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Malin
03-22-2010, 12:42 AM
Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report
Tuesday the 16th to Wednesday the 17th of March

I was staying in Osaka this week and decided I would take full advantage of my Rail Pass and make a trip down to Tokyo for a couple of days. I scan the websites for room rates and found a good deal at the Sheraton Grande within easy distance of the parks. To make the most of my short time at the Resort I visited the Disney Store in Shinbashi the day before and picked up a two day pass, a service I hope will remain now Disney have the Storeís back under ownership.

The journey from Shin-Osaka Station to Tokyo was about 3 hours so I made reservations earlier in the week to take an early Shinkensen Builet Train from Osaka at 06:08 and arriving in Tokyo around 09:10 in the morning. A quick transfer to another line and I was on a packed train on the way to the Resort.

Arriving I made the decision to check in at the Sheraton before visiting Tokyo DisneySea for the day. So I purchased a 2 day pass for use on the Resort Line. Checking in at the Sheraton, was easy although room wouldnít be ready until after 2 pm, which was alright with me as I was keen to get over to DisneySea while some FastPasses were still available for the day.

Arriving at the park about 10:15 I made a quick stop over at Guest Relations to pick up an English map and made my way over to Journey to the Centre of the Earth. The park was rather crowded which I was already warned about , but the real indication of the park being busy came when I found JTTCOTE with a 200 minute wait. Took out a Fast Pass after queuing about 10 minutes and walked over to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which was posting a 75 minute wait. My experiences with lines at the Tokyo Disney Resort is that wait time can be slightly in accurate and the wait turned out to only be 45 minutes.

Walked over to Arabian Coast and found Sinbad was a walk on, 5 minute wait, even Stitch had a longer line outside. While its sad to see such an attraction like Sinbad largely ignored by the Resort fan base who would rather queue up to buy the latest Duffy item on display, I am grateful that DisneySea does have one high quality attraction where the wait times are minimal.

Leaving Sinbad I made my way over to the Lost River Delta section to find out to my horror that Tropic Alís was closed. No fried based Cheesecake snacks for me today. Slowly walking around the park taking in the atmosphere and long lines for everything, I came across my first Character sighting of the day with Goofy in Port Discovery costume, canĎt believe its taken so long to spot any Characters, the park is usually full of them. A massive queue at Aunt Pegís in the Cape Cod area. This line was the queue for Guest to pick up the latest Duffy item Shellie May, who is a female friend. Deciding that while I should probarely pick one up, I was not prepared to wait in that line which stretch all the way into Port Discovery. So I made the smart move to re visit later in the day once queueís had settle down.

It was around 11.30 at this time and I felt it was a good time to pick up something to eat before the crowds turned up for lunch. Cape Cod was the venue of choice with burgers and popin Chicken. The Restaurant was at half capacity due to the new Duffy show setup, and most of the other side which usually sits empty was full and thatís something I have never witness, although some space was available outside. After lunch I strolled over to the American Waterfront area and found myself lost in translation as Cast Members were inviting Guest inside the Broadway Music Theatre for Big Band Beat. My first reaction was do I need a lottery ticket, but no one was showing them so I join the flow and walked in and took a seat. Had a quick glance at the Resort schedule and it states that lottery would be happening for this show, on the date in question, but clearly no lottery was being done today. This made me realise that my own personal experience with the seat distributation system is that it can lead to much confusion when dates are falsely advertised. While I was happy to see the show from my desired location, I am kind of disappointed with the lack of communication given over it.

After the show which was very enjoyable as always and will be missed once retired possibly next year, I walked back over to Port Discovery and spotted the Aquatopia ride being evacuated, anyway I selected a FastPass for Stormrider which was posting long 90 minute waits, I later found out this was down to the attraction only having one simulator in action, second one was down for refurbishment. I spotted than the second character of the day an unusual one in my opinion, with Mr Incredible out in Port Discovery. Iím thinking the reason could be that Goofy and Mr Incredible are the same height, so the performer inside the costume likely plays both roles.

A bit more walking around enjoying the details, I purchased a Coconut swirl ice cream from the Arabian Coast and join the line for the Magic Carpet Theatre. Only second time to do this attraction and first time using the subtitle screen. I just canít get into this attraction at all, and will probarely avoid it on any further trips. Its probarely the only DisneySea attraction I dislike enough , but it does have its fans too.

