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April 2008 Archives

April 14, 2008

A Trip to Tokyo Disneyland - Introduction

AllEars® reader JeanineY is part of the NFFC trip to Tokyo Disneyland. She will be filing reports along the way. Here is the Introduction:

Ohayo Mickey! - The Departure

Many people plan out trips years in advance, carefully checking for bargains and making upgrade requests in a timely fashion so that every value is maximized, and no time is wasted. I am not any of those people. On the other hand, have you ever seen people run shrieking down the airport as the gate is paging them and saying the door is closing? I'm sorry I was too busy to wave hello to you.

My advance planning for this trip consisted of making a hotel reservation about 2 years ago, when the NFFC announced they were going to have a group program at Tokyo Disneyland for its 25th anniversary celebration.

Tokyo Disneyland 25th Anniversary Logo


The hotels around the Tokyo Disneyland resort are, as a rule, fairly expensive, and the rate they had found at that time was pretty good and didn't require a credit card deposit to hold it. As the date approached, the airfare dipped down enough to justify it, so we (my Mother and I) were off.

Of course, conveniently enough, the week before we were to leave turned out to be the airline equivalent of Chernobyl, as 4 carriers went out of business, and the week we actually were to leave, American canceled hundreds of flights due to mechanical inspections.

You know a trip is auspicious when your main hope is to just get off the ground in the first place. Nevertheless, in defiance of probability we had no problems with our flights that an upgrade wouldn't have cured. On a 12+ hour flight in coach, the evolution of attitude goes like this:

Hour 1: Well this isn't bad! We left on time and everything! The grand adventure has begun!
Hour 2: There isn't much space in these seats, is there? Well at least the meal was...included.
Hour 6: If this guy in back of me shakes my chair one more time, I am turning my vent full blast towards him. Also, I can't feel my feet anymore.
Hour 10: We will grow old and die on this plane.

Unfortunately, despite scheduling a flight that was supposed to land 1.5 hrs before the last bus to the hotel left the airport, we were foiled by the plane landing 40 minutes late, and then by getting stuck in the disembarkation line for around 45 more minutes. After some initial panic, we got tickets for the next bus to the next closest stop and then took a cab the rest of the way.

The Tokyo Bay Hilton is probably the nicest Hilton I've stayed at, and definitely the cutest. The level of service is always astounding and the decor is wonderful. Not only do they have a small area for children to play in while adults register for their room, but they also have a lego area and a small mock up of the hotel counter, along with a rack of tiny hotel uniforms so kids can create their own photo ops.

Tokyo Bay Hilton

We are given a room on one of their refurbished rooms, the Happy Magic Rooms! It is so cute, it makes Sanrio stores blush. There is a Happy Magic mirror that plays music and shows a strange girl's picture when you push a button, and an enormous Happy Magic key that causes music and lights to issue out of a large Happy Magic lock.

Some in the NFFC party decide to monorail over to the Ikspiari to do some shopping. IKSPIARI is made up of nine themed zones containing a total of 120 shops and restaurants, as well as the 16-screen "AMC Ikspiari 16" cinema complex and Camp Nepos, a children's play and care center.

We are tired enough so we satisfied ourselves by buying our park tickets for the week and some shrimp pitas from the Starbucks in the lobby.

Tomorrow: DisneySeas.

Read my Trip Report to Tokyo Disneyland.

April 16, 2008

Walt Disney World as a Teen!!! Introduction

Hey my name is Caitlin Burns!

I am a senior at John Glenn high school in lovely Westland Michigan! If you like unpredictable weather and freezing temperatures during spring you should visit sometime lol.

I am 17 years old and I have been in love with everything Disney for as long as I can remember.
My first trip to Disney World was when I was two and I have been going back ever since. Every time I go there is always something new to look forward to and enjoy.

Now I have been told by some of my friends "Oh isn't Disney World for little kids?" I am here to prove this wrong. There are so many things at Disney that a lot of little kids can't enjoy like teenagers and adults can! I feel that every year I go back I see Disney from a different view. This year I am seeing it from the "I am about to graduate and step into the real world" point of view.

I am going with my parents for my graduation present and this will be my sixth trip to the "World". My family and I are all Disney addicts and each of us love something different at Disney. This time around we are staying at Port Orleans Riverside. We are also going to be going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure which is something we have never done before!

Not only are we celebrating my graduation we are also celebrating my mom and dad's 20th wedding anniversary and my 18th birthday!

My itinerary for the week is:

April 15th- Magic Kingdom
April 16th- Magic Kingdom and the Pirate and Princess Party
April 17th- Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure
April 18th- Disney's Hollywood Studios
April 19th- Animal Kingdom and Disney's Grad Night
April 20th- Epcot (Where we will be seeing the All Ears gang!)
April 21st- Surfing lessons at Typhoon Lagoon and wherever we feel like going back to then going home

So stay tuned and I hope I can help you parents of teenagers plan an exciting Disney adventure for them.

Read my Entire Trip Blog!

April 17, 2008

Walt Disney World as a Teen!!! Part 1

Hello from very warm (for us Michigan folk) Florida!

I"m Caitlin Burns blogging live from Walt Disney World!

