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  1. #1

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    Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    First a little background...

    Christmas Day 2007 I won an all-expenses trip to Tokyo. A very, beyond very, lucky thing. I took my longtime friend and we met up with my friend who teaches English over there.

    Bad thing was we only had four days.

    So we decided that if we could only visit one park, DisneySea it was. I considered myself a Disney fan. We went every now and then, but didn't have passes or anything.

    My stupid thinking was we should see the park that has the most things that our Disneyland doesn't.

    I remember perfectly that when I walked into DisneySea just past the water globe, when you get the first real look at Mt. Prometheus, I got a little teary eyed. I think it was part "I can't believe I'm here" and part "this is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."



    It was very hot and humid in April when we went so the thought of an inside ride like Sinbad was a good idea. I had no clue about it other than it was a "kid ride."

    Boy was I wrong. Such a great ride. Afterward, I kept thinking "my niece would love this ride!"

    Then I stumbled upon Triton's Kingdom.

    Picking my jaw up off the floor I got kind of upset because I knew my then 7-year-old niece would probably never see this.

    That feeling bugged me for the rest of the trip and for 2 years afterward.

    I got her an Artistocats popcorn bucket (strawberry!) and a hat that was only sold there. She just loved to show them off at our Disneyland.



    We both loved talking to people when they asked where she got them.

    Then one day I got a new freelance gig that paid well. So without really thinking about it I decided that no matter what I was going to take her to Tokyo before she wasn't a kid anymore.

    I saved almost everything I made with the freelance job (and more) for the past year. I wanted this to be the most special trip of both our lifetimes, so I chose to stay at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel for a week. Yes I know I could have stayed at a cheaper hotel and used the extra money for other things, but I wanted EXTRA special. If I had to not eat as much or whatever for whenever, I was going to do it.

    She turned 10 this past November so I knew this was almost it. So I planned everything out for the first week of February.

    For the past two months we started planning. We printed out maps, researched rides, learned some very basic Japanese and she even started saving change.

    Sunday, Jan. 30 we boarded the American Airlines plane to Tokyo (ish) to start our dream come true.

    More to come...

  2. #2

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    Talking Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    Quote Originally Posted by fitztwg View Post
    First a little background...

    …the first real look at Mt. Prometheus, I got a little teary eyed. I think it was part "I can't believe I'm here" and part "this is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

    …Sinbad was a good idea. I had no clue about it other than it was a "kid ride."

    Boy was I wrong. Such a great ride. Afterward, I kept thinking "my niece would love this ride!"

    Then I stumbled upon Triton's Kingdom.

    Picking my jaw up off the floor I got kind of upset because I knew my then 7-year-old niece would probably never see this.

    That feeling bugged me for the rest of the trip and for 2 years afterward.

    …Yes I know I could have stayed at a cheaper hotel and used the extra money for other things, but I wanted EXTRA special.

    …For the past two months we started planning. We printed out maps, researched rides, learned some very basic Japanese and she even started saving change.

    Sunday, Jan. 30 we boarded the American Airlines plane to Tokyo (ish) to start our dream come true.

    More to come...
    Oh.my.gosh!!! You just actually blew my mind! I have never seen a Trip Report with so much heart and spirit! A story worth sharing, connected to but bigger than Disney, and with such a powerful economy of words and photos!!! You've done more in one post than some of us manage in ten pages! Thank you for being the most awesome uncle on the planet, and thank you for sharing your story with us!

    I don't usually get too excited reading about other people's vacation experiences; I prefer the more "discussion-style" threads to playing a captive audience for someone else's day at the parks or how "weird" Japan is or how "crazy" the Japanese are, but for the first time ever I CANNOT WAIT!!!^^

    Like Anton Ego, I am hungry for MORE!!!

  3. #3

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    Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    i can't wait to read more!!!!

  4. #4

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    Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    Yaay, I love Tokyo Disney trip reports. Can't wait for more
    Disneyland Paris: August 1999 Sante Fe - October 2000 Sante Fe - March 2002 Sante Fe - November 2010 Cheyenne
    Walt Disney World: May 2011 All Star Movies - November 2011 Animal Kingdom Lodge
    Tokyo Disney Resort: 2012 (hopefully!)

