Alaska Excursions--post your reviews here!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by ClaireinTN, May 18, 2011.

  1. Deb in IA

    Deb in IA Knows that KIDS are better

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    Just got back from the June 25 - July 2 Wonder cruise to Alaska.
    Had a GREAT time, but if I could change one thing, it would be longer port times, especially for Victoria and Ketchikan. Also, because the ship leaves so early, many of the excursions met at 7:30 am!

    Tracy Arm: Although Disney says they have photographers on Decks 4, 9 and 10, we only saw them on Deck 10. We were waiting around all day on Deck 9, and only caught one when he was coming down from Deck 10.
    We entered Tracy Arm around 1 pm, arrived at the Sawyer Glacier around 3 pm, and turned around and left around 4:30 pm.

    Skagway: If you go to the City Tour, White Pass Railroad and Yukon Suspension Bridge tour, BRING MOSQUITO REPELLANT!!! The suspension bridge stop was thick with them and they are deadly! DS got bit so badly his entire hand was swollen for a couple of days.
    The City Tour is a bit of a mismoner, since the "city" is only about 4 blocks. The bus then takes you up into Fraser, BC, making a few stops for scenic views and to build a tower of rocks that guided the native people (I forgot the name of this). Then it stops at the Suspension Bridge, where the gift shop has great maple syrup cream cookies!!! We took the White Pass Railroad train back into Skagway - it was beautiful, but we were so tired from getting up so early, DD fell asleep on the train!
    Our main gripe is that the train drops you off in town, and the directions back to the ship are not very clear. We ended up on the other side of the harbor, and had to backtrack to get back.

    Juneau: We did the Whale Quest and Mendenhall Glacier tour. They provide binoculars on the boat for the whale quest, and we saw lots of humpbacks and seals and bald eagles. They give out homemade donut holes and samples of smoked salmon, and you can buy other consessions. The boat was comfortable and covered, since it rained all day on us. As for the glacie, you don't really walk out onto the glacier; you really only have time to go to the visitors center there.

    Ketchikan: We did the Saxman Native Village and Lumberjack Show. Both are excellent. Learned a lot about the Tlingit culture and totem poles. The show was entertaining. Just wished we had longer in port - had to leave by 12:30.
     
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  3. RedSox68

    RedSox68 DIS Veteran

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    Another reason why I REALLY liked going in May ;)
     
  4. 2PrincesseInTow

    2PrincesseInTow Mouseketeer

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    Just back from the July 2-9 cruise. We are DW, DH, DD 10 and DD6. Here's my review:

    Skagway-We did the zipline in the the morning. DD6 stayed on the ship as she is not heavy enough (must be 60lbs). Took a shuttle for about a 30 minute ride, then transferred to the Unimog to go up the hill. They have restrooms (real, not outhouses) where the shuttle drops you. The area is really beautiful and you zip over streams and beautiful scenery. We all had a great time.

    In the afternoon the whole family did the Temsco Helicopter and Dog Sled Adventure. I booked this directly with Temsco and their location couldn't have been more convenient. It's right where the Wonder docks in Skagaway, it's literally across the parking lot. Temsco provides boots or boots to go over your tennis shoes. They weigh you when you check in (they don't broadcast it) and assign you a seat in the helicopter based on weight. The helicopter ride was amazing. What a great way to see Alaska. We landed at the dog camp where they offered hats, gloves and sunglasses to use while on the glacier. We met our team and musher. We all had a chance to drive (even the 6 year old) and had a wonderful time. It all went by too quickly. I think this was our favorite adventure of our whole trip.

