Those Forgotten Childhood Memories

I have no inspiration for a beautiful introductory paragraph to captivate your attention to this post. I’ll just tell you straight up – it’s a detailed outline of my night out at Disneyland last night.

So actually, my original intentions at Disneyland was just for the Halloween festival going on right now, but it turned out that there wasn’t all that much Halloween stuff to see. They had two haunted houses and some people dressed up in scary costumes, but it really wasn’t scary. I hate Vancouver Playland – it’s one of the worst amusement parks I’ve ever been to – and yet I have to say that their Halloween Fright Night is better than HK Disneyland’s…. whatever they call it. Prepare to be disappointed if you’re actually looking for a scare. On the other hand, it’s still a great time to go, especially if you’re busy during the day on weekdays. The park usually closes at 8 PM, but just for the Halloween stuff, it opens until 11 PM on Thurs-Sun during the month of October. I went yesterday after work, entered the park at 6 PM, and fully enjoyed 5 hours of Disneyland. It was definitely enough time to try everything. The best part is, there is literally nobody there on a Thursday evening. The longest line I had to wait for took 10 minutes. Pretty good for an amusement park in a crowded city like Hong Kong!

Many people say Hong Kong Disneyland is lame. I have to agree. It’s a tiny park, and you can’t even find a decent roller coaster inside that is exciting enough to make you scream. In terms of decorations, I thought USJ was a lot nicer (although my opinion is a bit unfair, since I never got to see HK Disneyland under bright daylight; everything was dark last night!). But if you’re going to go to Disneyland, you’re pretty much expecting a cute experience rather than a thrilling one. I’m so glad I went on all the dumb rides yesterday, because it wouldn’t have been the same without it.

A lot of the rides are really similar. You just sit in something that spins and maybe you’ll go up and down. We went on one as our first ride, and none of the other ones after that. These small rides also go by really quick. I’m pretty sure other amusement parks would let you swing around for a bit longer, while HK Disneyland cuts you off quite soon. Not that I really cared – the small rides aren’t very interesting in particular – but I just thought I should let you know.

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Space Mountain was second in line for us. It’s your typical dark galaxy ride, except they made it scary for Halloween. Instead of pretty lights and stars, there’s a devil floating around and surrounding you in evil laughter. It was… meeh. I guess I can’t complain for something I didn’t have to line up for.

We walked past this Winnie-the-Pooh building, and my brother suggested we go in. You know it’s bad when even I think to myself, wow, this is really lame. You sit in a car in the shape of a honey pot, and it just moves through a Winnie-the-Pooh scene. The line was really short – we waited maybe five minutes? – so we went in, and I was just taking pictures when slowly I was just mesmerized by the scenes. They all looked so familiar… and then I realized that they were taken right out of the old cartoons that I watched in my early years! Next thing you know, I put down my camera, and used my own pair of lens to watch what I said was lame. When I came out, I was already amazed at how Walt Disney had snuck into my childhood without me even realizing it. To be honest, I’m not sure other people in Hong Kong would feel the same way towards Winnie-the-Pooh as me. I don’t know exactly what they watch here, but I’m sure there’s a whole lot more Asian cartoons compared to me growing up in Canada.

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Toy Story Land is probably my favourite part of the park in terms of decorations. Of course, it’s also because I love Toy Story 😀 But no seriously, it’s really cute. The downside is that there are no cool rides there. Just a lot of statues of Toy Story characters for you to take pictures with.

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And, just for Halloween, they also had this thing up:

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From there, you step into Mystic Point, which also doesn’t have much aside from a new ride called Mystic Manor. i didn’t know what to expect going in – I couldn’t even tell if it was a ride, or a museum, or what – but when I came out, I was quite satisfied. The characters in the ride are new; I’ve never seen them before in the world of Walt Disney. Basically, the story is about some guy that lives in the manor and likes to collect antiques, and he has a pet monkey that’s a bit mischievous. The monkey accidentally opens some sort of magic portal, and you sit in a car that goes from room to room, exploring all the different worlds. There’s not much to it aside from a story and a lot of nice computer graphics, but what really got me was just the whole idea of letting your imagination run wild. I used to think that fantasy was a boring genre, and so that would’ve been a bad ride for me. Instead, Mystic Manor was my favourite ride of the night, and I can tell you it definitely wouldn’t have happened a few years ago.

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Secretly though, I know what the real key is. Believing. Reading about a fake world is easy, and also boring if you can’t visualize it. That’s why I’ve always loved Harry Potter –  the details were so real that you could believe it existed in our current world. But turn to Narnia, and and it’s so off on a distant planet that you know you’re just reading some gibberish. When you can really visualize your fantasy, and believe that it’s true – that’s when your fantasy has succeeded.

