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  1. #31

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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    I feel bad for you Gurgi. The 3 NYC area airports are the absolute worst airports ever built and operated. Reason why they are constantly in the bottom of many travelers' satisfaction surveys. NYC should be ashamed of having such bad airports in relation to other landmark cities in the World. Bad bad bad.
    Yeah, I know, LOL! That's why the pictures of Narita actually looked calm by comparison...

  2. #32

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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    Excellent trip report, one of the best I have read thus far on Micechat. Count me as someone who likes detailed, photo-intensive trip reports. And I like TRs that show more than just inside the Disney resorts. Hoping very much to follow in your footsteps next April. Could you please say which room type and floor you had in the Mira Costa? Was that first pic shot from inside your room, or from a balcony? Thanks much.

    Also, in regards to the comments on the NYC airports...historically and generally speaking, they are very much true. But I will say, that this December I flew to and from JFK on Jet Blue, and they have a very attractive, modern, and clean terminal there (which pleasantly surprised me after past experiences with dirty chaotic NYC terminals).
    Down with the Hat


  3. #33

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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    I originally read the start of your trip report over on the DisBoards, and trust me its well suited for MiceChat. Just because few big Trip Reports ever get writen is more down to people not bothering, and not because we're not interested in seeing them. This site is full of either people who have been several times and can share and relate to your stories, or people wanting and hoping to go that will appreciate this all the more.

    I totally agree that JAL is a good airline, I have traveled with many big Airlines over the years, and JAL is one of the best.

    Having come back myself from Tokyo Disney and Kyoto just recently I look forward to what you have to say on both

  4. #34

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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    Great TR!!

    This TR brought back memories of my first ever visit to DL a couple of years ago.

    Can`t wait for the rest!!

  5. #35

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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by lurkyloo View Post
    I wasn't sure about posting this on MiceChat because long-winded, photo-intensive trip reports don't seem to be de rigueur over here. But this was the first board with really good English-language info about Tokyo Disney and the place I always watched in the years before this trip became a reality, so I thought maybe my experience would be helpful to someone else. So....
    [/URL]
    By all means, detail oriented reports are sadly missing on micechat, and I enjoy them immensely. You see more of those on DISboards, but then you have to wade through pages and pages and pages of pre-trip "hope you have a good time" nonsense and then pages and pages and pages after every little update of the trip report complimenting the reportmakers work on the TR thus far. It's very courteous, but very, very annoying to read through.

    I went to Japan last year and had a blast. I agree completely about the bizarre assumption that all Japanese speak at least some English; not true by a long shot. Not that I expected them to, or had any trouble adapting to pantomime or learning basic phrases, but if you go expecting them to understand you, you're in for a shock.
    Forget 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,' Samantha Brown is Disney's most sophisticated animatronic.
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  6. #36

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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    Soo looking forward to the rest of this...
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

  7. #37

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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by MatterhornJ View Post
    Great so far! Looking forward to more.
    Thanks for reading along!

    Quote Originally Posted by seenoevil View Post
    I like all the little details too! Eagerly awaiting more!
    On its way!

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    I still get a kick when westerners go gaga over the toilet seats in Japan. And yes, this is a great trip report, and can't wait for the inevitable "TDR is so much better overall to WDW in every level" comment sure to come soon enough.
    Oh man, we we've been saying that for years! But after seeing it all in person, I actually canceled my plans for a May trip to WDW cuz I knew it'd be such a letdown.

    Quote Originally Posted by glenbot View Post
    Keep it coming
    On the way!

    Quote Originally Posted by Fukai View Post

    So far, a very good and detailed report. Looking forward to more. Why, I don't know, since I just got back from Japan two weeks ago and am leaving for Tokyo again tomorrow! Perhaps you have an interesting way of catching the perspective of a first-timer.
    Have fun in Tokyo!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mellywil View Post
    Great report so far! Add me to the list of people that like the small details. It's making me wish we had more of a chance to spend time in non-Disney Japan on our upcoming trip.
    This way you can read all about it and then *pretend* you spent more time in non-Disney Tokyo when you get back!

