Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

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horizons1
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Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by horizons1 » Mar Tue 07, 2017 2:54 pm

Last weekend I spent 3 days at Tokyo Disney Resort, marking the final two parks in my quest to earn my badge as a Disney Globetrotter. I can now say I have visited (and stayed) at every Disney resort around the world. For my trip report, read on!

DAY 1: Friday, March 3, 2017 (Weather: warm in the sun at first but turning to cloudy, very cold, dry)

After spending the week at a conference at Narita airport, I arranged to stay over the weekend. I flew JAL, and am sitting on the plane right now as I write this (not publishing, just writing). First, a note about flying to Japan: It's pretty easy to get there from the States. JAL has one of the nicest Premium Economy seats I've experienced and is definitely worth it for those who want something nicer but don't want to spend the crazy money for Business class. But there's also service from ANA, Delta, American & United plus a bunch of others, so there's lots of competition to keep the fares low.

Getting from Narita to Tokyo Disney Report (TDR) is also easy. There is a scheduled bus service, the "Friendly Limousine" coaches which depart throughout the day. The round trip fare was 3200 yen, or about $28. You have to buy your ticket on the day of departure but it only takes a few minutes from the convenient counter inside the terminal. The bus was on time, naturally, and the ride from NRT to TDR took just over an hour at 0915 on Friday. The bus makes stops at the two parks and all the Disney and Disney Official Neighbor hotels so you don't even have to think. Note: In the spirit of Tokyo using a 24-hour clock I will quote all times that way in this report.

There is a closer airport, Haneda, located in the heart of Tokyo. In fact, the flight path goes right over TDR. Wasn't an option for my work but might be if you're planning a trip. However, due to traffic the bus service to Haneda is only 10-15 minutes shorter than for Narita.

First impressions of TDR were that it suffers from being surrounded by industrial areas. I knew this from reading up and from pics, but the encroachment of the "real world" is worse than even at DLR in California. At least there you see lots of houses and hotels. Here, it's lots of ugly factories and other undesirable elements. To their credit, TDR has done what they can to minimize the impact and walls and some berms do help in most of the guest areas.

I booked the weekend at the Sheraton Grand Tokyo Bay, an official good neighbor hotel on the monorail loop. At less than $200/night it was a bargain for its location and convenience. Plus, I was given a park view on the 6th floor. If you are a SPG Platinum member (I'm not) you can access the lounge on the 12th floor with a commanding view of the resort and the bay on the other side of the hotel.

My room wasn't ready when I arrived around 1030, but I left my luggage and went to the park. They gave me a key and told me it'd be activated at 3pm and my luggage would be waiting in the room. It was and it was.

The hotel room was spacious and clean, the beds super-comfy. The drapes made the room really dark which is a must for me.

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The view was nice and I could've easily enjoyed the fireworks had I been in the room. The distance was similar to what I had in Hong Kong. As you can see below, the TDL parking lot is across the street and the back side of TDS is off to the right. I could walk to TDR but it'd be a tiring walk. Note that they don't have any parking lot trams which I find odd.

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The easiest way to get to the parks is to take the monorail, what they call the Resort Line. It has four stations and makes a complete circuit around the parks, with all but two hotels (the Ambassador and the Miracosta) outside the loop. My station, the Bay station I think it's called, serves all the neighbor hotels including mine and the Hilton. There are busses from the monorail station to each hotel, including one for mine which literally just drives across the street and back. Here is a shot of how close the Sheraton is as seen from the monorail platform.

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And here are some bus pics. They have a really fun retro-themed Disney resort bus!

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Back to the monorail. Interesting thing I didn't realize: the Resort Line isn't free. The fare is 260 yen $2.20 (For a three-day unlimited pass its 1100 yen, or $9.35). Not breaking the bank but still a surprise. They make the most money off people arriving on the JR rail line so it make sense that the connection to the monorail wouldn't be free.

The Resort Line runs counter-clockwise. After my station, next is the TDS station, then the Resort Gateway station (JR rail line, Ikspiari shopping mall, Disney's Ambassador Hotel), and finally the TDL station. The entire circuit takes less than 20 minutes. The monorails are built to Japan transit standards and are a bit boxy but very roomy inside as you can see below.

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Now, another strange thing: for multi-day tickets you cannot park hop and must specify the park you will attend each of the first two days. I picked TDS for Friday and TDL for Saturday. Because I bought a 3-day ticket I was allowed to park hop on day 3, and 4-day tickets can hop on days 3 & 4, natch. So, obviously, the rest of the day one trip report will be focused mostly on TDS.

My first impressions of TDS were mixed. The park layout was a bit awkward to my uninitiated eye. Very much like my first visit to DAK, it took most of the first day just to get my bearings.