Moved over to Mysterious Island to use my Fastpass on Journey and was sidetracked by the Legend of Mythica which is a show I donít tire of seeing. Not sure why but seating felt more comfortable than it usually does, where your kneeís are grating against the back of the other seat, also bigger spaces to store bags, although the later I notice back in May. While I used a FastPass on Journey it should be pointed out it was still a good 20 minute wait, although you kind of donít mind with so much eye candy around.

Finishing up I decided I would walk over to Mermaid Lagoon and check out its Little Mermaid show which is always a favourite, while in the area I tried some Sea salt ice cream and checked out in some detail Jumpiní Jellyfish and Scuttleís Scooters which are both going to be featured under Toy Story theming for the upcoming Toy Story Playland at Walt Disney Studios Paris. If Disney can create the same type of amusement and atmosphere that it has done with Mermaid Lagoon, Toy Story Playland wonít be such a bad idea, but somehow I have my doubts. The ironic thing in all this is that Mermaid Lagoon was once considered for Paris.

Stormrider FastPass was up next and that was followed by crossing back over to Lost River Delta and by good timing entering the Mystic Rhythmís theatre with a few minutes to go, strangely despite how good I rate this show, its actually only the second time Iíve ever seen it. Although outstanding and a refreshing change to the number of character shows the Resort presents. Even a lot of the streetsmophere shows feature characters now days.

I wanted to drop my backpack off at the room and pop by Bon Voyage to see what Power of Music merchandise was left to purchase. A rule with me is that I usually stick to the Mickey plushes and CD albums when it comes to the special event stuff, although unfortunately the later was sold out. Arrived at the room after catching the monorail and was happy to have a park view room. Dropping the gear off I headed back to DisneySea and looked for somewhere to have dinner, unfortunately the Zambini Brothers was packed and service was slow so I gave up and hit the Arabian Coast and has the curry sampler which was quite a good portion I felt for Tokyo Disney standards.

After this I hit Aquatopia and had a nice view of the fireworks, this attraction is lame but is stunning at night. And than finally I made my move to Aunt Pegís where the line was dead, although it picked up again as I left and I was in there seconds picking up a Shellie May to compliment the Duffy I already have on display at home.

After this time I was ready to call it a night and head over to the hotel, although I did pop into a few shops on the way, but really couldnít see much I wanted to buy, so left it.

I woke up early keen to get to the park an hour so checked out early and arrived at Tokyo Disneyland one hour before opening to find a queue had already formed and was half the way down towards the gates. After an hour we were let in and interesting to note by there absence but no characters were out except for Pooh. Usually the entrance is full of them. Anyway I power walked over to Monsters Inc to check it out one last time before its update and I never really notice a difference in the speed of the ride that some have commented on, and I still take issue with the flashlight with it being an distraction and Guest not really understanding when to and not to use the flashlight. Except for the minor complaints its still a impressive dark ride.

I made a dash over to Pooh to pick up a Fast Pass and found a queue stretching into Tomorrowland. After that I considered standing in line for Splash but in the end decided against it and took a space out at the Castle forecourt area for Rhythm! Melody! Harmony! The Castle show to celebrate the Power of Music event. Not picking up a schedule I was unsure when the show actually began and heard no programme reminders until 5 minutes before show time, although announcements were made in the park, as I later found out. Now this is my first Tokyo Disneyland Castle Show and while some may not view it as the parks best effort for this first timer I felt the show was outstanding . Huge cast of performers and the scale made it impressive, and makes it even more embarrassing to think of that shambles of a show Disneyland Paris stages each day.

Leaving I was impressed with how quickly the area cleared, and so what to do now. I took inspiration from a recent picture guide Ichigopara did over at the MiceChat Weekend update and checked out some of the Power of Music food items on sale. I ended up having a rather tasty Sausage in pastry shaped like a musical flute. A new FastPass window was opened and I used it to pick up a FastPass for the Haunted Mansion , all other FastPasses would have been for much later times and I needed to leave the Resort around 18.00 to make it back in time for my train to Osaka, After picking up a FastPass I checked out the Country Bears, so refreshing to see the show with out any clicking noises that you usually hear from the AAís at WDW.