    Juneau- Enchanted Taku Lodge by Float Plane This was another wonderful adventure. We boarded a shuttle at the ship and drove about 5 minutes to the end of the pier to board out plane. They ask for your weight and write it on your ticket. Planes hold 10 people and they try to keep families together. I don't think they had to split up families on our trip but we had 50 people (the maximum) on the excursion so it may have happened. Great ice field and glacier viewing on the ride to the Lodge, recorded narration during the flight. My DD 10 was in the copilot seat and loved it. When you land you're right across the lake from the Hole in the Wall glacier so any glacier photos you missed at Tracy Arm you can take on this trip. We had a while to look around before lunch. Lunch was great, great salmon, baked apples, baked beans, cole slaw, bread and really good biscuits, iced tea and lemonade. If you don't like salmon they have chicken and mac & cheese also. They use glacier ice in their drinks. You can purchase wine and beer. My DD 10 was not thrilled with the animal heads and pelts in the lodge. There was a roaring fire which was nice. They also have a gift shop. After lunch we went on a guided walk through the forest which was beautiful. Mesquitos were thick and hungry. They had bug spray there for you but we still were bitten quite a bit. When you arrived back at the lodge there were two bears cleaning up the BBQ and we watched them for awhile. Then we headed back to Juneau. Another wonderful day.

    Ketchikan - Rainforest Canoe Trip and Nature Walk We had pouring rain in Ketchikan and it poured most of the time we were on our adventure. We boarded a bus at the port and went for about a 30 minute drive to the lake. We were provided with ponchos which we put over our raincoats to help keep our pants dry. The canoe holds about 20 people. It was so incredibly beautiful on the lake. The different shades of green were amazing. Our guide was very nice and knowledgeable. We paddled around the lake and then landed at a camp. We went on the very short nature walk and saw more amazing forest (it was somewhat different from what we'd seen the day before). We went back to the camp and had hot chocolate, coffee, smoked salmon, really good clam chowder, gold fish and rolls with raspberry jam.... really just a snack and warm up for us. Then we paddled back to where we started and took the bus back to the port. We arrived back at about 11:30 so we had an hour to hit a souvenir shop before heading back to the Wonder.

    Victoria - We got off the ship and took the shuttle to the downtown area. Walked around a bit. I wish we'd gone to the Butchart Gardens but we were worried that DD 6 would have a melt down that late at night.

    It was a great trip! I think the short port times are really okay with younger children. It was enough off the ship time for them.
     
  5. lucky1

    lucky1 Face Character

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    We were on the same cruise as 2PrincesseInTow! Here is our excrusion experiences. I think I can echo that I wish we had more time in port.

    Skagway. We did the White Pass Railway and Liarsville. I booked one of the early adventures, so that we would have time to spend exploring afterwards. We met in the morning on the ship and then were transported by bus to the White Pass Railway which is probably just a 15 minute walk from the ship. We were assigned a railway car. One tip if you are riding up to Canada, sit on the left side (face the direct of the train will be traveling and sit on the left). The views were great and the nariation was good. DH and DMIL spend majority of the time riding the rails outside on the platform between cars.

    [​IMG]


    I believe the trip took about 1 1/2 hour up to the border with Canada. You will need passports for this trip and will be inspected at the border. Then you are met back at the border, by your bus driver, who drives you back down to Skagway with several stops along the way to get out and take pictures. The nariation on the bus was also very good. Prior to getting to Skagway we stopped at Liarsville, which was an old camp that has been set up to be like it was during the gold rush. You are escorted into a small area and given cider and cookies (store bought as we saw them opening the box of them). Then they put on a small little show that gives a bit of history and some corney jokes. Then you are given some information on how to pan for gold and then set loose to pan for gold. You are guarenteed to get some flakes because they purchased them ahead of time. Honestly our family could have done without the Liarsville stop and we all thought it was hokey. DD10 was excited to pan for gold, but really wasn't interested in their little skit they did. After about an hour, you reboard the bus and head back to Skagway. You can be dropped back at the ship or in town. Weather was great this whole trip

