Monday, September 8th, 2008

For the first time of the trip, my alarm went off before dawn. We both got up around 5:00am, showered and repacked all of our things. The night before, we had arranged to be able to check out before 6:00am, and we were initially told to open and relock the front door so we could let ourselves out. But when we got down to the lobby that morning, there was a cheerful employee waiting there for us to send us on our way. It was awesome that they'd sent someone in so early to check us out, but I thought it was unnecessary considering what we'd been told the night before. But I guess that's just how Japanese customer service goes!

Our Hikari Shinkansen back to Tokyo Disney Resort

Our Shinkansen was scheduled to leave at 6:23am, so we left the ryokan at about 5:55. We made it to the train station easily in time, and found our track. We had to wait through a few Nozomi trains, but ours was there very soon and we were on our way. I'd had a fantastic time in the rest of Japan, but I was very, very excited to be getting back to the Disney resort so I could explore it. It sucked that it signaled the end of the trip, but at the same time, I still had three and a half days there, so it was all good.

After we were on our way, two ladies came through the cabin with a snack cart, so Kevin and I both grabbed some breakfast.

I had my final chicken katsu sandwich of the trip, which came in a humorous "Tokaido Shinkansen Sandwich" though I was eating a sandwich made out of a Tokaido Shinkansen hehe. Kevin got a sandwich also, as well as a can of salami flavored Pringles, which did in fact taste just like salami! Weird! I also drank my Gun Gun Gurt, which I finally deducted had yogurt in it, hence the "gurt" in the name. It was good though, and tasted sort of like Pina Colada.

I got some sleep during the train ride, which means that I got more sleep on the trains than I did on either of the plane rides of the trip! When we arrived in Tokyo station, we made the arduous trip down to the Keiyo Line. Once there, we boarded the train with dozens if not hundreds of others that were clearly headed for the Disney resort.

Yay! We're back at Tokyo Disney Resort!!

Kevin is also very happy to be back at Tokyo Disney Resort!

Upon arrival, we quickly made our way over to the Tokyo Disney Resort Welcome Center and went to the Hilton Tokyo Bay check in line, which was downstairs.

There was only one person in line in front of us, so we were helped very quickly. The process actually took longer than I thought it might, but that was fine since we wanted everything to be right, and our luggage to get to the right place. The lady checking us in asked if we had any bottled drinks in our bags, and when I said yes, she asked me to take the two remaining bottles of soda out of my bag so they wouldn't burst while in transit. Of course that meant that I had to carry around two bottles of soda all day, but it wasn't all that bad. We also got a good laugh out of the fact that we had three umbrellas and only two people. When the lady took Kevin's umbrella that he'd gotten from the man in Hakone, she gave it this weird look, as if to say "How does a tourist have an umbrella this cruddy??" hahaha

Once all of our stuff was securely in their hands, our check in papers were signed and our tickets were in hand, and we headed straight for the Disney Resort Liner. We each got a four day monorail pass since we wanted to have access to the train on the last day we were there. Our first stop was going to be Tokyo Disneyland, so we hopped on and rode it one stop over.

Looking back at the Tokyo Disneyland train station and hotel

The Tokyo Disneyland main entance

When we disembarked, it was sort of was like the first time I saw Disneyland from the parking garage...I just wanted to jump out of my skin, I was so excited!! We made it through the cursory security check quickly then made our way inside the park for the first time.

Much like all the Disneyland parks, Tokyo Disneyland has a Main Street area, but here it is called World Bazaar. There is also no multi-stop train in the park, so there is no train station overhead as you enter. I had wondered if this would make the park feel weird when you entered, but instead of a train station, they have a row of buildings that look like the rest of World Bazaar. So you really don't miss that feeling of walking under the train station since you are still walking under something...there's just no train there.

Our first stop once we were inside the park was to get a Fastpass for Pooh's Hunny Hunt. Along the way, of course, we took some snapshots of the World Bazaar and Cinderella Castle, all while trying to squelch the urge to jump for joy at the sight of everything.

