|06-26-2013, 11:46 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Perth, Australia
Pre-Trip Report - Nov 13 - Disney Trip of a lifetime TDR, WDW, UOR, SWO and DLR
Well hello wonderful DIS people
My name is Rachelle and this is my very first attempt at a pre-trip/trip report, so bare with me.
Some background - i'm 26, live in Perth, Western Australia (yes - where you ask! :P) and LOVE Disney and theme parks in general.
This is me and my wonderful other half, Jared at Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom in 2011:
We are planning a trip of a life time in November visiting Tokyo Disney Resort, Walt Disney Resort, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Disneyland Resort - my sister and her husband will be joining us for the Orlando portion of the trip to celebrate her birthday and mine as well.
I've dreamed about doing a trip like this ever since my first trip to Disneyland on my honeymoon in 2009, it's going to be exhausting i'm sure but worth it - and i'm very excited to be introducing my little sister to the world of Disney theme parks and Universal theme parks (she has never really been to a theme park in her life so i'm hoping she loves it as much as I do!)
I'm writing this pre-trip and trip report as I hope it will inspire more of my Australian Disney fans to head to Disney theme parks, it can be an expense, that's for sure, but it is also a wonderful way to spend money if you can and it's not as expensive as you'd think if you are wise about how you plan.
So this is our plan:
Nov 1 - Fly to Tokyo
Nov 2 - Tokyo sightseeing - staying at the Tokyo Hilton Shinjuku
Nov 3 - Tokyo sightseeing
Nov 4 - Tokyo sightseeing and check into the Miracosta Hotel
Nov 5 - Tokyo Disney Seas
Nov 6 - Tokyo Disneyland
Nov 7 - Tokyo Disney Seas
Nov 8 - Tokyo Disneyland/Tokyo Disney Seas and check out of the Miracosta and into the Tokyo Hilton Narita Airport
Nov 9 - Fly to Los Angeles and Arrive in Los Angeles - meet my sister/brother-in-law and take the Warner Brothers Studio Tour to keep awake and adjust to the time difference - overnight stay at the Radisson Los Angeles Airport
Nov 10 - Fly to Orlando - check into Port Orleans Resort - WDW
Nov 11 - Magic Kingdom and Mickey's Very Merry Xmas Party
Nov 12 - Animal Kingdom and Be Our Guest Restaurant
Nov 13 - Illuminations Fireworks Cruise (evening) and rest day
Nov 14 - EPCOT
Nov 15 - Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom again if time
Nov 16 - Check out of Port Orleans into Floriday's Resort (Universal partner hotel)
Nov 17 - SeaWorld
Nov 18 - Rest day
Nov 19 - Universal Studios
Nov 20 - Universal's Islands of Adventure (with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) - my birthday
Nov 21 - Rest day
Nov 22 - Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure
Nov 23 - Rest day
Nov 24 - Discovery Cove - my sister's birthday
Nov 25 - Fly to Los Angeles - check into the Paradise Pier Hotel
Nov 26 - Disneyland
Nov 27 - Disney California Adventure
Nov 28 - Disneyland/Disney California Adventure - fly out at 10:30pm
Whew - I am actually a little tired just writing all that - but excited too!
The planning phase of this trip has been fun and a little stressful, things have just kind of happened that I didn't expect.
Lets start with the Tokyo Disney Resort out first port of call
Firstly, having read lots of planning information and trip reports regarding the Tokyo Disney Resort and discovering that you can only book rooms exactly 6 months ahead of your planned stay (and for that one day and no other) I was on the phone to the Tokyo Disney Resort (045-683-3333) reservations line barely 20 mins after it opened on the 4 May (6 months out from our check in day) to book the room I wanted at the Miracosta Hotel: The Porto Paradiso Side Superior Room Habour View.
There are a few different options for rooms on the side of the hotel that looks out into the Tokyo Disney Sea park (Port Paradiso Side) however those rooms can literally only be booked EXACTLY 6 months to the day before your stay - meaning I could only book one of those rooms for the night of the 4 November! And at 9:20am (20 mins after it opened) all the Harbour View rooms for that night were booked! So I took a Piazza View (which apparently still has a view of the park but it's not central and you apparently can't see the night time shows from it) and was told I could book rooms on the Venice Side of the hotel (that looks out into the Venetian Canals in the park) for the other three nights of my stay and that I could call each morning for the next three days to attempt to change those rooms on the Venetian side to a Harbour View Room. So I called at pretty much 9am each day for three days, however, I only managed to book a Harbour View Room on the Tues 5 Nov, on the Wed 6 Nov we are back in a Piazza View room and on the Thurs 7 Nov we couldnt get any room on the Porto Paradiso side and are still in the room on the Venetian side.