In case you missed yesterday's post, here's my intro!

I really don't think that there is a better sound than that of your pilot saying," We are touching down in Orlando Florida!" It's then that you realize, wow I am awake and I am actually going to Disney World!

My parents and I rode the Disney Magical Express to Port Orleans Riverside. I highly recommend taking the Magical Express no matter how old you are because they show a video of Disney World on the way to your hotel and it gets you really pumped for how much fun you are going to be having, plus driving through the Walt Disney World welcome sign is very cool!

When we got to our hotel, check in was easy and our room was ready even though we showed up earlier than we were scheduled. Our room is awesome! It's in Oak Manor and having never stayed in the mansions at Port Orleans it's very cool! We even have a fridge and outside of the mansions you have to ask for one. We are also right near one of the relaxing pools. I am looking forward to getting some sun out there!

Oak Manor at Port Orleans Riverside

After we got settled in we left to have lunch at the Crystal Palace. My parents went to the restaurant to check in while I went to Philharmagic to get Fast Passes. The last time we went I bought a My Pal Mickey, I recommend it because all of his corny jokes and singing will have you rolling with laughter, and he has some very interesting facts about the park so listening to his take on Fantasyland was fun.

Caitlin


I always love character dining! You get to sit down enjoy your food and let the characters come to you! Plus you get to watch all the little kids interacting with the characters. I am an only child so it was nice watching the younger kids meet the characters

My parents had on their happy anniversary buttons and the Crystal Palace cast members noticed it right away. They had us wait a few minutes while they made a heart made out of confetti on the table. Later they also got a certificate signed by Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger! I didn't really enjoy the food at the Crystal Palace this time around though, unless you like more exotic foods (the broccoli had lime sauce on it!) then I wouldn't recommend it but it's nice to meet the characters.

On our way to Philharmagic we ran into Cinderella's ugly stepsisters! They were so much fun! I love getting my pictures taken with the characters and I think villains are more fun for teens.

They started singing "Do the Bustle" which would go right over little kids heads but for us older people it's funny. The stepsisters improvise a lot (they started screaming when my family walked up because Mickey was hooked on my purse and they don't like mice), and as I said, the villains are more fun.

Then we went over to Philharmagic which is one of my absolute favorite attractions! It's funny, has your favorite Disney songs in it and is 3D! I don't think you could do any better than that lol.

When we walked out of Philharmagic the parade was just starting.

Caitlin tip: Get in line right behind the taped walkway and stand there until the parade starts, once it starts and the walkway is closed you can be right on the curb!

I always love the parade and no matter how many times you see it, it's still amazing!

I got a couple more pictures with characters and then we left to get our rental car. I recommend getting a rental car because I am not a fan of having to wait for buses if you leave one of the parks late at night. That and a rental car gives you a little more freedom if you feel like going out to explore.

My family and I decided to go to Downtown Disney's Market Place. I love shopping so this is one of the places I have to go to whenever we visit! Downtown Disney is really made for older people because they have a movie theater, Disney Quest and of course shopping. This is somewhere your family can split up for a while and do their own thing then meet back up later.

I tried a caramel apple at Goofy's Candy Co. "WOW" is the best word to describe how good it tasted lol.

I can't wait for tomorrow! Ttyl!

Read my Entire Trip Blog!

April 18, 2008

Walt Disney World as a Teen!!! Part 2

Nothing says "Disney" like the Magic Kingdom!

Today was so much fun! We got there early to see the rope drop and then went straight to Fantasyland, where we basically walked onto to every ride! We also got to see Ariel in her grotto which is something I have never been able to do because it's usually so busy.

The Haunted Mansions updates are so cool! You have to be a huge fan of the ride to know that it has been changed because only little bits and pieces have been added. Let's just say the woman of the house is not very friendly!

The only ride at Magic Kingdom I didn't really enjoy was the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. We ended up getting stuck on it at three different points and on the third one the ride got officially closed! I mean the free fast passes for any ride was an added bonus but getting stuck made me very claustrophobic!

Caitlin Timon and Rafiki


I really enjoyed the train ride which is something I don't remember doing. It's cool just sitting back and relaxing and seeing the Magic Kingdom from a different point of view.

The longest line today was Splash Mountain and we had fast passes. I love that ride and usually when it's as warm as it is today you can expect long lines.

I loved Casey's Corner though. The food was soooo good! I loved their French fries!

I can't wait until the Pirate and Princess Party tonight! Until then I will be lounging by the pool! Ttyl!

April 19, 2008

Walt Disney World as a Teen!!! Part 3

Ok so the Pirate and Princess party was amazing!

The highlight of my night had to be meeting Captain Jack Sparrow though! Wow just looking at him is worth the price of admission! I seriously almost fainted!

Caitlin and Jack Sparrow


The parade was spectacular! The pirates float was probably my favorite because it was full of excitement and got your blood pumping. The cannons on the boat actually worked too! Of course it didn't explode with a cannonball but the light and smoke coming out of it was cool!

The fireworks are probably the best set of fireworks I have ever seen at the Magic Kingdom, which is actually saying a lot since Wishes is so amazing. I would explain more but it's something you have to see for yourself and my words wouldn't do the show justice.

