Hong Kong Disneyland’s best-kept secret
It’s that time of year again. School’s out for summer. The morning rush hour queue at the bottom of Stubbs Road is a quarter its normal size. But now children are bored, you have run out of excuses and you succumb to junior pester power. Or you have been visiting relatives in town and you have to provide constant entertainment. The cousins have been promised Hong Kong Disneyland, so you must deliver. Brace yourself. Yes, it will be hot, sweaty, crowded and expensive, but that goes without saying.
But there is a way to make it bearable, even if you have been many times before. A well-kept secret is the Disneyland Tour Service. Groups of up to six can get a private guide to steer them round the park for three hours, skipping queues for rides, restaurant lines and guaranteeing the best seats for the shows and activities. At HK$2,400 for the basic premium tour, which works out at HK$400 per person, it is so well worth it. You still have to fork out the daily entrance charge of HK$450 for those aged 12 and over and $320 for the 11 and under kids, but you already know it’s going to cost an arm and a leg, so what’s a bit more to lessen the strain? There’s also a supreme tour at $3,200 and $3,888 for a prestige tour.
I’d say blow the budget and get the most expensive, for which you get direct entrance to all attractions, including the new ones, such as Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point. You get reserved seats for all theatre shows, an exlusive viewing area for the Disney parade, fun facts from your guide, and concierge service including pre-arranged priority parking and dining reservations. You will have to endure the glares of the poor souls suffering in the lines for the rides as you go straight to the front, but hey, this is Hong Kong. You’ve paid extra. You know it makes sense. Just refrain from thinking: “We could have flown to Bangkok for the weekend for what this is costing.” Your children will love you.
Rare stamp breaks record
China’s rarest regularly-issued stamp – the 1897 Red Revenue Small One Dollar – made HK$6.9 million, well above the presale estimate of HK$6.5 million) in Interasia Auctions’ Hong Kong sale last weekend. Buyers came from all over for the 2,800 lots realised HK$71,851,540 (US$9,264,000), beating pre-sale estimate of HK$50 million (US$6.4 million), making it the year’s largest stamp auction (by dollar-volume) in Hong Kong as well as the largest auction of Chinese stamps anywhere in the world in 2013. Five 1884-1885 Taiwan envelopes from a family correspondence to Germany also sold for a record price of HK$11,615,000 (US$1,498,000).There are only 32 surviving examples of the 1897 Red Revenue Small One Dollar, the rarest regularly issued stamp of China, ranking as one of the world’s rarest stamps.
Interasia’s auctioneer Dr Jeffrey Schneider said the Taiwan envelopes attracted bidders from three continents, and the prices were “truly staggering.” Which just goes to show that Chinese art is not the only ticket to riches. Who needs great big pieces of expensive art cluttering up their flat when a little square of paper can also be worth millions?