Disneyland: where dreams come true. For Brits, Disneyland Paris is obviously a very popular holiday destination, and the Disney resorts in Florida and California, though further away, are also well known. The Asian Disney resorts, however, are much less talked about. I didn’t know Tokyo even had a Disneyland before arriving there, and had no idea there was also a resort in Hong Kong. So what are these parks like, how do they compare, and are they worth it?
TDL is only 20 minutes by train from central Tokyo station (though an hour on top of that from my old house). However, though Tokyo station is geographically central, my situation of living an hour from it was far from uncommon, so journey times in excess of an hour are also the norm.
Though Hong Kong is smaller than Tokyo, the journey to HKDL from the centre of town actually takes 10 minutes longer, though from our house it was much nicer than the hour and a half it took in Tokyo. Built on Lantau island, the resort has its own train line and also its own Disney train, decorated with Mickey Mouse silhouette windows and hand rails, getting you into the Disney mood long before you reach the park.
Though the location of TDL is actually pretty good, the enormous size of Tokyo itself proves a massive hinderance, so the location point would have to go to Hong Kong.
At 115 acres, TDL is much bigger than its Hong Kong counterpart at only 55 acres (I tried finding comparisons for parks in England: Google tells me Thorpe Park is a massive 500 acres, but I can’t believe that, it seemed similar to TDL in size).
Simply put, more area means more rides, whilst at the same time (for adults at least) still being manageable to see everything in a day, so Tokyo wins here.
Although TDL is twice the size of HKDL, the greater Tokyo area contains five times the number of people of Hong Kong, and the park was PACKED. On both occasions we went on October weekdays, so it was a fairish test in that respect, but HK was as good as empty, whilst we regularly had to queue over an hour (more than two on Space Mountain) at Tokyo. Our biggest queue at HK was no more than 20 minutes, with most attractions at less than five.
Hong Kong wins here.
I imagine HKDL is aimed more towards satisfying the children – I don’t blame them, Disney is after all for children. However, there were only two rides aimed at older people (Space Mountain and a Runaway Train) compared with more in Tokyo (Runaway Train, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Go Coaster).
There were plenty of the same tamer rides at both parks, including It’s a Small World, Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, Treehouses (Tarzan at HK, Swiss Family Robinson at Tokyo) and the gentle teacups and Dumbo carousels for the tots. More thrills at Tokyo though.
The Disneyland Castle
Be it either Cinderella’s or Sleeping Beauty’s, the castle at Disneyland has always been an iconic image, forming the basis of the Disney logo for over 50 years. There again is only one winner here: Tokyo‘s Cinderella castle is the centrepiece of the park, dominating the skyline from the moment you enter at 58m tall. Expecting this as the norm, Hong Kong’s Sleeping Beauty offering was a considerable let down, though this website says it’s an identical replica of the original castle in California and thus only 23m tall, but only appears smaller because of the surrounding mountains.
A day ticket to Tokyo will set you back 6200JPY (£48), and the same one day ticket to Hong Kong is 399HKD (£32), making Hong Kong the clear winner here.
As a comparison, Thorpe Park is now a staggering £45.60 and Alton Towers is £45, putting the UK parks in the same bracket as Tokyo.
Though I doubted it myself before I went for the first time, Disneyland is a great day out. They know what they’re doing, and they do it well. The parades are fantastic, the characters walking about (whilst admittedly not for me) are great for the kids, and everyone is very friendly and welcoming. Even for someone who’s not that interested in Disney, I doubt you’d come home from either park thinking you’d had a bad day, or that it was money badly spent. If I had to go back to one of the two parks, I’d pick Tokyo; it was much busier, but the rides were better, the castle was more impressive, and you can’t fault the Japanese for putting on a good show. Shanghai Disneyland opens in 2016 – maybe we’ll see how that one turns out too!