Friday, April 17 - Depart Hakone-Yumoto,
Japan - train & Shinkansen to Tokyo Disney Resort - Disneyland Hotel
can have fun, stay, dine, shop and much more at Tokyo Disney Resort.
You'll find two theme parks, unique dining, a variety of shops, and
accommodations including the three Disney Hotels. Come stay at Tokyo Disney
Resort, and experience and multitude of fun and excitement in this place
where dreams come true.
Stay in beautiful Victorian rooms with the Disney touch. Located
directly across from the entrance to Tokyo Disneyland, the Tokyo Disneyland
Hotel has 705 guest rooms featuring designs of Mickey Mouse and other Disney
Characters. A number of rooms are specially designed around specific
Disney characters such as Peter Pan and Cinderella.
Dave was very
ill overnight with a high fever, so he got almost no sleep. We had no
idea how he was going to muster the strength to get to our final
destination, but we both knew we would be better off in a big city
than here if medical attention was necessary. Ordinarily we don't
detail our illnesses in our blog, but because this time it plays such a
dramatic role in what transpires next we will keep you posted.
was delivered on time and was relatively normal including fried eggs and
other things even Dave found edible. He still thinks he has the flu,
but it is odd he has no saliva production. That's why he can't eat
anything unless it is wet, such as fruit. However, he manages that much
and Bill finished off the rest except for the dried fish that are just too
tough to even attempt to eat.
Check out time here is 10:00AM and they
aren't kidding. The maid came back and took our luggage downstairs
practically while we were still packing it. Time's up, get out!
Our train to Tokyo wasn't until 11:40AM, so we had a long wait at the train
station. We went down to check out and request a taxi to take us to
Odawara station rather than take the local train again to get there.
We only had to wait a few minutes for the taxi and we were on our way by
The ride to Odawara station was only about fifteen minutes, so
well worth the $20 or so it cost for that option under the circumstances.
Dave took a chance at the station and went to the ticket counter to ask if
we could change our reservation to an earlier train. That was taken
care of with no problem or cost at all. In fact, the agent was really
pleasant about it and even pointed us in the right direction after printing
the new tickets. We ended up on the 10:41AM train, so we only had
about fifteen minutes to wait.
train platform was nearly empty so we chose a good time to travel.
Only a couple other people boarded with us and the first class reserved car
was nearly empty. The non-reserved cars were almost full, so we'd say
the extra cost of first class is worth it for the comfort value alone.
This time the train wasn't too hot and the trip was only about thirty
minutes to Tokyo Station. Then we were disgorged into the madhouse
that is Tokyo Station. This place is HUGE. People going every
direction, up and down escalators, down long corridors, God only knows
where. It was crazy. We did know we had to take the local Keiyo
line to Maihama station at Tokyo Disney Resort, so we started following the
We're not kidding that we must have had to walk several
miles of underground passages, down escalators, up two escalators, down an
elevator, we have no idea where we were, but we did find the platform and
there was a train waiting for boarding. We got seats and parked
ourselves. This was an express train, so it only made two stops along
the way and we were at
Maihama Station within about fifteen minutes.
It was only about
12:30PM so we didn't expect to be able to check into the hotel, but with
Dave feeling sicker by the minute we did hope we could. We checked in
Welcome Center where they took our luggage to deliver to the hotel, gave
us monorail passes, sold us park tickets that start tomorrow, and told us to
go to the hotel at 3:00PM for check in. There were probably forty
agents working the counters and we were the only guests in sight. Not
exactly the crowds we expected to find here.
It was very cold and we
weren't dressed for it, but we sort of walked around
Ikspiari, a non-Disney
shopping center attached to the
Resort Gateway Monorail Station. It was deserted. In front
of the train station is the bus transportation area with a large stainless
monorail here requires a separate payment due to a Japanese law that
doesn't allow private transportation systems (or something like that).
The monorails itself is pure Disney with Mickey shaped
handholds. The station has large murals depicting scenes in the
parks and colorful lighted posters to greet visitors. We watched a
couple of trains arrive before heading into the station to take a ride
around the resort.
After riding around twice, we disembarked at the
Tokyo Disneyland Station which is also the location of the Disneyland
Hotel. The hotel is directly in front of the entrance to
Tokyo Disneyland, so the location is perfect. There were no crowds
at all today, so we were disappointed Dave wasn't up to going to the park
We thought that since it obviously wasn't crowded today that just maybe
they would let us check in early. Dave appealed to the girl at the
counter and even had a coughing fit for dramatic effect, but she wouldn't
budge. Well, she did say we could check in now, but then our room
wouldn't be ready until 4:30PM. If we check in at 3:00PM, we can have
a room right then. Pardon me? What? Yes, that's what she
Oh well, back down for a photo of the front of the
hotel, which is a bit heavy Victorian for our taste. The other
Disneyland hotels have a lighter feel to them, but this one is sort of a
hulk. We were shocked to find
plastic topiaries in front of the hotel that were very obviously
plastic. Statues would be a better choice if they can't grow topiaries
for some reason. Continuing past the
entry signs you find some
shops and a grand
marble staircase with a beautiful mosaic of Alice in Wonderland on the
landing. The staircase leads up to the
magnificent lobby. Disney sure knows how to design stunning hotel
lobbies and this one was no exception.
Giant crystal chandeliers hang from the multi-story ceiling with
enormous lighted stained glass domes. A soaring
elevator with Disney characters worked into the design of the wrought
iron soars skyward. In the center is a
fountain surrounded by opulent sofas and chairs where others were
awaiting check in time already. There were cast members standing
around the lobby with the soul purpose of being nice to people and playing
with the kids in between fluffing the pillows on the sofas when someone
left. This hotel also has the Mickey heads inlaid into the
stone floor like the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel had.
We crashed in
some comfortable chairs to admire the beautiful surroundings and await check
in time. They started checking people in at 2:30PM, so we dragged
ourselves to the
counter where no one was waiting except about forty clerks. A
bellman went to find the luggage we had sent ahead, which had arrived with
no problems. We were given early entry passes for Disneyland for each
day of our stay although the value of this is debatable. There is a
special entrance for hotel guests but it is only open for thirty minutes.
We never get to a park when it opens anyway, so it is of no value to us and
it doesn't appear to be busy enough to warrant it at all.
When we booked
this hotel is was by default because the Mira Costa wasn't available.
So, we took the cheapest standard room with no view on floor one - three.
Imagine our delight to get a room on the seventh floor with the most amazing
panoramic view over both parks. It couldn't be better. Which
was a good thing considering what was about to transpire.
The room itself
beautifully decorated in an opulent Victorian style. The hidden
Mickey designs are more subtle here than they were at Hong Kong Disneyland.
The design is printed in the wallpaper. Can you find it in
this photo? Look again at this
close up. The
clouds in the print over the sofa has clouds in a Mickey formation.
headboards have an image of the castle in the center. We didn't
even see the characters woven into the
damask pattern of the duvet until the room service waiter pointed them
dresser top has the appropriate character from Beauty and the Beast at
the top. There are cute Mickey and Minnie
silhouettes framed between the beds and the
tea making area has some concept drawing from Beauty and the Beast.
There is also a sofa, two chairs and a small table. The table has a
hidden Mickey in the pattern of the wood around the sides. Mickey is
even woven into the design of the
Besides the beautiful view of the park, we also have a lovely
view of a
fountain courtyard below filled with colorful flowers and a variety of
fountains. Disney music blasts from this area, but it can't be heard
in the room unless the window is opened.
The marble inlaid bathroom is
amazing as well. An ornate
sink area is in the center with a room for the usual automatic
toilet to the left and a huge
bathing room with bathtub and shower to the right. The best thing
about the room for us at this point is that the
beds are comfortable and the air conditioning works. An annoyance
though is that the room has motion detectors everywhere that are supposed to
keep the lights and air conditioning on when someone is in the room, but
sitting in bed watching TV or at the computer isn't enough to trigger them.
So, the lights turn off every twenty minutes or so unless you make an effort
now and them to walk about or wave your arms.
We called room service and
had a cute
Mickey kids meal plus more fruit for Dave and then crashed for the
Saturday, April 18 - Tokyo Disney Resort -
Here is where our tale begins to read like the storyline
of a classic Disney attraction. "Dave and Bill set sail across the sea
to explore exotic lands. They arrived on the shores of Hong
Kong Disneyland where the magic overwhelmed them. Soon they were off
to explore Japan where beautiful women sally forth in their spring kimono
beneath the falling cherry blossoms. All too soon they arrive at their
ultimate dream destination, the gates of the Tokyo Disney Resort. And
then, something goes terribly wrong...."