    Quote Originally Posted by Brisal73 View Post
    Great read... to me foreign Airlines are way better. All I have to say is you need to experience Singapore Airlines.... I was in economy, but felt like I was in first class.

    I would definitely pay more if I have too...first time I have ever felt excited for a plane ride home

    btw McDonalds in Japan is way better than in America... it just seems fresher.
    I agree! Their hashbrowns were amazing!

    Quote Originally Posted by WDITrent View Post
    If this TR doesn't make the round-up, I don't know what will. Awesome report so far, and there hasn't even been any Disney yet!
    Thanks for the kind words! Looks like I missed out this time, but maybe when I get to the Disney part...


    Quote Originally Posted by ZeekSlider View Post
    The picture of the airport terminal upon your arrival scared me a bit. Not enough to reconsider making the trip out there, but it still intimidated me.

    Can't wait to see the rest!
    Sorry to scare you! It sounds like the other posters have put you at ease, though...

    Quote Originally Posted by ichigopara View Post
    What a fun trip report! I love that you cover everything and with lots of photo's looking forward to seeing more!
    Thanks for reading!

    Quote Originally Posted by tasman View Post
    Excellent trip report, one of the best I have read thus far on Micechat. Count me as someone who likes detailed, photo-intensive trip reports. And I like TRs that show more than just inside the Disney resorts. Hoping very much to follow in your footsteps next April. Could you please say which room type and floor you had in the Mira Costa? Was that first pic shot from inside your room, or from a balcony? Thanks much.
    Thank you! We stayed in a Porto Paradiso Side Superior Room Harbor View room, and the pic was taken from inside the room. We were right over the tunnel that leads into the park - I'll see if I can doctor up a photo to show the location.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malin View Post
    I originally read the start of your trip report over on the DisBoards, and trust me its well suited for MiceChat. Just because few big Trip Reports ever get writen is more down to people not bothering, and not because we're not interested in seeing them. This site is full of either people who have been several times and can share and relate to your stories, or people wanting and hoping to go that will appreciate this all the more.

    I totally agree that JAL is a good airline, I have traveled with many big Airlines over the years, and JAL is one of the best.

    Having come back myself from Tokyo Disney and Kyoto just recently I look forward to what you have to say on both
    Likewise! It will be interesting to compare notes!

    Quote Originally Posted by hawachan View Post
    Great TR!!

    This TR brought back memories of my first ever visit to DL a couple of years ago.
    Glad to hear it! I was thinking about that before we left - that I couldn't remember what it felt like to walk into a Disney park for the first time. So it was a wonderful feeling when we got to TDS.

    Quote Originally Posted by jimmay View Post
    By all means, detail oriented reports are sadly missing on micechat, and I enjoy them immensely. You see more of those on DISboards, but then you have to wade through pages and pages and pages of pre-trip "hope you have a good time" nonsense and then pages and pages and pages after every little update of the trip report complimenting the reportmakers work on the TR thus far. It's very courteous, but very, very annoying to read through.
    Too true! I myself am guilty of the extended pre-trip report and pages and pages of comments - gulp!


    Quote Originally Posted by Let's Enunciate View Post
    Soo looking forward to the rest of this...
    Oh good - here's some more!

  8. #38

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    Day 2

    On our first full day in Tokyo, I foolishly decided that Patrick should take the camera to the set with him because I didn’t want to lug it all over town. Which means that most of the photos I have for this day’s report are crappy iPhone pix. Sorry! Fortunately I had the camera with me the rest of the time.

    We woke up pretty early and decided to get up and go looking for breakfast. Unfortunately, the only place open at 6am was McDonald’s. We figured at least we’d get to try their crazy Japanese food but found only Egg McMuffins on the menu.

    This could be a McDonald’s breakfast anywhere!