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The entrance area (above) has a spacious feel and wraps around both sides of the monorail station. There is a parking structure as well. You then pass under Hotel Miracosta (below) and into the park and Mediterranean Harbor. The entrance feels more like a hotel resort grounds than a theme park.

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After passing under the hotel you are greeted to the awesome view of the volcano at Mysterious Island. It is a great weenie.

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Having arrived at TDS at about 1115, I made a beeline for the Fastpass machines inside Mysterious Island for Journey to the Center of the Earth. It was PACKED. I took a pic but it ended up blurry. Suffice to say, the crowd stories are true. The posted wait time was 150 minutes and my Fastpass return time was 1740. No problem. Plenty to do. I went over to ride neighboring 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. With a 45 minute wait, it seemed a bargain.

Before I get to that, I have to tell you about the Fastpass situation. At TDR, Fastpasses are treated like tickets to ride and those in the Standby line are truly that: standby. The result is a torturously long wait while hundreds of people pass you by. It sucks. Also, this system destroys any last hopes for the casual park guest. If you don't actively manage your day, you will be left in very long lines, riding only non-FP attractions or missing out entirely. More on this later, but it was a thorn in my side all weekend as I prefer to explore and discover, not map out my every move in advance. If there is a silver lining in all this, it's that the next Fastpass becomes available about 2.5 hours after you get the first one. But that is of little consolation for the major attractions which routinely run out by noon or early afternoon.

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20,000 Leagues is really great. It's a family attraction where you ride in a "submarine" suspended from an overhead track. Each car holds six riders who look out one of three glass bubble portholes on three sides of the sub. The ride uses a "dry-for-wet" effect where it looks like you're going under water but it's just lighting and special effects. There's water bubbling through the porthole to heighten the experience and the whole thing is themed to the hilt. Really great.

Having ridden, I was hungry so I headed over to the New York Port area. I passed McDuck's department store were they were advertising those dang Duffy bears. And not just here, Duffy was EVERYWHERE in TDS and in some parts of TDL. Duffy has a girlfriend now because of course she does. And the Japanese park guests are suckers for this marketing machine. They eat this stuff up. Easily half the teens there sported some sort of Disney swag, either Mickey or Minnie ears, a crazy hat, or Duffy handbags, Duffy totes, Duffy bears, or Duffy underwear. OK, I made that last one up, but how far away can that be?

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Anyway, back to lunch. The New York Delicatessen sits on the main drag, a mini-Main Street circa the early 1900's.

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I ordered the Turkey Pastrami Panini (below) and it was really good. More like a grilled cheese than a pastrami sandwich but it hit the spot. You can see the price in the menu pic, 1120 yen for the "set" which includes fries and a drink ($10).

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Not having a Fastpass to use after lunch I just began a circuit of the park. It's confusing the first time, as I said before. I made a clockwise circuit, heading from the American Waterfront to Port Discovery where I "discovered" that StormRider is being replaced by a Pixar-themed SeaRider set to open later this spring.

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Still, that Aquatopia looks cool and I will ride it. Oh yes, I will ride it.

Around the back of the park I found Indiana Jones: Temple of the Crystal Skull. Guess what? They have a single rider line. Hooray! You have to ask for it, and they send you up the Fastpass line until you get to the ticket taker cast member who then channels you off to a separate spur. I practically walked onto a ride with a posted 130 minute wait. Sweet. The ride is almost identical to the California version, with a few slight modifications for the crystal theme.

I swung around the back corner of the park and rode Sinbad's Storybook Voyage. I can just hear the Imagineers when they thought this one up. "We need an its a small world-type ride." "OK, how about we build that exact ride but theme it to Sinbad instead?" "Great! What's for lunch?"

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After the mildly interesting Sinbad with its pretty annoying "Compass of Your Heart" theme song, I headed under the sea to the Little Mermaid indoor/outdoor "land" - er, "sea": Mermaid Lagoon. It's really cool and I imagine it's a great place to escape heat or rain or whatever.

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Hey, does anyone else think it's wrong that Sebastian's Calypso Kitchen serves seafood?!

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Speaking of wrong, only kids should cuddle with this life-sized Ariel pillow.

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"De human waste, it's a mess!"

After surfacing, I saw that there are some rides outside as well, including a Scuttle-themed spinning "Himalaya"-type ride and a kid coaster which ran with TWO TRAINS. That's as close to a people eater as you'll see on a children's coaster, folks. I rode it, the line moved fast and there was no Fastpass. Yay!

Back in the Arabian Coast area was the Magic Lamp Theater with a show that combined live action with a 3-D movie featuring Genie. It was silly and adequate, but it might've helped if I understood Japanese!