Here it was that all the
careful planning went right down the drain. Over night Dave's fever
spiked and he knew he had to see a doctor today for sure. It was all
he could do at this point to get out of bed. Bill called the hotel
service line and asked if they had a doctor on call. No, all they can
do is refer us to a hospital. In the meantime they will send up an
English speaker to the room with some medicine they give their staff to see
if that will help. Someone came right up with two tables and a waiver to sign that
says if he gets worse it isn't their fault. Fair enough. We decided to
wait to see if this does anything.
Dave's condition continues to decline
so Bill goes down to the desk to speak to a manager in person about what to
do next. The hospital is closed until 2:00PM, but if we want to go
then they will call ahead to be sure someone speaks English and will give us
directions and put us in a taxi. After 2:00PM the hotel manager calls
and says that we should go today rather than tomorrow, so please come down
now and they will send us.
We pull it together, go downstairs with Dave
looking like something of a cross between a carrot and a beet. He's
wearing a red jacket so maybe it isn't quite so obvious, but we're not sure
that ruse worked. The manager is standing the lobby waiting for us and
he rushes over to explain to Bill, while completely ignoring Dave who is
standing right there, that we are going to a big shopping center fifteen
minutes away and that the hospital is on the eighth floor. We finally
figure out that he means clinic not hospital, which is fine.
escorts us out to a taxi amid much bowing and scraping. He told the
taxi driver to point us in the right direction when we arrive, which he
does, but we are dropped in the middle of a huge parking lot amid towering
highrises and four billion people going every which way. We are
quickly confused and end up walking all over the place to no avail.
into the only eight story building we can see, but it is all shops.
Every other building we enter only goes to the fourth floor. Dave runs
out of energy and goes into a tiny dry cleaning shop to ask in Japanese
where this clinic is. The women in there recover from their shock of
an American speaking perfect Japanese to them quickly enough to point us in
the right direction, but we still can't find it. One of the women runs
after us and personally takes us to the right entrance and shows us the
correct elevator. How nice was that?
At the clinic, which is tiny
and full of sick people, Dave plops down while Bill tries to communicate who
we are (the hotel had called ahead for us). No one speaks any English
at all, but they do have a symptom form in English to fill out. We
mark almost all of the options except pregnancy and cancer. Eventually
a nurse came over and attempted to clarify the symptoms by making scratching
gestures for the rash. She also took his temperature which we later
determined was 102F.
We forgot to mention that what prompted the doctor
visit besides the fever was that this afternoon Dave broke out in a bright
red rash on the entire upper part of his body. His face looked like
he'd been laying the sun for week except for white raccoon circles around
his eyes. It wasn't pretty.
Finally we get to see the doctor who
barely speaks English, but she's very kind and makes an effort.
However, she insists Dave sit upright on a stool, which is nearly impossible
for him ordinarily and challenging now. He asks if he can lay down and
she claims they have no beds. There is one right behind her by the
way. I guess she figured he's sick what does he know. Anyway,
she asks to see the rash and the minute he opens his shirt she gasps and
says, "Measles, you have the measles!" Pardon me? What?
Measles? No way! WAY. OK, so she didn't say "way", but she says
it is very common in Japan and that's certainly what it looks like.
After looking down his throat, she asks if she can do a test for strep just
in case, but Dave has had that before and this ain't no strep.
However, he hopes that is all it is and lets her do the test even though the
one thing he doesn't have is a sore throat.
At this point Dave announces again
that he has to lay down and soon. She again says they have no beds
here, so he says OK, but if he doesn't lay down he's going to fall down and
he's too big for them to pick up off the floor. She finally gets the
picture and they put him in a little office with a cot where a kind nurse
removes his shoes and lays him down.
Fifteen minutes later the doctor
comes back in and says that the strep test was negative and it is most
certainly measles, but she can't do any more testing here. She talks
behind her hand to Bill as though Dave doesn't exist when he is in fact
maybe three feet away in the same room. She tells Bill that maybe Dave
should go to the hospital because his fever is so high, but she keeps saying
she will prepare a letter that will admit us later if we decide to go.
Dave blurts out, "Hospital NOW, not later." Oh, you mean you want to
go to the hospital? Well, duh, what has he been saying all day?
We ask how to get to the hospital because at this point Dave doesn't
think he can handle another taxi ride. She says OK, she'll have the
hospital come get him, so she goes off to make the arrangements. We
hear the conversation over the partition in which she says she has an
American there with measles who needs to be admitted. She comes back
and says the hospital is full and they can't take him today, so go back to
the hotel with the letter she will give us and if he gets worse give the
letter to the hotel staff and they will take us to the hospital.
She comes back shortly with the hospital letter and a prescription she
says we can fill downstairs on the way out. The bill for all of this
was less than $100, including the test. After all the questions about
whether we had insurance we expected it to be much more.
Down one floor to
the pharmacy which was devoid of customers but full of pharmacists, we had
the prescriptions filled in no time. They also sold a sports drink similar
to Gatorade called Pocari Sweat of all things, but it revived Dave enough to
get him back in a taxi and to the hotel where he climbed into bed after
taking his first dose of pills. Now he just had to hope he didn't get
Sunday, April 19 - Tokyo Disney Resort -
Whatever the doctor gave him or maybe it was just a
matter of nature taking its course, but Dave did feel somewhat better and
got a good night's sleep. He still wasn't capable of doing much
besides laying in bed and eating fruit now and then, but that's better than
having a fever 24/7. He basically laid around and hallucinated all day
while Bill holed up with the computer and refused to go out without him.
Once you know what it is you are inflicted with it is a relief of sorts.
So knowing you aren't going to die from it is enough news to just wait it
out and hope you get well in time to actually see something here besides the
inside of a hotel room. Luckily the room is very comfortable and the
bedding is plush.
Dave asked Bill to go down to the front desk and ask for
a manager, then request that we stay at this hotel in the same room for the
duration. With this fantastic view, we'd rather just stay here and not
bother moving to the Mira Costa. At least there is something to look
at for sure here. What we'd get at the Mira Costa is anyone's guess.
The request was readily granted and we are booked in here through the 25th.
Bill also contacted our Japanese agent to let her know we will need to be
picked up here instead, which was quickly arranged. We had also
contacted her about getting a doctor, but she thought letting the hotel do
it would be more efficient, however, she would have done it if necessary.
This was pretty much a lost day. Since Dave writes the blog and he's
the sick one, you are getting this through his hazy memory at this point.
Monday, April 20 - Tokyo Disney Resort -
Things are looking up heath-wise today. Although
far from well, Dave slept through the night without any fever flare-ups and
was able to eat a small waffle and potatoes, which is the first solid food
he has had in a week. He immediately fell asleep again after eating
and when he woke up an hour or so later he felt significantly better and was
able to take a shower and start feeling somewhat normal again. He's
still red as evidenced by this
lovely photo Bill took of him when he wasn't paying attention.
afternoon he was interested in working on the computer again and actually
wanted to eat something. He belted down an entire sandwich and a
bottle of tea, which continued his improvement enough that Bill was willing
to go out and explore the resort for a few hours. Dave holed up on the
sofa with the computer while the maids cleaned the room so thoroughly it was
almost unbelievable. It took four of them working non-stop over fifty
minutes to clean it and make the beds. They had to change the sheets
three times because they kept finding flaws in the fabric we never would
have noticed. We're talking a pulled thread, not a hole or stain, but
they insisted on doing it over. During this time Dave was wearing his
surgical mask that all Japanese wear when they are sick to be polite and
not spread their illness. How they do that is anyone's guess. Every
time he would breath it fogged up his glasses. Too bad the person who
was spreading measles didn't bother with this little nicety.
Bill went out
for a few hours while Dave stayed up with the computer. This was the
first time in over a week that he didn't have to lay down after being up for
a short time, so this is a major improvement. Just keeping his eyes
open for any length of time before this was a chore. Let's hope this
improvement continues. If it does we might extend our stay so we can
actually go out and see something. Up until now the goal has just been
to get well enough to fly home with the hope we can come back another time.