Caitlin Tip: You should be in front of the castle if you want to have the best seat in the house for the fireworks.

For teens I would recommend skipping the treasure hunt, all you get are some bead necklaces and since there are so many rides to go on and characters to see you won't regret missing it.

It was also cool walking around with my Happy Birthday pin on. I was told happy birthday countless time and the River Roulette band sang me happy birthday!

I definitely recommend the Pirate and Princess party to anyone who has a chance to go!

A Trip to Tokyo Disneyland - Day 1 - Tokyo DisneySea

AllEars® reader JeanineY is part of the NFFC trip to Tokyo Disneyland. She will be filing reports along the way. Here is Day #1: DisneySea

Tokyo Disney has an odd quirk about it's passes--you can buy multi day passes up to 4 days but you must specify which park you are going to each day for the first two days, and there is no park hopping permitted until after those two days are up. For our purposes, it was essential we designated Disneyland as our second day, so as to be there for the official 25th anniversary date. Consequently, we spent today at DisneySea.

The big globe in Tokyo DisneySea Plaza


Tokyo DisneySea is unique among all Disney parks. It is based upon the concept of seven different lands joined by their varied connections to the sea. It is insanely detailed in terms of theming and is probably the most beautiful Disney park I have ever visited. Of all the American parks, it resembles EPCOT more than any other in its lack of reliance on conventional Disney characters, and its representation of multiple different cultures and geographic areas.

After breakfast in the lounge I went downstairs to register for the NFFC events. After being given copious amounts of papers, tickets, shirts, bags, pins, etc., we were off to DisneySea for Early Magic Hours. Apparently, the first day of your ticket you are allowed in an hour early before the park opens to the general public if you stay at one of their associated hotels--this was a boon as we pretty much had the park to ourselves the first hour, although not essential as the crowds were fairly minimal for the whole day.

Along with the anniversary decorations, the Tokyo Disney Resort is also celebrating their version of the Flower and Garden Festival so there are various topiaries and merchandise available as well.

Tokyo Disney Sea Spring festival topiary


Our first stop for the morning was the relatively new Tower of Terror ride in the American Waterfront area. This variation jettisoned the Twilight Zone theme and instead features a storyline of a wealthy American adventurer Harrison Hightower, who absconds with a tribal idol and ends up taking an unfortunate elevator ride shortly thereafter.

Harrison Hightower's Tower of Terror at Tokyo Disney Sea


The main difference I noted was that there appears to be a much higher emphasis on the decoration and show value of the line as you walk through the lobby, his study, and numerous trophy/artifact storerooms, and much less emphasis on the actual drop. Anyone looking for the same thrill value found in the WDW or CA versions would likely be disappointed, however anyone who typically felt those rides were too intense could easily enjoy this version.

It had begun to rain somewhat by now, so we soggily made our way to the most dramatic of all the lands, Mysterious Island. Set in sort of a Jules Verne era of exploration, it contains two of the more popular rides of the park, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

The queue for 20k Leagues Under the Sea


In both rides, you start out plumbing the depths of each respective media in vehicles designed by Captain Nemo--what could go wrong? They are each immensely enjoyable and understandable despite being almost entirely in Japanese. The only difficulty I see with them is that the ride vehicles are rather small and in the case of 20k Leagues you actually have to practically crawl in back of the other people in the pod in order to reach your bench. The windows are, as with everything in Japan, rather low to the ground so it's hard to imagine that really tall people would not have to stoop down for the duration of the ride.

By this time, the NFFC luncheon at Magellan's was taking place. Magellan is a restaurant in the Fortress Exploration area which incorporates multiple Spanish fortress architectural elements to make up a center for exploration in the Galileo era. The food was excellent and was topped off by a great talk by Dennis Tanida, an Imagineer and NFFC member who worked on the Fortress and the beautiful Spanish galleon attached to it.

Magellan's at Tokyo Disney Sea


Part of the amazing decor inside Magellan's at Tokyo Disney Sea


Subsequently we staggered over to the Lost River Delta area, themed after the jungles of Central America and rode Raging Spirits--a ride about the same size as Primeval Whirl, but with the distinction of having a 360-degree loop.

Raging Spirits at Tokyo Disney Sea


Of interest, they are so afraid things will fall off of you, they offer free 3-hour lockers outside the ride for your belongings. I'm not sure they have too much to worry about, as the ride seems to go so slowly, compared with all the other coasters of its ilk, that it seems as though you have time to reach out and grab anything that falls.

We went on to Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull which is essentially the same ride as at DL, but with slightly different theming and effects. I would say the rides are about equivalent, although I am partial to the DL version out of hometown loyalty.

Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull


At this point, it was time to make our way over to the Mediterranean Harbor to see the daily showing of The Legend of Mythica, their big water show. It's hard to describe it as, unlike the rides, the storyline does escape you a little if you don't know Japanese.

Legends of Mythica


The only thing you can imagine is that someone decided to throw everything anyone might like to see in a show together into one glorious spectacular. There's singing, dancing, characters, floats, fire effect, water effects, drumming, jet skis, kites, fireworks, and more. There must be a phenomenal number of CMs working on this one show, and it all goes to form an extravaganza that's unlikely to be matched in any US park.