So why I am telling you poor people who have to read through all that this. I guess my point is that if you plan to stay at the Miracosta in the Port Paradiso side when visiting the Tokyo Disney Resort, remember to be on the phone at exactly 9am every day 6 months before each night of your stay to have any chance of getting a room! I was told I could continue to check on their website to see if any availability in the Harbour View rooms arises, and I am still checking every now and then, but it's a little bit too much for my sanity. I would also recommend trying to book on the internet first and being on that website at 8:50 constantly refreshing the page to get a booking, I think that's what people do and could have been the reason why at 9:03 there were no rooms left. We are not actually going during top season either - just regular season according to the calendar - while other months may be quieter than November it's not exactly July and August so this whole craziness surprised me a lot!
Despite the fact that we are having to switch rooms every night, I have actually come to a happy zen about the whole situations. Looking on the positive side i've realised, hey, we get 4 different views of the park and that's pretty cool...plus we got an apparently view popular and coveted room for 1 night which given the circumstances is a great feat I believe!
So so far, that's basically been it for official planning at the Tokyo Disney end. You can purchase tickets for the two parks online (4 day passes bought online allow you to pick which parks you'll visit on the first two days and then allows you to park hop for the second two - no matter which pass you get you must always pick which park you are in on the first two days). Since your paper tickets aren't swapped for actual card type tickets (which means you have to use the paper tickets for fastpass which Ive read can be annoying) when you get to the parks if you buy online, i've decided we will buy the tickets at the hotel. Tickets are guaranteed for hotel guests, plus being a hotel guest you can choose a 4 day ticket that allows you to hop every day of your visit for only a small amount more than the regular 4 day ticket 17700 Yen as opposed to 16000 Yen yes thats approx $194 AUD ($181 USD, ahh how I miss the days our dollars were even! for the 4 day park hoppers which I believe is A LOT cheaper than the same thing at either of the US parks.
While everything official is organised, i've been painstakingly trying to work out some kind of touring plan because i've heard just how crazy busy the Tokyo parks can get (1-2 hour waits is normal for the popular attractions and 3-4 hour waits for the headliners). I've discovered a great website that has a crowd calendar for the parks:
It is in Japanese but if you translate the page to English you get a fairly good idea about whats going on - for those of you interested here is how you read the ride the wait time estimate pop ups for each park (from left to right):
Monsters Inc - Hunny Hunt - Splash Mtn - Big Thunder - Buzz - Space Mtn - Haunted Mansion
Tokyo Disney Seas:
Toy Story Mania - Tower of Terror - JTTCOTE - Indiana Jones - 20,000 Leagues - Raging Spirits - Storm Rider
Since i've found it so hard to find a touring plan for Tokyo Disney on the interwebs i've made something I hope will work for the crowd levels we will be experiencing (which are at the quiet to mid-range of crowd levels for the parks - so this may not work for the parks during peak time). I've done a tone of research on this, but of course, i can't guarentee you it will work well - you'll have to wait until the trip report to find out
Tokyo Disney Sea 2 day Touring Plan
This plan is aimed at young adults without kids that would like to experience attractions multiple times - it will also require some backtracking. The plan also omits Toy Story Mania because it's so popular and attracts lines of 2-3 hours on an average day 4 -5 on a busy day (and no i'm not exaggerating according to the stats). If you wish to ride Toy Story you should make that your first stop in the mornings. My priority ride at Tokyo Disney Seas is Journey to the Centre of the Earth since i've heard such rave reviews, so I am happy to only ride the other headliner - Tower of Terror - once or twice and that is reflected in this plan - whilst Tower of Terror does sound different and cool in Tokyo I don't reckon it could top Hollywood Studios version which we will be seeing shortly after so it's not my priority. I love the Indy ride at Disneyland and this one is apparently similar but different, but I dont think I need to prioritize it as much as it has a single rider line.