It would be a huge disappointment, but there is no point in ignoring
Bill reported that the wait times for Disneyland attractions
today was at the most about twenty minutes. We can see the main
entrance to the park from our room and we see almost no one arrive during
the day. On Sunday there was a huge line waiting to get in before the
park opened, but today there was almost no one waiting and the line
disappeared as soon as the gates opened at 10:00AM. Both parks are
open until 10:00PM every night. The hotel also appears to be fairly
slow. There has never been more than one person waiting at the front
desk, but there are always at least twenty cast members staffing the desk
We ordered room service again. The food has been quite good
according to Bill. Dave can't taste anything, so even if he can eat it
he has no idea if it is any good or not. It looks nice though and the
prices aren't too ridiculous for a Disney hotel. It isn't the bargain
Hong Kong was, but it isn't nearly as outrageous as Walt Disney World's food
prices. Dave was able to eat an entire meal of shrimp tempura with
udon noodle soup for the first time in a week, so he's a happy camper
We keep forgetting to mention that we not only have a view of
both parks, but also the nightly fireworks. They are pretty much
nothing worth writing home about. They're about like you'd have seen
thirty years ago at a U.S. park. The castle isn't involved at all
because the fireworks originate from off behind DisneySea to the left of the
castle. We're glad we saw them from the hotel and didn't wait around
in the park for them. The view of the erupting volcano in DisneySea is
more exciting than the fireworks. We don't know with what regularity
it does its thing, but when it does it is quite a scene of fiery eruptions,
smoke and sound effects.
By the way, the weather has been overcast and
dreary since we arrived in Tokyo. It rained the first night, but has
only been cloudy and cool since then.
Tuesday, April 21 - Tokyo Disney Resort -
The weather forecast for today called for showers off and
on all day, so Dave didn't think it was the wisest choice to go outside and
at least walk around a bit. He'll try for a walk around one of the
theme parks tomorrow after the cycle of medicine has ended.
to feel human again, but not quite there yet as far as actually going out
and doing anything. He had a big breakfast and polished it off with no
problem, which is a big improvement. Of course, he immediately fell
asleep for two hours after the meal, but it is better than passing out like
he had been doing. The more sleep the better at this point. He
does need to make a bit of an effort to clean himself up though. He
looks sort of like an old hobo living under a bridge at this point.
went off to explore DisneySea after he determined Dave was still feeling
better after his nap. Other than that, we have nothing significant to
report up until noon today.
Bill returned from DisneySea when it started
to pour rain about 6:00PM. He reported that even if Dave has to travel
around in a wheelchair tomorrow he has to see it, it is THAT fantastic.
He carried on at length about the amazing themeing, but most of all that
there were no other guests there and zero waiting time for anything.
There were still cast members every twenty feet unlike a U.S. park where
everyone is sent home when the park isn't crowded. It doesn't seem to
matter around here. Slow or busy, everything is open and the park is
fully staffed. That is as it should be at Disney prices, but
unfortunately those days are long gone at the Disney owned parks.
went on only a few attractions, but said they were all very well done,
especially 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Storybook Voyages of Sinbad.
The latter is sort of a Sinbad version of "it's a small world" except with
real animatronics Bill described as amazingly realistic. 20,000
Leagues simulates a dive to Atlantis where something goes terribly wrong and
your submarine loses power and has to be rescued by the undersea inhabitants
of the lost city. The underwater effect was very well done and quite
convincing. You'd swear you really were under the water, but the
attraction is high and dry. He also went on Tower of Terror twice and
liked it, but said it isn't as good as the original in Florida, besides the
theme being entirely different. He took a ride on Raging Spirits, a small
roller coaster themed to a battle between fire and water or something like
that. It was quite slow and compact with the only "thrill" being a
single loop and that was only thrilling because he was in the front seat.
it was beautifully themed, however.
His only complaint was that the place
is so highly themed that you can't find the entrances to the attractions.
For example, he never did find Journey to the Center of the Earth or the
Indiana Jones attraction because the entrances were so well hidden.
Even the ones he did find were just an archway in a wall or something like
that. If the ride didn't have a big FastPass sign out front he never
would have noticed them. Of course, if the park was busy there would
be people going in and out, but with no one around it was very difficult.
Hopefully Dave can muster enough strength to go tomorrow. He does plan
to, but it's luck of the draw how he feels from day to day. Today he
was OK, but not great because his eyes were very dry and drops didn't help.
He did eat two large meals and a packaged sandwich for lunch, so eating
seems to have returned to normal, which is fantastic. There were no
spikes in fever today either, but he still looks like a tomato most of the
time. He did lose the hobo look though, so maybe he won't scare any
small children tomorrow.
As mentioned, it poured rain into the evening
from about 5:00PM onward. They had the fireworks show anyway, as they
have every night. We knew the show was short, but when we timed it at
three minutes we were shocked. It is a very poor show for a Disney
park, but at less than five minutes why even bother?
An oddity we noticed
today regarding the internet service. When you sign on it says,
"Please enjoy 1 day complimentary internet use." Then there is no
mention of a charge after that. When the 24 hours runs out, you have
to sign in again and get the same exact message about one day free, please
enjoy. That has been going on every day since we arrived, so
apparently it is always complimentary, but you have to sign up again daily.
OK fine, but weird!
Wednesday, April 22 - Tokyo Disney Resort
- Disneyland Hotel
The weather is perfect today, sunny and warm with a
nice cool breeze. And, better yet, Dave feels well enough to try an
outing to DisneySea today! Woo hoo.
We had a room service breakfast,
which was good and filling, but there are only two choices so we're getting
really tired of it. We'll have to try to find something else for
tomorrow. There is no restaurant information in the room, so it is
anyone's guess what the hours are. There is a casual buffet restaurant
and a formal restaurant for adults only, which seems a bit skimpy for such a
We stopped by the front desk on the way out to buy tickets for
DisneySea. We didn't buy multi-day tickets because we don't know yet
how Dave will hold up being out for the first time in a week. He's a
little woozy, but other than that feels pretty good. He doesn't
necessarily look good, but he's not out to win a beauty contest.
is a short ride around the loop on the monorail, so that part is easy.
There is a bit of a walk to reach the main gate from the station, but
nothing terrible. There was an announcement playing and apologizing
for the inconvenience of something, but even after listening to it twice we
couldn't figure out why they were apologizing. All they were doing was
announcing that you can now buy multi-day passes without specifying a
certain theme park to attend for the first two days of it...in other words,
it has become a park-hopper like it should have been all along.
not even going to attempt to recreate the day exactly because we spent most
of it exclaiming over every single thing we saw. We'll say it right up
front here and now, this is THE MOST AMAZING THEME PARK IN THE WORLD!
It is like walking through a work of art. The themeing is absolutely
flawless. You can't see outside of the land you are currently in, so
the illusion is complete no matter where you are.
The huge globe that
greets visitors as they enter the park is more impressive in person that it
appears in photos. It is covered by water that slowly flows down, but
doesn't drip off at the curve. The whole thing rotates while being
supported on a column of water (obviously held up by a big pole, but it is a
nice effect). You pass through a breezeway through the Mira Costa
Hotel that forms the backdrop of the centerpiece Mediterranean Harbor
section of the park. Looming over the harbor is Mt. Prometheus, a
volcano that erupts smoke and flame periodically.
The harbor area is
Italian themed to the hilt including singing gondoliers plying the canals.
There are more table service restaurants in this park than we have seen
anywhere. Right next to the table service version is a quick service
location or a buffeteria. And every single one of them was open for
business in spite of the light crowds. There were also numerous shops,
all of which were open also. Not to mention carts selling flavored
popcorn (we saw pepper, chocolate, curry, and caramel, no plain), snacks, drinks
and souvenirs, but not to excess like at the U.S. parks. And the
guests were buying EVERYTHING. There was a shop in the American
Waterfront section selling generic teddy bears called Duffy the Disney Bear. They were very cute,
but that's all they were, nothing exciting. That shop was packed and
the bears were selling like hotcakes. Most shops sold pretty much the
same thing because most Japanese prefer to buy food gifts, so they were
stocking up on that rather than park souvenirs per se. We saw very
little park specific merchandise at all in fact. All we could find to
buy that had the DisneySea logo on it was a keychain.