Time was going fast and people were already sitting out in line for Jubilation, so I joined them, I do rate this parade highly, for its colourful costumes and floats, but the soundtrack, Iím not such a fan, anyway afterwards I used my first FastPass on Pooh. I had a 30 minute gap before the Haunted Mansion window opened so took a relaxing ride on the riverboat. On my way I spotted Pluto and the Country Bears out doing meets and as I was fighting my way though the crowds, Pluto stumbled into my direction and hugged me, clearly wishing to escape from his rather obsessive fans who stalk the characters from the moment there appear on stage to them leaving.

After the Mansion which will be change for its Holiday makeover on my next visit, I caught the second showing of Rhythm! Melody! Harmony! Before checking out the shops which were packed. Still not being able to find that Power of Music CD, I knew Ikspiari would probarely stock it and yes I was fortunate enough to find it.

And that brings to a closure my short trip to the Resort, but while I did face big crowds and didnít get the chance to do many of the top attractions, I will be back in September for Halloween, and this trip was more about enjoying the atmosphere of the Resort and the Power of Music.

Malin
03-22-2010, 12:46 AM
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Malin
03-22-2010, 12:49 AM
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Malin
03-22-2010, 01:04 AM
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simzac
03-23-2010, 07:21 AM
Thanks for a great trip report and photos. I'm soooooooooooooo jealous.;)

disney_princess_85
03-23-2010, 11:47 AM
Interesting read and great photos, thanks for sharing. :thumbsup2

LeeLeeLuvsDisney
03-28-2010, 03:54 PM
Great report - thanks for sharing!

freepixie
03-28-2010, 09:23 PM
WOW! Great trip report!! I'm so jealous!! I so want to get to TDR!! Thanks so much for the report and the pics!! :goodvibes

Malin
03-29-2010, 11:50 AM
Thanks for the kind words, going to show you my trip report now from Universal Studios Japan.

Universal Studios Japan Trip Report

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I was recently fortunate to visit Universal Studios in Japan and I have to say the park left me both impressed and disappointed at the same time. First can I recommend to anyone who is visiting to arrive very early, as the process to buying park tickets is a very slow and draining experience, especially if you visit during a time when a lot of school kids show up in groups of friends but all want to pay separately. Having visited a lot of Japan tourist spots during my trip I think the park is missing out on an opportunity to not place vending machines at the gates where Guest who are only visiting for a day can purchase park tickets, without having to wait with everyone else who is redeeming vouchers and discount coupons. During my trip the park was in full preparation for the opening of its newest attraction Space Fantasy, so plenty of banners and posters were up promoting the attraction.

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Upon arrival you enter the usual entrance except one difference being the glass dome ceiling above, a take on Tokyo Disneylandís World Bazaar only not so much of an echo. The majority of Guest head straight over to Hollywood Dream The Ride, which is a coaster that stands above the entrance to the ride. Unlike Disney, Universal doesnít offer a FastPass option, but does like the US Parks offer you at a price a Universal Express Pass. While itís a bit pricey, I do recommend buying it as it will save you time in lines which can reach 120 minutes on an average day for Hollywood Dream or Spiderman. And that time can be better spent on some of the shows or snacking which people enjoy doing when visiting a Japan theme park.. Some of the snacks are quite interesting too with Snoopy shaped custard buns and strawberry and lemon churroís.

The park has an area themed to Jurassic Park which is very similar to the one found in Florida, but on a smaller scale. The ride on the other is exactly the same, I ended up doing this attraction twice over the two days that I visited and on the second go the T-Rex was broken, so that build up to the finale was ruined. I donít think I have ever been on Journey to the Centre of the Earth at DisneySea and found the Lava Monster not working, so this kind of disappointed me as I was led to believe Universal Japan operated its parks more like the Tokyo Disney Resort and not Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando. While Stateside Universal water attractions can get you soaked, this ride give of more of a splash, and you will dry of fairly quickly, although this doesnít stop the Japanese Guest from purchasing ponchoís.

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The one thing that is hard to escape when visiting the park is the outside world, a suspension bridge over the Osaka Bay area is in full ugly view at every turn, while the Resort Hotels also tower over the park, yes you can make the argument that many Disney hotels are visible from inside the park, but at least Imaginers do a fantastic job in blending the buildings in with the park so they donít stand out. Another issue I have is that the park has stopped re entry so once you leave you canít re enter later in the day.