    The one difference was that the hashbrowns were amazing – light and crispy and greaseless. I guess that’s only to be expected in the country that invented tempura!

    We sat upstairs at a counter under a window with a great view. From there, we spotted our first “secret” Japanese ad by an American star—a coffee vending machine with a giant picture of a bored-looking Tommy Lee Jones.



    It makes you wonder if he was the inspiration for Bill Murray’s character in Lost In Translation. Later I saw him in a TV ad for Boss coffee, speaking Japanese! Spotting endorsements by American stars who never shill anything in the States became one of our favorite pastimes.

    After breakfast we went back to the room and Patrick fixed up one of the puppets while I read one of my guidebooks and fell back asleep for about an hour. We also took a couple more pix of the hotel room, such as this prize-winning shot of the closet.

    I guess I wanted to show the room’s only storage space?


    The toiletry collection was pretty impressive, if somewhat random (elastic headbands seem to be a big deal over there, cuz we got one in every room!). I read somewhere that the Japanese don’t travel with toiletries and that hotels supply everything you might need. This doesn’t really work if you’re a beauty-product, um, hooker like I am, but you could prolly get by if you were a guy.



    Another Japanese invention (I assume) that I thought was quite nifty – your hotel room key card activates the lights. You keep it in this tray while you’re in the room, and then when you leave and take it with you, all the lights automatically go out. The only problem is that it’s quite easy to forget to take your key with you when you leave!



    Right before Patrick had to leave for the shoot, we grabbed a bite to eat at 7 Eleven (where I discovered these delicious crabby-eggy rice thingies – mmmm!) and ate it on a bench outside the hotel. I know, I know – we just ate! But we both found that all we wanted to do those first few days was eat every single food product we saw.



    We were there almost three weeks, but I never did get the hang of opening the elaborately wrapped onigiri (rice trangles stuffed with meat or veggie filling and wrapped in seaweed). The wrappers have all these arrows and numbers all over them… I don’t know what I was doing wrong!

    Goofus




    Gallant




    After lunch, Patrick went off to the studio with the camera. Until the ad debuts on April 20, the only photos I can show you from the set are these:


    Craft services snack basket





    Apparently each group at the shoot got one of these – the puppeteers, the execs, the crew. But only the puppeteers’ basket was perpetually left empty and spinning…



    Patrick spots a freshly refilled snack basket



    I decided I’d spend the day checking out all the fabulous shopping areas I was interested in, since that was something Patrick wouldn’t be as interested in and wouldn’t feel left out of.

    I went across the street to the subway station and bought my PASMO subway pass at the office because I was intimidated by the machines. I needn’t have worried – I used them the next day to buy Patrick’s pass and had no trouble. I forgot to put a little description of these in my intro, and it’s one of the best tips I learned for our trip, so here ya go:

    PASMO/Suica: These prepaid fare cards can be used on virtually all subways, railways, and buses in Tokyo, public and private, including the Disney Resort Monorail line, and they are also accepted as a form of payment by many merchants in and around train stations. Instead of having to figure out what ticket you need for each journey (and then use the fare adjustment machines at the end of your trip if you didn’t pay enough), you charge the card up like a gift card and then just swipe it over the reader at the turnstiles on your way in and out of the station. The turnstiles also display the amount remaining on the card as you walk by.

    There are two brands of these cards—PAMSO and Suica—but they are interchangeable. You can use them anywhere either of them is accepted. The one you buy basically just depends on which brand is sold at the station where you’re buying the card. When you buy the it, you are charged a ¥500 refundable deposit, which you can get back at any PASMO/Suica machine at the end of your trip. You can recharge the card at the same kind of machine, which is found next to the ticket machines at the station. One thing to note: You can only buy and recharge these cards with cash—for some reason, the machines don’t accept credit cards, and you can’t even use credit if you buy them from an agent at the station office. You have a choice of buying an anonymous card or linking your name and info to the card. If you do the latter, you can easily replace the card if it is lost or stolen (for a small fee – but you retain the stored value on the card).