Anyway, we walked
through the caverns into the caldera of the volcano which is set up like a
giant mining operation run by Capt. Nemo. Two major attractions are
here: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which was discussed yesterday, and
the granddaddy of them all, Journey to the Center of the Earth. The
latter is the most amazingly well-themed attraction we have ever seen.
Even the sign out front looks like lava coming through the wall. The
ride starts out like a slow tour to show off the discoveries of Capt. Nemo,
so you ride past fantastic glowing creatures, giant crystals, etc., about what you would expect, but in fantastic detail. Then there
is an earthquake that rattles your vehicle and diverts your vehicle into
uncharted tunnels where strange pods hang from the walls. Then you
pass an otherworldly underground lake jolted by bolts of lightning. As
you round a corner an enormous bolt of lightning hits a nearby pillar and
the car speeds up. Then there is a burst of flame from the wall and we
come upon an enormous
animatronic lava monster who threatens to grab you. Just in time, the
volcano erupts and suddenly you are propelled at top speed in total darkness up
inside the mountain until you are ejected out the side and plummet straight
down the outside. Have we said amazing yet?
We had lunch at the Volcania Restaurant (a buffeteria) and it was so
highly themed it could be an attraction in itself. The food was good,
a large quantity and reasonably priced for Disney. Not cheap by any
means, but not grab-your-heart material either.
We gawked at the atmosphere
in the volcano, which includes big metal nets supposedly to catch the fresh
lava before it hits the walkway. In the netting are caught big blobs
of cooled rock. Who thinks of this stuff? Everywhere you look is
another fantastic themed scene to look at. Really, you could just walk
around and look at the details and have plenty to do.
Outside of the
volcano is the Arabian Coast area that contains a two story carousel themed
to Aladdin, a lot of shops selling pretty much the same thing, amazing fake
shops stocked with bazaar type things just for show, The Magic Lamp Theater
housing a live show we did not have time to see today, and the large
animatronic attraction, The Storybook Voyages of Sinbad. The best way
to describe this ride is that it is sort of like "its a small world" on
steroids. The figures are about three times the size of small world dolls, but
they are fully articulated advanced animatronics. Not just some of
them, but ALL of them. There must be hundreds in total. It is a
really charming attraction and the figures are so expressive it is quite
captivating. We could ride it over and over. We were handed a
flyer in English to explain the storyline, but it is easy enough to figure
out. The flyer was a nice touch though. We got the same type of
information at Tower of Terror.
Adjacent to the Arabian Coast is Mermaid
Lagoon including King Triton's Kingdom, a strikingly beautiful area filled
with rides for small children. The area is absolutely a work of art
all by itself. From a distance the spires and fanciful structures made
from hollow shells and other such things from the sea appear to just be
colorful mosaics. Well, yes, they are mosaics, but the pieces of
broken tile making up the mosaics feature characters from The Little
Mermaid! Not only that, there are shells, jewels, stones, you-name-it
embedded in the mosaics. They're incredible. At night the spires
of the building sparkle with fiber optic lighting and the effect is
magical. It is so beautiful it gives you chills to look at it.
It is beautiful inside as well, but the mosaics, fountains and bronze
statues of Mermaid characters are the big draw for us.
Behind the volcano
is the Lost River Delta featuring the small roller coaster Raging Spirits,
which is probably the most pointless roller coaster we have ever been on.
It is so short it is over before you embark. We were stopped by a cast
member and told we were too tall to ride, but Bill rode it yesterday with no
problem. The cast member was relieved when he told him that and he let
us through. We know the height maximum is 6'5" or something close to
that, but if he was going to stop us he should have had some sort of
measuring device handy like they do for the minimum height limit.
Anyway, we wouldn't have missed much had we not been allowed to ride.
The ride is well themed, but that's all it has going for it. This is
the only ride in the park that is not worth more than a five minute wait.
Next door is Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull. It is
pretty much the same as the original at Disneyland with a few new effects.
For example, in Japan they could not use fire inside, so the flame in the
main room was replaced with a tornado-like vortex. There is a
fantastic effect where the jeep stops and a big idol on the stone wall yells
out something menacing and then blows a perfect smoke ring at you while the
jeep speeds off. The rest of the attraction is more or less the same,
but doesn't have the same dramatic impact. The rolling rock effect at
the end wasn't very good at all, but if you haven't seen the original it is
Keep walking around the back of the volcano and you'll pass
a wrecked airplane along the river and all manner of themeing there just for
the heck of it. Next up is Port Discovery which is sort of the
Tomorrowland of DisneySea. There are two attractions here, the major
one being a big simulator attraction called Stormrider. The premise
here is that you are going to be injected into a category five storm to
experience it first hand, but not to worry because there is a big storm
zapper sort of contraption that will stop the storm if it gets too bad.
This is demonstrated with a fantastic effect in the preshow. Of course
something goes terribly wrong and the storm zapper probe is hit by lightning
and sent tumbling back toward us, eventually poking right through the top of
the cabin. It is pulled out just before it explodes in front of us.
Then the storm batters the ship, knocking loose ceiling panels and pipes.
Water starts leaking from the ceiling as the storm continues. The
simulator part is mild, but the in-cabin effects are very good. We
really enjoyed this one.
Next door is the amusing Aquatopia ride where you
board bumper car type boats and ride around a shallow lagoon randomly just
avoiding all sorts of water hazards. The route is somewhat random with
no real track, but you can see where you might go just because of the wheel
marks on the bottom. It is cute and worth a ride for the technology
that makes it
work if nothing else. There was no wait, so why not?
Next land is
the American Waterfront that is more shopping and restaurants than
attractions. There is a big replica steamship at the dock that
contains a lounge and restaurant. Adjacent to that is the Sailing Day
Buffet, which is well themed. There is also a Cape Cod section that is
all shops and food outlets, but it looks nice. The Tower of Terror is
in the New York area adjacent to the ship. There is also a Broadway
theater playing "Big Band Beat", but we did not have time to see it today.
Tower of Terror, as already mentioned, is similar to the California
Adventure version of the ride. It does not have the Twilight Zone
theme though, but that doesn't detract from it. The effect when the
idol disappears from its perch in the preshow room is amazing. It
literally vanishes before your eyes. This ride is such a simple
concept, but it works so well because of the amazing attention to detail
from start to finish.
That pretty much sums up the attraction roster.
There are small boats for transportation on the lagoon and 1920's vehicles
that roam the streets of the American Waterfront, but they move so slowly
you can walk twice as fast with no effort at all. They provide nice
atmosphere though. There is also an elevated railway, but something
apparently went wrong because there was a crowd of security and supervisors
taking pictures of the underside of the track at one point and the whole
system was shut down shortly thereafter for the rest of the day.
also some minor walk through attractions like Fortress Explorations that
bored us after about two minutes. To each his own, but this seemed
like a lot of money for not much except eye candy.
Now, let's talk about
the special event that just began, The Spring Carnival. The
whole Mediterranean Harbor area and many other sections of the park are
decked out in extra flower arrangements and displays for this event.
The flowers are stunning. There is no way you could display flowers
like this within reach anywhere else. The park is beautiful enough
without extra embellishments, so this is just colorful icing on the cake.
There was also some sort of show around the lagoon involving fairies that we
skipped on purpose. It was popular though judging by the crowds on
such a slow day.
The big draws are the two lagoon shows, one in the
afternoon called The Legend of Mythica and a nighttime spectacular called
BraviSEAmo! Where to begin on these extravaganzas!
The plots of both
are very odd, but Mythica has something to do with the Disney characters
unlocking a gateway to the world of Mythica. This show takes place in
and around the harbor and includes a cast of hundreds of dancers, jet
skiers, kite flyers, and some of the most amazing
float/barge/fountain/flamethrowers you have ever seen. These things
are HUGE and spout water hundreds of feet in the air, shoot flames skyward,
eject fireworks, giant goddesses rise out of the opening petals of each
float, and then a whole new batch of even bigger barges come out! Our
mouths were gaping the entire time. There is NO WAY you'd see
something like this anywhere else because no way would Disney pay for it
(Tokyo Disney Resort is not owned by Disney). However, it just goes to
show you what Disney Imagineering can do with a budget gone wild. This
show was unbelievable, really, take it from a couple of jaded ex-cast
members...this show rocks.