Me with Cinderella Castle in Tokyo Disneyland

When we arrived at Pooh's Hunny Hunt, we were very pleasantly surprised to see that there were still Fastpasses available, so we each picked up one that was good at 2:55pm.

With Fastpass in hand, we decided that the first attraction we would do in Tokyo Disneyland was going to be the Mickey Mouse Review. Kevin had seen this show when he was a little boy, but I had never seen it, and it was one of my most anticipated attractions of the trip. From the second we stepped inside, it overflowed with that feeling that only classic Disney attractions can give you.

We sat on the floor to watch the preshow, which was predominantly hosted by an audio line that got bigger and smaller as it spoke. The main show was absolutely adorable, and really felt like walking inside a Disney time capsule! All the characters were from old movies, and all the songs they sang were true Disney classics. We were trying to take some photos and videos, but a CM came over the intercom and spieled something in Japanese, followed by "No display" in English! Oops! So we closed up our cameras and kept them off for the rest of the show.

Since we were in Fantasyland and only had a little while to kill before our scheduled meet up with the Canadian family we'd met earlier, we decided to go ahead and ride It's a Small World.

This ride was very similar to it's US counterparts, and had many of the same scenes, and the same song. After that, I ducked into a nearby restroom, which was comprised of all Japanese style toilets and ONE handicapped toilet! So guess which one I used! haha I never could bring myself to use one of the squat was just too gross for me!

After our break, we rode Pinocchio's Daring Journey, which was identical to the Disneyland version except that everything was in Japanese. Next, since there was no line, we rode Snow White's Adventures, where we had our own mine train vehicle. This ride is very similar to the Disneyland version, though I am not sure if it is identical or not. It definitely didn't have the happy ending that the Florida version has! After our ride, we decided to go ahead and make our way up to the hub so we would be on time to meet up with the Canadian family. We took our time making our way up there, which actually resulted in our being a few minutes late!

Me with the Tokyo Disneyland Partners statue

Tokyo Disneyland actually has two at the end of World Bazaar, then one in front of Cinderella Castle. The Partners statue is in the hub closest to World Bazaar, and the statue was where we were supposed to be meeting the family. When we arrived, we scanned the area but didn't see them. After a few minutes, we decided to sit down and watch for them, but still, we didn't see them. As we sat there, I began to notice how orderly and considerate everyone was being to those around them who were waiting for photos. There were two large mosaic murals diagonally across from the Partners statue, and people had formed queues so they could have their pictures taken in front of them. There was no cutting in line, no crowding up at the front and trying to jump in and get your photo before everyone else. Everyone waited their turn, and when it was their turn, they quickly went up, got their photo and got out of the way. It was so civilized, and there were no CMs directing everyone to do this...they just did it on their own!

After about fifteen minutes of waiting around for them, we decided to move along and have lunch without them, figuring that they may have been delayed, or may have not been able to make it to the park at all that day. Our waiting window for getting another Fastpass had already lapsed, so Kevin suggested grabbing a Space Mountain Fastpass before lunch so we could get another one after that even quicker. Sounded like a good idea, so we quickly hopped over to Tomorrowland, grabbed a Fastpass for 3:25pm, the went back to Fantasyland.

I had suggested Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall ahead of time, so Kevin said that he was up for going there. When we arrived, there was a line to even get inside the! It didn't take very long to get inside, but once we were inside, there was an even longer wait!

Once inside, the line snaked around a few times, but really, it didn't seem like we waited all that long. It probably wasn't more than about 20 minutes. Once inside, the first thing you come to is the dessert station, so I grabbed a piece of cake. Then you come to the main course area, and Kevin and I both got a seafood dish that contained a large shrimp, a fish fillet and a heart shaped scallop cake. After this came the side dish and drink area, but there was a CM stationed just before it to ask which side dish and drink you would like. I said that I wanted rice and Coke, so he picked up a plate of rice and a glass of Coke for me, while yet another CM carried my tray over to a CM at a cash register. My rice and Coke were delivered, my order was quickly rang up, then another CM took the tray and seated us as though we were in a full service restaurant!