1. Arrive at Tokyo Disney Sea 1 hour before opening
2. Get FP for Tower of Terror and Ride Journey to the Centre of the Earth
3. Ride Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull - using the Single Rider line if necessary (the strategy of using single rider lines works well for my husband and I as we are happy to be split up - this plan might not work so well for families with kids)
4. Ride Storm Rider - get second FP of the day for Journey to the Centre of the Earth
5. Use the Tower of Terror FP if available
6. Ride 20000 Leagues under the Sea
7. Ride Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull again using FP
8. Ride Sinbad's Journey
9. Take a short break and then have lunch
10. Use Journey to the Centre of the Earth FP
11. Go to Mermaid Lagoon - do rides and or soak up the atmosphere - see Under the Sea show in the Mermaid Theatre
12. Out of the park for rest if staying on property or Soak up atmosphere of the park
13. Dinner in the park early (approx 5:30pm) and then find a spot for Fantasmic (usually starts at approx 8pm)
14. Re-ride any rides if lines are short (apparently Aquatopia is beautiful at night and so is Toy Story Mania)
1. Arrive at Disney Sea at least 1 hour before opening
2. Get FP for Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Ride now if lines are short (or Toy Story if you prefer)
3. Rider Tower of Terror
3. Ride Indiana Jones using SR
4. Use Journey to the Earth FP
5. Ride 20000 Leagues Under the Sea - obtain another FP if you wish to re-ride anything
6. Ride Aquatopia
7. Early lunch
8. Explore Fortress Explorations
9. Use other FP
10. Find spot around the lagoon to watch Legends of Mythica - afternoon water parade
11. Watch Mystic Rhythms in the Lost River Delta
12. Watch Big Band Beat in the American Waterfront
13. Watch any other shows/enjoy other areas not experienced
14. Dinner and/or shopping
15. Shopping/Rides with short lines and soak up night atmosphere
16. Watch Fantasmic again or take advantage of show to ride rides with shorter lines
Tokyo Disneyland day 1 Touring Plan
This plan is aimed at young adults without kids that would like to experience attractions multiple times - it will also require some backtracking. Since i'm not that interested in Riding Monsters Inc Hide and Go Seek (shooting/spotting dark rides are not really my thing) i've decided to only do this one once - of course you may LOVE Monsters Inc and decide your touring plan MUST have numerous rides on this one - it, along with Pooh's Hunny Hunt, are two of the most popular rides in the park as i've read so getting a FP for one and riding the other as soon as the park opens is a must. I'm actually not too sure how the newly updated Star Tours will effect my touring plan (though apparently it's a fairly high capacity ride), however if you've done Star Tours II the Adventure Continues in any of the US parks as I have it should be fine to miss, i'm working on that premise especially since I will be in the US parks shortly after being at Tokyo Disney! People say that this can be done with most of the rides at Tokyo Disney that exist at other parks around the world but from my experience, at least between Disneyland and Disney World, rides like Splash Mountain and Space Mountain can have very different feels even if they are similar so I want to experience Japan's take on them. Star Tours being a simulator would probably mean there is very little to make different, hence my logic for leaving it out of the 'must see' category of rides. My top priority, after reading as much as I can about Tokyo Disneyland, is to ride the incredible Pooh's Hunny Hunt as many times as I can! Also i've heard it's important to buy things when you see them at the Tokyo Disney Resort since items often are gone off the shelves by the end of the day so i've allocated some time for shopping ...
1. Arrive at Tokyo Disneyland 1 hour early
2. Go to Pooh's Hunny Hunt - get FP for later
3. Ride Pooh's Hunny Hunt
4. Ride Space Mountain
5. Ride Star Tours if lines are managable
6. Get FP for Big Thunder Mountain
7. Use Pooh's Hunny Hunt FP
8. Shopping/take in sights - get another FP for Splash Mountain/Space Mountain when able to
9. Lunch - Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall (this sounds like a must see restaurant even though it's only counter service)
10. Use Pooh's Hunny Hunt FP if not used before
11. Ride Splash Mountain using SR line
12. Ride Pirates of the Carribean
13. Use any outstanding FP's
14. Dinner - early (5:30pm) - we've chosen the Blue Bayou
15. Find a spot for Tokyo Disney Electrical Parade and watch
16. Re-ride any rides that have short lines - apparently crowds may start to disperse after the parade
Tokyo Disneyland day 2 Touring Plan
1. Arrive at Tokyo Disneyland 1 hour before opening
2. Get FP for Monsters Inc and Ride Pooh's Hunny Hunt
3. Ride Space Mountain or Star Tours
4. Ride Splash Mountain using SR line
5. Break/soak up atmosphere - use Monsters Inc FP if available
6. Character meet and greets
8. Back to Hotel/ or to Disney Sea
Anyway there you have it - my crazy plans! They may not be helpful to everyone but hopefully someone will find them useful!