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I found myself back at the front of the park and took another detour into the American Waterfront to check the wait at Midway Mania. 150 minutes. No problem - I don't need to ride that video game as its identical everywhere.

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Back up in the middle of the park is the fortress and a walkthrough attraction called "Fortress Explorations" (presented by Unisys, because nothing says old world charm like an industrial technology company). The walkthrough is fun and there's lots to see, touch and explore. It also affords some great views.

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The "real world" is on display for all to see from this vantage point.

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There's a little planetarium where you can turn crank handles and make the planets move above you. There's also a giant pendulum, a camera obsura, and other Victorian-era science novelties.

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Looking at the timestamps on these pics I see I spent 25 minutes exploring the Fortress. That without even trying. I can see that families with kids could kill an hour there or more and they have a scavenger hunt printed sheet that you can use for more fun.

It was about time to ride Journey to the Center of the Earth. I won't give much away but if you didn't know, the ride system is the same as Test Track, except the vehicles are little steampunk excavation machines. You go deep into the heart of Mysterious Island's mountain and things go wrong of course. It's somewhat true to the original Jules Verne story so if you've read that you'll appreciate the nods to the source material. It's fun, fast, and loud. A definite thrill ride.

At around 1800 it was getting dark and cold but I trudged on and went back near Indy to the looping coaster: Raging Spirits. This is, essentially, what Disneyland Paris uses for their Indiana Jones ride. But according to RCDB, they're not identical. Unlike the DLP version, this ride was smooth and didn't abuse my head on the shoulder restraints. Could just be that it's 12 years newer. Oh, and they had a single rider line too, but this one was also unadvertised. The wait was about 35 minutes for me in that line.

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OK, what's for dinner? Let me see, I'm in a sea adventure theme park in Japan. I know: TACOS!

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Behold the "Spicy Meat Tacos" which were chicken, spicy minced meat, avocado dip (guac), and spicy salsa. It came with a miniscule salad with ranch dressing and a dollop of beans with two chips. All for the low low price of 1180 yen ($10) for the set. And they were surprisingly good!

After my delightful repast and some much-needed time off my feet, I took another walk around the park. For the 15th anniversary of TDS they are doing this promotion with a "crystal" theme. Guests can buy a little battery-powered crystal gadget and take it up to a machine like the one below. Tap the gadget to the machine and you are rewarded with sparkly lights and sounds. I think you're also supposed to make a wish. Some cast members also have gadgets and you can tap two together to share a wish. Clever, but yet another merchandising gimmick. The lights are pretty though.

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Back to the undersea world, the line was shorter for Jumpin' Jellyfish so I gave that a ride. I love that they even themed the railings!

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I caught the second half of Fantasmic and they do a great job running the show in the central Mediterranian Harbor. They even tie the volcano into the dragon scene, which has a great dragon by the way.

There was supposed to be a fireworks show, Sky-high Wishes, but it was canceled due to the winds. So I went back to Journey to the Center of the Earth again. It had closed temporarily for Fantasmic, I guess, because they dropped the ropes and I joined the stream into the standby line. And there I waited for about 20 minutes while a steady flow of Fastpass holders came through. Still, 20 minutes vs 150, I'll take it.

On the way out I took the long way 'round, this time counter-clockwise. I rode Aquatopia which, being after 9pm and freezing cold out, had no line. Another fun high tech ride. The little cars zip around in a few inches of water and it feels unpredictable. Later, I was to figure out that, while there is no track, there is a prescribed set of routes that the cars can take, so it's not complete chaos. Nevertheless, for this first ride I was delighted. Also, interesting that they play Epcot music in Port Discovery.

Then it was back over toward the Columbia steam liner and I took a few more pics as the park closed at 2200. I was pleased to see that they were running their antique cars up and around the New York streets in American Waterfront, even at night!

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Back on the Resort Line, I got off two stops later at Disneyland Station just so I could take a quick peek at the Tokyo Disneyland hotel. The lobby isn't that spectacular - sorry, I only shot some video, no pics. But here's the outside:

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And back at my room, this is the view that first night:

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Ahh. Time for bed after a long, fun day. Tomorrow it's off to Disneyland!
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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by Amy » Mar Tue 07, 2017 9:47 pm

what a great first day! I loved Tokyo Disney Sea and really want to go back. Tower of Terror wasn't there when I went and I am amazed at how huge the attraction building is there! Your lunch looked a little sparse for the price, but both that and your dinner looked tasty. I had to laugh a bit at the side salad and teaspoon of beans that came with the tacos :lol:
Mark me down as one who was pretty in love with Aquatopia. When I was there it was cold and rainy and I was the only person that showed any interest in the attraction. The cast members chuckled as I rode it two or three times in a row because there was no queue.
I am curious, if the single rider lines aren't advertised, how did you find out about their existence? That's awesome you were able to cut down on your wait times by utilizing them.
Great photos so far, looking forward to day two! :D

