Last weekend, I finally got to fulfil one of my childhood dreams, that has long been cruelly denied to me, mostly by my parents. I got to go to Disneyland.
It was a magical place, not least because of the weather, and even though I’m sure no one really wants to hear about it, I’m going to describe in detail all that took place while I was visiting the happiest place in Hong Kong.
It took us a helluva long time to get there. Door to beautiful Mickey-topped gates, was around five hours. Two hours on the Shenzhen metro, an hour-ish waiting at the train station for the next train, fifteen minutes on the fabulous high-speed train, and then what felt like forever waiting to get through customs. The high-speed train really is amazing. Due to a communication error, we ended up in first class, which was more expensive and not something we’re going to repeat if we can help it, but it was nice to experience at least once, what with its plush leather seats, complimentary service (although that is generally for journeys that are longer than fifteen minutes) and pull out trays that warn you that you could trap and hurt your fingers. No sooner had we taken our bags off, sat down and got comfy, we were in Hong Kong and could no longer use our phones. Thank goodness we had already screenshotted all the info we might need. To get into Hong Kong proper, we had to fill in forms to leave China and then forms to enter Hong Kong, and we had to wait in queues to hand over the forms and be scrutinised by folks. We got a little lost trying to find the underground station that would take us to Disney. All the while, there was glorious blazing sunshine outside. And I was starting to vibrate with excitement.
Once we found the station, withdrawn Hong Kong dollars from our bank accounts and bought our octopus cards from a person who actually spoke English, we were on our way, the Hong Kong metro being very easy to navigate. Disney has its own line from Sunny Bay station, and this train is the cutest (by the way, everything is cute – I don’t think I’ve used that word in my life as much as I did this weekend). It has Mickey shaped windows and hand holds, and little figurines of its most famous characters in each carriage.
The station is bedecked like a classic British train station, with fancy wrought iron sculptures, and its own Disney twist in the shape of Apprentice Mickey’s hat. And directly outside the station is the main archway entrance topped with the world’s favourite mouse.
The promenade was magical and despite it being forty-degree heat, I got goose bumps. I don’t remember which Disney classic was playing, but it certainly was, and there were bubbles floating through the air, banners and pennants of Disney characters and at the end of the promenade a fountain that had Mickey atop Pinocchio’s whale.
Then we entered Disneyland proper, straight into the Main Street (USA) where all the shops and a Starbucks (cleverly disguised as a nineteenth-century café, as all the other buildings were of that era as well) were kept and the main parade and light show would be later that night. We needed to sun cream up, and eat and while it was kind of an accident that we ended up at Starbucks – like I said, it was cleverly disguised – it was an excellent decision as we had a delicious smoothie, and a real sausage roll, like what we get in England!
And then it was time for rides! Which meant it was time to slowly roast, while sweat trickled down our backs, we were in a constant state of SULA (Sweaty Upper Lip Alert), and were only slightly concerned about sunstroke, dehydration etc. The rides were great and the later we got through the day, the smaller the queues were, especially as we moved away from the Avengers/Star Wars (Tomorrowland) section that was by the entrance and by the looks of it, the most modern and recent addition to the park, and was definitely the busiest). Lucy convinced me to ride the pastel monstrosity that was the “It’s a Small World” ride, and, well, I will never be the same again. It was An Experience, that’s for sure.
By the end of the day, we were very tired and wanted to eat, watch the light show and go to our Airbnb. We were carrying our rucksacks, with all our clothes in and we had achy backs and feet. The food that night, was, disappointing. We wanted a family meat feast pizza, but it was sold out, so Lucy had a classic pizza and I had a pasta with mushrooms and cheese sauce, and while it was nice, it was still underwhelming, to be honest.
We found a good spot to sit on the kerb for the light show, and it was brilliant. It was all a celebration of the Mouse himself, and it was a wonder.
By then we were both knackered, and wanted to get into bed, so as the park was closing anyway, we headed out and at Sunny Bay station, asked the English speaking (still a massive novelty as it feels like no one in Shenzhen speaks English) station attendant how to get to our apartment. She told us which bus to get, and when we got off, I had just enough something on my phone to have location services (although not calling or texting) and luckily, we were basically right outside the door of the apartment. Lucy was able to call our host and she did so, in order that we could be let into the building.
From that point we basically collapsed on the (soft and comfortable!) bed, until we could move again to brush our teeth and get ready for bed.
The next day was a lovely slow start as the park didn’t open until ten, and we both deserved a lie in. the weather was as hot as the day before, so we spent most of our money on water, but I also discovered that candyfloss can melt, a previously unknown fact to me. However I was painfully aware after it melted all over my hands and rings, and since I didn’t have a wet wipe, and we were in the queue for a ride, I couldn’t wash them in the toilet, I had to lick and suck it all off. Yum. We made sure we got all the souvenirs we wanted, using our vouchers that we got with our tickets and although we didn’t meet any princesses or other cast members, partly because whenever we wanted to, the queue was already closed (I guess the actors in full suits couldn’t do for too long or they’d overheat) or the wait was ridiculously long and we would rather spend time waiting in line for rides. But I do have some poor pictures of the princesses/cast’s backs and sides and whatever else we could take while not actually meeting them.
We spent the day exploring the rest of the park, doing the rides that we didn’t do the day before, and also redoing the rides we had done the day before, trying to take good pictures of one another (Lucy’s were good of me, mine of her…well she looked great but I never have and never will claim to be a photographer of any ability) and generally having a magical time. At one point, in the Gold Rush Mining Town of Grizzly Gulch, the ladies of the town put on a little musical show which was fun, and the Mystic Manor ride should have had a warning that it was also scary for adults as well as children.
That evening we watched the parade as well as the light show which was also great.
In between the two, we managed to slip into the restaurant that had had long queues at the door the entire time we had been at the park, and honestly, I could see why they had had the queues. The food was expensive but it was orgasmic. I had a carbonara and Lucy had a salad and the quite honestly could have been sub-par but they were still the best either of us had ever tasted, just because we had been so deprived of Western food. Don’t get me wrong, Chinese food is good, but there’s nothing quite like food from home, and even for me of simple tastes, it is in fact possible to get tired of rice. I inhaled that meal like I was a rabid animal, and I didn’t regret a second of it, because about five minutes after I was done, I was uncomfortably full and if I hadn’t eaten it so quickly, I might not have been able to finish it, and that would have been a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare.
Being close enough at the end of the show to capture a picture or two of Mickey Mouse dancing was possibly the perfect end to a magical weekend that brilliantly popped my Disney cherry.