There, by my feet, were three circles embedded in stone: the iconic silhouette of our beloved Disney mouse.
We were standing at the spacious lobby of Disney Explorers Lodge, Hong Kong Disneyland’s newest hotel, and we were doing just what you are supposed to do there: explore, because there is so much to see and discover.
On the wall behind the front desk is a world map—with that special Disney touch, of course. “If you look closely, you will find Disney elements on it,” said Carl, a Hong Kong Disneyland cast member who was doubling as our tour guide. We spotted Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck hidden on the map.
“You will also see four silhouettes—those are the explorers who built this hotel.”
Each wing of the hotel was based on the parts of the world the explorers came from: Asia, South America, Africa and Oceania. Each one has a themed garden.
Sixty percent of the hotel’s grounds is covered in landscaped greenery. It is home to over 170,000 plants, bringing guests an exotic multi-sensory experience.
In the Asia wing, you’ll find traditional Malay wood screen and Sumatran saddle roof house structures. Its garden, named after Hathi Jr. from The Jungle Book, features a pond with a fountain. “We have different vegetation introduced from all over the world. Here in the Asia garden, we have plants from Korea, Japan, Indonesia and other countries,” said Carl. “Different trees and flowers will blossom during parts of the year. When the guests check into the hotel during different seasons, they will get to see different views.”
The Oceania wing features arched thatch roof structures reminiscent of those you can see in Vanuatu. Oceania’s Little Squirt Garden, inspired by the adorable baby sea turtle from Finding Nemo, is designed to emulate the rolling waves of the South Pacific and its little islands. The pathway, marked with coral, sea shell and starfish imprints, is made to look like a sandy beach. Seaside plants including 80 coconut trees give the garden a very tropical feel.
It was lovely to see families sitting on the grass on a beautiful afternoon. We’d like to think that’s also what this hotel was built for—those priceless moments guests can spend unwinding with the people they love.
Our next stop was South America. This wing’s design was inspired by rooflines and vertical wood sidings found in the Amazon area of Brazil. Named after Kevin, the exotic bird from Up, this garden’s pathways intertwine into an artistic leaf pattern. It begins right outside at the terrace of the World of Color Restaurant and is home to the herb garden where rosemary, lavender and lemongrass are grown for use in the hotel’s open kitchen.
Africa was our home at Disney Explorers Lodge. This wing was inspired by the mud wall patterns of Ghana and mud and stick construction found in Cameroon. The Rafiki Garden is an African savannah inspired by The Lion King. There are flat top Acacia trees along with many other native African plants. Its spacious landscape is dotted with animal tracks. In the center of this garden is a large fire pit which, at night, becomes a lovely campfire hangout.
At the outdoor Raindrop Pool, we heard birds chirping and singing.
“Those are fake sounds right? The birds?” we asked.
“It’s real. Everything is real here,” we were told.
The pool is also the venue for the Explorers’ Poolside Adventure where guests can spend time with their favorite Disney characters.
Along our way, we spotted more Hidden Mickeys. The elevator is one of our favorite parts of Disney Explorers Lodge. It’s inspired by a hot air balloon and you hear Goofy announcing your floor before you get off.
Inside, more discoveries. There are more than 1,000 artifacts and memorabilia on display—art, ceremonial items, antique toys, jewelry, clothing and more—that you can spot at the lobby, the rooms, the restaurants and all over the hotel.
Mickey the Explorer
Four other notable travelers spend time at the hotel: Mickey the Explorer, Minnie the Adventuress, Goofy the Pilot and Donald the Bird Watcher. You can find their trunks on display at the lobby.
Arts and crafts workshops are held regularly for young explorers. Adventurers can also learn about plants and different cultures by collecting special stamps around the hotel.
Hungry explorers need not worry. Disney Explorers Lodge has three restaurants, making meals a delicious thrill. Dragon Wind, which seats 248, serves Chinese cuisine (the suckling pig was delightful). You can choose to go for buffet meals or to order a la carte. It has two private dining rooms—Eastern Mountain and Western Mountain—perfect for that special occasion.
World of Color Restaurant offers food from different parts of the world (we loved our char siu lunch). Go casual at Chart Room Cafe where meals and snacks are served fast. Save room for the exclusive desserts you will find only at Disney Explorers Lodge. The Mickey Tiramisu and the Minnie Strawberry Mousse are as good as they look.
Chef John Chan said, “I wanted to create cute desserts with great flavors for our guests. We also created a luggage-shaped cake to match the hotel’s theme of adventure, exploration and discovery.”
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort’s food and beverage team designed 30 signature drinks that you can only order at Disney Explorers Lodge. Drinks like The Explorer, Tiki Kid and Splendid Sunset feature ingredients fresh herbs, fruits and seasonal bases.
Those who want souvenirs of their great explorations should stop by The Trading Post where there are over 20 exclusive adventure-themed Disney merchandise available including Minnie the Adventuress and Mickey the Explorer plush dolls.
Even the most zealous of adventurers need sleep too. Disney Explorers Lodge’s 750 guest rooms are elegantly designed, featuring exoitc touches (we love the tiki-style Minnie and Mickey masks on the headboards). The room evokes a feeling of warmth and comfort and the queen-sized beds are really cozy.
Our sea view room offered a panoramic scene outside the window. And we learned that the “Disney In The Stars” fireworks can be viewed in close to 50 rooms.
There were little surprises that made our stay even more enchanting. Finding Chip and Dale on our pillow. Mickey calling to wake us up. The Explorers tin case that you can bring home. The adorable Mickey and Minnie toothbrush set, the Mickey slippers in adult and kiddie sizes and shampoo, conditioner, lotion and body wash with Mickey ears. The Disney bedtime stories we can listen to on the hotel phone.
With the Junior Explorers Room Decoration Package, you can get your hotel room decked out with an explorer’s tent, a firefly jar and a ukulele. The ukulele comes with a free lesson too.
The next morning, while eating Mickey waffles (they’re a must!) at the character breakfast at Dragon Wind, Minnie stopped by our table to say hi.
“We love your adventuress’ outfit!” we told her.
If you want quality time with your favorite characters, have breakfast at Disney Explorers Lodge. There are two rounds (7:30 to 9 a.m. and 9:30 to 11 a.m.) at HK$278 for adults and HK$178 for children.
Our weekend at Disney Explorers Lodge was a chance to enjoy Hong Kong like we never have before and get a big, big dose of Disney magic—
something we all need, no matter how old we are.
This isn’t just a hotel. When you walk into Disney Explorers Lodge, you are walking into an immersive story. It’s a journey around the world, a celebration of different cultures and a great place for magical discovery and adventure you will never forget.