Mythica

Mickey and Mythica


Subsequently we went around picking up a number of smaller attractions around the park until it was time for the second big water show, the nighttime production BraviSEAmo! I believe it's supposed to be a romance of sorts, between a water spirit and a fire spirit, and it works out about as well as you'd think. The production itself is excellent and I could only advise getting there early enough to get a decent viewing point.

BraviSEAmo! Water spirit

BraviSEAmo! Fire spirit



After a long day at the park, we managed to catch the monorail to Ikspiari for a couple of bowls of tempura udon, and then back to the hotel.

Tomorrow: Tokyo Disneyland's 25th Anniversary.

Read my Trip Report to Tokyo Disneyland.

April 20, 2008

Walt Disney World as a Teen!!! Part 4

Today was pretty fun! I went to Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort and it was my first time!

My family and I usually just take the Disney transports back and forth to the parks so we don't have a way to get to Universal and we usually don't have enough time to anyway.

Caitlin at Universal


I loved the character breakfast. It has normal breakfast foods but their muffins are amazing! I got to meet Thing 1, Thing 2, Cat in the Hat and my personal favorite Spiderman! The characters were all great and a lot of fun to meet. The restaurant was deserted so the characters would go back to tables and say hi again.

Caitlin and Spiderman


The roller coasters are amazing and a must do for any teen!

My personal favorite was the Spiderman ride because you never knew what was going to happen next!

The Dr. Seuss part was mostly for little kids but you can meet the Grinch there which was pretty cool.

I would also recommend Poseidon's Fury, it may seem cheesy at the beginning but by the end your jaw is disconnected from your body and on the floor.

Caitlin


I didn't get a lot of time at the Studios but I saw Shrek 4D and got to meet Shrek, Fiona and Donkey all which was very cool.

For dinner we went to Fulton's Crab house at Downtown Disney, definitely somewhere you have to eat at if you get the chance! I had on my birthday pin and we had been talking to our waitress about me graduating high school this year.

Well when we were done with our meal she came out with a slice of chocolate cake and around the rim of the plate written in chocolate was "Happy Birthday" and "Congrats 2008". It was yummy and very sweet of our waitress to do.

We will see what tomorrow brings ttyl!

Read my Entire Trip Blog!

April 24, 2008

Walt Disney World as a Teen!!! Part 5

We went to the Wilderness Lodge for breakfast. I highly recommend eating at Whispering Canyon! The food is good and the atmosphere is fun. I didn't have any strawberry jam so I asked the waiter for some and he yelled out to the restaurant if anyone had strawberry jam and they had to run and bring it to me.

Caitlin at the Wilderness Lodge


Ah I always love Disney Hollywood Studios!

I highly recommend the Tower of Terror and The Rockin' Roller Coaster to any teen but don't waste your entire day riding those two rides over and over again! Trust me, I did it when I was younger. I rode the Rockin' Roller Coaster nine times in one day! The lines for those two get really long really fast so be sure to show up early and not wait until the middle of the day to get in line. Get fast passes if you can so you can jump lines later.

I am usually a big fan of the Great Movie Ride but it really depends on who the actors are, our Bugsy was a girl which totally ruined it for me.

I love High School Musical and the parade is pretty good. I enjoyed the first parade because it had more audience participation but the High School Musical 2 parade is still pretty good. It's fun to watch and the music will be stuck in your head all day!

High School Musical


I am a huge fan of Mama Melrose's but if you aren't a big pasta fan you probably shouldn't go to it. I get the Spaghetti Fra Diavolo which is amazing! If you are a seafood fan you have to try it!

Mama Melrose's Fra Diavolo

We went to Muppet Vision 3D and it was so deserted we got to sit wherever we wanted and didn't have to move all the way down to the end of the row! This is something you have to see at least once!

I rode Star Tours for the first time and if you are a Star Wars fan you should definitely ride it! After the ride one of the cast members we had been talking to gave my family a coupon for free ice cream since it was my birthday and my parents' anniversary.

I saw a lot of characters, Buzz and Woody arm wrestled over me and Mike and Sully were a lot of fun too.

Buzz and Woody


I absolutely loved the Block Party Bash parade you definitely have to see it! It is a lot of fun and the people in it are awesome! It is now my favorite parade at Disney World!


Caitlin Dancing


After Hollywood Studios we went to Fantasia Mini Golf. One recommendation is to keep your ball out of the water and if it goes in leave it there and get another one! My mom hit hers into the water and when she went to get it she dropped our camera in the water! Be careful around water!

I am also a bigger fan of the Winter Summerland course than I am of Fantasia.

Have a great day and I will ttyl!

href="http://www.allearsnet.com/blogs/guestblog/trip_reports/teens_trip_report/">Read my Entire Trip Blog!

April 25, 2008

Walt Disney World as a Teen!!! Part 6

Epcot is in my opinion the hottest (weather wise) park!
Ugh I hate walking around there on hot days!

I recommend going to the Character Connection first, it's air conditioned and the line is very short if you go first thing. Last year when I went the Character Connection was kind of hidden so we had the place to ourselves and lots of time to spend with the characters but this year they moved it out into the open.

