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  • Trip Report Thanksgiving week at TDR!

    I decided not to load this report with pics, but if you want to check out my Facebook album, here is the link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...3&l=6e8d02f12f

    Our big Thanksgiving trip to Tokyo and the Tokyo Disney Resort actually started in July when I found airfare with Continental (from Guam) for less than 300 per person! (I traveled with hubby, Steve and almost 18 year old daughter, Catelyn). Shortly after that, I’d researched the holidays and hotels and since Monday was a holiday in Japan, I booked our flights for Tuesday thru Sunday (11/24 – 11/29). We got a great rate at the Sheraton Tokyo Bay, one of the official Disney hotels on the Resort Line (monorail). Made reservations for our cat, Blondie, at the Pet Lodge, and counted down the days…..

    The week before our trip, I checked the exchange rates and found that we had a slightly better rate here in Guam than we’d have gotten in Narita. Not to mention the 3% fee that the Bank of Hawaii would have charged me to use my debit card….so we exchanged $1200 before we left – hotel, air and Disney tix not included – we were figuring a ‘walking around’ budget of 150 per day for food/etc. for three adults.

    Finally the 24th arrived and we left Guam, landing in Tokyo 3 hours later at about 10am. We decided to sample the train experience and bought NEX+Suica cards (3500 yen each) that we could use for the express train to Tokyo Station, then continue to use for the trains the rest of the week. The NEX was very comfortable for the 90 minute ride from the airport. We found Tokyo Station to be very exciting place, full of people and shopping and restaurants. We followed the signs to transfer to the Keiyo line and took a regular train to the JR Maihama Station - I was glad I’d insisted we all bring carry-on size rolling bags though, the train station was huge and it took about 15 minutes to walk through it.

    There is a Disney Welcome Center right outside the Maihama Station – so we took advantage of the opportunity to check into our hotel, transfer our bags, buy our 4 day tickets and monorail passes. After a sandwich set (2290 for 3) at the Beckers diner under the train station, we were at Disney Sea before 1pm! After taking pics of all the amazing Christmas decorations, we headed for Tower of Terror. The standby line was only 30 minutes, so we decided to wait. It moved very quickly and thought the ride was awesome, though the drop is much tamer than the WDW version. Next we headed thru the waterfront, stopping to buy caramel popcorn (our first of many flavors we will try), and got into line for the Indiana Jones ride. We were lucky again and only waited about 30 minutes - the theming for this thrill ride is great, but it is over very, very quickly. I was going to skip Raging Thunder, as I heard it was a bit lame for a coaster – but Cate insisted we try it. She’s not a fan of coasters, so I was pretty surprised – turned out it was the perfect tame coaster for her. There is a loop, but it’s a short easy ride. Sinbad was our next stop, in the Arabian Village. This was a fun boat ride, we liked the music and the genie a lot.

    The sesame churros for sale in the Village didn’t tempt us, so we headed back to Indy to purchase Yucatan sausage rolls from a cart there (420 yen each). This turned out to be our favorite snack in either park! Kind of like a bratwurst baked into a crispy baguette – yum! Journey to the Center of the Earth was next on our list. The 20 minute wait seemed like it took forever this time…the wait area is kind of boring – so we made sure to use Fastpasses on our next visit. The ride was fun – slow at first but it has a great rollercoaster drop at the end. The wait for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was posted at only 5 minutes, so of course we had to try it! Unfortunately, my claustrophobic daughter didn’t enjoy it much – even though she and I got the front seats (Steve got a side view). The ride was dull and really didn’t make much sense, those aliens were just weird, but it was pretty.

    We visited Triton’s Kingdom and took lots of entrance pics – the theming here is really fabulous! Unfortunately, the Mermaid Theater was “breaking down” so we just wandered around being amazed at the decorations. As we came out, we watched part of the Candlelight Reflections parade in the harbor. Found some strawberry popcorn nearby so we went ahead and bought the 2009 Christmas bucket for 1600 yen. This turned out to be a great deal since refills were only 500 yen – and we ate a LOT of corn. I thought the strawberry was way too sweet, but Steve and Cate liked it a lot.

    We noticed the park got a lot crowded after dark, so folks must’ve been snapping up the after 6 tickets. We wandered around a bit more, then decided it was too crowded and we were sleepy so we headed to the Sheraton around 8pm. The hotel was very posh and western style. Our bags were waiting in our room as promised and the view of Tokyo Bay was great. After a quick email check in the computer center (free internet) and a snack run to the little store, we were asleep by 9:30!