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    Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    What a fantastic real-life story. You are amazing. Can't wait to read more.....

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    Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    OK, where was I?

    In all my extensive planning, I didn't see a lot about how to help get a child through the long plane rides. That was my main concern.

    Days before I went to Target and picked up some activity books in the dollar section and then to GameStop to buy some discounted, used DS games. My plan was to give her one item at certain intervals or if she seemed bored or frustrated.

    She got very excited when she saw the TVs inside the headrests, but we both soon realized the offerings for kids is somewhat limited. There was one kids movie, "Megamind," and two blocks (hour and an half I believe) of Disney channel shows. So grand total there was only 4 and a half hours of something for her to watch. She watched each one multiple times btw.

    This was technically her first plane ride (she went to Texas when she was 2) so she was a bit nervous. Much like a Disney ride, as soon as it started she was fine and feeling very brave and excited. She drew a picture of the plane and gave it to the flight attendant. This was probably the nicest flight attendant I have ever encountered. The woman came back and gave her extra candy. Then minutes later came back with two of those business class kits (toothbrush etc.).



    My niece was beyond happy and the time was just flying by. To kill the rest of the time she found a Hangman game on the TV. She literally played that for hours. It's not everyday kids have fun and kind of learn at the same time so I didn't bug her at all.

    She wrote the flight attendant a thank you note (on her own) and later got a certificate for her first flight signed by the entire flight crew and pilots. Awesome, awesome and awesome.

    Meals were alright. I took a picture of my inflight meal years ago and one this time and they were almost the same exact meal, sans the dessert. She ate a bit of it, so what she ate on hers I gave mine to her also. I figured an extra helping of crackers, rolls and cheese were better than nothing. I had her keep one dessert and the candy to save for the rest of the trip if we couldn't find anything in a hurry.

    Where as the takeoff had her holding my arm tightly, the landing she wanted to look out the window.

    Morale of the story? Don't be afraid of the 11 and a half hours. It's totally doable.

    The plane got in early so we didn't miss the last bus to the Disneyland Resort (which I was deeply afraid of).

    We were both a bit tired, but I explained to her that we could sleep later and to take lots of mental images of our bus trip to the resort, even if some of it was just countryside, buildings and roads.

    The ride to the resort didn't take as long as I thought, but the drop off was weird. The driver drove right past the entrance to the hotel and went to several other stops first. Odd, but we got a good look at parts of the resort we wouldn't see normally.

    It was dark as the bus finally turned into the Beverly Hills mansion like driveway to the Disneyland Hotel. To our right was a huge "Fantasia" inspired fountain and to our left the gorgeous entrance to the hotel.

    We got our bags and headed in. We both walked unusually slow, both taking in everything from the Mickey and Minny bronze statues welcoming us, to the fountain in the middle of the lobby to the giant ceiling above us.

    We were the first ones out of our bus group to check in (with no one in front of us). Like others here have said, communication here is hard. They don't seem to speak as good of English as other places we visited. But, the counter clerks were very nice, respectful and did everything they could to help.

    One man came up to my niece and handed her a kids version of the Disneyland Hotel badge they wore and a pen to write her own name in (I don't think I took a picture, but I will) and a sticker. While I went through the entire process of checking in, she looked at the fantastic paintings behind the counter and found Hidden Mickeys.

    She must be some sort of Hidden Mickey savant, because I couldn't find them. She was very proud when one of the clerks asked her if she could find them.

    The whole process took a bit longer than normal hotels do, but we were finally here so I didn't mind.

    As we were being led to the room, my good friend who is stationed in Japan with the Navy found us. He had never been to the parks so he was going to join us for part of the trip. It also made me feel better to know we weren't alone in the country.

    We had a room on the third floor, I know not the best room, but the view was schoolgirl giggling exciting. We had a perfect, clear view of the Castle, Monsters Inc., Space Mountain, Mt. Prometheus and Tower of Terror.