Whew - ok Tokyo Disney planning portion done
So planning for Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld/Discovery Cove was a little different given that my sister and her husband will be joining us for this portion of the trip - but so much easier.
Of course, most of you would have plenty of experience with planning for the Orlando Resorts, but the tools i've found most useful have been:
Touring Plans - www.touringplans.com - you can subscribe for Disney World, Disneyland and Universal Orlando touring plans, crowd calendars and stratgies now - they have been very helpful in my plans
These DIS boards - thanks guys for all your great tips and help
Allears - www.allears.net - were very helpful when I was trying to work out what moderate accommodation to book - their fact sheets on accommodation and picture reports done by Jack Spencer are second to none!
Dreams Unlimited Travel - www.dreamsunlimitedtravel.com - the DIS travel planners for Disney World, Universal and Disney - they've been extremely helpful with inside tips, providing discounts where possible and noting my every request! I've found it very useful to use a Disney 'travel agent' for lack of a better work since i'm located internationally, because booking things when the time difference is so severe (12 hour difference to Orlando, 15 hours to Los Angeles) is difficult, especially when, to get certain reservations, you have to be on the phone at exactly 9am US EST or whatever to get your booking!
Anyway, i'm very excited about the portion of the trip and getting to share it with my sister, since it's our birthday's I wanted to make sure I booked a few 'special things' to help us celebrate. These have ended up being:
- a 'Royal Room' at Port Orleans Riverside Resort so we can feel like Princesses (though it was slightly more expensive I think it will be a nice touch - not sure how the boys will feel though - will let you know!)
- A 'birthday' dinner a Be Our Guest Restaurant (whilst our reservationist at Dreams Unlimited was AMAZING to get this booking - apparently the only dinner reservation left at Be Our Guest for the whole week was on the tuesday we were there so we basically moved all our plans around to fit it :P)
- A second 'birthday' dinner at Mythos at Island's of Adventure (the day we visit will be my actually birthday so that will be fun - plus i'll be at my ALL time favourite place The Wizarding World of Harry Potter)
- A special surprise for my sister on her birthday while we are at Discovery Cove - we've paid $359 to get a Special Occasion Elite Package. It may sound like a lot but the package includes a private cabana which i'd wanted to hire anyway for my sister's bday (usally priced at $175) and a complete photo package - which last time cost us $220 - so it has basically paid for itself. Plus she gets to have a dolphin bring her a buoy with a special birthday message on it! How cute it that
- An Illuminations Fireworks Cruise - these are relatively cheap in my opinion - we paid $350 which when divided by 2 doesn't end up costing that much - I reckon it will be an amazing way to celebrate with a few drinks and watch and amazing show with the best seat in the house
- Mickey's Very Merry Xmas Party - well it's not technically a birthday thing but I knew we had to see the castle lit up with Xmas lights - my next favorite thing next to Disney is Xmas so I cannot wait for this...
All in all the little extras weren't too badly priced - i'm sure some of your American's would disagree - to that I say - come live in Australia where everything is waayyy more expensive! Of course it may not be in everyone's budget but i'm glad we will have a few little extra's planned to help enjoy our birthdays. While some of these things are costly some, like noting on a reservation it's your birthday or someone in your parties birthday, is completely free!
And lastly we get to the last leg - Disneyland Resort - without a doubt my favorite Disney Resort at this point in time (sorry Disney World :P) - but i'll check back with you about that after having gone to the Tokyo Disney Resort.