Character Connection Sign


Go to Soarin' and get fast passes right away! Within the first ten minutes of Epcot opening it already had a thirty minute wait!!!! Which is ridiculous and even the fast pass lines are long!

Go over to Figment's Imagination early and you can walk right on! Everyone was at the Land waiting for Soarin' so we got to sit where we wanted too.

Mission Space is a lot of fun and you should go on it at least once. I have fond memories of it when I went on it last year and ended up meeting Corbin Bleu (from High School Musical) ah that was the day!

Test Track is a must do at least once also. For heavy coaster ride enthusiasts this might not be the best ride and you should high tail it over to Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom.

Test Track


When the World Showcase opens go to Norway first since it has the best ride, the lines get really long later on.

Spaceship Earth has been remodeled and it's so much better! It's a lot of fun at the end when you get to pick what future you want to see!

Spaceship Earth


Now I am going to go rest before Grad Night ttyl!

href="http://www.allearsnet.com/blogs/guestblog/trip_reports/teens_trip_report/">Read my Entire Trip Blog!

April 26, 2008

Walt Disney World as a Teen!!! Grad Night - Part 7

Wow Grad Night was a blast!

Caitlin at Grad Night


I don't recommend going on Space Mountain when you get there because everyone wants to go on it and it ends up being really crowded!

Big Thunder Mountain was the shortest wait I had all night so I recommend going on that plus the view of the park at night is beautiful!

Be sure to go and dance a little bit the music is great and it gets you pumped for graduation!

The Haunted Mansion had a long wait but it's worth it to see everything at night.

I ended up near the front of the concert stage and the fireworks show was amazing! Not as good as the ones at the Pirate and Princess party but close! These were set to the biggest songs of this year and everyone was singing along it was really cool.

I watched The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus; they were ok but had really good stage presence that got everyone else in the crowd pumped!

I loved seeing all of the Disney characters in their caps and gowns and my picture with Grad Mickey is going to be the picture on my graduation party invites!

Caitlin and Minnie


I totally recommend Grad Night so if you are a high school senior or going to be one talk your class into going!

Caitlin and Mickey


Now I need some sleep ttyl!

Read my Entire Trip Blog

A Trip to Tokyo Disneyland - Day 2 - Tokyo Disneyland

AllEars® reader JeanineY is part of the NFFC trip to Tokyo Disneyland. She will be filing reports along the way. Here is Day 2:


We had been told that people would start lining up early in order to get into the park and get a good spot for the Anniversary re-dedication ceremony. After breakfast, we arrived on the monorail to find almost the whole area in front of the entry gates filled with people.


Arriving at Tokyo Disneyland for Re-Dedication Ceremony

When the park finally opened, people moved in a mostly-orderly fashion through the gates and received their commemorative Tinkerbell pin. There was then a mass sprint to the castle forecourt down the World Bazaar area which was lined the entire length with CMs waving and calling out welcomes. A band was out playing, and film crews and press were around in droves.

Having failed to secure a particularly good spot, I mostly saw the ceremony through the viewfinder of some tall person's camera. I did manage to see Toshio Kagami, Chairman of Oriental Land Co. and Bob Iger make their announcements, after which virtually every character and CM known to Tokyo Disneyland came out with much fanfare.


Tokyo Disneyland for Re-Dedication Ceremony

After much singing and dancing, the characters and CMs all paraded off and there was another mass exodus as the large swell of humanity sprinted off again to various attractions or merchandise locations.

We joined in the race to get fastpasses for Pooh (past the CMs vainly calling out "yukkuri!" which is Japanese for "slowly!") and then jumped in whatever Fantasyland lines were shortest. We had surprisingly little wait for most rides, with the exception for Peter Pan which is apparently at least a 35 minute wait in any country.

One attraction I had been waiting to experience for a long time was the Mickey Mouse Revue, which was gone from WDW by the time I ever got there. Although it was presented almost entirely in Japanese, the gist of it seemed clear: It began with a short film intro that traced Mickey Mouse's appearances through time, and then moved into another room which was inhabited by a number of animatronics from various animated classics. These were alternately lit as they performed songs from their respective movies (again, mostly in Japanese) and eventually all joined in for the finale, conducted by Mickey Mouse and his animatronic orchestra.

I thought this was a very appealing show, although the somewhat dated appearance of the filmstrip preceeding the main attraction gives some evidence as to why it might have been replaced.

Mickey Mouse Revue


After that, it was time to congregate for the Club 33 luncheon. The Club 33 in Tokyo Disneyland is in the World Bazaar area, with a similarly inconspicuous entryway.

Club 33 Entrance

The inside is probably as nice as you'd imagine.

Club 33

While the setting was gorgeous, I would have to say that the only underwhelming part of the meal was the food, which was good but didn't really strike the people at our table as being equal to the surroundings. The exception was the dessert which was fabulous.

Club 33

After lunch we had a talk with Imagineer Patrick Brennan who was filling in for Marty Sklar, absent secondary to a death in his family. He spoke of different projects they had coming up for Tokyo Disneyland, took questions, and generally showed a lot of enthusiasm for the park and their work there.