    Just perfect.

    The room was a bit of a mixture between old fashioned Disney, "Beauty and the Beast" and Cleo from "Pinocchio."

    We got the special 4 day Disney Hotel passes that allowed us to park hop whenever we want instead of the normal one park one day, the second park the next. It was about $50 more to upgrade, but trust me it's worth it.

    It was after 7 p.m. and the park was closing at 8, so we didn't try to get the after 6 tickets. We walked around to check out the Bon Voyage store and Ikspiari (if you were curious the "A" seems to be silent, thanks Monorail!).

    My niece found the cutest Cheshire Cat hat that we have never seen before. And it was almost 50% off so we bought it right away.



    They also had Tigger and Marie ones.

    Then at the Disney Store in Ikspiari we found the greatest combination EVER:



    "TRON" and Stitch (or Stitchy as they call him). We ended up buying three before we left for home.

    We ate at the Hawaiian Burger place in Ikspiari and decided to get to bed so we would be up and ready for the Disneyland park the next day.
    Last edited by fitztwg; 02-08-2011 at 10:09 PM. Reason: Adding

  7. #7

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    Thumbs up Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    Quote Originally Posted by fitztwg View Post
    ...To kill the rest of the time she found a Hangman game on the TV. She literally played that for hours. It's not everyday kids have fun and kind of learn at the same time so I didn't bug her at all.

    She wrote the flight attendant a thank you note (on her own) and later got a certificate for her first flight signed by the entire flight crew and pilots. Awesome, awesome and awesome.
    Nooow I get it; it's not that you're the most awesome uncle in the world, it's that your niece is the best little girl in the history of time - you have no choice but to be inspired by her fantasmicness!

    I am ing this story, and the telling.

    Quote Originally Posted by fitztwg View Post
    It was after 7 p.m. and the park was closing at 8, so we didn't try to get the after 6 tickets. We walked around to check out the Bon Voyage store and Ikspiari (if you were curious the "A" seems to be silent, thanks Monorail!).
    Urgh...that English Monorail drives me crazy! It happens on Yamanote and other train lines sometimes, too. The English pronunciation is unnecessarily different from the Japanese, and wrong. It should be pronounced with four syllables as "ik-spi-A-ri." The Monorail is not your friend.^^

    Extra bit of trivia: The name comes from "experience" + "peri" (Persian "fairy"), and I'm betting was inspired in part by the Peri Banu heroine from Lotte Reineger's stop-motion animated classic, The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Made in 1926, it predates Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by more than a decade and many insist that it should be considered the first animated feature film in history.

    Check Oriental Land Company's official Ikspiari profile, though of course they make no overt mention of Ms. Reineger. Still, it's hard for me to imagine this wasn't some Imagineer's intention; the shoe glass slipper just fits too well.

    More please!^^

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    Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    Quote Originally Posted by DuffyDaisuki View Post
    Urgh...that English Monorail drives me crazy! It happens on Yamanote and other train lines sometimes, too. The English pronunciation is unnecessarily different from the Japanese, and wrong. It should be pronounced with four syllables as "ik-spi-A-ri." The Monorail is not your friend.^^
    More please!^^
    See, I kept thinking "that can't be right, but the monorail voice... it's so nice and sounds smart." And after hearing it a dozen times it really does. And that's what I get for just reading the name of the place all those times before.

    Quote Originally Posted by DuffyDaisuki View Post
    More please!^^
    Coming soon!

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    Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    That cheshire hat is so cute <3
    and the stitch-tron.


    I am enjoying your travel report - I am going this april, so this is perfect

  10. #10

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    Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    enjoying reading your report! mmm the Hawaiian Burger joint that was one of our favorite places to eat for some American food

  11. #11

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    Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    Great report so far.

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    Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    Thanks everyone for the kind words.

    Think I have the photos thing worked out so I'm going to be posting more and more.

    Also, a bit of a disclaimer. None of us have been to Disney World, so we are only comparing this Disney to our home parks in California. Really no need for any "it's the same in Florida" comments.

