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westical

HKDL, Ocean Park & Universal Singapore Tips?

19 posts in this topic

Finally expanding my horizons outside of Anaheim and Orlando with a trip to Hong Kong and Singapore next month.

Hong Kong Disneyland (2 days), Ocean Park (1 day) and Universal Studios Singapore (1 day) are definitely on the list.

(Un)fortunately timed my Hong Kong trip with Chinese New Year, so I expect it to be busy. Avoiding weekends for all parks to help as much as I can.

So with that all in mind, any tips for a seasoned theme park traveller?

HKDL has regular Fastpass but for only 2 rides, so I'll use that as much as I can. Having two days there plus extended hours should make up for the crowds.

Don't know much about Ocean Park to be honest.

Universal has Express passes starting at $30 but I'm not sure they're needed?

Thanks y'all.

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I'm a fast pass addict but didnt think it was needed at universal singapore. Asians seem to have an aversion to thrill rides.... too scary?

I went in September and the longest wait was for battlestar galactica on the cylon side and it was only 40 minutes. Mummy was 10 minutes so did it a few times and Jurassic Park was 20 minutes. Rest were practically walk ons.

The park is pretty small and you can walk laps of it rather quickly , it is well signed with wait times on all rides so you can just skip a ride and come back if you think the line is too long.

A whole day here is plenty of time to get everything done a few times over 

I stuffed up and missed waterworld though which i regret 

It's a good little park.

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USS is a great park with very well themed rides and attractions. If you go I would suggest you make sure you watch Shrek 4D, Water World and Lights Camera Action shows as they are all pretty good. Some of their attractions are great. We easily did the whole park in one day and queues in the Easter holidays (Our Easter holidays) were not to busy. The longest wait was 1 hour for transformers and the others max was 40 minutes. With most rides being 5-10 minute wait.

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Rides in the morning; shows in the afternoon.  Don't miss Waterworld - always try and get the first show of the day, which is around 12-1.30pm as the later shows can be rain/storm affected. Make sure you catch the pre-show as well.

Most people are still heading to Transformers first thing, then the rest of the coasters down that side of the park.  They're experimenting with a late start time for the Jurassic Park part of the park, which can mean a rush to ride the river adventure at 11am.  The Puss in Boots ride is also proving popular and can have a wait time as long as 40 minutes.

You'd have to be unlucky to get a busy day. The Unlimited Fast Pass retails for about $70 - I definitely wouldn't buy it until I got to the park because it's usually not worth it.

Don't miss the Dolphin Show at Ocean Park, which can get crowded out 40 minutes before show time.  The coasters and rides at the top of the park (it's in two sections) have a great view overlooking the harbour. 

Disneyland HK is usually pretty snoozy and doesn't tend to get as busy as its Japanese counterparts.  Do the coasters, Mystic Manor, the Jungle Cruise and Buzz Lightyear first before hitting the shows in the afternoon.

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I don't suggest spending 2 days at HKDL unless if it is crowded (you said you were doing it during Chinese New Year, so I assume yes it will be), on a regular weekday I managed to do most of Tomorrowland, Mystic Manor, Big Grizzly Mountain, the Jungle Cruise, the Lion King show (which is in English so it is bearable), the 4D Mickey show, the train and all of Toy Story Land, plus the parades and fireworks and all that. Unlike the other parks HKDL still doesn't have much to offer even after all those expansions. 

At Ocean Park- do all of Thrill Mountain first upon getting to the top, since it's there where the lines will be longest. Upon arrival, immediately go to the cable car or the uphill train, since the lines for those will be extremely long, especially the cable car. I suggest doing the animal stuff on the way out. I found the dolphin show to be crap, since none of it is in English and so you will spend more time staring at the translation screens than watching the actual thing. The dolphin stunts are nothing special either. If it is going to be a hot day, be sure to pack HEAPS of water. The Penguin attraction is a great way to cool off, as is the rapids. 

Enjoy HK and SG!

Edited by XxMrYoshixX

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Hong Kong Disneyland

For me, regardless of whether it is busy or not, I recommend 2 days minimum at HKDL. I've been both during Chinese New Year - pre-expansions, and in May - Post expansions. Both times were solid two days. We had plenty of time to re-ride, especially the more intense rides as the locals tend to steer away from those, but it gave us the time to enjoy ourselves without having to stick rigidly to a schedule, whilst still catching all the shows. 