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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by horizons1 » Mar Wed 08, 2017 10:03 am

Amy wrote:I am curious, if the single rider lines aren't advertised, how did you find out about their existence? :D
If I recall, the first time at Indy there was a freestanding sign that said Single Rider, but later when I went back it was gone and I had to ask the cast member. For Raging Spirits I just figured there must be and asked. Those are the only two attractions with Single Rider as of now.
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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by horizons1 » Mar Wed 08, 2017 10:32 am

DAY 2: Saturday, March 4 (Cold and very windy)

I slept soundly that first night, waking up after 9am. If you haven't figured out from my previous trip reports, I don't do early mornings. This is incompatible with a Fastpass-based society, I know, but it's the way I do Disney. Getting there before the crack of dawn to beat the rope drop is just not a vacation for me.

World Bazaar, their Main Street, is covered as everybody knows. What I was not expecting was that the space would have a shopping mall echo effect. It's pretty noisy in there. Also, the "street" is a bit short. You pass one major store on the left and right and wham - you're at an intersection. Go left and you take a shortcut to Pirates. Go right and you end up in Tomorrowland.

So, arriving at the park in late morning I was, again, disoriented. This is something I never thought I'd say going into a Disneyland. The hub & spoke layout is supposed to make navigating idiot-proof, right? Well, TDL is a bid more of a square than a circle, and I would describe the arrangement of the buildings in each land as being a bit more like neighborhoods rather than arranged as clear spokes. The result of this is that there are multiple ways around and through each land and it isn't obvious, at first, which way a path will lead.

Take Adventureland, for instance. Normally, you can easily flow from the Plaza to Adventureland and around to Frontierland. At TDL, Adventureland is tucked into the lower-left side of the park and when you're down at, say, the Jungle Cruise, you sort of have to come back out and over to get up to Westernland (what they call Frontierland). Westernland itself is mostly the river, Big Thunder, and a little path between leading back to a restaurant. Between this complex and the Plaza is another neighborhood of stores, restaurants, and Country Bear Jamboree. By the way, saw the show - and the bears are funny, even in another language. It almost looks like they swapped out the teddy bear that the little cub is holding with a Duffy, but that had to be my imagination.

Fantasyland is also strangely arranged. It's somewhat stretched out widthwise behind the castle, beginning with the Haunted Mansion and ending up at Pooh.

Over in Tomorrowland, it's sort of the same story, partly because there is a bonus set of buildings down around the front of the park, allowing there to be two ways in from World Bazaar and the Plaza. But I'm making a bigger deal about this than it really was. It is, after all, a Disneyland and things are generally where they should be.

Space Mountain is centered at the end of the main drag into Tomorrowland, like it would be in Florida if you shifted that Space Mountain a little to the right. There is no Peoplemover here. As you walk in, the left side is Stitch Encounter and the right is Buzz. Hanging a left at Space Mountain you see the Star Jets at the end of the lane, flanked by stores and Tomorrowland Terrace on the left and a wall behind which used to be their Speedway on the right. Not sure what's being built there, but construction is underway and I would guess it's going to be something MARVELous.

Turning right at Space Mountain takes you past a theater showing a musical called "One Man's Dream II," Star Tours, and Monsters Inc. Ride and Go Seek on the left. On the right is the pizza restaurant and then the path wraps around that building and back toward the World Bazaar side entrance.

I got a Fastpass for Big Thunder with, I think a 1505 return time. Something like that. Then, later when my window opened for another, I got a Fastpass for Haunted Mansion, 1820 return time, and decided I would wait in line at Space Mountain, it having a surprisingly short 70 minute standby line.

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And it turned out to be about that, 70 minutes. It was a slow 70 minutes, but soon I was riding the familiar twists and turns of the California version.

Note: You can pretty much tell when this park was built by what versions of each attraction they have. Because Florida got Space Mountain first but then California's opened, Tokyo got the most recent version. But they got Florida's versions of Haunted Mansion and Pirates (with some slight tweaks). The park is more Florida than California for sure, though.

At around 1330 I was hungry for lunch and found myself back at that restaurant I said was tucked in between Big Thunder and the Westernland river. This restaurant was the Camp Woodchuck Kitchen, themed around Donald and his nephews summer camp.

