Travel dates: October 4-6, 2009
Travel method: Cathay Pacific
Accommodations: Sheraton Grande
Ages Represented in Group: Me (37), Wife (39)
Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group: First time to Tokyo, lots of experience with the US Parks.
Day One - Disneyland
For our 10th wedding anniversary, my wife and I decided to go on a trip to Thailand (without kids!). Since it felt like Japan was on the way (its not) and we are really bad at Asian geography, we decided to swing by Tokyo Disney Resort on our way over for a few days.
I have always heard such great things about the Tokyo Disney Resort and was excited to check it out for myself, particularly DisneySea.
We used Alaska Airlines frequent flyer miles for business class tickets to Asia, but the best flight we could find to cross the Pacific was a Cathay Pacific flight from LA to Hong Kong. The good news is that we were able to use our points to fly business class on the Trans-Pacific flight and first class on the other flights; the bad news is that we had to fly from Portland to LA to Hong Kong to Tokyo, which is just too many flights.
I was really concerned about arriving in Tokyo and getting to the park, but Kevin Yees excellent book Tokyo Disney Made Easy made it, well, easy. Once we got through customs in Narita, I got some yen from an ATM and we booked the Limousine Bus to our hotel. Our bus left about 2 minutes after getting our tickets, so it all seemed very smooth.
We stayed at the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel using Starwood points and it was very nice. We ended up with an upgraded room with breakfast included. After arriving, we changed out of our clothes that we had been wearing for who knows how long, purchased tickets in the lobby and attempted to head to Tokyo Disneyland.
It was about 3 PM when we left the hotel and despite being completely exhausted with little sleep (I cannot sleep well on planes, even with the fully reclining seats), we decided to go to the park to stay up a little later and help our bodies adjust.
My wife and I dont speak a word of Japanese. Well, we do know Domo Arigato but this is offset by the fact that we cant help but follow it with Mr. Roboto. Despite this, we got along just fine in Tokyo except for when we first left the Sheraton and boarded a bus that we thought was going to Disneyland but was instead going to Bayside Station right across the street. That was kind of surprising when we had to get off a full 45 seconds after we had got on. It turned out to be a good thing as we purchased Monorail tickets for the duration of our stay and didnt attempt the buses again except when it was raining.
Our first stop inside of Disneyland was Star Tours, which is our sons favorite ride and had the benefit of not having a line despite the crowded Sunday evening conditions. After Star Tours, we proceeded to groggily circle the park and get our bearings, hitting a few rides along the way (Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean).
We were able to translate most of the dialog in the rides since weve been on them so many times at Disneyland in California, but we were always amazed how many words were said before we boarded any attraction. What were they saying? Do they normally say this much in Disneyland and we just dont pay attention? It was just an astounding number of syllables.
We had dinner at the wonderfully themed Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. I was all set to order the flank steak until I saw the plastic model of the steak, which was kind of a lavender color and pretty disgusting. I changed to the hamburger patty despite knowing that the flank steak would look a little bit better than the plastic model.
We scouted a few of the gift shops before heading back to the hotel and some well deserved sleep.
Day Two DisneySea
Oooh- just loved DisneySea. Such a great place. We got up early so we could be there when the park opened and participated in the morning running of the crowds. It was very surprising that some people ran through the Mira Costa and sat down in front of the water, presumably to get a very good and early seat for the shows throughout the day.
We had other plans. We ran to Journey to the Center of the Earth, grabbed fast passes and then went on the ride. The best part was that my wife knew nothing about the ride and had asked Does this go fast at any point? to which I lied No. It was fun to see her get surprised as we shot out of the volcano.
We then hit 20,000 leagues under the sea, which was just kind of strange. Im glad we did it, but later in the day when we walked by and it was only a 5 minute wait, we decided we were OK with not doing it again.
We then took off towards Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull, which was really fun. I loved the line, despite being distracted with texting with my 8 year old daughter (who was heading to bed). We did Aquatopia (fun) before picking up fastpasses for Tower of Terror.
Im not usually brave enough for Tower of Terror, but I had to see Shiriki Utundu so I went on it. The special effects were just amazing. Most of our souvenirs for the kids were Shiriki Utundu related.
About mid-afternoon, the rains came in which probably sapped some of our exploring, although I think we did quite a few things in the park. We did a poor job of trying new things on food, hitting up the Zambini Brothers for pizza for lunch and Cape Cod cook-off for dinner.
-LOVED Sinbads Storybook Voyage, which we went on several times. Even now, I can get that song stuck in my head even though I dont quite know what they were saying.
-We skipped StormRider, which Ive heard is excellent, but the idea of flying into a hurricane sounds like my worst nightmare rather than something I would like to spend time waiting for.
-We loved exploring the Fortress and got to watch The Legend of Mythica from the fortress. An amazing show.
-Big Band Beat what the heck? I appreciated sitting for a while, but that was really unusual.
Day Three Disneyland
The rain rain rain came down down down in rushing rising rivlets. As Oregonians, were used to some rain but day three was a nonstop heavy shower.
Our plan was to grab Fastpasses for Monsters and then make our way over to Poohs Hunny Hunt. We were there right at opening, but there was still quite a line to get fastpasses- it took us about 15 minutes to get them. We got to Hunny Hunt and it was closed. BOO!! They were working on it, but they had no idea when it would open. We were really kicking ourselves for not going on it on Day 1, despite a 45 minute wait.
Trying to stay out of the rain, we headed to Buzz Lightyears Astro Blaster. We were not the only people with this idea and the line (actually, all lines for indoor attractions) was long. To make it interesting, the wife and I bet that the person with the highest score got to pick the next flavor of popcorn. I won and got the curry.
Curry was my absolute favorite of the popcorn flavors, but the strawberry and honey were also good. We should have just bought a big bucket on day 1, but we didnt commit to popcorn until late in day 2 when we finally gave in. We also tried a couple of types of churro maple and pumpkin and really you cant go wrong with churros.
We swung by Pooh again (still not open) and went on the Haunted Mansion. We headed back by Pooh again and talked to the nice cast member who had been giving us updates. She was saying that she still didnt have an update when her walkie talkie started buzzing. She listened, said things and motioned for us to stay close. As her conversation ended, all the ropes for the ride lifted, and we were able to be the first ones on the ride. Perfect timing, and Im so glad we didnt miss it. So much fun.
At this point, we were pretty soaking wet even with our rain coats. In fact, a teenager had randomly given us an umbrella at one point; I guess we were looking pretty pathetic. On the plus side, we were already so wet, it wouldnt hurt to do the outdoor rides, so we went on Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain without a wait.
Soaking (although not from Splash Mountain), we decided to have lunch at Grandma Saras kitchen rather than to have to venture out in the rain any further. Although we had a leisurely lunch, we were still soaked when we left.
We made our way over to Monsters using our fastpasses and then hit Pirates of the Caribbean for one last ride. We bought a bunch of souvenirs for the kids, passed on our newly acquired umbrella to another wet soul, and made our way out of the park to catch our flight.
In summary, it was a fantastic time. The weather could certainly have been better, but it didnt hinder us from doing what we wanted. The Tokyo Disney Resort lived up to its reputation as one of the best (if not the best) Disney Parks.