Don't miss Festival of the Lion King, and although it isn't in English, the Golden Mickeys is something worth catching at least once - its a musical stage show, and all the songs are in english, so it's still very good. Stitch Encounter is also quite amusing.

There is nothing in HKDL that I could say 'it's ok to skip that' - do them all at least once - even the smaller kids rides in Toy Story Land are enjoyable. Space Mountain remains my favourite there, but Mystic Manor runs a close second, followed by Grizzly. Make sure you get a map and tick off things as you go - you don't want to miss anything, and the park layout may lead you astray. 

If you're into doing the full Disney experience - make your first stop the Plaza Inn and make reservations for the Star Fireworks Dinner. The meal is an 8 course degustation of traditional chinese dishes - and it was awesome to try their culture in a setting where you could be confident the food quality was there. In addition to the dinner, their staff will then escort you to reserved seating areas in the hub, prime position for the nightly fireworks. Here's the menu: (remember, the price is HKD)

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Even if you get the whole park done in one day - allow two - you never know if you might need it - but don't try to rush the park. A lot of HKDL was made with the chinese tourist (photographer) in mind, so there are very picturesque spots everywhere that are beautifully landscaped in every detail, so take some time and smell the roses... 

(On the topic of photos, they offer a photo pass deal - one price, all day, every photographer and ride photo in the park for no additional cost, with every one available as digital download for 2 weeks. We found it was well worth it to get some really good pro shots within the park too.)

 

Ocean Park

Ocean park is well worth the trip, but is always a disaster. Worst days to go to Ocean Park are Thursday through to Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday are the best options, although near Chinese New Year, they may not be good options either. Main reason for this is "Mainlanders" from China do day trips (or long weekends) to the park and generally cause havoc. Thursday is ok, if you get out by about 3pm. As per other advice - get in the gate ASAP and go straight to cable car or train. Train runs first, but cable car is less likely to have a lineup. Do the top of the mountain first. kill EVERYTHING up the top quickly, and work your way slowly down the mountain towards the older rides. Don't miss the mine train (its very unique), as well as Hair Raiser. Dragon should be done once - especially for credit chasers - but once only (and take some panadol). I recommend Dragon to be the last thing you do on the mountain if you can help it.

Many of the run-of-the-mill rides like ferris wheel can be skipped if you've done them as they're no different - but the spaceshot has a very unique view. Grab the rapids and the flume to cool off, or visit the penguins for better effect. Polar express is a kiddie coaster, but quite an enjoyable one - so try and fit it in if you can - the capacity is awesome so don't worry too much about queues.

Despite being a 'marine' park - i've found the marine animal shows to be at best disappointing and at worse alarming, when compared to the care, conservation and 'natural' look of our Sea World. You're not missing much if you choose to skip the dolphin or seal shows, but do try and catch the bird show. The other animal exhibits are quite interesting - especially the goldfish (who knew there were so many) and the pandas. The grand Aquarium WILL become a crush if the Mainlanders arrive before you get to it, and since it's near the exit, it'll be the last thing you hit up before leaving. It is still 'just an aquarium' at the end of the day, so you can skip it without missing much. 

Most people are done with OP by late afternoon. There is a dancing fountain show in the waterfront lagoon (outside the aquarium) after dark. I haven't seen it myself, so I can't say whether it's worth hanging around several more hours, but if you do find yourself there at the right time it'd be worth a look. All i read and saw before going suggested it wasn't a 'World of Color' show... That said, since you're doing Singapore as well - you won't miss much if you find time for 'Wings of Time' - the replacement to the ever popular 'Songs of the Sea', which in my opinion was a contender worthy of comparison to World of Color. Since WoT replaced SotS less than two months later... i assume WoT is equally impressive.

Singapore

As mentioned by others, USS tends to be a bit heavy on the 'right' hand side. I prefer to head left and go through Madagascar and Faire Faire away first. You'll be close to Waterworld for the first show of the day when it comes, and you'll get most of the afternoon sunshine whilst doing the outdoor rides (mid-morning tropical showers are likely, which is why Madagascar and Shrek are better for the morning being mostly indoors). I'm mixed on whether the fastpass is necessary - I went in September (around the time of the Singapore Grand Prix), and whilst we did spend some time queueing, and did see some people using them, they weren't really needed (although we did split up to single rider for the JP Rapids). Pay attention to showtimes, and head for LMA early, but USS is really easily done in a day.