Oh yeah, you know what else is cool about this ride? There are no tracks! It must be some sort of maglev system… I’m letting the nerdy engineer inside come out again 😀

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At this point, I made my brother go all the way back to Fantasyland with me to get a picture with Mickey Mouse. We saw the characters at 6:30, but the line was already cut off and we were told to come back at 8:00. I was so excited that I made sure we went back, and we watched as the cut off the line quite promptly – at around 8:10. I’m so glad I made us come back for it. There were actually four photo stations – Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Chip & Dale – but with the lines cutting off super soon, there was no way you would’ve caught more than one character in a single session. We only got a picture with Mickey, but that was good enough for me!

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Since we were already in Fantasyland, we then went on the “It’s a small world” ride – you know, the one where they just brainwash you with different versions of the song. I still caught myself humming it today. Actually, I only found out that it’s a classic Disneyland ride after I looked up the park on Wikipedia when I got home. I have absolutely no recollection of going on the ride when I went to California, and that was the only other visit to Disneyland in my life. The ride itself is long, and pretty cute. I like how brought together all of the different cultures through Walt Disney. It’s such a brilliant marketing technique; to insert a connotation to the brand through the ride.

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The ride itself wasn’t short at all – in fact, it felt like I was on the boat for a good 10 minutes! There were way too many good scenes to share them all, but here are the depictions of the two places closest to my heart; Canada and Hong Kong.

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After getting off the boat, we were on another rush to go get our Monsters University student cards – the booth closes at 9. So we ran there, got our picture with Sully, then [with the addition of $40 HKD] we each officially became Scare Students! I know, it’s a hard school to get into…

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(Oh yeah, the person working there didn’t take a very good picture for us:)

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By that time, it was already 9 PM – just in time to watch the fireworks! – and so we stopped to enjoy a short 10-minute display of exploding lights. At first, I was taking pictures of the show, but then you realize that they’re so much prettier to see through your own eyes, and honestly, who cares about bad quality pictures of fireworks on your phone? Put down the technology, and really use your heart to appreciate what’s in front of you! I’m serious about the fireworks show, but of course, I feel that way about life in Hong Kong in general.

The show was short, but I really loved it. Pretty lights with my favourite Disney songs in the background (especially A Whole New World, and I’m pretty sure it has something to do with my name 😉 ). What more can you ask for? Okay, I guess if you really want, here’s one of the bad quality phone pictures I’m talking about.

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With the two hours we had left, we actually accomplished a lot. We went into one of the two haunted houses, which had a mere 10 minute line-up and was not scary at all. Sure, I screamed, but there’s no real feeling of fear. You just get shocked because things come out when you least expect it to, and that’s not the same thing as being afraid. When I watch scary movies, and they build up the whole atmosphere to make it spooky and eerie, and then I get nightmares afterwards – that’s real fear.

Just for the record, the other haunted house was a lot more noticeable because it was close-ish to the park entrance, and the line-up was an hour long. That’s the main reason why we didn’t go in.

We also went on the new roller coaster, which opened within the last year. It’s located in Grizzly Gulch, an area exclusive to Hong Kong Disneyland for at least the next five years, although there are similar themed areas in other Disneyland parks. The roller coaster is probably the most exciting ride in the park, and yet it’s still lame. It does take you by surprise on your first ride, but there’s really nothing much to it once you know the surprise.

After a good half hour of souvenir shopping, we finally went to our last two rides. The one I requested that we had to go on was Autopia. I totally remember going on it in Disneyland California (in fact, Indiana Jones is the only other ride I distinctly remember) and I’m 100% sure I kept some sort of ticket stub from that ride… maybe the FastTrack ticket or something. I’ll go dig it up next time I’m home in Vancouver!

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We caught the Buzz Lightyear game right before it closed. It’s a ride, but you get to shoot targets, which made it a lot more fun. I really like these kinds of interactive rides! So anyway, my score was a tenfold greater than my brother’s. He claims that it’s because he didn’t know you could control the movement of your little saucer, but I think it’s just my superior shooting skills.

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I’m sure Walt Disney is a huge part of many people’s childhoods, but for me, I wasn’t actually that interested until I got a bit older. I grew up watching more violent kinds of cartoons (like Pokemon and Power Rangers), and slowly I reverse-aged. The inner me got younger and now my favourite movies are all Disney animations. But despite saying all this, I didn’t realize how big of a place Disney had in my childhood memories until I stepped into Disneyland yesterday night. I totally remember a few months ago, when my friend told me she went to Disneyland and relived a lot of her childhood during that vacation, I told her “you’re lucky… I didn’t have the luxury of growing up with Disneyland every year”. In fact, I was almost sure I wouldn’t really feel anything when I walked into the theme park. And I was partially right. Walking inside didn’t do much. But as I walked through the park, and went on all the dumb rides for five-year-old kids, I slowly realized that it really did occupy a place in my heart.

What a great night! I’m looking forward to more [childhood] memories in the making 🙂

P.S. We bought pictures!

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One response to “Those Forgotten Childhood Memories

  1. aw man! i love disney land!!! when i went to the hk disneyland last time with pam and elk’s there wasn’t all the monster’s inc stuff. i wanna go just for it when im back! haha and THE TOY STORY PART is my favourite toooo!!!

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