    Our first full day started early. I woke up at around 5 and my niece around 6. So we hung around and watched some Disney Channel. Their version of "Stitch" or "Stitchy" is great. Different from ours though. Our Lilo lives with her sister, this one lives with (I think) her grandma.

    Stitchy and the aliens remain the same. And it airs a lot! I think over our week we must have seen a good 8-9 episodes.

    Here's the view from our room by the way:



    Walked around the hotel and took some photos. Still amazed that we were staying there and how breathtaking it was.



    That was the weird thing in planning, I couldn't find a lot of photos of the place. So in some ways the inside of the hotel was sort of a Christmas morning present, we didn't know what to expect.



    My niece spotted this dollhouse and we both thought "oh, that's cute."



    Then we looked closer and saw this:







    Funny how a little house can make people so happy. We must have looked at that house for a good 10 minutes.

    We got passes from the hotel, which allowed us to get in 15 minutes early. It was only 8 so we decided to head down and wait.

    Walking to the front entrance was fun because we could turn around and get our first in person, day time look at the hotel.





    By the way, yes it was cold. Especially cold to us Southern California people.

    Walking out from the hotel looking at the monorail station was pretty cool too.



    We ended up being the second people in line for the hotel guests entrance. But, the line worked differently. They wanted the three of us to line up horizontally. Then people would come in and fill behind us. As time passed and more hotel guests came up.

    Then we saw the characters.



    A lot of the characters came out and did some skits and waved to the people assembled. Piglet was shy and didn't want to come out but the other characters assured him.



    The Sherrif of Nottingham from the Robin Hood cartoon (yes, awesome) stepped up and started dancing and all the other characters walked away, leaving him to dance along and act mad when he realized everyone left.

    Very funny. And a great way to get everyone in the Disney mood before entering.

    People began to push at this point, so I told my niece that we had a 15 minute head start and to not worry if a few people got ahead of us.

    We walked fast, maybe even powerwalked into the World Bazaar before our eyes and brains took over and stopped us dead in our tracks. Yes, in some ways it looks like our Main Street, but it's different enough to make us wow with excitement.



    My niece saw Piglet with no one really around him (everyone was running past us like there was a Black Friday sale at Wal-Mart), so she wanted a picture.



    Withouth spoiling the rest of the trip report, I can say in our week at Tokyo Disney she saw more characters than she has in her entire life. My mother is literally making her a scrapbook of just her meeting characters.

    Having done research ahead of time we knew that Pooh and Monsters Inc. had to be hit first so we headed toward Fantasyland. At various points along the way they had cast members blocking off access to the rest of the park. Basically corralling everyone to one certain point: Mickey's Philharmagic.

    That was the only thing open from 8:45-9. Everything else was closed and blocked off until 9. So we waited at the checkpoint as close to Pooh as we could get.

    And that 10 minutes was tough. It's like holding the most delicious cake in your hands and not being able to eat it.

    We timed it perfect because as they let everyone through, about four people ran ahead of us and were turned away at Pooh. But, as we approached they let us in and even had a cast member lead us in.



    First ones on!

    I love how the line for the ride changes from elegant garden to world of Pooh. And how the end of the line is basically pages from the book in English.

    We had to speed read as we were quickly led on the ride.

    Awesomeriffic is the only world I can use to describe Pooh. It is more than we ever expected and kind of made us sad that our Disneyland version is like a cheap carnival ride in comparison.

    We especially loved the Tigger bouncing room. In that moment we felt a bit of Disney magic. Yes, it's probably very easy to explain how they do the bouncing effect, but we all still looked at each other and said "How did they do that?!"

    After Pooh we spedwalked to Monsters Inc., which once again had JUST opened as we walked up so we only waited maybe 4 minutes.





    I loved, loved, loved this ride. The Monsters Inc. ride in California Adventure is basically a parking lot compared to this one.



    Much like with Buzz Lightyear each vehicle is paired with an attachment. This one with two flashlights. The whole point is to aim for the Monsters Inc. helmets and something will happen. Monsters will pop out, sound effects etc.