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I loved the themeing of this restaurant. There were little "homemade" troop banners and all kinds of camp knicknacks. The menu offered waffle sandwiches and I had the Fried Chicken with maple Sauce, 1080 yen set (a steal at $9.18).

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Outside the "lodge" dining room they even have a little camp fire with smoke and fake fire.

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After lunch it was a gentle and scenic ride aboard the Mark Twain. The narration is in Japanese but the "Mark three, mark four..." voices are the same English ones we hear at home.

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I took an afternoon break and went back to the hotel for a bit. Then returned to the park around 5pm to cash in on my Haunted Mansion FP and see if I could get on Winnie the Pooh.

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Walking through TDL after the lights had come on, I was very pleased to see how well maintained all the lighting looks. On all of World Bazaar, I only found ONE burned out "popcorn" light! This one, on the candy store:

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Here are some other random shots:

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They have a mini New Orleans area, complete with a Blue Bayou inside their Pirates.

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The railroad station is located above the Jungle Cruise station. The train is only three cars long so it fits.

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Stitch has taken over their Tiki Room. I never got around to checking out this show.

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Hey, am I in Florida or Tokyo? I can hardly tell from the above pic of Tomorrowland Terrace. It has the three food counter "bays" but no Sonny Eclipse.

For dinner I ate at the Hungry Bear restaurant that offers Asian Curry dishes served with rice. Below is my chicken version. This is the "large" which was about 1100 yen for the set ($9.35). There is a smaller version which would've been about six bucks. It was spicy and tasty but there wasn't enough chicken.

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Haunted Mansion, as I mentioned before, is pretty similar to the one in Florida. No elevator in the stretching room, similar layout. It's missing the library and a couple other things are different but it's essentially the same experience, so nothing exciting to write about.

I spent the last parts of the evening in the back-right section of the park and planned to ride Pooh's Hunny Hunt at the very end when the line was shortest. So I rode Gadget's Go Coaster (2 trains, yay!) and Star Jets. In Toontown they have a Roger Rabit Car Toon Spin but it was closed for refurbishment. Then it was time for Pooh.

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While waiting in the queue, which I joined about 15 minutes before the park closed at 2200, the wait time was 40 minutes. It moved pretty quickly given that there weren't many Fastpasses left to cash in. Once the park closed, the line really started moving. I noticed that the cast member was letting people into the queue even after 2200, which was nice and not someting I am used to seeing. In fact, the closing time seems a bit flexible as they made the official park is now closed announcement at about 2215. And, by the way, that announcement is made by the late Jack Wagner. It sounds like home whenever I hear his distinctive voice.

Also while waiting for Pooh I was able to observe how disjointed the transition is between Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland. There is nothing smooth here, just the end of one themed area and the start of the next.

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As for the ride itself, it's everything I'd heard and makes me mad about the cheap versions we were given in the States. The trackless cars are amazing and the experience is delightful. You feel like you're part of the adventure, not just passing by. And the Heffalump "party" scene in the middle is amazing: all the cars just zipping around each other - fun fun!

That's pretty much it for Saturday. The next post will cover the park hopping day.
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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by cy1229 » Mar Thu 09, 2017 8:12 am

horizons1 wrote:I slept soundly that first night, waking up after 9am. If you haven't figured out from my previous trip reports, I don't do early mornings. This is incompatible with a Fastpass-based society, I know, but it's the way I do Disney. Getting there before the crack of dawn to beat the rope drop is just not a vacation for me.
I soooo understand and agree. All those rope drop morning people.... ugh.

I'm enjoying your trip report! I wonder why they force people to commit to one park or the other for their first two days. How odd. Anyone know the rationale behind this?
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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by Amy » Mar Thu 09, 2017 8:53 pm

I'm not sure why they make you choose, but I always wondered if it had something to do with crowd control so they have an approximate idea of how many people will be in one park or another? I know I had to choose my days when I went in 2003 as well.

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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by Amy » Mar Thu 09, 2017 8:55 pm

Sounds like another great day horizons1 ~ I loved Pooh's Honey Hunt as well ~ such neat technology. And it does make ours look a bit shabby by comparison, although the latest update at WDW is much better than the first version.

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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by Wizzard419 » Mar Fri 10, 2017 12:02 am

"Orrery", the word you are looking for is "Orrery", not "Planetarium".

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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by horizons1 » Mar Fri 10, 2017 11:23 am

DAY 3: Sunday, March 5 (Sunny and clear, breezy and cold but no longer freezing)

I woke up earlier than I expected and decided to head over to the parks to grab some Fastpasses. I wanted a FP for Monsters Inc. so I wouldn't have to wait in a crazy line for an attraction I was unsure of. That being the prioirity, I rode the Resort Line around to TDL and went into the park. Got a Fastpass with a return time for 1720. (there was a consistency to the return times on my passes, all of them after 5pm. There were, of course, attractions with more frequent slots (e.g. Star Tours or 20,000 Leagues). But the ones I targeted seemed to all make me come back in the evening.