    Day 2 to follow....
    Last edited by rkj1969; 12-03-2009, 04:18 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

    In spite of our early bedtime, I really couldn’t get Catelyn out before 9 – so we didn’t get to experience the mad rush at opening, but I think I’m ok with that. On Day 2, we rode the monorail back over to the train station and had breakfast at Beckers (ham and egg croissants, 200 yen) then walked over the bridge to Disneyland. Took pics of Christmas decorations and the castle, got a refill at the chocolate popcorn cart, then headed for the Haunted Mansion. We rode after a 20 minute standby. This ride is one of my favorites anytime, but the Nightmare before Christmas overlay is fantastic! We grabbed Fastpasses for another ride later. Small World wasn’t on my must-do list, but the wait was only 5 minutes so we decided to ride. The mix of the traditional song with Christmas Carols really helped break the monotony, and of course the Christmas decorations were beautiful. Next was Pooh (standby 30 min), a great ride – my favorite was the Tigger room – but my family wasn’t very impressed. The honey popcorn was tempting us the whole time we were in line, so we refilled on our way back to the Mansion for our second ride. Fastpasses are so awesome, I love passing everyone up – though the standby lines are where you get to see all the great decorations, so doing both is a good idea.

    Space Mountain had a 90 minute wait, so we picked up Fastpasses and rode StarTours after only a 5 minute wait. Cate got a little sick on this simulator, a combination of the shaky camera effect and her claustrophobia. Monsters Inc was another 90 minute wait, and we noticed it was already out of Fastpasses so Cate and Steve decided to ride the Starjets instead. I think this is a truly lame ride, so I got honey lemon churros (250 yen)for everyone while they rode. Finally it was time for our Space Mountain ride. Seemed darker than usual in there, but maybe I say that every time? We all liked it, though we were kind of afraid to ride with our hands up in the dark! Pirates of the Caribbean had a short wait and Cate had a good time counting the Johnny Depp figures.

    Decided lunch would be a good idea, so Grandma Sarah’s Kitchen was our next destination. We all had versions of the meat and rice “sets” (aka combos). I had a very interesting sausage, like a hot dog with a chicken bone for a handle! After lunch we got Fastpasses for Splash Mountain and went to Toontown to ride Roger Rabbit and the Gadget coaster, hitting Pinocchio's ride on the way thru Fantasyland. I noticed the line for Minnie’s house was 100 minutes! We definitely did not worry about getting character pics on this trip! The snack of choice in Toontown is the cheese filled pretzel (300 yen) which Cate really enjoyed. She kept saying she must have a tapeworm as she kept snacking so much – but I think it was just the abundance and aroma! We caught a bit of the Snow Time parade as we made our way to Splash Mountain for our Fastpass ride. Great ride, and no one got wet!

    Bought some curry popcorn and decided to ride the Railroad. I’m not sure how the dinosaurs really fit into the whole Native American theme, but I’m sure they had a perfectly good explanation if I’d only understood Japanese.

    Snacktime again! Steamed Mickey shaped pork buns this time (320 yen). Went back to Tomorrowland to check Monsters – still a 70 minute wait so no dice. Bought red crab and sausage pizza before heading over to stake out a spot for the electrical parade. We ended up in a perfect place, outside the Terrace sitting on a low wall. The lighted floats were amazing and this would turn out to be our favorite parade! We enjoyed the fireworks outside the castle and then walked over to Ikspiari to buy snacks and drinks for breakfast at the hotel. After all our walking, we were very happy for the shuttle from the monorail to the hotel – and all the Mickey theming was very cute. Back in bed before 10!

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    • #3
      Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!







      After our second ride on Journey, we checked out the Fortress of Explorations and found a good spot to watch Candlelight Reflections. It was really chilly and we were glad to have brought our hats and scarves! The show was nice but we left before the end to try to catch another ride on Tower of Terror. Unfortunately, it was way too long, so we got a ride on Indy instead then got tired of the huge crowd and headed back to Ikspiari for more snacks. Turned out to be another early night.

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      • #4
        Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

        Day 4 started a little later for my sleepyhead family, but I finally got us out of the hotel by 10. We were ready for a Disney break so we decided to visit Kinsai-rinikai Koen for the Sea Life Aquarium and Diamonds & Flowers ferris wheel. Finding a local train proved a bit challenging as we tried to interpret all the signs. We jumped onto the first train that didn’t have a “rapid” sign in the window, but found ourselves shooting by the park into Shin-Kiba. Got off and took the orange Musashino train in the other direction, which had local stops marked on the map, but found ourselves back at Maihama. Sigh, checked the signs again and found it only stops at the park on weekends! Watched the red line trains go by for a little while – waiting for a blue local train, as shown in the pictures….eventually I noticed the digital sign announce a local train – regular red, not blue – and we jumped on. Finally arriving at the correct station, we decided to have a snack at McDonalds before going into the park. I noticed several menu differences, like the bacon and potato pies (instead of apple) and I decided to try a McPork sandwich. Steve and Catelyn stayed more traditional, but all three choices were tasty.

