Too excited to even wait for our check-in, from the Hollywood Hotel we all proceeded to the park via its regular complimentary airconditioned shuttle. The actual 100-acre park, the smallest Disneyland in the world, currently features 4 themed lands similar to those at other Disneyland parks: Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland (the biggest one among all the Disneyland parks), Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
We had a choice of 22 entertainment items in the park (there are 44 in Paris, 45 in Tokyo and Florida, and 65 in California). The park’s biggest draws were its shows and there were three on our list. The Golden Mickeys, at Disney’s Storybook Theater in Fantasyland, is a spectacular musical extravaganza featuring all the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood tribute, honoring your favorite Disney films.
Also at Fantasyland, we donned special sunglasses at Mickey’s PhilharMagic and watched a hilarious and dazzlingly immersive 3-D attraction of movies, music and mayhem featuring Maestro Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Alladin and other animated Disney characters as they burst forth before our amazed eyes.
At the newly decorated Adventureland, temporarily renamed Pirateland (until June 30) to celebrate the release of the new feature film “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” we watched the fantastic Festival of the Lion King at its Theater in the Wild. This colorful pageant of music and dance, inspired by and celebrating Disney’s animated classic “The Lion King,” features a vibrant collaboration of live performers (including a number of Filipinos), stunning costumes and exotic scenery. We liked it so much; we watched it again the next day.
Also at Pirateland, we tried out the Jungle River Cruise, Pirate Takeover!, venturing down the dangerous waters of a seemingly mysterious river filled with new surprises; and took a motorized log raft to Tarzan’s Island (inspired by Disney’s animated feature, “Tarzan”), climbing the moss-and-vine-covered Tarzan’s Treehouse, along the way learning the story of this human child raised by gorillas.
Other park attractions are their rides. We took one giant and tumultuous leap for fun at Space Mountain, an indoor roller coaster, where we seemingly rocketed, at warp speed, to into the inky blackness of the nether reaches of space, amidst synchronized music and sound effects.
At Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, in Tomorrowland, we became Space Rangers saving the galaxy from the Evil Emperor Zurg, riding Star Cruisers and firing moveable, hand-held laser cannons as we tried to blast enemy targets and amass points. Less tumultuous was our horseback ride on the Cinderella Carousel, a sure hit for the young and the young-at-heart.
Other favorite activities of kids, including mine, were photo opportunities with costumed Disney characters. However, you have to sometimes wait in long lines to do so. Where the queue was short, we posed with Captain Hook at Pirateland; and Belle, Goofy and Snow White at Fantasyland. We again got to see them, and the others we missed, at the magical 3 PM Disney on Parade, a daily cavalcade of Disney characters and music in a procession starting in Fantasyland and proceeding down to Main Street, U.S.A.
In between rides and shows, we quenched our thirst and filled our stomachs with rice meals at the Royal Banquet Hall at Fantasyland, and chicken burgers and French fries at Comet Café at Tomorrowland.
Main Street is our favorite hangout, cooling off (and buying souvenirs such as shirts and key chains) at Main Street Emporium, again cooling off and admiring (but not buying) expensive and exquisite crystal figurines of Disney characters (including watching a demo on how they were made) at Crystal Arts.
We also learned “How Mickey Mouse came to Hong Kong” in The Disneyland Story, or simply watching people passing by or enjoying a nostalgic and leisurely trip along Main Street to Town Square on board quaint Paddy Wagons or Main Street Taxis or on the excursion-style train of Disneyland Railroad.
I also enjoyed chatting with many of our kababayans employed in the park, including a tricycle-mounted piano player. Main Street is also the venue for a grandstand view of the 8 P.M. Disney in the Stars, a magnificent, magical and colorful fireworks spectacular, choreographed to classic Disney songs and music, and held over the towering and graceful spires of Sleeping Beauty Castle. We capped our evening with fine dining at the nearby Corner Café.