    Juneau We also did the Enchanted Taku Lodge by Float Plane and probably during the same time as 2PrincesseInTow, as her desription was pretty similar, though I don't remember seeing them. I will include pictures. They had 2 meet times, early and then ours was at 9:45. I wish we could have been on the earlier one as the Adventures by Disney team was on that one and they had more time aftewards to explore Junaeu. Another idea might be to meet your excursion in town, so you have time to explore a bit of Juneau.
    This excursion the highlight of our trip. Just fantastic and I would want to do it again and will recommend this exerience. The hosts at Taku Lodge really know how to treat the guests. Also the weather was fantastic!
    Views from the flight over to Taku
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    [​IMG]

    Taku Lodge
    [​IMG]
    Hole in the wall Glacier which you can see from the Lodge:
    [​IMG]
    One of the bears that enjoyed the BBQ
    [​IMG]
    Our 10 seater float plane
    [​IMG]


    Ketichan It was pouring and we had scheduled the early show of the Disney Enhanced Great Alaskan Lumberjack show. 8am show. You are seated under cover and heated grandstands so no worries about getting wet during the show. I know a lot of folks like this, but we honestly didn't enjoy it as much. I think they really trying to add a lot of humor to this and engaged the kids in the audience and we really wanted to see more of the action between the lumberjacks. It lasted about an hour we were happy when it was over.
    Some of the action that we were hoping for more of:
    [​IMG]
    We had 3 hours to explore Ketichan, which like most ports now is full of Jewelry stores (I don't get it??)

    Victoria We took the Short City Tour and Butchart Garden tour. Really there isn't much to do, but we felt you could not go to Victoria and not explore the garden. Our bus driver was very interesting, Bob pointed out all the building that had recently been coverted into condos and then talked about the political climate in Victoria. He did state at the beginning of the tour, that this was going to be his verison of the City tour. We arrived at Butchart Garden before 7:45pm and had until 9:45pm to explore. It was a rush with 2 master garderners in our group, they really wanted to spend more time and have better light. By about 9:30 it started to get dark and made it difficult to see the gardens so we got back on the bus. We got back to the ship right at 10:30pm It was such a rushed night, because we had to have our luggage out before 10:30, so we packed before and had everything out before we left on the excruision.
     
  6. staxia

    staxia Mouseketeer

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    I was there the week before, on the June 25th sailing. We also booked independently through Temsco in Skagway, too.. HOWEVER... Don't count on being at the dock that shares a parking lot with Temsco.. We thought it might, but when we got there, we were in for a big surprise!! lol. The Wonder docked all the way on the furthest away dock, by the rock wall with the graffiti.. Super close to the White Pass Railroad, but definitely NOT close to Temsco! We walked over there (20 minutes) but they had a shuttle to bring us back. They would have picked us up too, but I didn't notice the offer until the night before, and by then it was too late. LOL.. Worst case scenario is the walk we had, which was like walking from the front of Epcot, to the back of World Showcase and back around to the front again.

    That being said.. don't let that walking distance keep you from flying with them. It was EXCEPTIONAL!! We loved our musher and the ride.. She gave us TONS of information about the dogs, the culture, the races.. everything.. both from when we first got there, and then she talked the entire way around... it was awesome, b/c I was videoing and so in addition to the awesome views, there's narration about it, too.. which is cool!!

    If you book a helicopter/dogsled excursion there, through the ship, it's with Temsco, too... But it's cheaper if you do it on your own.. ;) Plus, you get more options on times, and like we did, book the dogsled for the AM and then the White Pass and Yukon railroad for the afternoon. The view from the office is even pretty gosh darn amazing.. The staff at Temsco had nothing but great things to say about Disney as well.. even if we didn't book through the ship, they appreciate how organized Disney is about everything. :D
     
  7. OregonMom

    OregonMom Earning My Ears

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    We are also just back from the July 2-9 cruise. We are DW, DH, DD 11. About the mosquitos, I brought the OFF! Deep Woods Towelettes with DEET and kept them with me. Less muss and fuss than sprays. Most of the guides only offer the non-DEET versions, and they just don’t work as well. So if you have no philosophical problems with it, I advise just keeping a few DEET towelettes on you at all times when you’re off the boat, so you’re prepared.

