Mini Trip Report (11/13-20)
Background: My husband and I visited TDL for one day back in 1998 and I’ve always wanted to go back, especially after reading so much about TDS. We started checking airfares back in January 2010 to set a date with my goal being a visit to TDL/TDS and Studio Ghibli Museum. Unfortunately I’d picked one of the two weeks that the Studio Ghibli Museum was closed in 2010.
Thanks to everyone who has posted tips, trip reports, and answers to my questions. These helped us so much in planning and doing our trip. I had brought copies of some of your posts and transcribed many of your tips to bring with me. It was a very impressive compilation – THANK YOU!
I also applaud all of you energetic TDR visitors. We found that a combination of jet lag and fatigue contributed to us not walking around or seeing as much as I expected to – we did our best though.
Sunday, 11/14 – Arrival Day
Arrived at Narita in time to catch the last Airport Limo Bus straight to the Hilton Tokyo Bay (I carried printouts and train maps in case we missed the bus and had to take the train). We had enough time to find that 7-11 ATM to get yen (thanks to TDLFAN for that tip!). We bought our four-day park passes at the Hilton – and found that they now take charge cards (more yen left to spend at the parks!). We bought our monorail passes and made our way to Ikspiari for dinner. We had our first taste of the level of service that we’d get in Tokyo as we were looking at the map for a place to eat. I was showing my husband where the Hawaiian burger joint was and the information host asked me a few questions I didn’t understand. I thought he was leading me to someone who spoke more English, but he actually led us down a level and walked us all the way to the restaurant (and gave us maps in English). We wound up finding our way to the lower level at the Ikspiari Kitchen where we found a delicious bowl of shoyu ramen for 680 yen (we liked it so much that we ate there 3 more times).
Our room at the Hilton Tokyo Bay:
Monday, 11/15 - TDL
The crowds today were predicted to be the worst of the week, but I wanted to visit TDL first. TDL was scheduled to open at 8:30am so we were in line by 7:30am. However, the signs at the park showed it was opening at 8:00am. I’m guessing that there were around 30 people in line ahead of us.
The line ahead of us:
I got nervous as I saw the early entry guests start running and then it was almost our turn. My goodness, that was the funniest thing we’d done in a long time. Watching everyone run every which way while the cast members greeted us waving was hilarious. I was laughing out loud as I was running. I almost made the mistake of getting in the Monsters, Inc. FP line, but realized I needed to go past it to get in line. We enjoyed Monsters, Inc. and got a FP for Pooh right after. We did It’s a Small World (Holiday edition) and the Haunted Mansion. We found a great place to sit and watch the White Holiday Parade along the low wall right by a signpost/lamp for Captain Hook’s Galley (which faced the oncoming parade).
Our parade watching spot (taken at night):
The parade, cast members, and even the crowd were great. We had lunch at the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall, which was everything I hoped it would be. The setting was gorgeous and fun – and I was surprised that the rotisserie chicken was so tasty. We decided that soft drinks at 300 yen were sort of pricey, especially as aren’t filled all the way. Water was always available so we wound up drinking more water than soda with most of meals. We toured TDL some more, failed at the Lottery, and then jet lag overcame us. We overslept and then wound up not going back to the park due to the heavy rain and cold weather. Side note: those Tokyo gals are very fashionable – high heels, false eyelashes, and big furry Disney hats! Got to love it.
Tuesday, 11/16 - TDS
We checked out of the Hilton Tokyo Bay and took the monorail to the Miracosta to drop off our bags. They let us use the Miracosta early entry line and we waited at the Roman Wall near JTTCOE for the park to open. TDS did not seem too crowded as we were able to ride JTTCOE twice, 20,000 Leagues, Indiana Jones, Storm Rider, and the Electric Railway before having lunch at the NY Deli. We decided to watch “The Legend of Mythica” from Fortress Explorations, which seemed like a great place to see the show for our first time since we had a good view of the whole show. We lost the Lottery for “Christmas Wishes” and headed over to ride the Venetian gondola. Checking into the Miracosta was an odd experience as tired guests (us included) hang out in the lobby waiting for their name to be called when their room is ready around 4:30pm. We had a nice dinner at the Ristorante di Canaletto (reserved earlier that day) at 8:30 and then had time after to check out Sinbad’s Stoybook Voyage and the Magic Lamp Theatre. That area felt almost deserted at that hour. Even though they announced that TDS had closed at 10pm, the cast members were still inviting us to ride 20,000 Leagues!
A few comparisons of the Hilton Tokyo Bay versus the Miracosta:
• The Miracosta’s location and early entry policy to TDS and TDL are very valuable.
• After staying at both, I prefer the Hilton mostly because the room rate is much more reasonable. In addition, it is relatively easy to get to the parks on the monorail and our room was bigger (and had a king bed).
• The Hilton also has a Starbucks, a well-stocked shop, and a pastry shop.
• Our room at the Miracosta had a great view overlooking the Venetian gondola ride and the room was stocked (and restocked daily) with goodies like terrycloth slippers, cute Mickey toothbrush and vanity kits, etc. However, we did not have a desk and the beds were singles. We were glad we stayed at the Miracosta this one time though.