Before hopping over to TDS to try to also get a FP for Tower of Terror, I headed over to Pirates and was pleased to find a 15 minute wait. Plus, since it's not a FP attraction the line MOVED. I then headed over to Jungle Cruise. The wait was about 45 minutes but I opted to come back in the afternoon as it's not a FP attraction.

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I then headed over to TDS for the Tower of Terror FP. Due to the monorail station sequence, I could've been more efficient by stopping at TDS for the Tower FP first, but I wanted to spend more time at TDS and grab my one and only burger at the one and only restaurant that sells burgers in the American Waterfront section. So that required riding the Resort Line around the resort the long way to do TDL first and then TDS.

At TDS, I got my FP for Tower, return time 1840. That was perfect, giving me time to ride Monsters Inc. and then make it to Tower.

Cape Cod Cook-Off is, as I mentioned, the only restaurant in either report that sells a hamburger. Even in TDL where I fully expected to find a burger at Tomorrowland Terrace they instead had meat sandwiches on Mickey-shaped bread. Not the same. And the Duck Burger in Toontown was a fish sandwich.

The Cape Cod Cook-Off is a standard counter service restaurant with a large ordering and pick-up area. The left half was normal walkup. The right side, however, was set aside for a Duffy meet & greet. Think people don't care about Duffy? Look at the picture below:

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The line started outside, wrapped around the side of the building and all the way back up. It was easily an hour or more wait for the same food and the chance to interact with a marketing machine.

Lunch was early, 1030, so the burger was sort of a brunch. I headed over to Aquatopia to ride that during the day. The wait was a reasonable 40 minutes and the line moved along quite nicely (no FP, two sides, constant loading.) Again, what a fun ride.

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After Aquatopia I took a leisurely stroll around the back side of the park. Where there aren't attractions you can actually find some relatively quiet paths and peaceful places to soak in the views.

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Since I was back there I took another spin on Indiana Jones. No wait at all in the Single Rider line. Then I swung around the Arabian Coast and back to wait for my next window to open up for another FP at 1210.

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As you can see below, there are times when the FP machines are quiet, even for a major attraction like Journey. My return time for that ride was 2115, so I had the end of my day mapped out.

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OK, so I had a FP for Monsters Inc. at 1720, Tower of Terror at 1840, and Journey to the Center of the Earth at 2115. I decided to take a break and go back to the hotel. In the lobby I noticed this poster of Sheraton guests enjoying their lunch. My only thought: Man, do those people like bacon!

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At around 1430 I headed back to the parks, going over to spend the afternoon at TDL. Back at World Bazaar, I was curious to see if the maintenance crews were so conscientious as to replace that solitary burned out bulb I saw the day before. Well guess what? They are and they did!

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Now I am impressed. Let's see the US parks do that kind of upkeep. Back in the day, the original Disneyland used to have a policy of replacing bulbs when they reached 60% of their useful life so that none would ever have a chance to burn out. Those days are over for us but still live on in Tokyo!

Since I had brunch it was time for an afternoon snack of milk chocolate popcorn. They are big on popcorn flavors here, so much so that they list the locations for each flavor on the park maps. You can have caramel (most popular), black pepper, white chocolate, milk chocolate, salt, curry, or cappucino. I had salt popcorn at TDS on Friday and the milk chocolate today. I did miss good ol' hot butter but these were still good. the milk chocolate, as you see below, is a powder.

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Next it was time for a ride on Jungle Cruise. Fun, as always. It was interesting to note that they played music from hidden speakers throughout the entire ride, not just inside the temple like they do in Florida. In fact, I found the music a bit distracting. For example, they play the Circle of Life Lion King music at the Zebra kill scene. It threw me out of the suspension-of-disbelief.

It was around 1600 by the time I got off Jungle Cruise and I had about 90 minutes to kill before my Monsters Inc. Fastpass, so I decided to bite the bullet and get into the standby line for Buzz Lightyear. Normally, having ridden this in ALL the parks, I would not wait so long for such a short ride. But I wanted to complete my list and at least say I rode it. The posted wait time was 70 minutes which also fit in perfect with my schedule. Unfortunately, the line was more like 95 minutes, and a very, very SLOW 95 minutes at that. Most of the queue is outside, so once you get to the door you are pretty much at the junction with the FP queue, which was a relief. The ride is on par with the California version. That means, not good, but at least the guns detach from the ride vehicles.