    Skagway-My DD and I did the Alaska Nature and Wildlife Expedition. Likes: great guides Don and Judy, Don is a retired ranger, and Judy is a biologist who has published guides on plant life in Alaska. Knowledgeable, nice, and very informed! They worked hard with the spotting scopes to help everyone see the wildlife, including mountain goats on the faraway ridges, and baby eagles in their nests. Hike was very easy, just a few roots that might make it hard for those with mobility issues to navigate. We were mainly on the bus. Got to see a lot of great habitat and animals, lake, estuary, river, temperate forest, etc. Nice history lessons on the area as well, including the fort to keep the Canadians from invading the new territory of Alaska as they crept across the line trying to force the border further north and gain territory. Dislikes: the description said we would go upriver in catamarans, so I imagined small open boats where we would be close to the water. Instead, they were just small ferry boats, like buses, indoors with bench seating. This one is probably just my misunderstanding. Another dislike, though, is that they say you will "Watch a fish technician count and sample the run", but the guides just slowed down and pointed them out to us as they bus drove on by. Not exactly what I would call "watching". And the relaxing lunch while we talked to the guides became a grab your lunch and eat it on the ferry, although to be fair, it was so our party could watch the bears feeding in the estuary area for as long as possible. Overall, though, we really enjoyed it. Some people combined this with helicopter flights or other excursions in the afternoon, but we just enjoyed this one and went back to the boat.

    Juneau- Enchanted Taku Lodge by Float Plane
    PrincesseInTow, we were on the same 9:45 Taku Lodge trip, and I agree with everything you had to say. Flying over the glaciers and eating right below one was AMAZING! My DD 11 was also not happy with the many hanging pelts and animal heads. I loved her hearing the story of the intrepid Mary who put the lodge on the map and made the 1,000 mile trip by dog sled to Fairbanks. We bought the cookbook to find out how to make that wonderful biscuit, it was delicious. Our favorite excursion by far! 3 big thumbs up.

    Ketchikan - Knutson Cove Salmon Fishing DH and DD11 went on this one while I had a massage (Ahhhh!) It was raining like crazy, but they had a fantastic time. They paired them up with a couple of kids her age fishing with their young uncle, and they all talked and chatted the whole time. Guide was great with them all, and very easy going and knowledgeable. They landed one salmon (the other party, DD’s jumped off the hook). DH said he recommends them, and he has done a lot of salmon fishing here at home.

    Victoria - We just stayed on the boat here and relaxed, so no report for Victoria.

    We really enjoyed it all! It was wonderful.
     
  8. steves100

    steves100 Mouseketeer

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    Skagway- Rented a Jeep from Green Jeep. Excellent service, they picked up at the dock. Drove to the Yukon and back, much better than riding the train in my opinion.

    Juneau- Helicopter and Dog sledding on Glacier. THE BEST PART OF THE WHOLE TRIP!!!! Yes it is expensive but well worth it. My wife said she would do it again in a heart beat and she is cheap.

    KetichikanGot lucky and sea plane was cancelled. After doing the helicopter wanted to cancel excursion but was told we could not. Weather cancelled it for us!!

    Victoria- Butcharts Gardens and Butterflys. The gardens are a must see. The butterflys not so much.



    Steve
     
  9. busybethie

    busybethie Mouseketeer

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    HI. Anyone here done zipline on the Alaska cruise? If yes, which port has the best zipline adventure for the money? What did you like and no like about any of these?

    Thanks.

    Beth
     
  10. AquaDame

    AquaDame Are we there yet?

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    :scared1::sick::faint: Welp, definitely won't be doing that one! :laughing:
     
  11. AquaDame

    AquaDame Are we there yet?