    We had so much fun on this ride. My niece loved to find and point out that she saw Boo.

    We then decided that we'd walk around and take some scenery in. Since it was a Tuesday, it wasn't super packed. We walked around looking for the "UP" display in Adventureland, but it must have been behind the fences that the Swiss Family Treehouse was behind.



    We double-backed and went on Pirates, which is my niece's favorite ride (mine too.) Only one drop, which kind of disappointed us. But, there were plenty of subtle differences that made up for it. One was the skeleton pirate holding the treasure, which glimmered (ours doesn't do that).

    And like ours should be, the pirates chase the women! There was also a different pirate trying to load a bunch of hats and treasure into a small boat. We started playing a game of spot the differences.

    I also love that they unload you in a different room, seems to make things go faster.

    We ended up riding it 4 times that week and never had to wait more than 5 minutes.

    My niece also found the coolest little feature on the escalator out of the ride. Normally there would be two feet painted on the floor to show where to put your feet. On Pirates, there is one foot and a circle. My niece shouted out "For your pegleg!"

    By then we were a little hungry and wanted to start our popcorn bucket collection. My idea was to look around at all of them, then go back and pick the ones we liked the best.

    Too bad Alice in Wonderland trumps anything and everything. She saw an Alice one with Chocolate flavor and was sold! Only 1,400 yen by the way.



    The bucket looks great and she loves it, so a great buy.

    My friend wanted to ride a rollercoaster so headed off to Splash Mountain, so we decided to head off in search of adventure in Tom Sawyer's Island.

    As to not be a tease, the next part will include the amazing island experience, more Fantasyland, Toontown and obscure characters!

  13. #13

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    Thumbs up Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    Quote Originally Posted by fitztwg View Post









    Awesomeriffic is the only world I can use to describe these amazing images and this fantastic report. Detail and quality blended masterfully with brevity and control. Are you sure you're not a professional travel writer?

    How wonderful that her grandmother is making a scrapbook! At her age, and with images like these, as long as you keep telling stories sometimes, every moment of this trip will live forever in her memory. The gift you have given is just astounding! And, yeah, I noticed grandma-ma's awesomeness here, too...is there anyone in your family who doesn't just ROCK, or is it really that this little girl's admittedly magical smile just stops anyone from doing less than their most heartfelt and beautiful best? This story is a Disney Channel movie! Can we just send her over to Afghanistan and Egypt to sort things out really quick?^^

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    Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    Quote Originally Posted by DuffyDaisuki View Post
    Awesomeriffic is the only world I can use to describe these amazing images and this fantastic report. Detail and quality blended masterfully with brevity and control. Are you sure you're not a professional travel writer?
    Thanks! Just trying my best to describe what was an amazing time for us.

    Quote Originally Posted by DuffyDaisuki View Post
    And, yeah, I noticed grandma-ma's awesomeness here, too...is there anyone in your family who doesn't just ROCK, or is it really that this little girl's admittedly magical smile just stops anyone from doing less than their most heartfelt and beautiful best? This story is a Disney Channel movie!
    And now you see why I had to do whatever it took to get her to Tokyo?

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    Re: Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea week long (dream) trip report

    So while my friend went off in search of Splash Mountain, we headed over to take the raft to Tom Sawyer's Island.

    I had been explaining to my niece how awesome the island used to be at Disneyland before the Pirates stuff. I'm not knocking how it is now, but the old school, when I was a kid, island was one of my favorite memories of my trips to Disneyland. I remember my brother, sister and I would play over there for what seemed like hours.

    I knew this Island was a bit of a throw-back to our Disneyland's old version, so I might have been more excited to see it. I can admit it!

    What we found first knocked our socks off.





    Yes, awesome maps! It must have looked funny to see this weird white guy grab a bunch of them. But, I didn't care because this was the coolest thing I'd seen so far.