Allow another day, if you can, to spend time on Sentosa, catch Wings of Time (as mentioned above) do the zipline, the luge, ride a bike around if that's your thing - the whole island is worthy of your time.

If you still have time, another day should be spent on doing the Singapore Zoo, and the Singapore Night Zoo (the bird sanctuary thing isn't really appealing for me).

 

Other randomness in no particular order for both HK and Singapore:

  • Singapore Merlion. There are several - one on Sentosa and one near Marina Bay Sands, but the real one is on the opposite side of the harbour.
  • Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is worth the trip up if you have a night free
  • Raffles hotel - the ONLY place to try a Singapore Sling
  • The Peak (Hong Kong)
  • A Symphony of Lights (Hong Kong) right on the harbour - I recommend the Kowloon side so you're facing HK Island - English narration is available Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Out of time to write this now... PHEW! if I think of more i'll come back and add later... In short you'll never be short of something to do in either place. Enjoy!

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44 minutes ago, AlexB said:

Despite being a 'marine' park - i've found the marine animal shows to be at best disappointing and at worse alarming, when compared to the care, conservation and 'natural' look of our Sea World.

Agreed. But if you want to watch it, as I have stated before the whole thing is in Chinese so good luck watching it.

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8 hours ago, AlexB said:

Other randomness in no particular order for both HK and Singapore:

  • Singapore Merlion. There are several - one on Sentosa and one near Marina Bay Sands, but the real one is on the opposite side of the harbour.
  • Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is worth the trip up if you have a night free
  • Raffles hotel - the ONLY place to try a Singapore Sling
  • The Peak (Hong Kong)
  • A Symphony of Lights (Hong Kong) right on the harbour - I recommend the Kowloon side so you're facing HK Island - English narration is available Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Out of time to write this now... PHEW! if I think of more i'll come back and add later... In short you'll never be short of something to do in either place. Enjoy!

Marina Bay Sands also does a great light show at night and is easier to get to.  The Gardens by the Bay and Botanic Gardens are pleasant to visit (and accessible by MRT).  I do like going to the Jurong Bird Park and River Safari, with its river raft and boat rides.  The Zoological Gardens do a 4 in one pass, which is also cheaper to buy online.  The ArtsScience Museum as well as the Science Museum in Jurong are good value.  I hadn't been out to the one in Jurong for a long time and got a pleasant surprise there on a recent visit.

Dejiki is a great source of information for what's happening in Singapore. 
http://dejiki.com/

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Thanks y'all, much appreciated!

Rather than a quote-athon I'll just summarise by park -

HKDL

  • I was likely always going to spend two days there no matter what the crowds were like, but CNY cements that. I noticed last year they had two designated days where you needed specific tickets for entry, so I'm keeping an eye on their press room.
  • I used Photo Pass at WDW, mainly for the unlimited ride photos, so I'll take a look.

Ocean Park

  • Consensus seems to be rides first so I'll stick to that plan given the park will more than likely be very busy.
  • I've been to the San Diego & Orlando SeaWorlds (+ plus GC of course) so missing the dolphin show may not be the end of the world.
  • Temperatures are currently in the teens, so won't be any need to cool off (might keep the water ride queues down at least...)

Universal

  • Sounds like I won't need an Express Pass which is good. I'll also be taking advantage of Single Rider Lines which USS seems to have a few of (HKDL seems to have a few too).
  • Going near the end of the wet season, from what I've read they still keep outdoor rides open unless there's a thunderstorm, so hopefully Battlestar Galactica will be operating.

Other

  • Raffles Hotel - is a premade Singapore Sling really worth $36??

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14 minutes ago, westical said:

Ocean Park

  • Consensus seems to be rides first so I'll stick to that plan given the park will more than likely be very busy.
  • I've been to the San Diego & Orlando SeaWorlds (+ plus GC of course) so missing the dolphin show may not be the end of the world.
  • Temperatures are currently in the teens, so won't be any need to cool off (might keep the water ride queues down at least...)

Make sure you do the stuff at the top first, then work your way down. Preferably start with Hair Raiser and the rest of Thrill Mountain. Dragon is almost always a walk on so if you want the credit it's right there.

