“I like to quote Walt Disney when he said, ‘As long as there’s imagination left in the world, Disneyland will never be completed,’” said Kelly Willis, Director for Creative Development for Walt Disney Imagineering at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.
Since it first opened in 2005, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort has welcomed guests from different parts of the world including the Philippines. Because it’s just two hours from Manila, Hong Kong Disneyland, the closest Disney theme park to the country, has been a Filipino favorite for years.
But to cross it off your bucket list just because you’ve been there once would be silly. Trust us—one time is definitely not enough to experience Disney magic. And one day isn’t either. Hong Kong Disneyland has so much to offer that you can spend an entire weekend there with Mickey and the gang and still want more. We did.
The resort has continued to evolve and grow, making sure there’s something new for guests to enjoy every time they visit.
Kelly, who has worked on developing the res ort from the Disney headquarters in Glendale since 2001 and who moved to Hong Kong in 2003, said, “It’s changed a lot over the years. One of the most exciting things about being an Imagineer is that the brand always invests in growing. It’s really exciting to me to think of what’s next. The unknown has been exhilarating. Just knowing that we are committed to growing Hong Kong Disneyland is exciting and keeps me motivated.”
“Hong Kong is a fast-paced international character so we need to keep up with that. We have to stay fresh and current. Just our region demands that which keeps us on our toes because we always have to think about how to take advantage of new technology, new advancements, new ways of telling our stories, new ways of engaging with our guests. It’s a big challenge and a fun one to take on.”
The newest addition to the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is the Disney Explorers Lodge, a seven-story resort hotel created to unleash your inner explorer. “Once you’ve passed through the gates to this hotel, you really feel like you’ve entered a different realm. It can be any exotic realm… you’re transported to this beautiful paradise,” said Kelly.
Disney Explorers Lodge, which opened in April, lives true to its motto: “ad explorare et somniare” (“to explore and dream”). Hong Kong Disneyland’s third hotel allows guests to experience and discover different parts of the world—Africa, Oceania, Asia and South America—through its distinctive wings, restaurants and beautiful gardens.
With its lush greenery, big spaces and artifacts flown in from all corners of the globe, it’s easy to forget that you’re in Hong Kong. “Hong Kong is a very dense city and this is the opposite. The yin and yang. It’s such a contrast to a very city feeling You feel very open and grand and large and I think this hotel really evokes that kind of big vastness,” said Kelly.
It’s the perfect place for big families and the entire barkada because each spacious room features two comfy queen-sized beds and 70% of its 750 rooms may be connected to an adjacent room. It’s the perfect hassle-free vacation destination.
Everything that you need is at the resort: excitement, fun, shopping, world-class entertainment, great food (Disney Explorers Lodge alone serves over 550 dishes), relaxation and of course, lots and lots of Disney magic.
“It’s really like letting all of your worries melt away. It does feel like paradise to me,” Kelly said. “This hotel was very fun (to work on) because not only did it allow our artistic expression in the landscape… It’s very fun to take those different cultures and see how you can infuse that Disney magic and our Disney storytelling to create this wonderful lodge that you see today.”
Guests who check into Disney Explorers Lodge also get full access to the facilities of Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, seat reservations for stage shows in the park and Priority Admission Pass for selected attractions.
“Spend more than a day here. There’s a lot to see. We have world-class entertainment that attracts people of all ages, there’s something here for everyone. There’s so much to discover. My advice would be don’t rush through it. Enjoy our resort. As we grow and with the addition of this hotel, it really is a resort destination now,” said Kelly.
And for Filipinos who have been to Hong Kong Disneyland before, it’s a great new way to experience the magic. “Come back and see your favorite things but then you’ll have new things. We really are focusing on bringing new experiences to our guests, to our tried and true fans that continue to come back. Our seasonal events are a great platform to do that—we have five events through the year that give a unique experience that is brand new each time. The momentum is growing and the excitement and what we’re delivering is very very fun. Come back more often a nd see what we’re doing.”
There really is something for everyone at the resort. Superhero fans can enjoy the Iron Man Experience at the park. Little girls with royal dreams can become the Disney princess of their choice at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Nature lovers will enjoy leisurely walks around Disney Explorers Lodge’s themed gardens, home to over 170,000 plants. And who doesn’t want to have breakfast with Mickey?
“I wish I could say I knew all the secrets of the magic. The magic is real and a real part of the magic is our wonderful team … world-class professionals who work together to deliver really great world-class entertainment,” said Kelly.
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