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    My husband is Canadian, so he is a winter boy at heart too! :lmao: Was there a particular excursion you had to go on to see the bears/orcas? I am comforted knowing you saw them in May that it is really just going to be up to chance! ::yes:: I have seen a lot of black bears/seals/bald eagles in my time (I live in Oregon) so its a grizzly and wild Orca I'm after! :hyper:
     
  12. lucky1

    lucky1 Face Character

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    Ahh.. don't let that detract you from the Enchanted Taku Lodge. It was only inside the lodge, we spent majority of our time outside. It was so wonderful.

    DH and DD saw whales and dolphins off the Ship. I also heard from those who were on the Whale watching excursions that they saw lots of Whales During our July 2 cruise.
     
  13. LynneyPooh

    LynneyPooh Mouseketeer

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    we did the zip line excursion in scagway. I think it's grizzly falls- it had 11 lines and was absolutely WONDERFUL! the zip guides were great, and professional. safety was of up most importance. you could tell, without them beating the rules over and over, very subtle. the # of people was kept low, then broke down into smaller groups. in our immediate group had 7 guests and 2 guides. two families - ours with 3, and another with 4 people.

    they handle the kids great ( our DD10) was almost to light , and didn't make it to the end of the longest zip. not a problem, they made it an adventure pulling her in- she thought it was awesome!

    in addition, the scenery was indescribable- on private property. Zipping over the waterfalls was great. the zip lines were all different lengths. if I'm remembering correctly they've only been in business 2 years-this being their 2nd year. the ride up the mountain was fun too. we booked through Disney due to the fact there were nothing but late times left directly through them.

    in addition, another guide we had earlier in the day for our train/bus ride told us he had done both zip lines in scagway, and this one was the better of the two. He wasn't soliciting business- as we were finishing the bus ride it was general conversation, as in what are you doing the rest of the day, where can I drop you off? when we stated we wanted lunch then had to meet our zip line tour, he asked if I remembered the name and when I told him he said good that was the better of the 2.

    I thought this was a pricey excursion for us. there were no "frills". or perks like medals, certificates or pictures included. A snack was provided @ the end of bottle water and granola bars. Our guide did take a family photo of us on one of the suspension bridges with our camera, and this was offered to everyone.
    I do think I need to disclose that this excursion it is the only one we booked thru Disney and we had to pay adult prices for DD 10.

    We were in scagway on June 21. the only negative was a few Mosquitos. By now I'd make sure I had bug repellent with me. DH said he did encounter a couple of the black flies...


    After saying all this: we'd do it again and again, even with the price we paid. We all agree this was one of our favorite things we did!!!!!:goodvibes
     
  14. parkinfamily

    parkinfamily Livin' the Disney Dream!

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    Just back from the Wonder July 2-9. What an awe-inspiring set of destinations! Here is a quick recap of our adventures.

    Skagway: Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp and Salmon Bake. Like previous people, we thought it was a bit corny, but it was fun for DD9 and because it was a Disney excursion, Chip&Dale and Donald joined us for gold panning, which made it even more fun. The food was delicious and the glaze they had for the salmon was amazing! Definitely beautiful surroundings and recommended for people with young kids.

    Skagway: Mushers Camp and Sled Dog Experience. This was a great adventure. We could not afford the dog sledding on the glacier, and our daughter is fascinated with Sled Dogging. This was the perfect excursion. We took a bus to the camp, then rode a unimog up to where the dogs were. They were barking, yipping, and ready to go as we arrived. We got into wheeled sleds and off we went! So amazing to feel the power of those dogs. Then unimog back to camp for a talk about equipment, supplies, etc. Many of the dogs and mushers at this camp are actual Iditarod racers so my daughter got to ask many questions, which were answered patiently and completely. Hot cocoa and coffee was available. The highlight: holding the puppies! Amazing. Lifetime memories for sure!