    So I bought my PASMO and picked up an English language subway map. Then I took the subway to Tokyo Midtown, a newish office/mall/hotel complex that’s prolly the most beautiful mall I’ve ever seen. And I have no pictures for you, except of the art installation out front.







    However, I’ve put together a gallery of images on Flickr – check it out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8590759...7623884512556/

    And here’s a heisted Flickr pic from user TokyoViews



    My first stop was Muji, a housewares store that was my absolute favorite place to shop when I lived in London. No pictures here either (there’s one in the Flickr set) but basically they specialize in well designed, well priced basics and sell everything from clothes and beauty products to office supplies and cleaning products. Now that good design has become more widely available in the States, my reaction to Muji this time was kinda like, “…So what was my big deal with this place?”

    Tokyo Midtown is also jam-packed with these gorgeous, jewel box-like confectioners – patisseries, chocolatiers, and fabulous bread bakeries. They seem to love their French food in Tokyo. Almost all of the shops had signs on the display cases that said “No Photography,” but I found a shot from Flickr user chaxiubao for ya, and there’s a picture of one of the most beautiful patisseries in my Flickr set.



    Until a few weeks ago, Tokyo Midtown was home to the tallest *building* in Tokyo (the tallest *structure* being Tokyo Tower – apparently there’s a difference), Midtown Tower. While we were in town, both were surpassed by a new skyscraper, Tokyo Sky Tree, which will actually be nearly twice as tall as Tokyo Tower when it’s done. Crazy! I briefly considered going up to the restaurant in the Ritz inside Midtown Tower to see the view, but I didn’t want to have to pay $40 for tea. Plus, Patrick woulda killed me if I’d gone without him!

    Next I hoofed it over to Roppongi Hills, another glamorous mall complex and home to Tokyo City View (10th – no wait, 11th now…? – tallest building in Tokyo, for those of you playing along at home). One of its most famous sites is the ginormous spider sculpture, called Maman.

    I couldn’t get one good shot of it, so I’ll give you two bad ones…






    And I thought somebody might be interested in this…




    Maybe I was starting to get mall-ed out, but I was kinda underwhelmed—it’s more about monolithic slabs of concrete and labyrinthine levels and half levels that make it impossible to get anyplace that looks fun to explore.

    Thank you Flikr user peter_r


    I took a break in the lobby of the Hyatt to read my guidebook. I was bored and tired, so I decided to catch the subway to Ginza and go looking for a place mentioned in the book, 100% Chocolate Café. What could be bad? When I got up, a guy ran after me waving the bookmark I dropped, which made me love Tokyo even more.

    So this is when I learned never to exit the subway without looking at the map and figuring out where I’d end up. When I got out there, everything looked the same, and nothing looked like the map in my book. I was wandering around, neck craned, mouth agape, guidebook clutched to my chest, when a stranger walked up to me and asked if I needed help – just like the guidebook said would happen! I pointed to 100% Chocolate Café in my book, and he motioned for me to follow him around the corner and right up to it. Fabulous!




    The cafe is very chic and very tiny. I figured out later that it’s owned by Meiji, which is sort of the Néstle of Japan, and is like the flagship boutique for their chocolate division.



    The back wall is lined with cases containing tubs of the various different kinds of chocolate they make—which may or may not have been real. Japan is the birthplace of the fake food display, after all…



    They sell 56 varieties of chocolate bar, but they only have about three things on their menu! I guess I thought it would be, like, the Cheesecake Factory of chocolate. I got a small slice of cake with whipped chocolate frosting, which was OK. However, the hot chocolate was the best I’ve ever had (made from melted chocolate, not powder), and frankly it was just fun to be there, in 100% Chocolate Cafe.