16 minutes ago, westical said:

HKDL

  • I was likely always going to spend two days there no matter what the crowds were like, but CNY cements that. I noticed last year they had two designated days where you needed specific tickets for entry, so I'm keeping an eye on their press room.
  • I used Photo Pass at WDW, mainly for the unlimited ride photos, so I'll take a look.

I would start with Tomorrowland, because that area has the longest queues. ALWAYS ALWAYS get to the parade early, since it gets extremely crowded whether it is busy or quiet. CNY will make it worse. Because you're spending two days (and you may not want to watch the same parade twice) all the rides are a walk-on shortly before, during and shortly after the parade. Once the fireworks are over, you should try to get out as fast as you can, unless you are staying at the resort (if there is one), or leaving by car. The trains leaving the park get extremely crowded. 

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3 hours ago, westical said:

Other

  • Raffles Hotel - is a premade Singapore Sling really worth $36??

All alcohol in Singapore is expensive you could pay nearly $30 for a beer in some places.

I've sat in the raffles with all the tourists and had a sling, ate their peanuts and threw the shells on the floor.... it's not that exciting or good but you can tick it off the list of touristy things done.

There are heaps of shops and other bars/restaurants around the raffles too.

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There are a number of areas you could stay in Singapore.

Some people prefer staying on Sentosa, which is great if you're after a really laid back holiday close to the beach or USS (it also means you're further away from everywhere else).  You can stay in the Marina Bay area (not necessarily at the Sands), which is about a ten minute taxi ride to Sentosa (and walking distance to the Raffles). Then there's the Orchard Road area (about a half hour taxi ride or 45 minutes by MRT and Monorail).  You're closer to the centre of town and other attractions.

I usually stay in a boutique hotel called the Quincy in the Orchard Road area.  Food is included in the price of a room as well as the mini bar, WiFi and two pieces of laundry a day.  Their happy hour goes from 6-8pm when the drinks are free with dinner.  They also make a good Singapore Sling.   

After you stay in a 100 room hotel and you see the crowds in the foyer of any big hotel like the Marina Bay Sands, you can't go back.

Edited by iwerks

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7 hours ago, XxMrYoshixX said:

Once the fireworks are over, you should try to get out as fast as you can, unless you are staying at the resort (if there is one), or leaving by car. The trains leaving the park get extremely crowded. 

Fair point, I'm used to parks generally staying open past the fireworks or being able to walk to my hotel.

4 hours ago, grrofunger said:

All alcohol in Singapore is expensive you could pay nearly $30 for a beer in some places.

I've sat in the raffles with all the tourists and had a sling, ate their peanuts and threw the shells on the floor.... it's not that exciting or good but you can tick it off the list of touristy things done.

Still in two minds about that one, will probably end up deciding on the day.

54 minutes ago, iwerks said:

There are a number of areas you could stay in Singapore.

Some people prefer staying on Sentosa, which is great if you're after a really laid back holiday close to the beach or USS (it also means you're further away from everywhere else).  You can stay in the Marina Bay area (not necessarily at the Sands), which is about a ten minute taxi ride to Sentosa (and walking distance to the Raffles). Then there's the Orchard Road area (about a half hour taxi ride or 45 minutes by MRT and Monorail).  You're closer to the centre of town and other attractions.

Hotel is already booked, staying near Orchard Road so fairly central at least. If money weren't an issue than Marina Bay Sands would have been it.

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On 1/30/2016 at 09:13, westical said:

HKDL

  • I used Photo Pass at WDW, mainly for the unlimited ride photos, so I'll take a look.

Ocean Park

  • Temperatures are currently in the teens, so won't be any need to cool off (might keep the water ride queues down at least...)

Other

  • Raffles Hotel - is a premade Singapore Sling really worth $36??

HKDL - The thing to remember about HKDL is that it was always designed with the non-riding photographer asian in mind - as I said earlier - they have many great photo spots. There are more park photographers in HKDL than i've seen in any other park, and whilst you're wandering through - especially if it's with friends and family, it's well worth the five minutes to get some really awesome shots (and not have to carry a camera around).

OP - It's not so much the heat. I've done OP in February and could still do with cooling off, especially if you're hoofing it up and down the mountain - word to the wise - as mentioned - start at thrill mountain, work your way down. Don't skip something to 'come back to it later' as you will literally be pushing shit uphill.

Raffles - I've sat in their courtyard and watched as the bartender poured and mixed the Sling from scratch. It was 5 years ago, but I also don't think it was $36 - but even if it is, enjoy at least one - IMO it is well worth it.