    Funny story, we grabbed some as we exited the raft. The one I grabbed first had bird poop on it and I didn't see any trash cans around so I tried explaining to the woman operating the raft. She saw it and starting laughing (big time), she then showed the other guy on the raft and he was laughing. We just had to laugh. Nothing like bird poop on a free map to bring people together.

    I think we spent a good hour exploring the island. A few things were the same, like the treehouse and some caves. I really enjoyed climbing on top of the rocks again, like I did when I was my niece's age.

    She also thought it was the best thing ever that we could actually go inside the fort! I had the best time showing her around in there, it's almost just like ours used to be only smaller. No guns though. When I told her that ours used to have guns at the top she said "They had REAL guns?!"

    Also got a kick out of the Indian village next to the fort. Was a great treat to walk around that. It was still early so we had much of the island to ourselves. It was very peaceful sitting down watching her play around the village. They even had a teepee you could go inside.

    Rather than try to explain further how awesome the Island is, here are some photos of it:







    She had to point out to me that she thought they didn't spell the sign right, heh.





































    We then took the raft back to meet my friend, but he wasn't there. Apparently Splash Mountain had one of the biggest lines of the somewhat empty day, so he was stuck.

    That was fine with us, because we took the time to walk around and check out the scenery.

    Westernland really reminded us of our Disney in a few ways so we stuck around there. We then caught a show with the Country Bears.

    I remember the show well as a child and would always want to see it when we went to Disneyland. My niece only knew of them from that horrible movie they did.

    So, it was cool to be able to relive my childhood through her again.

    That became somewhat of a running theme at Tokyo Disneyland. A lot of the awesome stuff from when I was a kid that's not at ours anymore is still alive and well there. It makes me feel good to know that everyday people are able to create some of those same great memories that I had as a child.

    Couldn't find the sound of the snoring bear though! That was always a great thing to experience.

    Yes, the show is mostly in Japanese, but there are enough songs in English so we weren't entirally confused.



    My niece just loved when Teddi Barra came down from the celing. I knew the part was coming up so it was great to tap her on the shoulder and tell her to look up (we were in the very front row).

    Walking out of the show we both talked about how much we loved it. Me for seeing it one last time and her for seeing it for the first time ever.

    We then met back up with my friend and headed over to Fantasyland.

    Small World time!

    The first thing that stands out is the lack of the outside water and loading area. It's a bit weird at first to have to straight walk into Small World, but kind of cool at the same time.

    This is me a bit confused:



    But, I have to say I kind of dug the inside loading area. It was very pretty and was different enough to trick us into thinking it was a brand new thing.



    The ride is basically the same, minus the new Disney character additions. My niece is young enough to not care about the controversy, so she kept asking why there were no Disney characters in this one. When we came upon the Hawaii part, she was trying her hardest to look for Stitchy.

    After Small World we went over to ToonTown.

    On the way we ran into another new, and obscure character:



    The first thing that you catch about ToonTown is the lack of going downhill, then uphill to get to it. All flat.

    Almost an exact copy of ours, but flipped. Everything is opposite of where it is for us. That and the Gadget Go-Coaster seems to be more out of the way and taking up less room for other things. The ride was down by the way, so we didn't catch it.

    And Chip and Dale's Treehouse actually has things to do! Ours should just be called "Staircase: The ride!"



    Went through Minnie's House. Mickey's House had an insane waiting time of like 1 hour! Is it always like that? I told her we would wait if she wanted and even she said that was waaay too long to wait.

    She really enjoyed Minnie's House. There seemed to be a few cool additions that we don't have. At least as far as a 10-year-old is concerned.



    Checked out the "Gag/Joke" store there. And we found another MUST have item:


    Yes, Disney "LEGOs." These are called Nano Blocks and they had a bunch of them, they're smaller than our LEGOs. Lots of characters and even one for the Castle.

    She picked Stitch and we said we'd come back and get more.

    For those interested, one small little pack was 1,300 yen.



    It was almost time for us to go meet my old junior high friend who teaches English in Japan so we walked out through the World Bazaar and took some pictures.







    We met him in Akihabara, so the next post will be all about that and us finishing our day at Disneyland at night!

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