The whole thing starts on a nice note. We're booked on economy, but Cathay Pacific pushes us up to business. So the five-hour flight to Hong Kong is spent nestled in the cocoon of the full-flat seat, partitioned on both sides, entertainment screen in front pampered with a continuous supply of food and drink.
Touchdown. After Bombay's sticky, searing heat, Hong Kong's overcast, chilly weather with a light drizzle and a bit of a wind is brilliant. Instant mood lift. A 15-minute taxi ride to Lantau Island, and we're at the Disneyland Hotel, on Hong Kong Disneyland's sugar coated, 55-acre monument to The Mouse and his extended family Now, if you're a parent coming here with a child, or an adult in a group of adults, remember this place is designed for children. For the very young, the wall-to-wall fantasy and mile upon mile of candy-coloured excess will be heady but for adults who're not into this sort of thing, it'll likely be a headache. So go only if you're taking a child, or you desperately want to reconnect with your inner child.
Since it opened in 2005, the park the fifth Disney park, after California, Florida, Paris and Tokyo has pulled in around 15 million visitors. From an eight-year-old's point of view, this place must be heaven on a good day, with its rides, shows, cotton candy and, of course, Mickey Mouse in the flesh. Sort of.
We take the bus to the park complex, where our guides for the day supply us with umbrellas to see us through the rain. We start with a short Disney-theme 3D movie, which is good value for the very young, with all kinds of things dancing, bursting and twinkling in front of your eyes.
Next up is Space Mountain, the only adult-speed ride in this place just under three minutes long, and it goes at about 50 kph. Now, inside a car, train or bus, 50 kph barely registers. On a roller coaster's cliffhanging table for two, it can feel a bit more suicidal, especially when it's pitch dark with only dots of light zipping past, and there's nothing between you and the emptiness below and around. Worth it if you're a roller coaster junkie.
Done with that, we fit in a quick meal before some of them head off to watch The Parade down a promenade called Main Street USA, which has souvenir stores at every corner, with enough soft toys to colonise Jupiter.
The day's coming to an end. While dining inside the park doesn't extend beyond the Food Court School of Cooking, dinner at Disney's Hollywood Hotel is a nice change a buffet with interesting variations on both red and white meat, and a decent spread of dessert.
The next day, after breakfast in the Enchanted Garden, where we get mugged by full-size, in-costume Mickey, Pluto & Co, we get out for one final look at the place. After a particularly uninspiring boat ride that no child must be put through, we head off in different directions.
The Lion King show turns out to be the best-mounted live show we've seen here, with decent music, performances and production values. This is followed by The Golden Mickeys, which has to be the worst show with random dancing, narration in Mandarin and English sub-titles on a little TV screen in a corner.
By the time we stagger out of The Golden Mickeys, it's dark and we finish a quick dinner so we can catch the fireworks. Which are nice. Disney-scale, and done as a backdrop above and behind the main castle.
All in all, a nice break from working for a living. Our flight back home is the next day, and it ends exactly as nicely as it started we're booked economy, but the airline pushes us up to business.
Mahesh works on the Hindustan Times edit desk. His trip was organised by Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.