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When you go to Raffles, head upstairs to the Long Bar (I think it was called). You get the choice of pre-made or hand-made. The hand-made was around $36 if I recall. If you like sweet drinks, you'll love it. Tip for those staying at Swissotel or Fairmont hotel across the road, you can charge to your room from Raffles. If you're desperately homesick, there is a Hogs Breath Cafe in the same complex as Raffles (better waiting til you get home though).

At USS, Transformers is typically the longest wait. I've tried to get that done first thing, and then continued around the park. The queue on Jurassic Park will be quite long most of the day. The poncho vending machines in the queue line I found quite amusing. Mel's Diner is my pick for food venues, but I'm a person of limited tastes. I haven't been back since BSG reopened, but Cylon was my pick of the two.

I missed the Songs of the Sea show when I've been there. I caught the tail end of it once, and it looked intriguing enough to want to see it, just never managed to get there before show time. If you walk over to Sentosa, turn right once you get onto the island - the signage can be confusing in the caves under the waterfall there. They don't seem to check for tickets for the monorail heading back to Vivocity.

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Let's start with HKDL first -

  • Very picturesque little park, climate certainly helps with keeping everything green & lush.
  • I can understand why the park would have been underwhelming when it first opened (especially to anyone who had visited the other Disney parks). The three most recent expansions have certainly helped it become a full day park, and I definitely needed the extra day due to the CNY crowds. The pending Iron Man attraction will help even more. Do wonder what impact Shanghai will have though.
  • That aside, Adventureland is pretty barren with attractions, and Fantasyland is disappointingly short on dark rides.
  • Mystic Manor is a wonderful attraction and proof Disney can still come up with entertaining original IPs. I also enjoyed Grizzly Gulch, I've seen a few unfavourable reviews which usually compare it to Big Thunder, can't say I totally agree with them. Front row is best row.
  • Top marks to Mickey and the Wondrous Book, although the constant switching between English and Cantonese (with English captioning) made it a little confusing at times.
  • Both parades were great, nice touch incorporating parts of the Electrical Parade soundtrack in Paint the Night.
  • Was quite chilly on the second day, I'd love to know how many $20 blanket sales Disney sold.
  • One thing I was surprised to find out was that they don't sell normal Mickey Mouse Ear Hats, mostly just hair band style ones. My ear hat collection therefore remains untouched...

Some unprofessional photos -

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Yep, sounds pretty much spot on with everything there. The park is still lacking substance "per area" but overall i think it does have enough 'overall' to satisfy a day-guest. 

I assume Wondrous Book was in storybook theatre, and therefore is a new replacement show to the 'Golden Mickeys'... Golden Mickeys was an 'oscars style' awards show with performances - how did the new one differ?

In 2009\10, they offered full range of ear hats. Last year less, but still there. They didn't do millinery (name embroidery) like in California though... I guess they've just fazed it out as the chinese seem to prefer the headband style. They did sell the 'paint the night' ear hats and paint brushes back in April last year (paint the night ear hats are "glow with the show") but they must have ditched them. I must remember of course too that the retail emporium has had a massive renovation since I was there in April also.

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Yep, Wondrous Book replaced Golden Mickeys in time for the 10 year anniversary. It's essentially short stories/songs from half a dozen animated movies that Mickey finds in a magic book while he's trying to return Olaf back to winter. Doesn't sound great in words but I enjoyed it.

I saw the paint brushes in the Emporium on sale at 50% off, so it appears they are getting rid of the merchandise. Didn't see them trying to sell them before the parade. I saw one Caucasian guy with Glow with the Show ears but I have an inkling he didn't buy them there (I've got a set of my own but they're bulky and a pain to travel with).

I was also surprised that Vinylmation wasn't a thing there either.

Edited by westical

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Sounds like Wondrous book was the exact same show, sans Oscars Awards theming - Golden Mickeys was the same, except the story\songs performed were the ones 'nominated' for an award. Golden Mickeys didn't sound promising, and it was disheartening to realise all the words were in Chinese, but once we got past that initial shock, it was worth seeing, even with subtitles.

As for Vinylmation - yeah I saw them in California in 2013, and it seems Americans love them. Personally I don't... Hong Kong is instead very big on Pin Trading - something for which i've become quite addicted.

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