When we lived in Hong Kong, summer meant hunkering down in air conditioning, fleeing to more temperate climates and avoiding peak times at theme parks. The sub-tropical climate brings heat, humidity and sporadic rain from roughly June through September. But, if a summer family vacation means visiting Hong Kong with kids, you’ll likely still brave Hong Kong Disneyland regardless of the weather.
We’ve visited the park many times in the heat, including last August. Here are tips to hopefully make your summer visit easier.
Hong Kong Summer Weather
Let’s not sugar-coat it. Hong Kong in the summer is not ideal. First of all, it’s typhoon season from May through November with peak risk in August. However, typhoons can strike any time during the season. Having lived there during multiple typhoons and heavy rainstorms that bring the city to a halt, if you’re unlucky, weather can negatively impact a Hong Kong family vacation if kids have their hearts set on visiting the theme parks. That being said, we braved the heat of summer last year and probably will do so again this year because of my daughter’s school schedule. It’s doable.
Average Hong Kong summer temperatures range from 26°-31° C (79°-88° F) but before you breathe a sigh of a relief, note that the weather feels much, much hotter due to humidity that reaches 100%. There typically isn’t too much of a breeze and the sun feels like it’s right on your neck, constantly. Thunderstorms can send down sub-tropical rain in a manner that breaks umbrellas. It’s imperative to budget extra time into your summer Hong Kong family vacation to compensate for the possibility of rain keeping you inside.
Don’t fret. There are plenty of things to do in Hong Kong with kids when it’s raining and Hong Kong Disneyland will remain open in surprisingly inclement weather though some attractions inside may be closed. Check Hong Kong Disneyland weather tips for more information.
Visiting Hong Kong Disneyland in the Summer
Hopefully, Shanghai Disneyland will relieve some of the crowds but since wealth has exploded in mainland China, Hong Kong is more crowded year-round than it used to be, especially in the summer. Lines at Hong Kong Disneyland are still shorter on average than at other Disney parks, however. You are probably looking at a 45-minute or longer wait for popular rides like Dumbo. The lines will be even longer in new areas like Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point and Toy Storyland.
Fortunately, some lines have misters to relieve the heat. FASTPASS is available for some rides.
Hong Kong Disneyland at Night
Because Hong Kong Disneyland closes at either 8:00pm or 9:00pm during the summer (depending on the day and month), common sense may tell you that visiting the park in the evening is your best bet. I tend to agree, but note that many visitors will have the same idea. It is still hot and humid at night but at least the need for an umbrella decreases as the sun goes down.
Most visitors will want to stay until the impressive firework show over Cinderella’s Castle closes the park. While I do recommend the show, you must take a few things into consideration. The park is crowded, even at night. People seek out prime viewing spots well before the show starts. If your kids can’t tolerate getting to the castle early to wait for the fireworks show, then you may be left in a standing room only situation on the street, which will be packed with bodies. What does this mean? Your kids will need to be on your shoulders or stand on a trash can or else they won’t be able to see. I took this picture last August while waiting for the show to start.
Leave a few minutes before the fireworks show ends as otherwise there will be a mad rush to an inevitably crowded MTR train station or shuttle buses to Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel or Disney’s Hollywood Hotel.
Rides at Night
Some parts of the park will close earlier than others in order to shuffle traffic out of the park. Toy Storyland closes early. However, It’s a Small World, in our experience, never has a line toward the end of the day so you can walk right on. The teacups and other Fantasyland rides are almost line-less, too.
Note that there is still a culture of line cutting among mainland Chinese, though this has improved over the last few years. You will need to channel patience on occasion.
Cut the Lines with a Private Tour Guide
If your budget permits, sign up for a private tour guide in order to enjoy direct access to rides. Yes, this is how you skip the park lines. The cost for three hours is $3888 HKD or about $500 USD for up to six people. Extend the tour for $1000 HKD per hour or $128 USD. This cost is in addition to your park tickets but is well worth every dollar in the summer heat, especially.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Character Dining
We booked Bibbibi Bobbidi Boutique at 4:00pm and the 5:30pm character dining at the Enchanted Garden restaurant at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel prior to going to the park at night last August. That only left us less than two hours to hang out at the park after the fact. You do have re-entry privileges if you want to start at the park in the early or late afternoon, break for character dining and then return.
If your child does choose to do Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, note that even at night she or he will be hot in a big princess dress.
Tips for Keeping Cool
Summer weather is rough on kids. You will need to carry umbrellas. Trust me, if your child is old enough to carry a kid-sized umbrella, carry one per person. The amusement parks will sell handheld fans, plastic rain coats and umbrellas. Carry the fan in one hand and the umbrella in the other.
It’s that hot. This also means that amusement park and playground equipment will be very, very hot in daylight so kids will need to wear pants to go down slides and the like. Ocean Park has a playground like this.
Is Visiting Hong Kong Disneyland in the Summer Worth It?
Yes, we like it regardless of the weather. Do consider going for a half-day or buying a multiple-day pass because a full day in the heat is taxing on all ages.
Photo credit: Flickr/Travel Junction, Creative Commons 2.0