Subsequently, they had a limited amount of Club 33 merchandise for sale. The items were attractive, but a little pricey, running around $157 for a pair of cups.

Club 33 Tea cups

After a quick run back to the hotel to change into more park-friendly clothes, we watched the new Anniversary parade "Jubilation!" from a spot which could only be described as "obstructed viewing." As this was apparently the first official day for the parade, it seemed that everyone in Tokyo had come out to see it and despite the fact that it appears to be mandated that the front 4-8 rows must be sitting, it was still hard to get a good view.

Jubilation Parade


The floats were impressive both in size and in detailing--particularly the Peter Pan float that had a ship in something like a Russian Swing formation hanging from a crescent moon, and associated acrobatics.

After the parade, it was finally time for our Pooh fastpass. Pooh is deservedly one of the most popular rides in Tokyo Disneyland because of its unique trackless ride system which has you skittering around in honeypots seemingly at random--first spinning around in circles, next appearing to crash into other pots, then zooming up to a woozle (or a hefflelump?) to get smoke blown at you. It's a great ride and puts the Anaheim Disneyland version to shame.

Pooh Attraction

After that, we visited a number of other attractions, notably the Country Bears which was amusing as some of the characters apparently spoke Japanese, and some didn't. It was sponsored by House Food Curry, and by an odd coincidence the Hungry Bear Restaurant next door served pretty much nothing but House Food Curry--fortunately we enjoy that, so we sampled their fried prawn curry while waiting for the fireworks which were called off on account of wind.

Hungry Bear Restaurant

Since we had gotten up fairly early in the morning, we had begun to droop from fatigue, so we called it a night. Tomorrow: DisneySea II.

Tokyo Disneyland

Read my Trip Report to Tokyo Disneyland.

April 27, 2008

Walt Disney World as a Teen!!! Part 8

Ah nothing like relaxing!

Instead of going to Epcot today we went yesterday and decided today should be a day to relax. I recommend everyone having a relaxing day on their vacation. The only downside was we didn't get to meet Deb and the All Ears gang.

We hung out at the pool at Port Orleans French Quarter which is very nice and right out in the sun perfect for tanning!

French Quarter Pool


After we were done resting up from grad night my family and I went to Disney Hollywood Studios.

Caitlin Mike and Sully


Now I want to clear something up for all of the people out there: SINGLE RIDER LINES ARE NOT FASTER THAN FAST PASS LINES!

I went on Rockin' Roller Coaster with three different fast passes all in a row and saw people getting into the single rider line which looked like you could just walk onto the ride, wrong. They only use the single rider people when they need you so you end up waiting A LOT longer than you would in the fast pass line.

One kid who had gotten into the single rider line when I was first waiting in the fast pass line ended up filling my seat on my second time around!

Also a tip about any ride that has a movie in a separate room before it: watch the movie once then if you ever go on it again just try to get as close to the doors that open as you can that way you can be the first one out and get to skip the long line of people who were in the movie with you!

We had dinner at the Brown Derby and the food there is fantastic! The Cobb Salad is delicious!

We went to see Fantasmic which is my favorite night show. I recommend sitting higher up and not near the front because you get a better view, plus you get out faster when it's over.

Tomorrow is my last day ttyl.

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A Trip to Tokyo Disneyland - Day 3 - Tokyo Disney Sea

AllEars® reader JeanineY is part of the NFFC trip to Tokyo Disneyland. She will be filing reports along the way. Here is Day 3:

Having arrived at the 3rd day of our 4-day park ticket, we were now free to go into either park at will. Since the NFFC luncheon for today was at the Miracosta Hotel (the amazingly fabulous hotel that makes up part of DisneySea) we headed over in that direction in the morning.

Miracosta Hotel

After entering, we took advantage of the light morning crowds to take a ride on a gondola, from the Mediterranean Harbor area. This area is beautifully themed, but is largely facades, as I believe the Miracosta Hotel makes up one side of the street.

Mediterranean Harbor

The gondola rides have a reasonably authentic feel to them and afford a nice view of the bay. The narration is all in Japanese however, with little obvious hints of what the driver is talking about. At one point I believe he tells everyone to close their eyes as he sings in Italian, which is something of a surreal moment. The ride is probably not a must-do for most people, as it's a relatively low capacity loader and is also sometimes difficult to find working, given that it stops operation when the big water shows are taking place. If you enjoy the canoe rides, but aren't fond of the physical labor involved with them, you'd probably enjoy these.

Gondola Ride

After that, we walked around the Fortress Exploration area which is a terribly underrated attraction. It has almost a Tom Sawyer Island feel to it as it involves a lot of stair-climbing around twisty turrets on Escher-like multiple levels. Based as it is on the theming of discovery and scientific study, it includes fascinating interactive nooks where you can do everything from turn cranks and rotate planets around a huge model of the galaxy, see an optical display of spherical aberration, or operate the most incredibly detailed coin-operated remote-control boats in an environment complete with whirlpools and occasional rainstorms. Definitely worth taking the time to investigate.