OK, so that brings us to the evening
extravaganza, BraviSEAmo!. This show revolves around the love between
fire and water. It starts off with a huge fountain barge that floats
out spouting water. There are also huge dancing fountains all around
the lagoon that are beautiful sights in themselves. From the gushers of
the main float rises a huge maiden made entirely of water who forlornly
searches for her true love to no avail. Eventually she floats off and
disappears when suddenly the volcano erupts amid much smoke, flame and
fireworks. Huge fireballs shoot skyward from jets around the lagoon as
the music gets more heavy. Suddenly, the center of the lagoon catches
fire and the fire slowly spreads to form a huge circle covering almost the
entire surface of the water.
From this inferno begins to rise an enormous fire-spewing dragon that
eventually towers over 6 stories, minimum, and IT IS FULLY ARTICULATED!
And it shoots fire in a controlled pattern from all over its body, from its
mouth, from its head! Flames shoot out, fireworks go off, basically it
rages fire. Then, the water goddess returns, realizes fire is her true
love and the fountains embrace the dragon who is transformed amid sparkling
lights to a calmly glowing creature on the water. The dragon actually
moves so fluidly that he exudes a personality. The entire effect is
absolutely enthralling. We're sure someone stepped on our jaws
sometime after they hit the pavement. Now, this dragon isn't some
tiny contraption. The entire creature must be at least 50 feet,
probably more like 100 wide and almost as tall. It looks like it is
made out of a metal latticework of some sort, not fabric and papier mache.
At the end of the show, the whole thing folds up and goes back under the
water. Incredible. Simply incredible.
Now, we hate to put a
damper on this whole experience and we'll chalk it up to not being something
that originated with DisneySea. The fireworks show, which is seen at
both parks, is the worst fireworks show we have ever seen. We knew
from watching from the hotel that it was only three, count 'em, three
minutes long, but we thought MAYBE with the addition of the soundtrack
seeing it in person would be better. Nope, even worse. The
fireworks are in no way synchronized with the music. They shoot
fireworks while some Disney music plays, period. This show sucks, no
two ways about it. What the heck happened? Oh well, we won't
dwell on it, but IT SUCKED!
Dave had managed to stay alive way longer than
he expected...until after 9:00PM in fact. We looked through the shops
to find something to buy to no avail. If you want food gifts, there
are millions of choices, but park specific merchandise does not exist.
We already bought the only keychain with the name on it and Bill wanted a
plush of the tiger from the Sinbad attraction, but that's all we bought
besides attraction photos. Oh, and we had all of this sent free of
charge to the hotel so we didn't have to carry it around.
We wandered back
to the monorail which wasn't crowded at all and were quickly back at the hotel.
We decided to see if we could extend our stay since Dave has recovered and
wants to actually see something now. We asked at the front desk and
got the ludicrous answer that we have to call central reservations and make
the changes. The guy claimed that the hotel could not make changes
here. We know that isn't true because we already changed it when we
decided to stay here and not move to the Mira Costa. We'll try to call
in the morning, but our luck getting anyone who speaks English isn't the
best. We need to know ASAP if there are rooms so we can change our
return flight also.
Finally back at the room, we cleaned up and went to
bed after posting the update for you. We have so many photos that they
will have to wait until we can create a photo gallery. There are
simply too many to process and post within the text in the time we have
available, so please be patient.
Thursday, April 23 - Tokyo Disney Resort -
The weather was perfect again today, sunny and in the low
70's all day. We didn't make it downstairs in time for the main
breakfast buffet, so we had to go to the smaller one in the lobby lounge.
It was OK, but nothing to write home about. What is it with the raw
scrambled eggs in Japanese buffets? Why even bother cooking them at
all? They are always cold and look like they were only waved over the
heat for two seconds. Blech. They also seem to like raw bacon,
although there is usually cooked bacon also.
We went to Disneyland for the
entire day today. They are finally offering park-hopper tickets that
start on the first day you buy them. Prior to this you had to specify
one park or the other for the first two days, then you could park hop after
that for one or two days. There is a slight up charge, but it is
minimal. We didn't want to be locked into a certain park for tomorrow,
so we were happy to pay the extra fee.
Although this was a normal
attendance day, slow in fact, the park was PACKED. Everything had at
least a twenty minute wait and the popular rides such as Buzz Lightyear had
an 80 minute stand by wait. The new Monsters Inc. attraction that just
opened yesterday had a two hour standby line and the FastPass return was
already at park closing and this was only 11:00AM!
OK, so let's try to
describe this park for you. Tokyo Disneyland has a covered shopping
area called World Bazaar that replaces Main Street. It isn't as long
as a typical Main Street either, but it is completely covered by a glass
roof and you can turn right or left to go directly to Tomorrowland or New
Orleans Square without going through the central hub. The shops are
typical of any park with a huge Emporium on the right and a gigantic store
selling the typical Japanese take home gifts of food packaged in colorful
tins. This store is so popular that is had its own queue system for
checking out and it was always packed. No wonder they can afford to
staff the park even on slow days. They must make a mint on the food
gifts alone. We saw people buying piles of more than twenty of the
tins and the average price was around $20.00.
To the right as you enter is
Tomorrowland, probably the worst part of Tokyo Disneyland. It looks as
though nothing has changed since it was built in the 1980's. The
entrance is a copy of Florida's Magic Kingdom from 1971 except the
waterworks are turned off and the facade has been painted bright blue.
It is well maintained, but VERY dated. The attractions have been
updated with Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters replacing Mission to Mars and
MicroAdventure replacing CircleVision. The wait for Buzz was the
aforementioned 90 minutes all day, so we never rode it. MicroAdventure
was the same as all of the parks, fine, but too long. The cast member
in the theater offered to seat us with the English headphones, but we
declined. However, it was nice of her to notice us and make the
Space Mountain is the weenie in the land, directly ahead of you as
you enter over the bridge. There is a restaurant flanking each side of
the bridge, Plaza Restaurant and Tomorrowland Terrace, both fast food places
typical of all of the parks. Space Mountain still has its speed ramp
going up to the entrance and is the same as the original version at
Disneyland in California except it hasn't been updated to add the
soundtrack. The visual effects appear to be new and were very good,
but without the sound it pales in comparison to the updated models.
There is also a big theater showing "One Man's Dream II" and Grand Circuit
Speedway (or something like that similar to the Florida version of Autopia).
We didn't participate in either attraction.
Next around the perimeter is
the platform for the StarJets, still high in the sky and reached by an
elevator. Across from the jets is the entrance to the extremely
popular Toon Town with it usual population of wacky buildings and built in
jokes. The landscaping alone is worth a visit. This was one of
the most crowded sections of the park. We got in line to ride Roger
Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, but it broke down and all the lights came on, so
eventually we left and did not make it back. It looks about the same
as the California version from the outside and in the elaborate queue.
Keep walking around the perimeter circle and you come to Fantasyland.
The first attraction is Pooh's Hunny Hunt which was closed when we walked
up. It was supposed to return from refurbishing tomorrow, but by the
looks of the cast members standing around it seemed like it might open at
any moment. We got in line for the Daring Adventures of Pinocchio just
across the road and glanced up to see Pooh's stand-by sign had a wait of
five minutes showing. By the time we got off Pinocchio in about ten
minutes, the stand by time was up to 50 minutes and as we walked up the time
changed to 60 minutes! This is one popular ride and for good reason as
we'll describe shortly. We got a FastPass for a return two hours from
When we returned, the stand by line was still over an hour, but the
FastPass cut it down to about fifteen minutes. The indoor part of the
queue is similar to the cheapo dark ride versions all other parks have
except it isn't cheapo and there is more decor to look at. The artwork
decorating the walls is beautiful and elaborate. Guests board a large
honey pot which is dispatched in a group of three. The pots are in no
way attached and there are no tracks, just a blank floor you roll along.
The pots rush willy nilly into a small first scene with a brief cartoon
explaining the ride, then you swirl off to scene after amusing scene of
fully articulated animatronic characters from Winnie the Pooh. The
motion of the pots is completely random and you always seem to be headed for
a narrowly avoided collision. The order you left the station has no
bearing on where you end up eventually.
The two best scenes are the one
where the entire room bounces along with the pots as Tigger bounces around
the room. The other is the huge Heffalumps and Woozles scene where
your group of three pots is injected into a swirling mass of already
existing pots, plus one full of Heffalumps and Woozles. In the corner
is an enormous band of the things bouncing up and down and tilting from side
to side. It really is as though you are dreaming right along with
Pooh. The whole ride is so much fun that you forget that the
technology involved in accomplishing all of this must be a marvel.