The meal was really good, and very filling. The meal was even served on real glass plates instead of the paper ones you see in the US. When we were done, a CM came over and cleared our table before we were gone, just like you would see in a full service restaurant as well. It was very nice, and I can see why people talk about this as a nice place to have a meal. I think my meal was around $15, but that was with a soda and a dessert, so it wasn't that bad.

After lunch, we decided to go over to Adventureland and catch a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean, so we could see what the differences were between it and its US counterparts. Along the way, we passed by the Haunted Mansion, which was closed while we were there so they could put on the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.

Arriving at Pirates of the Caribbean, there was very little line, so we were on the ride within about 10 minutes I would guess. The feeling was fairly similar to the Disneyland version, with the notable exception that in the burning town scene, all of the scenes had men chasing women (at least I think it was all the scenes).

After Pirates, we went almost next door and rode the Jungle Cruise. The actual ride of the Jungle Cruise seemed very similar to the US version except that the river flows in the opposite direction. The best part, though, was that the whole thing was in Japanese! It was hilarious to know exactly what the skipper was saying, but not be able to understand a word of it! Like, we came out of the temple and saw all the elephants under the waterfalls, and we knew he was telling a "they've got their trunks on" joke, but we couldn't understand a word he said! It was so, so funny. Before the trip, I had purchased a hard drive camcorder to take on the trip, but had decided not to bring it because I thought it would be too much trouble to keep up with and keep charged. At the last minute, I decided to bring it just so I could videotape the Jungle Cruise in Japanese, and boy am I glad I did! I got fabulous video from all over Japan, and would have well and truly kicked myself had I not brought it.

After the ride, we wandered back through Westernland and picked up Big Thunder Mountain Fastpasses since we were already able to get another one. I thought it was fairly impressive that we arrived after the park opened, yet were still able to be holding three valid Fastpasses at once. The crowds weren't nearly as heavy as we had prepared ourselves for, though I wouldn't say the park was empty, by any means!

At some point, I bought a frozen apple Minnie Mouse ice cream bar which was wonderful! Yummy yummy. It was melting quickly since it was still hot outside, so we sat for a moment near Big Thunder so I could finish it before we continued walking. When I was done, we walked back into Fantasyland since the time was approaching to use our Pooh's Hunny Hunt Fastpasses.

Do we know how to work it or what? Three valid Fastpasses at the same time!

Arriving back in Fantasyland, we had a few minutes to kill before Fastpass time, so we went inside the Pooh gift shop and played around with some puppets for a little while. After a few minutes, it was time to ride, so we relinquished our Fastpasses and got in line.

The line was so cute, with large cut out pages from Pooh books and soft music. We had to wait through most of the final few switchbacks of queue, but we easily walked past an hour or more worth of queue outside.

This ride was absolutely adorable from top to bottom, and that is really saying something considering how much I hate Pooh! The way that the ride vehicles move through the ride is amazing, and so seamless that it seems to be doing it randomly! Each ride seems to get a slightly different ride based on which vehicle you sit in, and where the ride chooses for that vehicle to go throughout the ride track. There is one large room with lots of little show scenes all around the edges, and the ride moves your vehicle around the room in a seemingly random pattern pointing you at different show scenes. There is also a ride vehicle that is full of Heffalumps and Woozles that spins around inside the room with you. It was just too cute. When you arrive at the unload station, you are in a different order than when you embarked into the ride...say if you were in the second vehicle when you entered the ride, you might be in the first vehicle back at unload. It was really an ingenious ride, and so, so well executed. Every Disney resort should have a copy of this ride!

After leaving Pooh's Hunny Hunt, we decided to go into Toontown and check out everything there. This Toontown looks very similar to Disneyland's Toontown, and proceeds to make the Florida Toontown look worse and worse by comparison.