        The park was so beautiful and peaceful after all the hectic crowds at Disney. The Aquarium was a fabulous treat (700 yen) and had the largest penguin exhibit I’ve ever seen. We also enjoyed watching the field trip groups in little matching hats! Showing our Aquarium tickets at the ferris wheel netted us a discount, so tickets were only 600 yen. It was a great 20 minute ride and we took a lot of pictures of Tokyo Bay, Disney (!) and the city. We found a late lunch at a cool noodle shop at the train station. We picked out what we wanted from the models and pictures, then bought the corresponding tickets from a vending machine, found a seat and gave the server our tickets. It was very yummy and we had a great time slurping up the noodles and fumbling with our chopsticks!

        Now we felt fortified to return to Disney! We got back to Disney Sea around 4, as I knew it was closing early at 6:30 for an event and Catelyn really wanted a nighttime ride on Tower of Terror. There’s only about a three second glimpse of the outside scene, so it wouldn’t make a huge difference, but I wanted to accommodate her if we could! We really thought we’d just do the one ride after standing in a long line but surprise -the park was practically empty! The board indicated 15 minute standbys for everything! We got to ride Tower of Terror 5 times in a row, Catelyn found an awesome Tokyo Disney 2009 ToT tshirt in the gift shop - then we headed over to Journey to ride it 5 consecutive times as well. It was completely awesome!

        At 6:30, we dragged ourselves out of the Sea (because they were making us leave) and went back to Disney Land to try and get a last ride on Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion. Of course, the crowd we missed at the Sea found us at the Land. Got some soy butter popcorn in Tomorrowland and found a 90 minute standby for Space Mountain. We decided to visit Microadventure as there was only 5 minutes til show time and we were ready to take advantage of any opportunity to sit down by this last night. The show was actually very fun and we lucked out upon exiting to find that the electrical parade had started, cutting the Space Mountain wait to only 15 minutes – score! After our exciting ride, we headed for the Haunted Mansion, but all our luck ran out as we joined the 100 minute standby line at 8:30. Crazy, I know, but we wanted that to be our last ride. We left the park happy at 10pm, having ridden and seen everything we had put on our lists!

        The next couple of days were spent in Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya – but I know you Disneyphiles aren’t interested in that part of the story.
        • Overall, we had a fabulous trip – only got lost a little (in the Shinjuku station),
        • managed very well with only a little Japanese practice with the Pimsleuer introductory cds (you'll say thank you and excuse me a lot - and it doesn't hurt to learn your numbers - we actually found many people happy to practice their english on us)
        • and we came in easily under budget. We blew the last few thousand yen on boxes of Tokyo Bananas at the Narita airport to give to friends!
        Thanks for sticking with my long report! I really appreciate all the help I received by reading this board and I hope I'm passing on the favor with this report!

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        • #5
          Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

          Excellent! Have you posted about the other parts of your trip on Facebook?
          I want my cake back!
          sigpic

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          • #6
            Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

            Fantastic and very detailed trip report, thanks for sharing rkj1969

            I can also relate to this and my theory is that a drug is added to the food before serving that keeps the Guest hungry for the rest of the day. Its either that or probarely just the smaller portions that are served, although if you have yen to spend this is a good thing as each location inside the park has some unique and tasty snack to consume, and you can enjoy pizza in ToonTown and popcorn in Fantasyland without feeling full. It also allows you to enjoy the attractions without having to let you lunch go down proparely first.

            Monsters Inc was another 90 minute wait, and we noticed it was already out of Fastpasses so Cate and Steve decided to ride the Starjets instead.
            Sad to see you missed riding Monsters Inc, I feel you made a mistake by arriving late, and not grabbing a FastPass first or waiting it out in the stand by line. My first wait for Monsters also posted a 90 minute wait time, but the actual stand by wait ended up being 60 minutes. I feel this would of been worth the wait, its a fun dark ride but maybe next time.

            Steve dropped a drink bottle into the water here (rolled out of his backpack) and was amazed at the helpful CMs that replaced the drink and then fished the other out of the water with a giant net. Everyone really was so nice at TDR!
            This is yet another lovely example of how friendly and helpful the Tokyo Disney Resort Cast Members are to all Guest. Nothing is ever really to much trouble for them.