Continuing around the perimeter of the park you'll come upon "its a small
world" and its familiar facade. The ride is entirely enclosed, so the
clock is just a big facade, but it looks nice. The queue inside is
brightly painted and probably one of the most attractive of the indoor
queues for this attraction. The ride itself is also one of the best
renditions and features the flooded show scenes like in Florida.
Everything was in good repair and properly maintained, but the ride needs a
sound system update.
Next to this is the elaborate Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall,
a buffeteria. In the center of Fantasyland are Alice's Tea Party and
the carousel. There are also the usual dark rides, Peter Pan (line was
too long), and Snow White's Adventures. The speed of the cars in the
dark rides is so fast it almost made us sick! No kidding.
Apparently they need to keep capacity up or something. We'd swear we
almost got whiplash on Pinocchio! Snow White and Pinocchio were about
the same or slightly more elaborate than the California originals.
Florida version of the Haunted Mansion is located in Fantasyland strangely
enough. The outside has some very elaborate gargoyles guarding the
entrance signage. The queue is covered in a similar way to the Florida
version and you enter in the same way as you would there. The ride
itself is a non-updated version of the Florida ride. It was nice to
see this attraction is a perfectly maintained state.
Also in Fantasyland
is the Mickey Mouse Revue, an animatronic show that was moved here from Walt
Disney World when Tokyo Disneyland opened. So, it is now over 25 years
old. It closes forever in two days, but it looks as though it opened
yesterday. We can't imagine even another Disney park maintaining an
attraction in such pristine condition right up until it closes. This
is a really cute and technically marvelous attraction, but it is probably
past its prime considering the sparse crowd and that most in attendance
promptly fell asleep when the show began. We enjoyed it though.
quickly transition to Westernland from Fantasyland. This part of the
park is sort of a mish mash of overlapping lands, but they are similar in
style so it works OK. There is also a Critter Country that has only
Splash Mountain on its attraction roster, but what an attraction it is.
We had to wait until just before the park closed to ride it when the stand
by line was only five minutes. All day the stand by was 120 minutes
and all the FastPasses were gone by noon. We can see why. This
is by far the best version of this ride in the world. The show scenes
are much more visible and spaced out so you can actually see all of them.
There are several short drops including a dip drop, plus the long one at the
end, of course. We were really impressed, and wet, by the end of this
ride. Buying the on ride photo was frustrating though. You have
to get a ticket from a woman in the exit queue with your number which you
turn in to a cashier and pay. Then you walk two feet to the left and
get the photo. The whole system was very confusing and may be the
reason nobody but us was buying a photo. Everyone else on all rides with
this feature just took a picture of the monitor. We never saw anyone
purchase one. In fact, one time they had to call someone out of the
back to even take our order!
Adjacent to Splash Mountain is the river with
Tom Sawyer's Island, the rafts to the island and the Mark Twain Riverboat.
There is also the Western River Railway. We didn't experience any of
these attractions today, but they were quite popular and the setting was beautiful.
The river isn't as big as at the U.S. parks, but it was nicely done on a
This park still has the Country Bear Jamboree playing, but
we ran out of time and didn't see it. Their Golden Horseshoe is still
very popular and requires advance reservations at least a month ahead.
Next up is Adventureland with the usual array of attractions. They
still have the Swiss Family Treehouse, but no one was going through it at
all. It is just sort of stuck there in the corner of the land, not
being much of a draw no matter what is done to it. They also have the
Jungle Cruise. There is a recently revamped version of the Enchanted
Tiki Room presented by Stitch that we expected to be yet another travesty,
but it was very well done and quite entertaining. There is no pretense
of this being any resemblance to the original show. The four moderator
birds have different names and one is a female. The rest of the cast
is the same as always. An animatronic Stitch rises up out of what was
the fountain in the center, but it is quite articulated and the show works
well. We were surprised how entertaining it was especially since we
expected to be appalled.
Next around the bend and directly adjacent to
Main Street is New Orleans Square. It is pretty much the same as the
California original expect it isn't anywhere near a river. Pirates of
the Caribbean is the California layout and incorporates the newest additions
from the movies. It was one of the better versions of this attraction
and far better than the Florida one.
This has to be the only Disney park
in the world where you can walk up and be immediately seated in the Blue
Bayou restaurant, but that's exactly what we did. The restaurant was
nearly empty, but there are so many table service restaurants in this park
it must disperse the crowds. No need for Priority Seating arrangements
here, that's for sure. Every restaurant we passed had someone standing
outside with menus trying to entice people to come in. The meals we had were
outstanding and priced reasonably for what they were.
We saw both the
daytime parade, Jubilation, and the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade:
Dream Lights in the evening. The latter is a well-updated version of
the original Electrical Parade. It features a lot of innovative LED
lighting and very elaborate lighted costumes and other effects. It was
well worth waiting for, but we had no problem walking up ten minutes before
it started and getting a prime viewing spot. This is mostly because
people are required to sit down in the front and they remain seated the
entire time, so people standing in back can always see. Plus it was
only about six people deep in the seating area, if that. The daytime
parade was a re-hash of the 25th anniversary parade with different music,
but it was fine and featured a lot of beautiful costumes. The
performers are so energetic and engaging it is hard not to be drawn into the
We ignored the fireworks, so we were finally able to ride Big Thunder
Mountain, which was also one of the best versions of this attraction from
all of the parks. It didn't seem quite as fast as some, but it was
much longer and the area it races through much more detailed and elaborate.
The animals you pass are more visible and all of the interior effects worked
properly and were easily seen. The queue is huge. We'd hate to
be here on a day when it is full! Same with Splash Mountain.
When those lines are full the wait must be four hours or more.
One problem here is that the locals know how to use FastPass, so everyone
uses it. That means the popular attractions run out of passes by noon even
on a relatively slow day like today. We know how to use them also, but
woe to some random tourist who has never heard of it.
On the way toward
the exit near closing time, we happened to pass Star Tours where a cast member
was outside saying the wait was only five minutes. So, of course, we
took a trip to Endor since we had nothing better to do. The ride
itself is the same as all of the versions, but the queue is huge.
There must have been at least ten fully articulated animatronics in the
queue, plus the ones all of the versions have. After you exit, you end
up in what looks like an airport and there is another animatronic space
creature directing traffic. It is there for no reason other than as
We honestly tried to buy something with the Tokyo
Disneyland logo on it, but things like that do not exist unless you buy the
gift tins of food. We searched every store and braved the Emporium at
closing time and found nothing except generic plush and the aforementioned
food. The merchandise at this park was a bit more land specific in
that they sell wood carvings in Adventureland and Mardi Gras beads in New
Orleans Square, but finding something with the park name on it is
impossible. Oh well, we must be the only people in the world who want
such things or surely they'd be offering them.
We have to mention that
although this probably isn't the most coherent Disneyland in the world
layout-wise, the cast members are fantastic. Besides the fact that we
haven't seen staffing levels at a U.S. park like this in our lifetime,
that's for sure. There were SIX castmembers operating Snow White for
example. At home there might be two if you are lucky, but there is
usually just one bored person sitting there pushing buttons and loading the
cars all by himself. Not only does this enhance the service levels,
but it reduces the stress on the employees so they remain friendly all day.
They were uniformly cheerful and smiling and always thanked riders at the
exit and greeted them at the entrance. Disney needs to take stock of
what set them apart in the first place and taking a hard look at how Tokyo
Disneyland is operated would be a step in the right direction.
wading through the shops and buying something in the money machine that is
the Confectionary Shop (aka food souvenir emporium,) all we had to do was
walk straight out of the front of Tokyo Disneyland and we were back at the
Disneyland Hotel. We stopped at the shop selling prepared foods,
drinks, etc., and picked up some Haagen Daas ice cream for a bedtime snack.
Then it was back to the room where we found that the maids hadn't thrown out
the expired food we had left in and on top of the wastebasket. Geez,
how much more obvious do we have to make it that this is trash? Maybe
chew it first or something? Oh well, better luck tomorrow when the
packages start to explode!