The first ride we decided to ride was Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, which had about a half hour wait. We decided to go ahead and wait since that wasn't a horrible line, and we might not get to ride it at all if we didn't want to wait half an hour for it! This ride seemed identical to the Disneyland version as well, with an almost identical claustrophobic queue. The ride vehicles seemed to spin a little more freely though...a fact of which Kevin was well aware as soon as the ride started and I was spinning the car like a teacup! haha I only did it a few times though, and made much less exaggerated adjustments to the car's position through the rest of the ride.

When the ride was over, we spent a lot of time wandering around Toontown, playing with all the little gags that make stuff happen.

I got another photo of Kevin listening at the Toontown mailbox, as well as a photo of me getting the barbell dropped onto my foot. We played with the dog pound, the post office, the fireworks factory, and the police phone among other things. They still have the Jolly Trolly in Tokyo, but we never got around to riding it. I wish we had, but we just didn't end up having time.

Kevin said that he wanted to hang around in Toontown so he could have a good view of the afternoon parade. I didn't want to spend the time waiting for and watching the parade, so we decided to meet up a little later at Space Mountain so we could use our Fastpasses. I left him sitting near a big pile of cartoony golf balls, and I made my way over to Gadget's Go Coaster.

When I arrived, there was no wait, so I decided to take a walk through the Chip and Dale Treehouse first. It was very cute, and very similar to the Disneyland version as well. After pausing to get a few nice birds eye view photos of Toontown, I went next door and caught my Go Coaster ride. There was no wait at all, so when I was done, I walked back over and tried to find Kevin to see if he wanted me to hold his parade spot while he went and rode. When I got back to where I had left him, he was nowhere to be found, so I moved along into Fantasyland.

Since I knew that Kevin wasn't a big fan of the Mad Tea Party, I decided to ride that since I was by myself. I only had to wait until the end of one cycle before I got to ride, and of course I got a teacup all to myself.

After that, I went to ride Dumbo. There was a significantly longer wait for Dumbo, but the way the line was handled impressed me. As soon as the Dumbos would land, a waiting group would be ushered into the loading area. Two CMs would help people find their places and buckle them in, so the down time in between cycles was extremely small. As soon as the ride would start, the same two CMs would come back to the queue and hustle the next group of riders into the waiting area and give them instructions on what to do, where to go and everything. They even had a board that had everything written on it in English that they handed to me while the CM was spieling the instructions. As soon as the CM was done, the ride was over and the next group was let in. It was extremely efficient, and watching this efficiency made the time go by more quickly, at least for me.

After Dumbo, it was time to head over to Tomorrowland to meet up with Kevin. I was a little early, so I found a bench in a place where I was able to see everyone well and waited for him. After a while, I realized that he probably wouldn't be able to spot me from where I was sitting, which was almost behind a churro cart, so I moved to a much closer flower planter. He arrived after just a few minutes, and we headed inside together.

Much like our last experience with Space Mountain in Disneyland, as soon as we were let in, there was no one inside! We walked and walked and walked before we ran into any other people. The line was only backed up to the second level above the loading area, so the wait was less than ten minutes, I think. This ride is basically an exact duplicate of the Disneyland Space Mountain, but the ride felt different since the last time I rode Disneyland's Space Mountain was when it was Rockin' Space Mountain in spring of 2007. It had been over 7 years since I'd ridden the original space-themed Space Mountain.

After the ride, we decided to grab a bite to eat, so we chose Pan Galactic Pizza Port. When we went inside, I saw the adorable Mickey lunchboxes than some friends had gotten earlier in the year. I had to have one...they were just too I gave my order and my money to Kevin, and he bought mine just in case they wanted to say something about an adult buying the kids meal. Kevin got a piece of pizza and a drink...

...and my lunch box came with a strawberry jelly sandwich, a bag of chips, some congealed fruit and a Coke. The sandwich was really good since the bread was actually an individual little Mickey shaped loaf of bread that was cut in half. I love the lunchbox that came with it too...I've taken it to work a lot, and have had people ask me "What is *that*?" a lot when they see it haha. During and after dinner, we had a great time watching the little show that goes on in the upstairs area of the restaurant, with a pizza making machine and a big video wall.

It was night time by the time we were done, so we cut across World Bazaar and went into a few shops to see if we could find any souvenirs that we liked.