    My Japanese wasn’t good enough to learn any of this from the girls at the counter, but I later read on the Internets that the chocolates are numbered in a particular order. 1–22 are single-bean chocolate from the cacao of one country. 23 and 24 are bitter chocolate with small pieces of cacao beans. 24–28 use different kinds of sweeteners (I tried the maple one), while 26–36 are the variations of milk. 37–51 are variations of flavors including fruits and herbs (they gave me a sample of lavender, and yep! It tasted like lavender!) 52–54 are the “healthy” ones, and 55 and 56 are the historical flavors. I liked the one from 1926!







    After that I wandered down the main drag in Ginza, which is Tokyo’s answer to Beverly Hills, stopping in big shiny department stores to look at makeup and accessories. I stumbled across this amazing Chanel pop-up store designed to promote some new lipgloss or lipstick. It had a row of makeup mirrors, and professional makeup artists were giving makeovers! I tried to sign up, but they were booked for the rest of the promotion – weeks and weeks.



    Finally I got to Ito-ya, the biggest stationery shop in Tokyo. The guidebook said it was 3 floors, but it was really 8 floors, one devoted to office supplies, one just pens, one all datebooks and journals, etc. I was on a mission to find cute Japanese stationery for my pal Jensey, who’d given me a generous budget and free reign to pick whatever I thought was the best.



    After exploring 7 floors, I was kinda disappointed I’d only found one cute set of stationery for Jensey. And then I went down to the basement and hit the jackpot – holy crap, it was wall-to-wall adorable stationery sets exactly like she wanted! And there was a whole corner of just Disney stuff that was gorgeous—super-classy, some of it die-cut, all of it sweet enough to give you a toothache. So I got her a few too many things (like these dumb 3D postcards – the 3D is amazing, but the images are mostly silly. And I thought they were ¥80, but it turns out that’s how much postage they need—they were actually ¥525!)

    My Ito-ya haul


    Afterward, I poked my head in Hotel Gracery Ginza, the place we were going to stay before I started worrying about having to make subway connections with luggage on the way back from Disney. I’d still consider it for a future trip – I was able to book an amazing rate of $100/night directly through their website before I changed my mind. The location can’t be beat – right around the corner from Chuo-Dori, the main drag, and fairly close to the Ginza subway station. The rooms are stylish and look no smaller than those of most budget Tokyo hotels.






    From there it was more wandering into department stores and stuff. I found a giant poster of Michael Buble, which I was compelled to shoot for Jensey.

    Amazingly, he’s not selling anything… except himself!


    At the end of the main drag I found Hakuhinkan Toy Park, a ginormous 4-level toy store full of more Westerners than I’d seen anywhere since we left San Francisco. One whole floor was plush, and there was a huge display of Totoro merch.



    Knowing that we were going to the Ghibli museum in a few weeks, I resisted the urge to buy anything. But now I wish I hadn’t, cuz the shop there had hardly any plush or toys—very disappointing.

    I knew I had to bring Patrick back to this place, if only to shoot a pic of him with this guy:



    Until then, I got us some cute blind-box toys from a series of animals in cups (we got a parakeet in a teacup and a squirrel in a soup bowl). Then I wandered a few blocks away to the Sony demonstration store and watched 3D TV. Can’t wait til I can afford that!

    My last excursion was a search for the Hermes store. I’d noticed a lot of designers made inexpensive toaru—the little hand towels that many Japanese carry with them because so few public restrooms have paper towels. My pal Anita collects Hermes scarves, and while there’s no way I could afford to bring her back one of those, I thought maybe they’d also sell toaru. Trying to find Hermes turned out to be a big adventure and the first test of my Japanese. It started when I spotted a woman in a kimono toting an Hermes shopping bag and asked her “Hermes, doko deska?”

    (Actual woman not pictured)


    Asking the question turned out to be the easy part – it’s understanding the answer that I had trouble with! I only got so far before I needed to find someone else to ask, so I popped into a mens' store, and later Dolce & Gabbana. Following this sort of breadcrumb trail of information from person to person, I finally spotted Hermes. When the two men smoking out front saw me stop, gasp, and whip out my camera, they scooted sideways until they were out of the shot...

