There were giant tinker toys and over sized Christmas tree lights.
Woody the Cowboy was providing photo opps for those oh so willing invited guests – yes, I spotted a couple of Hong Kong's most prominent movers and shakers (and their wives) in the assembled crowd. And, yes, those movers and shakers (and their wives) politely waited their turns to have their pictures taken with Woody and his sidekick.
There was a giant wooden airplane, a massive slinky toy – does anyone remember those? – and various and sundry other larger than life toys from an era in which children played with things – and used their imaginations – rather than immersing themselves in a world of virtual unreality.
But what stole my heart were those life sized toy soldiers (pictured above with me), who opened the gala premier of Hong Kong Disneyland's newest themed zone, Toy Story Land.
The toy soldiers did all the things that as little boys we could only imagine that toy soldiers could do. They marched in formation, they did roll call, they surveyed the crowd as though we were enemy infiltrators that they had to protect themselves – and their community – against …
Stroll Down Memory Lane
At a certain age, we all had our collections of dark green plastic toy soldiers, which were stuck in certain poses. Unlike today's toys, neither their arms nor their legs could move.
We would line them up in formation. And – using our imaginations – we would use them to play war games. At some point, we would lose interest, put our little toy soldiers back into their boxes, and think of another way to amuse ourselves.
So I felt a bit nostalgic yesterday. And I remembered what Walt Disney had said, “Disneyland is for the young and for the young at heart.”
HK$3.6 Billion Expansion
Toy Story Land is the first of three new themed areas in Hong Kong Disneyland, a HK$3.6 billion expansion project that will see two more new themed zones opening over the next two years.
Toy Story Land has three rides: Slinky Dog Spin, Toy Solider Parachute Drop, and RC Racer. I did the first two, which were pretty tame – thankfully! I was saved from the third, which propels visitors 27 meters into the air forwards and then backwards and then forwards again along a U shaped race track – because VIP photo shoots were being taken.
Dim Sum With Disney Characterics
After the launch, we had lunch at Disneyland's Chinese restaurant – yuumy dim sum that looked like toy animals followed by barbecued beef and deep fried onion rings served with a thick, gooey sauce. Then we explored the park, taking in the Lion King, following by the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, It's a Small World, Space Mountain (twice), and a silly ride through a giant interactive shooting gallery – what a great idea!
In addition to the Toy Story Land launch party for VIPs and the media yesterday, Hong Kong Disneyland celebrated the launch of the Christmas Season. Was that really snow falling over Main Street?
Disneyland With Chinese Characteristics
The little girls dressed up as princesses were far out numbered by the grown women wearing Minnie Mouse ears with giant red bows in their hair as though they were the latest fashion from Paris or New York.
And then there were the daddies trying to explain to their sons what was going on – and why they should be excited about it.
All of which reminded me of what I have always known: Disneyland is as much for adults as it is for children. Kids are the excuse that parents use to justify a trip to the park so that they can relive their own childhood fantasies.