When in Asia, Explore Asia – Next Stop: Hong Kong

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Our daughter’s 2nd birthday was right around the corner!  Unfortunately my husband was going to have to leave the day before the big 2 for business travel.  We had just recently returned from Phuket, Thailand so we really had no immediate plans for another vacation. Well, correction, I had no immediate plans for another vacation, my husband on the other hand clearly had something up his sleeve.

So here I am getting my beauty sleep, sleep which is very important to me, especially when you have a soon to be 2 year old who likes to get up way too early in my opinion.  My wonderful husband, who is much more of a night owl than I am, comes to bed sometime after 1:00AM telling me that I need to check my email. Instantly I am irritated.  How dare you interrupt my sacred sleep time mandating that I go check my email?!  My phone was charging in the bathroom, so after a few minutes of asking him why this was necessary and him telling me to just go check it, I reluctantly go get my phone, check my email and before I know it I am looking at a travel itinerary for us to leave in 2 days for Hong Kong to celebrate our daughter’s birthday together at Disneyland!  I felt a little bit guilty about raining on his parade by arguing over checking my email at that very moment, because I immediately knew how much this meant to him.  It was our opportunity to be together as a family and celebrate her special day, especially since he wasn’t going to be there for her actual birthday.  He is such an incredible Daddy and little did we know how truly magical this trip was going to be for the 3 of us.

Our daughter, Ariane LOVES Micky Mouse Clubhouse and I am slightly convinced she thinks Mickey Mouse and pals are some of her very best friends.  Antoine and I were trying to figure out how she would react to seeing all of her best buds live and in person.  Would she be excited?  Or terrified?  Would she be all smiles?  Or a bucket full of tears? Obviously we were hoping that she would just be in absolute awe of what was going on around her and absolutely love being able to see her boys Mickey, Goofy, Donald & Pluto and her girls Minnie & Daisy.  I really had no idea what we were in store for.  Antoine was telling me about us being able to have breakfast with the characters, a dinner with the characters, 2-day passes to Disneyland, story time with the characters and so I was just so excited to get there and witness her in this magical place…..and still having my fingers crossed that she would love it.  I also know how much this was all going to mean to my husband, who had planned it all and just wanted her to be so happy as we celebrated her birthday together.

Okay so I had just about a day to pack, but different than our 7 night trip to Thailand with 5 suitcases, we were going for 3 nights so I successfully managed to squeeze the essentials into just 3 suitcases, pretty impressive right?   We gifted Ari with a Minnie Mouse backpack and she was set to go! That Friday, we headed to the airport ready to embark on a 3 1/2 hour flight to Hong Kong.  Seriously, Ariane’s passport is quickly racking up the stamps….we have a real jet setter here folks!  Look out world, you just never know where this girl is heading next!  And we are off…..

We arrived in Hong Kong late on that Friday night.  We were actually not going to be staying at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort until Saturday night so we when we arrived we took an Uber to JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong.  The drive there at night was absolutely breathtaking!  So many beautiful buildings that make up the iconic skyline of Hong Kong, all lit up and surrounded by water with the hills and the mountains adding to its incredible landscape.  I immediately loved Hong Kong and knew that it was a city that we would need to revisit.  Perhaps just me and the hubs so we can explore, indulge in fine dining and enjoy all that Hong Kong has to offer.  However, this trip to Hong Kong was all about Ariane and our adventures in Disneyland!

We got settled into the JW Marriott, got Ari to sleep and so Antoine and I were able to go to a wonderful restaurant that was in very close proximity to the hotel called The Continental and it did not disappoint.  We knew that the days ahead were all about Ari so we took this time to enjoy it together and be adults before we fully transformed into kids ourselves! Delicious steaks & mouthwatering old fashioneds, followed by iconic cocktails at the hotel bar, Bar Q88 that had live entertainment and provided top notch service.  We had a great night together, but it was now officially time for some shuteye before venturing off to the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

After enjoying an early breakfast, we headed to the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.  The weather was a bit overcast and was definitely foreshadowing rain so that was a bit disappointing, but that wasn’t going to stop us from having a fun-filled day!  Upon arrival, we were very impressed with the resort.  I guess I really didn’t know what to expect, but I was assuming that we would see Disney stuff galore, however this resort found a way to incorporate the Disney characters in a subtle, yet classy way.  Nothing loud and over the top or too childish where you felt like you were literally sleeping at the Disneyland amusement park.  Almost a nice retreat away from all of that, since most of your day was sure to be entrenched in all that is Disney.