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The park has recently updated some of its entertainment and one of the new shows takes place in front of Melís Diner and is a Hello Kitty based show. The show is cute and does feature some western performers so some of the script is in English as is the music which features music from Hairspray. Another new show replaces the former Blues Boys and is a Michael Jackson tribute show, and the final sort of street show features Characters from Sesame Street. None of these shows are outstanding but are still worth stopping and watching if you happen to be walking by at the time.

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Many of the attractions found at the park are seriously dated like Backdraft and I canít understand why the park felt the need to rip out the ET ride which is still a classic but keep Backdraft and Back to the Future. The priority on what attractions should go first is lost on me, thatís for sure.

Food on offer was like Tokyo Disney a variety of different foods including the usual burgers, pizzaís and Chinese choices, and only one Japanese Restaurant on site. The merchandise also took inspiration from Disney with biscuit tins featuring Elmo, Snoopy and Spiderman, to soft toys and other silly items that the Japanese all love. Interesting to note the park offered no plastic bags and all items purchased were packed in paper packaging with the parkís logo on it. These items are not easy to carry around with you so unless you have a rucksack or are willing to rent out a locker, I recommend buying souvenirs and gifts late in the day.

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The park has its own version of the hit Musical Wicked and while I wasnít expecting it to be on the scale of the West End or Broadway versionís, but I was kind of expecting something on par with what Tokyo Disney produces for its stage shows. Instead the show had about nine different performers staging about a 30 minute production, very disappointed as I was expecting so much more. The BeatleJuice show was also the same with a small cast trying to put together a show for hundreds of Guest. At least in defence of the second show it had quite a few props and gadgets to hide its shortcomings, but Wicked certainly not, very disappointed with this show.

Space Fantasy was in early reviews but decided against waiting 170 minutes for the chance to ride and concentrated instead on the rest of the park.

Two very unique areas to the park are the Land of Oz and Snoopy Studios. The Yellow Brick Road really has not survived well over the years with the millions who have stepped foot over it and its looking a bit dirty, although I love the facade to Wicked which is very Small World in design and look. Snoopy Studios is a bit tacky although has quite a nice indoor area, but gift shop is packed full of Snoopy fans who can pick up quite a lot of stuff with the Peanut gang on here. It also has a Restaurant selling and I kid you not Potato Smileís which is a frozen to cook process food line, that can be picked up in most Super Markets, well at least in the UK, not sure on anywhere else.

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The rest of the park is made up of attractions that can be found at any other Universal including Water World, which is a fantastic stunt show. Spiderman which has to be one of the best Universal rides and Jaws which is a bit tamer than what I remember it being in Orlando, although the attraction host were very cute in trying to tell the story and comical trying to fire a gun at a rubber shark. Spiderman, Shrek 3D and Terminator 3D also top the list here.

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Another interesting show was this Woody Wood Pecker show which featured a live performer behind a glass interacting with animated scenes.

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Now we come to the real highlight of the trip to the park, and that is the impressive Magical Starlight Parade, which is on the same scale and size of Tokyo Disneylandís Dreamlights. It features three main sections with Alice in Wonderland, Arabian Nights and Cinderella. Elmo, Snoopy and Hello Kitty are also featured on floats and while its not to the standard of Dreamlights, its still a good effort and wipes the floor with the Main Street Electrical Parade, SpectroMagic and Fantaillusion in current form. One complaint I do have however is park announcements only being made in Japanese and not English also Cast Members seem far more relax with the rules unlike Tokyo Disney Resorts strict policy when it comes to watching parades, you can even sit over the edge of the curve which is a big no at Disney !

Walking though Universal City Walk at park closing you see lots of people walk straight though this place without stopping by in any of the shops or Restaurants, the only place that got packed out was the Universal Store. I visited the Hard Rock Cafť, first time in Japan and was seated instantly and had a good meal, but its interesting to see so very few people stopping by, although this was a Thursday night.

So itís a bit of a mix bag really, I encountered moments where I felt a bit let down by the park, but than around the next corner you would find something that would impress you, but the overall verdict is that Universal Studios Japan while being a good park, is still not an outstanding park and it really needs to stop trying to steal ideas from Disney, because from what I witnessed it really struggles to keep up with the standard. Instead it needs to create and form its own identity and Space Fantasy looks like a good start but its not enough the park needs to address what to do with Backdraft and Back to the Future, and review its entertainment. Its version of Wicked really is a poor show.

But overall merchandise was fun and unique, Magical Starlight was a blast and it was fun to be able to ride Spiderman, Jurassic Park and Jaws again!