Pictures of our room (pictures aren't great, but at least you can see what it looks like)
The view of "Venice" and the gondolas from our room:
The view from TDS of our hotel room (we were in the brown brick building on the left with the domed windows):
Wednesday, 11/17 - TDL
We did early entry to TDL; however, by this point, we were both sore and tired and weren’t able to run all the way to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (we tried though). We rode PHH twice doing standby and then got a FP. We thought PHH was the best ride in TDL. The technology trumps all of the other Disney parks. It was a cold day with rain expected. It started raining as we headed to Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin. It was pretty impressive how quickly the cast members were able to pack up everything that could get wet in a souvenir truck. We lost the Lottery again. Since I wanted to experience the shows we wouldn’t be able to experience elsewhere, we stood in line in the rain for an hour to get seated for the first show. The cast members clearly have seating down to a science as we eventually were allowed to file in to get seated. One Man’s Dream was great – talented performers, lots of pizzazz, and great sets. Even though we were cold and wet, I thought it was worth the wait in the rain. We had lunch at the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall again and then sat back at our spot near the Captain Hook’s Galley sign for “Jubilation”. Although it didn’t rain during the parade, almost all of the cast members had rain gear over their costumes. Lots of energy and great costumes. I’d gladly take the raingear over a cancelled parade.
Looking at my pictures, I think it was mostly the face characters who were wearing raingear:
We checked out Grandma Sara’s Kitchen, which was just adorable and then saw the Christmas version of Country Bear Theater. We didn’t understand the songs in Japanese, but the ones in English were pretty funny. It was also a really nice place to get out of the rain and cold. We rode the Western River Railroad, POTC, and then went back to the hotel for a nap. We came back and got our same seat for the Electrical Parade Dreamlights, but were disappointed when they cancelled the parade due to inclement weather. We wound up back at the Ikspiari Kitchen for ramen to warm ourselves up.
p.s. I have some pictures, but I can’t figure out how to put them in this report. I read the FAQs for posting, but the bottom of my TDR page says that I don’t have permission to post attachments.
** Many thanks to DuffyDaisuki for explaining how to upload photos!!
Thursday, 11/18 – TDS/TDL
We did early entry to TDS. It was another cold morning. We decided to try the lottery first – if we didn’t win, we would make seeing a show a high priority even if we had to stand again to wait for it. We joined the early entry crowd at the Lottery and amazingly, we won (Section G) for the 16:50 show. We rode Indiana Jones, the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line, and Indiana Jones again. We liked the TDS version of Indiana Jones very much. The pyramid nearby was very impressive. We went searching for the coconut soft serve ice cream, but couldn’t find it. We shared the coconut custard at Casbah Court. There was a little kiosk in the courtyard, but it featured sea salt ice cream in a souvenir clamshell. Did we miss the storefront?
We had a pasta and pizza lunch at Zambini Brothers. It was pretty tasty and I was happy that they got the pasta just right, which doesn’t always happen at a counter service restaurant. We ate outside on the upstairs balcony where we were able to see some of the Meet and Smile show. We thought about trying to watch “The Legend of Mythica” from this spot, but weren’t sure if we could be kicked out for staying there too long. I’m sure it can get crowded in that space. Since I was focusing on shows, we wound up sitting for 1-3/4 hours at the Lido Isle waiting for “The Legend of Mythica”. I realize that wasn’t the best use of our time, but we were tired and the helpful cast member told me it was a very good place to sit if I liked Minnie Mouse. It was fun seeing Minnie Mouse and all of the dancers/performers up close, but I liked the view from above at Fortress Explorations a lot too.
We headed over to see “Christmas Wishes” – great show. At one point, I think I counted 20 dancers on stage plus many of the characters. That’s a heck of a production. I was wondering though why “Christmas Wishes” was done outside given possible rain-outs– seeing ichigopara’s rainy day greeting version, I realized how lucky we were to catch the show without rain.
We went back to TDL to see if we colud catch the Electric Parade Dreamlights. We wanted to eat dinner at Eastside Cafe, but the line was quite long so we went back to the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall (we obviously liked the food there). The crowds were starting to form for the parade so we went back to our spot and waited. Dreamlights was wonderful and I’m glad we were able to catch this parade. It beats Spectromagic at WDW easily and the opening reminded me of how I first saw this at DL so many years ago (I was sort of hoping that lion would be there playing the organ though). Although we had a FP for Monsters, Inc., it was closed due to technical problems.
Cute storefront at the World Bazaar:
Friday, 11/19 – a non-Disney day
We checked out of the Miracosta and back into the Tokyo Hilton Bay. I was pretty sure I’d overdone it by this point as I started feeling like I had caught a cold. I was very impressed with the bell staff at the Hilton as I told then I was looking for the four-story toy store with “Toy Park” in its name (thanks to LurkyLoo’s pictures), but didn’t know the full name or neighborhood. The bell staffer had never been there before, but she came back with a printout with the name of the store (Hakuhinkan Toy Park) and its location. Another bellman came over next with a street map and then a train map to show us how to get to the Ginza. We had very limited space in our luggage as we traveled only with a carry-on, but I managed to bring home a Totoro figurine and some small keychains of the “My Friend Totoro” characters (at the airport of the way home, I had enough space and yen to buy a 12” Totoro at the Hakuhinkan shop).
Saturday, 11/20 – Flew home
A few final thoughts:
• We really enjoyed our trip and the chance to compare the Disney parks, especially after reading all of your comments here and your preferences for TDR over the other parks. I can see why most of you favor TDR. TDR really is magical and TDS will always be unique.
• I felt that the cast members and employees at TDR seem to really enjoy their jobs, which is different from WDW.
• The shows and parades are top notch. My husband pronounced “The Legend of Mythica” as the best Disney show he’s ever seen (that’s big praise considering he’s not as much of a Disney fan as me).
• Language was not a problem – if an employee couldn’t answer our question or explain with sign language, they always were able to find someone else who could help us.
• Japanese culture is different. I was upset because I forgot that I wasn’t supposed to put my foot on a ride vehicle’s bench where people sit. Unfortunately by the time I remembered, my legs were so sore that it was a lot harder to do it right.
• If I went back to TDR, I think I’d spend my first day doing something non-Disney to ease my way through jet lag and travel fatigue. I would probably stay at the Tokyo Hilton Bay too.