    I guess this other guy wanted to be in the shot!





    It was an amazingly designed store, and the toaru were amazingly priced at ¥10,900 yen. Sorry, Anita! Hope ya like hotel headbands!

    It was getting to be dinnertime, so I wandered around Ginza looking for a restaurant that wasn’t in a basement or a windowless department store. I found a moderately priced place on Chuo-dori and had a sort of Coquilles St. Jaques for under ¥2000. (No pix! Argh!)

    When I got back to the hotel, we’d been moved to the bigger room they’d promised us… and I HATED it! It may have been slightly bigger, but it was dark, sat half a floor below ground level, faced a dirt patch in front of a concrete wall, and had windows you couldn’t open.

    The last part was the deal breaker for me because Akasaka Excel Tokyu Hotel is one of those hotels where the thermostat in your room doesn't work unless they've turned on AC for the whole building... which they hadn't... and it was so stuffy in there I could barely breathe.



















    I kinda freaked out and practically started hyperventilating when I called the front desk and the guy said there were no other rooms available til Sunday. Then I pulled it together and decided to try asking someone else, so I went down to the front desk. This time I got a guy who set to work immediately, dashing between two computers and typing furiously until he turned up a room just like our old one, but on the 10th floor – hooray!!!

    The rest of the night was spent unpacking in our new room and getting us all settled in for the next 5 days.

    Up Next: A visit to a real Mitsukoshi department store, and it’s not anything like the one in Epcot!

  9. #39

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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    Yay for more!
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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    Loving it! I love that somebody came up to you when you were looking lost to help you out. We had so many people offer to help us (I guess we looked lost often!) when were last in Japan.

    I thought the hotel keycard/light activator was universal. It wasn't until you mentioned it here that I realised that I can't remember seeing it in any of the US hotels I've stayed at. It's standard here in Oz too.
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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    What I love about your trip report is that for those who are unfamiliar with "everyday Japan", it's a great learning experience into the japanese's way of living. Since I find myself in Japan every month (due to work), many of the things you talk about with such enthusiasm are very common to me. But I think it's great that many people here who have not been to Japan, can get to appreciate the wonderful things that are common place and somewhat unique to this culture. Simply put: the japanese are a class act. Makes you realize how "behind the times" we can be here at home... and they are certainly a society that we can all emulate and learn from. It would make us better individuals and our quality of life (me thinks) would be much better

    Now carry on.. great read so far.

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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mellywil View Post
    I thought the hotel keycard/light activator was universal. It wasn't until you mentioned it here that I realised that I can't remember seeing it in any of the US hotels I've stayed at. It's standard here in Oz too.
    And common in Europe... it's just one of those things America is different about

    I think it's for energy efficiency?
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  13. #43

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    Re: Day 2

    Quote Originally Posted by lurkyloo View Post


    Hey! I got to see that sculpture too!! Only I got to see the one that was installed in Bilbao. And I was unfortunate enough to see a cleaning crew all over it getting rid of the Spainish Plains Rain Rust from it...
    WARNING: Any opinions expressed by this user are wrong.

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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    I spot Country Ma'am cookies in that snack basket on set. The light brown wrapper toward the bottom of the photo. FAVORITE COOKIES EVER!!

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    re: Tokyo Disney on 2 Weeks’ Notice: Bonus Day @ Disney + Trip Finally Ends!!!

    Looking forward to your Mitsukoshi trip!My hotel was right nearby the Nihonbashi store. I could have lived in the food department. It was amazing. You've also given me a couple of new places to check out when I go in June. The stationary store looks my kind of heaven!

    Food, stationary and Disney, I'm easily pleased!!

    I think that while the Metro is super easy to navigate, it is so confusing to exit! You think you've worked out the right number exit before you get there, and then it just goes pear-shaped!! I constantly ended up in the wrong place. My favorite was getting stuck in a department store (I think in Shibuya) It took me forever to find daylight and the outside world. My son didn't think we were ever going to make it out.

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