Antoine had us all set up with access to an exclusive room which was where you not only got your initial itinerary/agenda taken care of, but you could also go to at specific times of the day almost as VIP guests.  They offered complimentary refreshments, special visits from Disney characters (Cinderella was the very 1st character that Ariane met that day; I use the term ‘met’ loosely as Ariane gave poor Cinderella the look  of ‘you better keep your distance’), a bedtime visit from Mickey Mouse, storybook reading, balconies to watch the nightly fireworks AND a daily happy hour from 5-8pm that included hors d’oeuvres and a self pour liquor and wine station!  I could only imagine how much needed this awesome little station would be after a full day at the park!  If anyone is looking for me and Antoine between 5-8pm, you will know where to find us!  Clearly we would be found waiting patiently for Mickey Mouse to visit and read us bedtime stories….wink, wine, I mean wink!

We were finally escorted to our room that had a special sign on it that read ‘Happily Ever After’. Once in the room, Ariane was surprised with a bouquet of birthday balloons, a Happily Ever After Birthday banner, a birthday card, a birthday cake made out of hand towels and pipe cleaners and a large plush Mickey Mouse…she was so excited!  And Daddy had arranged all of it!

After getting settled in, we headed off to lunch at the Enchanted Garden and it was immediately apparent that Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto were all there!  It is actually quite awesome, because they make sure that the characters go from table to table to visit with all of the guests and even have professional photographers who follow behind, take pictures of everyone with the characters and scan a card so you can view all of the pictures at a later time.  They will even offer to use your phone or camera to take more pics, which I thought was very nice.  So here we go……will Ariane love or hate this?!  Between licks of her ice cream cone, she started to notice them all walking around and confidently said, ‘That’s Goofy’!  We had yet to have a character come to our table, but they were on their way!  Our initial thought and what we did was to take Ari out of her highchair as the characters came to see her.  This went okay and she kind of liked what was going on, but she was still a bit suspect of her over sized Mickey Mouse Clubhouse pals.  She gave some hugs, took some pics and didn’t have a tantrum or meltdown so all in all I would call her first introduction to her best friends a win!  We didn’t push much more on her and felt like the next time that we would be there for breakfast that she would do even better!

Despite the clouds and the occasional drizzle, we decided to make the most of our time while there and head to Disneyland for a couple of hours to see some characters, go on some rides and familiarize ourselves with the park for the next day since we planned to spend quite a bit of time there.  It was great!  Ariane went on her very 1st carousel ride, saw her pals walking around the park, went on her 1st amusement park ride, her very 1st train or ‘choo choo’ ride and was just in complete awe of everything that was going on around her.  Day 1 at Disneyland was a lot of fun and we were all excited that we would be going back the next day!

That night, as we were enjoying time together and the much needed happy hour that I mentioned earlier, we got Ari into her pajamas as we waited for the nightly fireworks.  Ari had never seen fireworks before so we were so excited for her to see them for the first time!  There were definitely a lot of firsts on this vacation that we will always remember!  We found ourselves a nice balcony spot just in time for the fireworks show.  Ari loved seeing all the lights in the sky and the bright colors!  At one point during the fireworks show, Antoine was holding Ari and I was standing right next to them.  Ari took one hand and grabbed my face, took her other hand and grabbed her Daddy’s face and just smushed all of our faces together while she hugged us, kissed us and smiled with the biggest smile that we have ever seen.  My husband and I later agreed that this was the best part of the trip for us.  It was then that I knew why this place was as magical as everyone says that it is.  Our hearts melted.  I can’t even describe how much I love my family and how much this moment meant to us.

The next day we had breakfast with the characters and it was awesome!  Instead of taking Ari out of her highchair, we let the characters come to her and she LOVED it.  She was flashing so many smiles, absolutely loved Goofy who came to visit her twice and I am pretty convinced that she felt for a short moment that she was part of the coveted and exclusive Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

We then made our way back to Disneyland for a day full of more rides, another round on the carousel, Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, freshly popped popcorn and most importantly a day together that we will never forget.

The next morning it was time to head back to KL.  It made me a bit sad, because happiness and smiles consumes this place!  This vacation was so much fun and although Ariane wasn’t even 2 years old and we hesitated on whether or not this was a good time to take a vacation like this with her, we both agreed that it was and that we would love to take her back next year just to see how much she has changed and whether or not Disneyland can take on the 3 year old Ariane Wade!  As for Daddy, what a special birthday he planned for her.  I knew that it was going to be so hard for him to be away from her on her actual birthday, so for him to see her have so much fun and to just be so excited and happy around her Clubhouse pals, I know that every smile warmed his heart.  It sounds a bit silly to say that places like these are magical, but the bond that our family already had was strangely strengthened by this trip.  Maybe because it was a fun that we hadn’t had before or we were all able to live a life that was just a bit easier than the everyday life or that it was a time that all three of us lived the dream of a child for a few days, but whatever it was I really do think that it just might be ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’.

 

Our Family Vacation to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort to celebrate Ariane Wade’s 2nd Birthday Video….Enjoy!

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