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Thursday Treasures

July 7, 2011 by Justin Dodge

A (not so) long time ago, in a place far, far away (relative to Wisconsin), a young man ventured into unknown (but well charted) territories: Hong Kong, China! He had a few missions while he was there: attend a business meeting, pick up a Hard Rock Cafe shirt for his one brother, and a Hong Kong Disneyland shirt for one of his other brothers.

Unlike so many heroes who must conquer the seemingly impossible on their trek to their goals, this young man just got on an airplane that took him to his destination without any real problems. The flight was smooth and even the plane food wasn't too bad.. they served Tim Tams for a snack, which are an Australian delicacy (basically chocolate Kit-Kats).

The first objective, the meeting was pretty straight forward, the second, a Hard Rock Cafe shirt was stumbled upon by accident, but the third, a shirt from Hong Kong Disneyland required much time, dedication, and de-coding the city's subway map. The time he had, dedication was never a doubt, but the subway map... well, that was pretty straight forward as well. Disney actually makes it quite easy to find and get to Hong Kong Disneyland, which is close to the city's airport.

The subway to Hong Kong Disneyland has windows shaped like Mickey and the cars contain statues of Disney characters, like Jiminy Cricket. This subway line only goes to Hong Kong Disneyland, and when you exit the subway, you step up through an eloquent staircase in a train station with a historic feel. The park itself is another ten minute walk, but Disney keeps you occupied as you pass under the welcome sign and beyond a pond with a statue of Monstro the whale.

Again, Disney makes life easy at the ticket counter, where employees speak at least Contonese and English, if not additional languages. Plus they allow guest to pay in Hong Kong dollars, US dollars, or Japanese yen, helping you avoid outrageous currency conversion fees. The park maps are just as easy to navigate as you are greeted by plenty of them printed in both Cantonese and English welcoming you to the park. This young man (who is me by the way) took about 50 maps to give to his brother (and his friends), then used one as his navigational guide for the day.

As I walked around the park, it reminded me of Disneyland in Anaheim, but smaller; the look is the same, the feel is similar, and, much like it's counterpart in California, here it is also unbearably hot and sunny.

The lands in the park include Main Street, USA, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Adventureland. Each is similar to what you would find in California or Florida, but there are substantial changes as well. Mickey's PhilharMagic is identical to Disney World's, and the horseless carriages are similar as well, but other rides have slight alterations, like Autopia and the Jungle Cruise.

The most striking thing about the park is the rides offered and the people here. There are few rides catered to the teenager or young adult and this is reflected in the guests; there were very few people here without young children (under the age of 10) and almost no teenagers. The wait for Winnie the Pooh seemed to be at, or over, and hour all day, but Space Mountain was practically a walk-on (in fact it was a walk on in the single rider line). Throughout my travels in China, Winnie the Pooh and Mickey were seen everywhere, which probably contributes to the popularity of the Winnie the Pooh ride.

After going on Space Mountain three times, among other rides, I made my way over to Jungle Cruise, which was offered in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Oddly, the English line was the longest, as the park contained many Japanese, Indian, and Filipino tourists, in addition to the small handful of Europeans and Americans. In fact, the Mandarin line had almost no one in it. The ride was highly entertaining, but the guide spoke poor English, and missed quite a few of the punch lines; fortunately no one seemed to notice as many of the guests were more interested in taking pictures of the scenery and talking.

After the Jungle Cruise, I glanced at my watch, despite being in the park for a couple hours, I had yet to accomplish my goal of getting a Hong Kong Disneyland shirt for my brother. I considered the time, ran over to Space Mountain once more; afterwards, I glanced at my watch again, then ran over to Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters one more time. I could finally relax; I had plenty of time to get that shirt and make my evening flight to Beijing... until disaster struck: The Flights of Fantasy Parade!

I rushed to Main Street, USA only to find myself on the wrong side of the street. The clothing store was on the opposite side and there multiple floats of smiling, waving characters taunting me as I could not pass. After concocting a plan to climb a nearby light pole and swing across the street Indiana Jones-style using a string of lights, the parade ended so I instead crossed the street without any real trouble, but my problems were just beginning... What shirt should I buy?!

There was only one shirt in Chinese and it was rather tacky. Most of the shirts were very "busy," containing nearly every Disney character one can think of, and the shirt with the simple logo on it was made of felt? Really, felt? Yes, felt. The debate raged for 2-3 minutes, but I had a flight to catch so I went with the logo shirt (appearing soon on a W.E.D.nesday Show near you). Much like the trip in, transportation out of the park and to the airport was a breeze; only a half hour after leaving the park I was checked into my flight to Beijing with all three missions accomplished.

To learn more about Justin's trip to Hong Kong, visit his site:
www.safaritheglobe.com/china_hong_kong.aspx

 

 

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