Then it was time for Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek

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I had no expectations for this ride and my only basis for comparison is the very simple dark ride at DCA. This ride is better in its themeing but weak in execution. The ride vehicles look like they were not designed by Imagineers - they are a bit more basic and the ride was rough. But the rooms you go through and the way the story plays out was very richly themed.

The story line is that you are supposed to look for hidden monsters by shining a flashlight on hard hats in each room. You start out in the power plant and then go through a city street, through a more detailed Harryhausen's restaurant than the California version, and back to the power plant. Shining a flashlight on a hat makes either the hat pop up, a door open, or something similar happen to reveal a pop-up little monster. Not scary, of course.

I found use of the flashlight distracted me from enjoying the decor, so I quickly realized that the monster-seeking part of the ride wasn't nearly as fun as just looking at all the scenes. They really detailed everything and it looks great. Overall, I wouldn't ride this without a Fastpass though.

It was now about 1800 and time to head over to TDS to end my third night in the parks.

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Tower of Terror was different, no Twilight Zone here. The story is a rich, eccentric explorer from the early 1900's owned the Hightower Hotel. He vanished one night after getting mixed up with a cursed idol he found on one of his explorations. The rest of the ride is the same, but I really liked how they themed the hotel. They even made the gift shop look like the former indoor pool, complete with a boarded up pool floor that still had the depth markings in the tile. Nice.

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The steam liner Columbia was obviously inspired by Disney's previous association with the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. As you may recall, Disney acquired the Queen Mary when they purchased the Disneyland Hotel from the Wrather Corporation. At one time it was competing for the next big gate in Southern California and would've seen development of DisneySea in Long Beach before it ever became a reality in Tokyo. But many of those original ideas did make it to the Japanese verson, including this scaled down steam ship.

The Columbia was surprisingly detailed. I thought it'd feel like a dressed up building when I got close, but was pleased to discover that you could walk along the deck and even go up onto the bow. It was easy to feel like you were on a true, oceangoing vessel. There are two restaurants, the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge and the S.S. Columbia Dining Room. The former is a bar with sandwiches and small plates and the latter is a full service restaurant. I wanted to hang out in the lounge but the line was too long. The restaurant was also too expensive. So I moved on.

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Here are some pics as I wandered around that evening. I rode Sinbad again, this time they gave me a little English translation of the story to help me along. I also had some more Mexican food for dinner. Don't judge, the line was short! Nachos and guac.

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The firework show, which was canceled on the two previous nights due to winds, did happen tonight. Sky-high Wishes was a very light, simple fireworks show. Nothing spectacular. I thought it was great how they shoot the fireworks off from in between both parks so that everyone in the resort can enjoy the show simultaneously.

I spent my last hour in the park in Mysterious Island. While waiting for 2115 and my Journey FP time I noticed that the 20,000 Leagues queue was short. Rather, nonexistant. I walked on the ride and ended up riding it four times in a row. In all but the first time I had my own sub too. They would not, however, let me stay on or even cut from the exit back to the entrance, so there was much walking around each time.

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Nemo's nuclear reactor can be found inside the Vulcania restaurant's dining room. I'd bet most of the guests have no idea what it is.

On my last ride on Journey to the Center of the Earth the cars were backed up a bit and we ended up stopping right before the finale. SPOILER: We stopped right at the giant monster. You're supposed to encounter him, he roars at you, and then you shoot out of the volcano at top speed. Instead, he roared at us, then went idle and just made little puff sounds from the pneumatics while we sat there for about 2 minutes. It was funny. END SPOILER.

As I headed out of the park, I walked out through the Miracosta hotel. Looks nice, and the rooms overlooking the park are probably some of the best you can get in any park, view-wise.

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One final view from my hotel before turning in. What a fun three days.

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Next, I have a few shots from my fourth morning before leaving the resort and some final observations.
No one's gloomy or complaining while the flatware's entertaining.
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horizons1
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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by horizons1 » Mar Fri 10, 2017 11:37 am

DAY 4: Monday, March 6 (cold and raining)

Wow did I luck out on the weather. Despite being very cold, I'll take that over what Monday brought, which was a steady drizzle. One good thing though is the rain, combined with it being a Monday, meant the parks looked empty. I didn't go in though.

My checkout time at the hotel was noon and my bus back to the airport was scheduled form 1307, which afforded me some time for a leisurely tour of the Ikspairi shopping mall and the Ambassador Hotel.

The mall is a mall. It's not Disney-run and you can tell. It is nice as far as malls go, and certainly a good place for people with teens to kill a few hours.