Fortress Exploration area

By this point, it was time to make our way to the magnificently themed Miracosta Hotel to Oceano, for our final NFFC lunch. The Miracosta is positioned as the front wall to DisneySea, so that you actually walk under it to enter the park. The views of the harbor area from the rooms are supposed to be incredible, as are the room prices. Should anyone wish to take up a collection for me to stay there, I'll gladly report back.

Miracosta Hotel


Oceano is a similarly beautifully decorated restaurant with multiple dining areas all abstractly given an underwater feel. The lunch was buffet style with a wide variety of selections, all of which were very good. The service was impeccable as usual, with people actually following you around to carry a plate for you, if you looked like you ran out of hands.

Oceano Restaurant


Oceano Restaurant

At the beginning of lunch there was a brief presentation as Dennis Tanida inducted OLC CEO Toshio Kagami into the list of NFFC Disney Legends.

Dennis Tanida, Toshio Kagami, Kendra


Afterwards, one of the several other Imagineers in attendance also gave a brief talk on some of the future plans for the resort. The highlight of the lunch, and possibly of the trip, was being able to go out onto the restaurant balconies at showtime to watch the Legends of Mythica from a special reserved vantage point. As a total Illuminations dessert party devotee, this was an amazing experience and a perfect way to finish the formal NFFC programming.

Legends of Mythica

After another quick jaunt back to the room to change into more park-appropriate clothing, we watched Primavera: Springtime Fun, which was their 3rd and smallest water show. Here, a few character floats came out, while various other characters led different dance acts around the harbor.

Primavera: Springtime Fun

A short walk around the American Waterfront area followed. Although the theming of 1920's New York is well done, I found this to be the least interesting of the lands as, with the exception of Tower of Terror, it mostly consists of shops and restaurants.

American Waterfront

We watched their latest show Big Band Beat at the Broadway Theater which had excellent production values and consisted of a variety of big band/swing numbers, some of which featured Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, and Marie from the Aristocats. It's an interesting show, given that it's all in English, so you wonder how much of it the general Japanese public understands.

Big Band Beat at the Broadway Theater


One more show by the large restaurant-filled SS Columbia, Over the Waves was a typically goofy Japanese production about stowaways on a cruise ship. The singing was largely in English, however all the dialogue is in Japanese--not that it's all that difficult to follow.

Over the Waves

A serviceable dinner at the Chinese buffeteria Vulcania, in the depths of Mysterious Island, rounded out the night.

Vulcania

All the heated food is apparently cooked by the geothermal heat from the volcano.

Vulcania

Once again the fireworks were canceled due to gusty winds, so we headed on back to the hotel.

Read my Trip Report to Tokyo Disneyland.

April 28, 2008

Walt Disney World as a Teen!!! Typhoon Lagoon Surfing - Part 9

Man, am I sore!

Caitlin Surfing at Typhoon Lagoon


I had my surfing lesson this morning which was amazing! The instructors are very helpful and friendly and by the end you are actually surfing! The instructors were from the Cocoa Beach surfing school and they come to Typhoon Lagoon a couple days a week.


Caitlin Surfing at Typhoon Lagoon


The nice thing about learning to surf in a wave pool is you can pick what kind of wave you want. They have the big wave and the small wave for beginners. The class size is small and everyone gets about 10 waves.

Caitlin Surfing at Typhoon Lagoon


I would recommend it to anyone who has ever wanted to surf!


Caitlin Surfing at Typhoon Lagoon


Afterwards we went to Animal Kingdom and it was packed!

Caitlin and Turk at Animal Kingdom


I couldn't go on much since we were leaving early but I managed to go on Dinosaur and Kali River Rapids.

On the River Rapids you really don't get that wet after the initial plunge at the beginning. The scene in the middle is supposed to look like loggers cutting down the rainforest, a girl in our boat thought it was supposed to be ancient Asia so I just wanted to clear things up.

I have always loved Dinosaur ever since my grandma freaked out on it because she couldn't get the seatbelt out, ah fond memories. It's a fun ride and I was very proud of myself when I found a Hidden Mickey on it!

We had lunch at the Restaurantosaurus in Dinoland, it was soooo good! I would recommend it for any picky eaters or someone who would just like an ol' cheeseburger and fries for once. The set up is really cool and you should take your time looking around the restaurant.

I would like to take some time out to say thank you to a few people:

Deb- for letting me write this awesome blog and help all of you out there

My parents- for giving me another awesome vacation

My grandparents and my boyfriend Dustin- for taking care of our dogs and our house.

And you guys for reading this!

Ttyl!

Editor's Note: Thank you Caitlin for sharing your vacation with us! It was great fun to read! Deb

Read my Entire Trip Blog!

A Trip to Tokyo Disneyland - Day 4 - Back to Disneyland

AllEars® reader JeanineY is part of the NFFC trip to Tokyo Disneyland. She will be filing reports along the way. Here is Day 4

Tokyo Disneyland: Back to Disneyland.

Almost before we knew it, we had arrived at the last day of our 4 day passport. We headed on over to Disneyland, as that was where the NFFC was going to take its group photo. On our way, we admired the costuming and enthusiasm of the monorail CMs.

Monorail Cast Members

One thing that really stands out is the sheer volumes of CMs in the parks that are almost unfailingly cheerful and welcoming, and who all have distinct costuming. No nondescript blue shirts and khakis for them!