Are you ready? Lets go to Tokyo Disney Resort!

I found an awesome White Rabbit shirt with some kanji on it, but it didn't come in my size. Kevin found a nice jacket, so I got it for him since I still owed him for the price of my admission ticket. Afterwards, we went back into Adventureland and decided to ride the Western River Railroad.

Me showing off my AWESOME new lunchbox in the Western River Railroad queue

This railroad was actually quite a bit longer than I expected it to be, especially since it only had the one stop. It wandered through the entire Adventureland and Westernland areas, and even included the Primeval World diorama like in Disneyland.

After the railroad, we decided to watch the Enchanted Tiki Room since it starred Stitch. The show was pretty similar to the Florida version, but I thought it was better since I don't care for Gilbert Gottfried. I mean, I don't care for Stitch much either, but he is way better than Iago any day! It was cute though, and all the birds kept calling him "Big Kahuna." Those were pretty much the only words we were able to understand! We also noted that they staff this Tiki Room with EIGHT Cast Members. EIGHT! The Florida one generally has two! This really speaks volumes to me about how they excel in showing excellent customer service.

Leaving the Tiki Room, we noticed that we were within our Fastpass window for Big Thunder Mountain, so we made that our next stop. The exterior of the mountain and queue looks fairly similar to the US versions, and the ride is very similar as well until you get to the end. Instead of just petering our and getting slower, it gets faster and has a few more hidden drops and other elements. As soon as we got off, we both declared it to be better than either of the US Big Thunder Mountain Railroads, but Kevin said that the Paris version was still the best.

At this point, it was getting close to time for Dreamlights, so Kevin said he wanted to go ahead and stake out a good spot. I didn't particularly care to wait so long for the parade when we could plainly see it from farther away, but he insisted, so I waited. It wasn't too bad of a wait, and soon the parade was starting. This parade uses the same music as the Main Street Electrical Parade, which I have loved immensely ever since I worked at Disney World. I enjoyed the parade quite a bit, mainly because of the music. The floats were all totally different, so it wasn't quite as overly wonderful as Main Street Electrical Parade, but it was definitely better than Spectromagic.

After the parade, Kevin said that he wanted to wait and see the fireworks. I had no interest at all in watching the fireworks, so we decided to meet up later to ride Astroblasters together. He headed off towards Main Street, and I decided to go ride Star Jets since I didn't figure I would get to ride it any other time.

Fireworks, behind Star Jets

I don't recall quite how long I waited, but it was a healthy wait considering the time of day. After Star Jets, I went next door to the Grand Circuit Raceway to catch a ride. This was another example of excellent organization and efficiency because as soon as a car pulled up, that driver jumped out, the new driver jumped in and they were off. No downtime in between, no waiting for this or that, or not paying attention and letting the cars stack up. The ride didn't have as many fun little spots as the Autopia at Disneyland does, which was disappointing. I also discovered that there is some type of braking system that prevents you from coming into contact with the car in front of you. If you get too close, it automatically slams on your brake. What a novel idea, and one that should be implemented around the world!

When I was done, I had to scurry to get over to Astroblasters in time to meet Kevin, but luckily he was a few minutes late too, so we spotted each other as we were walking towards the ride.

The ride was much like the one in Disneyland as well, though the show scenes were not identical. It was cute. I wish the Florida one would get an upgrade like the other two Buzz Lightyear rides have where you can pick up the laser gun.

When the ride was over, it was past park closing time, so we went back up near the castle to take some night shots. We both got a few decent ones before deciding to go ahead and head out for the day. We browsed a few more gift shops on the way out, but didn't find anything either of us desperately needed. We also made a stop in the penny arcade, which was really cool. Everything cost 10yen...about ten cents. I did one of the little fortune telling machines that has an old lady fortune teller inside, which spits out a card with your fortune on it. It was a nice (and cheap) souvenir. After a little more picture taking, we decided to retire for the evening.

See you later, Tokyo Disneyland!

And for the first time ever, I was able to take a monorail back to my hotel.

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