Disney's Ambassador Hotel would be the equivalent of a moderate hotel. Still more expensive than my Sheraton though. The hotel's mix of Art Deco and the newer Art Moderne styles is very appealing to me. It's classy and classic. The hotel itself suffers from being mall-adjacent, meaning a lot of the rooms either view the mall roof or the streets and outside world. The only exception would be the courtyard view rooms or maybe a few on the top row overlooking the parks.

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Two of the monorail stations had displays about the history of monorails. Being a member of the Monorail Society, I really appreciated this. The Bay station had a display about "monorails around the world" while the one in the Resort Gateway station was all about the Disney monorails.

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Hey look, Horizons lives on in pictures!

A few other observations and tips:

Definitely, eating at odd times helps cut down on the wait. For lunch, the restaurants are slammed between 1100 and 1400. For dinner, it's busy from about 1730 until 2000, although I ate my tacos around 1900 with little wait so you just have to look around. Also, many of the restaurants, like in the other parks, have early closing times so check the posted times on the menu boards. Speaking of menus, they often had pictures or displays of the food you can expect - helps out a lot.

There was a surprising dearth of trashcans. I found myself walking around with an empty bottle or a food wrapper whereas in the US parks it's just a few steps to the next one. Granted, the park was still spotless and I hardly saw any cast members sweeping up, so maybe it's a cultural thing to keep things neat and tidy. But still, give me a place to throw away my trash and sit for a couple minutes!

The cast members wave constantly. Even on the monorail, the cast member riding in the back (the trains are driverless) stands at the window and waves furiously at the off chance that some random guest may look up. It does give a friendly vibe.

Overall, I had a nice trip but would not put Tokyo at the top of my list of favorite international parks. That spot is currently held by Shanghai.
No one's gloomy or complaining while the flatware's entertaining.
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Amy
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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by Amy » Mar Fri 10, 2017 5:46 pm

I rode Aquatopia at least three times in a row one day and I had to do the same thing as you did with 20K leagues under the sea. There was not a single soul in the queue, and arguably no other visitors in that whole area of the park, but they made me exit, walk around, queue up, and get a new ride vehicle for each ride.
That's pretty cool that you were able to get up close and personal with the lava monster ~ that would be something to see it in between his bursts of activity.
I'll have to look at my travel journal but I think I stayed at the Sunroute Plaza Tokyo. Funny how many details slip through the cracks after almost 14 years. I do like that the monorail information board you took a picture of was presented in both English and Japanese. And leave it to you to spot Horizons right away :lol:
Having never been to Shanghai Disney, I still put Tokyo DisneySea at the top of my Disney parks list. The whole park just looks amazing and it has some really interesting attractions. I loved seeing it all again through your trip report ~ thanks for sharing! :goofy_bounce:

horizons1
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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by horizons1 » Mar Sat 11, 2017 12:31 pm

Amy wrote:Having never been to Shanghai Disney, I still put Tokyo DisneySea at the top of my Disney parks list. The whole park just looks amazing and it has some really interesting attractions.
I grew up in L.A. so I am used to the original park and the challenge of the real world encroaching on the magic. But when I started traveling, first to Florida and then out to the rest of the world, I learned to crave being immersed as much as possible. That's why France, Shanghai and even Hong Kong appeal to me over Tokyo. There's just so much "outside" that gets in that it was hard for me to get that full immersion. Don't get me wrong, DisneySea is pretty amazing. It's just the overall resort experience I find lacking, compared with that higher bar set by the parks with, as Walt put it, "the blessing of size."
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Amy
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Re: Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report, March 3-6, 2017

Post by Amy » Mar Sun 12, 2017 9:17 am

horizons1 wrote:
Amy wrote:Having never been to Shanghai Disney, I still put Tokyo DisneySea at the top of my Disney parks list. The whole park just looks amazing and it has some really interesting attractions.
I grew up in L.A. so I am used to the original park and the challenge of the real world encroaching on the magic. But when I started traveling, first to Florida and then out to the rest of the world, I learned to crave being immersed as much as possible. That's why France, Shanghai and even Hong Kong appeal to me over Tokyo. There's just so much "outside" that gets in that it was hard for me to get that full immersion. Don't get me wrong, DisneySea is pretty amazing. It's just the overall resort experience I find lacking, compared with that higher bar set by the parks with, as Walt put it, "the blessing of size."
That makes sense. I wonder if I would feel differently if I went again? Nah, I still think the overall feel of the park would outweigh the outside world intrusion for me. Although my job requires that I tune out distractions and remain focused on one thing so perhaps I'm just able to focus in on what I'm doing and ignore the outside stuff? And seeing Mt. Fuji in the distance is a bonus for a Midwestern girl because...mountain!

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