Friday, April 24 - Tokyo Disney Resort -
Today's weather has taken a turn for the worse and is
overcast and quite chilly. We went to breakfast in the main buffet
restaurant, Sherwood Garden. It was very disappointing for a hotel of
this size. All it was was an expansion of the exact same boring items
and raw scrambled eggs from the lounge breakfast. No wonder the
gigantic restaurant was all but empty. It was edible, but barely.
wandered outside to take some pictures of the Peter Pan themed pool, which is TINY, and the
garden we can see from our room. Then we headed off to Disneyland, but
had to go back and get jackets because it was too cold outside today.
covered almost everything we cared about on our first visits to each park,
but there were a few attractions we missed because Disneyland was so crowded
last time. Looking at World Bazaar it appeared at first glance that
Disneyland wasn't as crowded today, but that was an illusion. The
stand by wait time for the new Monsters Inc.: Hide and Go Seek
attraction that opened this week was posted at 180 minutes and all of the
FastPasses had already been distributed for the day at 11:00AM. Keep
in mind that the park doesn't open until 10:00AM! We gave up hope of
seeing this one. Better luck next time when the novelty wears off.
Next we tried for a Pooh's Hunny Hunt FastPast, but the return time was
already up to after 8:00PM tonight, so no go on that one either. Off
to Big Thunder we went and picked up a pass for 2:30PM, which is about when
we expect to leave and go to DisneySea, so that was fine.
In the meantime we picked up Country Bear Jamboree which is still playing
the original show and looks like it opened yesterday. Hearing the
country bears speak Japanese was worth the price of admission. We also
sailed around the river on the Mark Twain, which was nice. The river
is much shorter than the U.S. versions, but they have installed various
scenes along the banks that are actually in good repair. We also rode
the Western River Railroad, which is a steam train that goes nowhere because
Japan doesn't allow private railroads to have more than one station or they
have to be public (or something like that). We were surprised that the
train ride ended with a trip through the Primeval World Diorama. We
didn't know any parks besides Disneyland in California had that. Since
this train is an attraction and not transportation it does make sense to
have something to look at.
We also went on the Jungle Cruise which is
similar to the Florida version. It does not have the upgraded effects
like Hong Kong had, but the skippers did a great job and were much better
than their Hong Kong counterparts.
Of course, we had to ride the Haunted
Mansion again and we also did the Tiki Room with Stitch. It wasn't
offensive the second time around either, so they may have a winner this
time. Anything is better than the previous "Get the Fever" version.
At least this one features an original song (we think).
started lining up for the afternoon parade we pounced on Splash Mountain
where the stand by wait had been 90 minutes last time we checked and the
FastPass return was well into the evening. We rode with just a ten
minute wait, then ran over for our FastPass return for Big Thunder and
walked right on.
That pretty much sums up our final day at Tokyo
Disneyland. We did stop for lunch at the Plaza Pavilion buffeteria
restaurant. We both had a Salisbury Steak dinner that was very good.
The salad and dessert were above average also, as was the price at nearly
$50 for the two of us. But, the food was good and plentiful, so we
can't complain too much.
We took one last turn through the shops and again
didn't find a thing to buy. Back at the hotel, we cleaned up and
rested a bit, then headed out on the Monorail to DisneySea for the rest of
the evening. Both parks are open until 10:00PM, so there is plenty of
time in the day to see pretty much anything within reason, especially at
In contrast to the crowded Disneyland, DisneySea was
comfortably empty. We never waited more than ten minutes for even the
major attractions. There was a different show for Spring Carnival
going on around the lagoon when we arrived called "Fairies Primavera".
We had skipped it based on the name last time we were here, but it turned
out to be another colorful extravaganza featuring a cast of hundreds lining
the lagoon, as well as more gigantic floats spouting streams of water.
We bought the CD of the soundtrack it was so peppy...not to mention it is
the only soundtrack they have for sale!
We rode Tower of Terror again, as
well as Stormrider and Aquatopia. The latter is stupid, but still a
lot of fun and the technology involved is amazing. The park was so
empty that we rode Journey to the Center of the Earth at least five times
with never any more than a five minute wait. It took longer to walk
through the queue than the actual waiting time. We also rode Indiana
Jones, which continues to have some sort of timing problem with the
climactic rolling stone ball. The delay for it to start today was so
long we had time to comment on it. It really ruins the ride when
something that major doesn't work right.
We took another dive to 20,000
Leagues Under the Sea, which is very odd, but nonetheless enjoyable.
The technique used to portray going underwater is very convincing. The
story is weird, but who cares?
By this time it was getting to be time to
find a place to watch the evening extravaganza, BraviSEAmo! again.
Apparently it was too windy to open the seating area last time, but it was
open today, so we stood in the back. It never did fill up and we had a
perfect view of this amazing show. At the end of the show last time we
saw it there was an announcement saying that due to wind conditions we had
just seen an altered version. Tonight they said the same thing except
the excuse was "due to circumstances beyond our control". We have no
idea what was missing or changed and can't imagine it being any better than
it was both nights we saw it. Our jaws still hit the ground when the
fire dragon rose up out of the lagoon.
After the show most people left or
stopped to watch the God-awful fireworks show. So, that made it easier
for us to re-ride everything AGAIN. It started to rain about an hour
before the park closed, but we wandered over to the Sinbad attraction to
ride it again. This is also a bit weird, but the artistry involved is
truly amazing. There must be hundreds of fully articulated
animatronics in this thing. The ride is quite long and the scenes are
vast, so the building it is housed in must be huge behind the scenes.
slowly wandered toward the exit still gaping at how beautiful this park is.
King Trinton's Kingdom building is magical at night with the sparkling fiber
optics twinkling. Then again, what isn't magical about this place?
No matter where you look it is like walking into a painting. We can't
gush enough about DisneySea. It is simply breathtaking.
made it out to the Monorail and back to the hotel. We stopped to buy
our usual ice cream snacks and then retired to the room to pack up for our
return home tomorrow. We can't believe we have been gone for almost
two months. It seems like we just got here!
We are so glad we
finished up with Tokyo Disney Resort. The cast members are fantastic
and DisneySea is amazing. It was a perfect ending to the trip of a
lifetime. We even have enough Yen left over to pay the hotel bill
without using a credit card. That makes it free, right?
view the Tokyo Disney
Resort Photo Gallery.
Saturday, April 25 - Depart Tokyo, Japan -
Fly to Los Angeles, CA, USA
We picked the right day to depart since it has
been pouring rain all night and this morning. We're not talking
sprinkles either, but a steady downpour.
Breakfast was the very average
and overpriced buffet in the Sherwood Garden restaurant. This is the
only option for breakfast at the hotel other than room service which isn't
much better. It's too bad because the food in the parks is pretty good
for what it is and the prices aren't outrageous either. The hotel
seems to be set up to serve the most people in the least amount of time, but
it isn't busy at all so they could be making a bit more of an effort in the
After breakfast we stayed in the room until check out
time at noon, then called for a bellman. He took our luggage and
stored it while we awaited our 2:00PM pick up time for the car to the
Dave freaked out the girl at check out by paying the bill in cash instead
of the credit card on file. She didn't say anything, but it was clear
she was a bit unnerved by being paid over $5,000 in cash. By the way,
we brought about $8,000 in Yen with us and spent less than $2,000 of that,
so we had plenty left to pay the entire Disneyland Hotel bill. It came
to just over ¥500,000 which translates to about
$5,000, half what the bill would have been at Disney's Grand Floridian.
Other than the limited food choices, this hotel is so far superior to the
Grand Floridian that it might as well be on another planet.
There was some sort of liquid on the stone floor
where we wanted to sit, but someone came right over and cleaned it up.
It left a stain on the white part of the stone, but it did fade eventually.
The carpet throughout the hotel hasn't fared quite as well and it is
uniformly filthy in contrast to everything else that is spotless.
Other than wandering off to the bathroom now and
then, we just sat in the magnificent lobby for about an hour and a half
waiting to be picked up. At one point Dave turned the wrong way to the
restrooms and had to ask a maid in the hallway for directions. At
first he asked in English and she didn't understand him at all, so he
repeated the question in Japanese. The poor woman almost fainted dead
away she was so shocked. Learning a bit of Japanese for the shock
value alone is well worth it.
point Dave went outside to tell the doorman that we were expecting someone
to pick us up and that we were sitting in the lobby. The first person
didn't understand and ended up telling someone else who did speak English
that we were expecting two Americans to pick us up. After
straightening out that misunderstanding he said someone would come get us
when the car came. It was still pouring rain at this point.