            I wouldn't say that, to me the Disney parks are only one of the reasons that makes Tokyo a must see destination to visit. I would personally love to read how you got on in Shinjuku and Shibuya. Hope you can share more if you have the time, by the way love the pictures on Facebook.
            Follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/malin1804

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            • #7
              Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

              <Sad to see you missed riding Monsters Inc, I feel you made a mistake by arriving late, and not grabbing a FastPass first or waiting it out in the stand by line. My first wait for Monsters also posted a 90 minute wait time, but the actual stand by wait ended up being 60 minutes. I feel this would of been worth the wait, its a fun dark ride but maybe next time.>


              Oops - I need to edit my report! We did eventually make it back to Monsters that 2nd evening and did the 60 minute standby line. I must say I didn't like it as much as I hoped to, maybe I'd built it up too much in my expectations, but I can appreciate why others love it. That's a good thing about TDR, though - there's enough ride variety so there's something for everyone!

              I also forgot to say that we were denied in the lottery for the Land show too....though we saw part of it from the Pizza port's terrace....boo for the lottery!

              I do wish we'd gotten out earlier - I was up and ready 7 every morning, but I just couldn't make the teenager move any faster! I said a couple of times that I was just going to run out to grab the Fastpasses while they lazed about - but then they would protest for me to wait for them!

              And thanks for your comments, Malin! We did have an excellent time in town - quite an adventure! I'll add to my trip report a little later on today, I imagine it will be easy enough for strictly Disney folks to skip over!
              Last edited by rkj1969; 12-03-2009, 12:11 PM.

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              • #8
                Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

                I have to say I felt Monsters Inc was a bit of a disapointment on the first ride, but I'm putting the blame on the flashlight. I felt it was distracting from the ride and you end up spending so much time trying to tag the monsters like Rocky, that you miss out on all the good stuff. If you ride it again some point in the future ditch the flashlight and sit back and enjoy it, I promise its a much better experience.

                And look forward to reading the rest of the trip.
                Follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/malin1804

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                • #9
                  Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

                  Feel free to skip if you're only interested in Disney info.....


















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                  • #10
                    Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

                    Whoa rkj1969! I was at Meiji Shrine on that Saturday afternoon attending the wedding of a close friend.
                    JoeInJpn
                    Contact me at contact(at)jtcent(dot)com!
                    For the latest TDR News, read JTCEnt.com's TDR Nempa Blog!
                    Watch TDR Videos and Photos on Joe's Tokyo Disney Resort Photo Site!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

                      This is apparently the largest station, with several JR lines AND subway lines. It was difficult to fight the tide of people, but we followed the signs to the South exit/Tokyo Metropolitan Government building to get to our hotel, the Shinjuku Washington in the Skyscraper district. I promise we walked at least a mile through the station and then through the underground tunnel.
                      Its the station from hell if you ask me, I've been though that station so many times and often end up taking a wrong exit and having no idea where I am !

                      Agree the vibe and energy you get from crossing that Crossway is incredible. Shibuya is a real highlight, even for people watching. Thanks again for the trip report.
                      Follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/malin1804

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                      • #12
                        Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

                        Excellent trip report. The pictures on facebook are very cool! Its brings back alot memories from my recent trip . I was also excited to see your city pictures, I am glad it was clear during your trip ... it was very cloudy and overcast when I went to the same observation area as you ... so you couldnt see much , you just knew you were high up!

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                        • #13
                          Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

                          Originally posted by JoeInJpn View Post
                          Whoa rkj1969! I was at Meiji Shrine on that Saturday afternoon attending the wedding of a close friend.
                          That's awesome! I wonder if she was one of the brides we got pics of.....It really is a small world!!

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                          • #14
                            Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

                            Originally posted by lighttragic View Post
                            Excellent trip report. The pictures on facebook are very cool! Its brings back alot memories from my recent trip . I was also excited to see your city pictures, I am glad it was clear during your trip ... it was very cloudy and overcast when I went to the same observation area as you ... so you couldnt see much , you just knew you were high up!
                            We were pretty lucky, it was overcast our first couple of days but had cleared up by the end of the week. Still couldn't see Mt Fuji, but the city was beautiful.....just gives us another reason to go back!

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                            • #15
                              Re: Thanksgiving week at TDR!

                              Originally posted by Malin View Post
                              Its the station from hell if you ask me, I've been though that station so many times and often end up taking a wrong exit and having no idea where I am !
                              The skyscrapers make it so hard to try to get your bearings! You often can't see anything but UP! It made me feel a little better to see so many locals at the maps with us....the place was so crazy - especially the way the east section isn't even connected to the rest of the building...and three different Lumine stores to confuse you even more!

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