over and over (phew) and over again, as well as other things we missed like Animation Academy, Tarzan’s Treehouse, and whatever the seasonal entertainment might be (particularly true at Halloween, the best season of the year at Hong Kong Disneyland). We also like to take the second night to skip Paint the Night, and instead spend the evening over in Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point, which are beautiful and serene at night, especially when pretty much every other guest has left for the parade.
For the rest of your planning needs, consult our Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Planning Guide. It covers everything you need to know for a visit to HKDL, including reviews, strategy, packing, and more. If you’re visiting the city as well, please consult our Hong Kong City Guide on TravelCaffeine, our non-Disney planning site.
If you’ve visited the park, what do you like to do most at Hong Kong Disneyland? Any tips of your own for exploring HKDL? If you’ve never been to Hong Kong, what interests you most about the park? Anything else to add? Any questions? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!