    Juneau: Juneau City & Mendenhall Glacier Tour. Absolutely my favorite excursion. This is one of the few excursions that allows you a full 90 minutes at the glacier. Be absolutely certain to take the Nugget Falls trail (says its 45 min trail, but more like 30-round trip-for able-bodied people) plan for 10-15 minutes at the falls to take in the beauty of your surroundings and process exactly what you ate experiencing. Visitors center is good for kids and adults. Gift shop in the visitor center. Be sure to walk down to the edge of the lake...you might get lucky and have an iceberg close enough to touch, or in our case, close enough to wade out to...brrrrrrr! Great narration on the bus through Juneau and fabulous eagle sightings. This excursion included a tour of Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. A neat stop and good info. Kids like it bc of touch tanks and live animals. We liked it because it gave us our best bald eagle sighting opportunities. Still had plenty of time for shopping afterwards. DH bought me a "piece of the glacier" as a souvenir of our trip--a blue topaz solitaire pendant. <3

    Ketchikan: Expect rain. They get 160" of rain per year! Accept it as part of the experience...don't let it scare you. BRING RAIN PONCHOS. We did City Highlights, Totems, and Creek Street by Trolley. Probably another one of my faves, but I like to learn about the people and history of the areas I visit. Fabulous Ketchikan native for narrator. Lots of great tidbits! Saxman Village Totem Pole Park was amazing! Lots of history and we even got to watch a master carver actually carving in the carving shed! Such an honor. Trolley took us back to Creek Street and we could either ride back to the ship or stay at Creek Street and walk.back. We walked back because we wanted to sightsee some more. 5 block walk through town back to the ship. Easy. Make sure you visit Creek Street, even if its just for a photo stop.

    Victoria: Free Shuttle to downtown. Just wandered and took photos. Locals told us that Buschardt Gardens was a 5 hour trip to do it well, and we just didn't have the time. We may do it someday. Didn't feel like we missed out.

    Such an amazing trip! Lifetime memories for DH, DD9, and certainly for me! Lots of bucket list items checked off on this trip!

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.
     
  15. diznefan76

    diznefan76 Mouseketeer

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    We have this excursion booked for our Aug 6th cruise & I am curious if anyone has done this and what your thoughts were.
     
  16. disnanny

    disnanny Mouseketeer

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    we did this excursion last year on our cruise and really enjoyed it. The staff were very friendly and helpful, the crab was great. Enjoy your cruise
     
  17. mgmcpa

    mgmcpa Disneyland Lover

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    After reading all 52 pages, I still have a coupld questions about Juneau options:

    In Juneau I see lots of talk about the city bus shuttle that takes you out to the glacier for $16 round trip. Does anyone know if you can buy this ticket just one way, $8?


    Reason I ask is that we are interested in taking the normal, slower, city bus back to port so that we can get off at the Hospital stop, which is the location of the Salmon Hatchery.

    Has anyone done this? Anything we should be aware of?

    We really only want to see the glacier and the hatchery, and I just can't fork over big bucks to book a tour when the city bus runs by here for $1.50 one way.
     
  18. diznefan76

    diznefan76 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks Disnanny! Good to know that it was enjoyable and that the crab was good! I'm so looking forward to this excursion!!! ;)
     
  19. RedSox68

    RedSox68 DIS Veteran

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    Those that went in end of June and early July -- did you notice any mosquito problems?
     
  20. lucky1

    lucky1 Face Character

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    We went early July... (first week).. the only place we noticed Mosquito's was at the Taku Lodge (Juneau). The mosquito's were big and thick. The lodge provide some 30% deet spray and that seem to work.

    Ketichan it was raining and skagway we never saw any, but that might be because we were on a moving train or in the middle of town. I don't remember seeing them at Liarsville, which is heavely wooded area.
     
  21. staxia

    staxia Mouseketeer

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    We sailed June 25- July 2. The only place we ran into any mosquitoes was on the train in Skagway. Not while we were moving, but when we went up to the top and stopped, the mosquitoes swarmed. Because you could go inside and out, the doors were open and the mosquitoes came in the train cars.
     

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