I don't know what it is about the Disneyland Resort that makes me rate it no.1 for me - I LOVE Walt Disney World and it's many and varied parks, but there's something about Disneyland's intimacy that gets me - perhaps it's because I spent a portion of my honeymoon there or because i'd dreamed ever since I was a small child of going to Disneyland. I'd actually never seriously entertained going to Disneyland as a possibility as I grew up in a lower-middle class family in Australia a long way away from any of the parks, so when my husband told me he'd budgeted so that we could go to Disneyland on our honeymoon I was so over the moon I think I may have cried a little! Of course, we have been very blessed since then to be able to travel quiet a bit but we always want to keep coming back to Disneyland wherever we can fit it in! So when I realized that I was able to take 5 weeks of leave not just 4 (thankyou WA government purchased leave scheme!) and knew we had to fit Disneyland in!
So I thought - hey we could still do the trip in 4 weeks with a few days at Disneyland stuck on the end! Of course, it would mean a little more money - but would you believe we originally costed a 3 day stay in Anaheim with Disneyland tickets as around $800 - $1000 for two people since we would have to fly back to Australia through Los Angeles anyway and because there is plenty of cheap accommodation around Disneyland.
However, then I realized that our stay would coincide with Thanksgiving and I was devastated (we don't have Thanksgiving here in Australia, in fact we have no holidays in November at all hence why this took me a while) - I've read a lot about how busy Disneyland can get around the holidays, especially thanksgiving and I thought, hmm, 'there's no way we will be able to do everything in 3 days perhaps there is no point in going'....Every other time we've visited the resort it has coincided with Halloween season (Sept and Oct) and the parks have been manageable
After this depressing thought I perked up and thought - hey do I really want to give up the opportunity to visit Disneyland once more when we may not be back for a while because of some crowds. The answer to that was of course no, and after some wise advise from some fellow DIS's I decided to just go for it. I am a planner so I do have a plan of attack to manage crowds, but at the end of the day we will have just been to 10 other theme parks so if we don't get to do everything, then that's fine - we have only a few must do's at each park (Radiator Racers, Soarin' and California Screamin at DCA and Space Mountain and Indy at Disneyland) and otherwise we are going to soak up the atmosphere.
One thing I did think important since we could was to spend a bit more money and stay on property. This allows us into one of the parks an hour before opening each and lets us be quiet close to the parks in order to rest during the afternoon when it's crazy busy...I think in a busy season it's probably worth the extra money - probably not when it's quieter - in the past we've always stayed at the Anaheim Plaza Hotel and Suites which is fairly close to the parks and loved it, so i'm interested to see how different staying on property at the Disneyland Resort will feel.
Anyway - that is it for the time being - check back later this year/early next year for a full report of my Disney Trip of a Lifetime I hope you enjoyed reading my musings, planning and advice If youve been to any of the parks Im visiting Id love for you to weigh in with any thoughts/advice or point out anything I may have missed&.my moto is that you can never plan too much (no offence to all you spontaneous people out there Im sure you way is just as wonderful, but I need to plan meticulously to avoid stressing) This way of planning works well for my husband and me as we are both very organised people, and I hope it will work well for my sister&shes more spontaneous but since she hasnt actually had to plan a thing Im hoping she will feel like that anyway!
Soo 127 days and counting til our Disney Trip of a Lifetime
UPDATE 22 December 2013: Trip report has now been started - Tokyo portion completed as at 22 December 2013 and can be found here
Last edited by RachelleBeaney; 12-22-2013 at 04:42 AM.
|06-27-2013, 04:40 AM||#2|
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Gilbert, AZ
Wow, this sounds like an epic trip of a lifetime. I can't wait till you post your trip report so I can see Tokyo Disney vicariously through you.
|07-16-2013, 11:05 PM||#6|
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Perth, Australia
UPDATE! Thanks to some wonderful advice from aidensmom31 (thanks!) we are now hoping to book the Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour at Disneyland on Thanksgiving (28 Nov). I plan to be on the phone as soon as I can as i'd imagine spots sell out fast - the whole thing looks amazing, a peak inside Club 33's lobby, a tour of Walt's apartment inside the firehouse, three attractions and lots of information on how Walt build Disneyland! Apparently you get headsets and you hear him talk about his beloved park - i'm so very excited about this possibility! And at $109 per person, it's actually not that expensive. Thanks again aidensmom31!
Disneyland Resort - 2009
Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando - 2011
Disneyland Resort - 2012
Tokyo Disney Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Disneyland Resort - 2013
2012 Disneyland trip report:
2013 Disney trip of a lifetime pre-trip report:
2013 Disney trip of a lifetime trip report
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