Celebrating 100 Years of Castles: Exploring the Castle Gardens with the Author of 100 Disney Adventures in a Lifetime – Hong Kong Disneyland

There are twelve Disney parks around the world; Six of them are castle gardens. Leading the way is Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park, followed by Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Tokyo Disney Resorts. Next came Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris. The original Hong Kong Disneyland Castle (opened in 2005) was transformed into the Castle of Magical Dreams in 2020 to represent all the Disney princesses and queens. fascinated Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disney Resort It is the newest (and largest in size and scope).

I’m a lifelong lover of all things Disneyland, an avowed Disney geek, and now, a Disney author of Disneyland books. 100 Disney Adventures of a Lifetime, Eat like WaltAnd Walt Disneyland. In this six-part series, I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite adventures and magical experiences around Disney World. Let’s go to the castle and jump together! Together we will visit every park after the last anniversary. Just as castle hopping is one of the adventures I highlight in my book, I invite you to visit each virtual park with me!

Inspired by 13 stories of beloved Disney princesses and queens Magical dream castle Hong Kong Disneyland is the first castle to focus on multiple heroines, rather than a single princess. The diversity and individual stories of each are told in clever architectural elements. The finials on top of the castle towers are unique character icons: Merida has a bow and arrow; Pocahontas has her loyal companion Fleet the hummingbird. The colors of the zodiac signs are also representative. For example, Yasmine’s color is turquoise, a nod to her distinctive clothing. Other aspects help explain the heroines, such as the cherry blossoms engraved on Mulan’s tower. Aurora is the tallest tower, a tribute to sleeping beauty (1959) and the original Walt’s Castle at Disneyland.

If you really want to enjoy the park experience, spend it with a retired Imagineer! I did just that in February at Hong Kong Disneyland with my friend Cathy Mangum. Cathy has a rich 42-year legacy with Walt Disney Imagineering, but Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park may be her most epic accomplishment. (At least in my book.) Not surprisingly, I was a rope dropper, and Cathy was willing to arrive early as well. While we waited outside the gates, we were entertained by the Disneyland band and characters; This is my first time at any of the Disney parks. Another first thing is the lush green environment of the park on Lantau Island – which is truly breathtaking.

When Marvel joined the Disney family, Iron Man became the first superhero to star in a Disney theme park attraction: the Iron Man Experience. Tomorrowland is about the future, and that’s where you’ll find 3D action at Hong Kong Disneyland. This action-packed premise features Iron Man’s alter ego, Tony Stark, who chooses Hong Kong (the global technology hub) to host the Stark Expo. His company is known for changing the world for the better, so he showcases his latest inventions and high-tech innovations. The exhibition halls also serve as a queue for rides: the gravity-defying Iron Wing is found in the Navigation Hall; The Security Hall features a close-up look at the Iron Man Mark III suit; The arc reactor, which produces enough energy to support an entire city, is located in the Energy Hall. One of Cathy’s former colleagues gave us a tour of the attraction and this insider tip: The desk in the queue has spilled coffee in Walt’s honor. Walt loved his coffee. Black, always.

Once the preview was over, we received our StarkVision 3D glasses and boarded the Expo Edition Iron Wing flight vehicle. I’m not a fan of stunt rides, but I bucked that on this particular occasion, even after learning that our seats—the right-rear section—tend to be the bumpiest. (To build courage, I reminded myself of what retired illusionist Eddie Soto said: Fear – Death = Fun.) With Iron Man (and his signature sense of humor), we flew over Hong Kong, past the mountains, over Victoria Harbour, under bridges, and along the streets, fighting… The forces of evil Hydra. Thumbs up from me!

Jungle Journey, inspired by Disney Real life adventures (1948-1960), was an opening day attraction at Disneyland California in 1955. Walt was involved in every detail of this epic adventure, which may have been partly inspired by a trip to South America in 1941. Initially, Walt wanted It has real animals, but practicality prevails. When it came to creating creatures, he was known to model their movements for imagineers to imitate, even suggesting exactly how an elephant’s trunk should move. The attraction has evolved and morphed, and has also appeared at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland. But many believe that the King of the Jungle is located in Hong Kong Disneyland. The eight-minute cruise on Rivers of Adventure differs in that it runs clockwise. Some classic gags from the American parks are on display, as well as some Hong Kong-specific gags. However, the finale of the Hong Kong theme park attraction sets it apart from the others: the spectacular explosion in the legendary Valley of the Gods. Dodge exploding springs, be dazzled by fireworks and colorful lighting, and observe the wrath of a fire-breathing god before returning to the dock.

Once again, thanks to Cathy, we get a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming world of Frozen. It gives Cars Land a serious vibe, as it feels like you’re stepping into the classic cartoon world. The Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleigh has been tested, and even from afar, it’s easy to see that it’s definitely an e-ticket attraction. The central focus, of course, is the 131-foot (40-meter) snow-capped mountain with Elsa’s ice castle at the top. Opening later this year, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Kingdom of Arendelle will be an experience worth melting down for.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the live shows, but I play my favorites. The Lion King Festival debuted at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park when it opened in 1998 and became an instant favorite among guests. A version at Hong Kong Disneyland soon followed. And the Hong Kong version doesn’t pale in comparison in any way – it’s amazing! Set in an indoor amphitheater, the Circle of Life comes to life on a circular stage as you rock with Timon, Pumbaa, Nala, Scar and the main character. The massive animatronics float above the audience and are a spectacle in themselves. Aerial displays, fire dancers, acrobats and amazing special effects are other highlights of this top-notch show.

In Fantasyland, Mickey and the Wonder Book absolutely delighted me! (It wasn’t originally on our agenda, but then again, Cathy had the connections.) Set in a modern library, the musical features a cast of Disney characters with nods to many classic Disney books. As an author, I was thrilled to see all the kids participating in the storytelling while on the edges of their seats – just like me.

Mystic Manor and its tribute to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers has several Easter eggs, but I’d like to point out the one where you can find Walt and Roy: in the black-and-white photo celebrating the grand opening and dedication of the attraction on January 1, 1896 (wink wink).

Speaking of Walt – this news just arrived – and for me, this is a career milestone! Walt’s Cafe at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel has just launched its “Eat Like Walt Disney” menu. Featuring authentic vintage recipes from my first book, Eat Like Walt: The Wonderful World Of Disney Food, The champions are there – chili and Scotch Mist – but also Mickey Mouse Spaghetti and Tahitian Terrace Punch. The culinary tribute also includes historical tales that connect guests to the world’s greatest showman.

And last but not least: Happy 18th Anniversary, Hong Kong Disneyland!

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