The symbol of the 25th Anniversary appears to be the Key of Dreams which appears everywhere in the decorations and merchandise.

Tokyo Disneyland 25th Anniversary


Although there was a plethora of merchandising options available in most of the stores around the resort, there were two special items (cell phone charms) that were personalizable: One was an "ears" type hat in various colors with various characters on them that you could get your name printed on, and another was a metal key which was personalized with slide-on beads and various end plates that had letters or pictures on them. These items were only sold in little kiosks in the hub and were characterized by monster lines. This is the one for the keys:

Line for Tokyo Disneyland 25th Merchandise

I heard the key line was something like 4 hours long. I waited in the other line for about 30 minutes successfully, but you had to get in it as soon as you got in the park, because by the afternoon, they closed the line.

After that, we got positioned for the official NFFC photo by sitting in lines in front of the castle. Unfortunately, this had apparently not been cleared by the TDR security, which then halted the proceedings until they could contact other people. Also unfortunate was the fact that we had chosen to sit directly in the path of the Omnibus, which then proceeded to edge closer and closer to us, much to the amusement of the handful of riders on it, who were probably texting all their friends about the odd Americans they were about to run over. Eventually choosing the latter part of valor, we fled, with the hopes that someone had gotten a photo of something.


Since we hadn't done much of the left side of the park, we headed on over to Adventureland, where we found the equivalent to Aloha Isle...

Tropical Juice Bar Squeezer's

...which sadly did not carry the Dole Whip. And that sound you just heard? Was that the death of any desire Mike Scopa ever had to go to Tokyo.

Adventureland is a little odd by our standards, as it incorporates a lot of the New Orleans architecture without actually having a New Orleans Square area. Their Pirates is about the same as the WDW version, complete with an all-Japanese Pirate band outside.


all-Japanese Pirate band

Jungle Cruise was fairly similar to the WDW one, with the narrative being completely in Japanese (although apparently "backside of water" goes over well in any language.)

The Tiki Room was closed as they are currently updating it to include Stitch, so we moved on to the Western River Railroad. This version, unlike the American versions, has no stops but basically just encircles the Jungle Cruise area. It has the dinosaur dioramas from DL, and additional Indian animatronics at various areas along the way.

After a stop for some noodles at China Voyager, it began to pour down rain. This was a little distressing as we had hoped to see the new parade Jubilation from a better vantage point, and they apparently have a history of putting on a different rainy day parade when it rains. Fortunately, they went on with the parade as scheduled, just eliminating the show stops and some of the acrobatics.

Jubilation Parade

Jubilation Parade

Jubilation Parade

Jubilation Parade

Jubilation Parade

It's a lovely parade, although there doesn't seem to be much in the way of a theme tying it all together...but that seems to be the way the parades have been going for awhile.

By this time, we needed to go to meet some family members that were having dinner with us that night, so that was pretty much it for the day. I did, however go back in the evening another day for a few more hours in Disneyland to see their evening parade Dreamlights.

Dreamlights Tokyo Disneyland Night Parade

Dreamlights Tokyo Disneyland Night Parade

Dreamlights Tokyo Disneyland Night Parade

Dreamlights Tokyo Disneyland Night Parade

Dreamlights Tokyo Disneyland Night Parade

Dreamlights Tokyo Disneyland Night Parade

Dreamlights Tokyo Disneyland Night Parade

Dreamlights Tokyo Disneyland Night Parade

Dreamlights Tokyo Disneyland Night Parade


This is a beautiful parade that combines all the charm of the Main St. Electrical Parade (including some of the music) with all the higher-tech effects of Spectromagic. It was awesome, and if any of the US parks ever gets it, we can consider ourselves lucky.


Afterwards, I took in a few more attractions finally got to see the Dreams firework show from the DL side. It was nice, but very short--the lighting on the castle changed with the music and the shells and was very pretty. Still, I don't think Wishes or Remember have anything to worry about.

Dream Fireworks Show


The last area I got to investigate was their Toontown, which is like a mirror image of DL's, with the residential district on the right, and the business district on the left. Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin was about the same, but the main attraction for me was the Jolly Trolley! It was still running! I realize for most people this would be an inconsequential thing, but...come on! The Jolly Trolley!

Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin


One more ride on Pooh's Hunny Hunt, and the park was closed. I shopped a little on the World Bazaar area, but the stores close much sooner than in the US, and it was evident they were really trying to clear everyone out of all the shops except for the Emporium, and that one closed about half an hour after the official park closing.

So, that was the end of the Disney-related part of my trip, all of which was terrific. I could not recommend a trip over to the Tokyo Disney Resort highly enough.

People in the US often enjoy saying "sayonara" as goodbye, but in Japanese there is a sense of finality to it (one teacher described it as "something you'd say to someone you're never going to see again...like your ex.") Ja mata is a more casual phrase, meaning something like "see you later." As I will certainly return here, we will not then, say sayonara to Tokyo Disneyland, but rather ja mata. Until next time.

Tokyo Disneyland Castle


Read my Trip Report to Tokyo Disneyland.

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About April 2008

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in April 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2008 is the previous archive.

May 2008 is the next archive.

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