When 2:00PM rolled around we saw one of the
doormen looking around the lobby and assumed he was looking for us, which he
was. He escorted us outside and sent someone else to retrieve our
luggage. The car to take us to the airport was a van, so our luggage
fit nicely. The driver spoke very good English and chatted a bit
before getting down to business and just driving. He said the ride
would only take about 45 minutes even with the rain and he was accurate.
At the airport we were dropped off outside the
terminal. The driver got luggage carts for us and loaded them up, then
sent us on our way. No tipping here either, so when you're done,
that's it. We had prepaid for the car through Michi Travel as part of
Narita airport is
huge, but very pleasant inside. It wasn't chaotic or noisy at all.
Japan Airlines must have hundreds of check-in counters and finding the right
one for Business Class eventually required asking someone. It was
amusing walking by the First Class area and seeing all of the personal
representatives that fawn on you when you fly First Class. They should
considering how much a ticket costs!
There was no one waiting to check in so we walked right up. At first
they wanted to charge us $198 to check a fifth bag, but when we agreed to
pay it they all grabbed their heart and didn't know what to do. She
kept asking, "Are you sure you don't want to carry it? It isn't that
big." Finally she asked how many carry-ons we had and seeing only two
small ones said they would take the extra bag for free because we weren't
carrying much. In reality they just didn't want to process the payment
which was fine with us.
We still had a
lot of Yen left over, so Dave went to the cash exchange to change it back to
U.S. dollars. The exchange rate was fantastic and he ended up making
money on the deal compared to what he paid for it at home.
That chore done we went through security and
immigration with no problems at all, then went to find our gate. It
was in an annex so we had to take an automated shuttle bus out to the
terminal. It was typical Japanese efficiency with a train coming every
two minutes, so there was virtually no wait.
We found our gate and planted ourselves out of the
way for the 90 minutes we had until boarding time. There was some sort
of delay that caused boarding to begin about fifteen minutes late, plus the
lines were going the wrong way. It is always as though each airline
has never boarded passengers before it is so chaotic. Do they not know
that people will crowd the gate and make it impossible to board First and
Business Class first? They did try though and we were on board
Our seats are in the upper deck
of the 747, which is always nice especially on a long flight. You
don't have to participate in the cattle call that is downstairs. There
was an American woman ranting about a bassinet in the downstairs Business
Class section, so we were very glad we chose seats on the upper deck.
Due to the pouring rain the departure was delayed
for about a half hour. We were supposed to leave at 5:20PM, but we
didn't even start taxiing out until after 6:00PM. We spent so much
time driving around the runway we thought maybe we were going to taxi back
to Los Angeles! The flight time was announced at 9.5 hours, 10 hours,
and then 9 hours, so who knows when we will actually arrive. The
in-flight system estimates arrival at 11:04AM, but it started out saying
11:20AM. Oh well, as long as we do arrive, we'll be perfectly happy.
It was very turbulent during the takeoff, but
quickly quieted down. Meal service took forever and we were starving
by the time they finally got around to it. There was a choice between
a Western meal and a Japanese meal. The Japanese meal contained more
food and it was somewhat better than the other option, but both were good
for airline food.
Watching the flight
attendant close the shades with a long stick was worth the price of
admission. God forbid she should just ask each person to close their
own shades since most people were awake, but that might be too much of an
The flight was uneventful
except for a few short bouts of turbulence. We mostly dozed or watched
movies on the personal video screens. The advanced seats look space
age and appear to be comfortable, but they are poorly designed and you end
up with a hard bar in the middle of your butt no matter how you position the
seat. There was a lot of leg room and the seats do not recline into
you, which is a plus. 747's are always comfortable to fly and this was
The food served for
breakfast was pretty awful. We both had the Western breakfast which
was an English muffin sandwich with cheese and maybe egg and ham in it.
It was mostly just rubbery goo, but at least it was filling. It came
with a cup of yogurt and a small plate of fresh fruit that was nice.
Because the flight departed late it didn't arrive
at LAX until 11:15AM, but that was just a few minutes late in spite of
sitting on the tarmac for fifteen minutes waiting for a parking place.
Disembarking was fast and easy, but then you end up in the endless
construction that is Tom Bradley International Terminal. As far as we
know, the corridors of this terminal have been torn up and in various states
of construction for at least five years and maybe more. There doesn't
appear to be any end in sight.
Immigration inspection area isn't under construction, but nobody seemed to
stand in the correct lines, so there were lengthy delays while visitors were
fingerprinted and photos taken. When we walked up we were practically
just waved through, but it still took a good twenty minutes to get to the
baggage claim. We were highly amused when we saw the ranting bassinet
woman being hauled off for a thorough inspection. Do people not
realize that if you make a scene of any kind the officers might just delight
in annoying you even further?
There was no rush though
because the luggage had just started to come down the chute when we arrived
at the carousel. We found all our luggage and hauled it through
Customs with no questions asked except did we have any food with us.
Like we're going to admit it if we do? Anyway, then it was through the
maze of construction and out to the street.
Bill had already phoned our pick up driver
after we claimed our luggage, so he arrived quickly to get us at the curb
and we were off toward home. The drive took roughly two hours with
little traffic to speak of. We were home by 2:00PM and jumped by two
very happy dogs who just might remember who we are judging by the reaction.
Ah, no more dressing up and wearing shoes every
day! Woo hoo. That was a long stretch for us to be put together
on a daily basis, that's for sure. We'd do it all again though, no
doubt about it.
This was an amazing trip, a trip of a lifetime for sure and we don't use that
term lightly. We are proud of ourselves that we did it on our own and the
choices we made turned out to be the best ones for us. We'll
overlook the whole measles thing if you don't mind.
The Tokyo Disney resort overall is probably the best Disney resort on the
planet for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is because DisneySea
is hands down the most amazing theme park on the planet. Tokyo Disneyland
isn't the most beautiful Disneyland in the world, but some of its attractions
are the best renditions. The cast members were uniformly friendly and
helpful. We have no idea how they remained so cheerful especially when
Disneyland is jam-packed every day of the year. We were shocked at how
crowded it was and we'd definitely never consider showing up there during the
busy season. DisneySea was never crowded and the wait time for even the
E-tickets was never more than about fifteen minutes.
Hong Kong Disneyland surprised us and turned out to be one of the major
highlights of the whole trip. Our experience there was magical and that is
not a word we throw around like Disney often does. The Hong Kong
Disneyland Hotel is the best Disney deluxe hotel in the world no question about
it. And, it is actually a bargain for a Disney hotel, or any luxury hotel
for that matter. We would go back in a heartbeat.
The land portion of our Japan trip exceeded our expectations in many ways not
the least being how nicely we were treated throughout. Everyone was nice
to us and rushed to help if we looked confused. Learning some Japanese
ahead of time was a Godsend. The shock value was pretty funny, but it also
helped smooth the way and open doors quite often. We enjoyed all of our stops, but
touring the old house with the equally old owner was probably the highlight.
Our first stay in a ryokan in Nara was also quite memorable.
We weren't in love with Takayama or the accommodations we had there. In
fact, that hotel/ryokan was probably the worst place we stayed including the
place at the airport when we arrived. We wouldn't bother going back there.
Everywhere else was very nice. We'd like to have spent more time in Kobe
because the entire day was taken up with the extremely crowded day trip we took
to Himeji. We wouldn't do that again, but it was nice to see it once and
sort of participate in the cherry blossom season with all of the locals
picnicking on the lawn.
We can't believe how quickly the time flew by. We really thought we'd
get tired of traveling, but we didn't at all. Only when Dave fell ill did
it become a burden to travel. Before and after that episode we were
perfectly happy. We wouldn't spend as much time in traditional ryokan
again though. That did become tedious, but we're glad we did it.
Bookending the trip with two different Disney resorts worked out very well and
was a nice counterpoint to the traditional travel stops. We'd do all of it
over again tomorrow if we could.
The luggage forwarding service available in Japan really made our life easier
with the cruise luggage in tow. We sent it ahead every few days to the
next big hotel and it was always there waiting for us. If we were to go to
Japan again we would pack way less clothing because it was no problem at all to
have laundry done at major hotels. We wore the same three outfits the
entire time and only ran through clothes when it was hot in Takayama and Tokyo.