Report on my whirlwind Starlight Passport experience

TheHamm

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 12, 2017
As most reports focus on multi or at least full day trips to TRD, I thought I would add my experience for anyone else looking for a more brief time in the parks.
I flew into NRT the day after it reopened from typhoon Hagabis. I knew my park time would be short as I am here for work meetings that start on Tuesday, so my option was go on my first night or do not go at all- who wants to not go?! I easily got out of NRT and took the limo bus to TD Sea, where I found plenty of available lockers to fit my roll aboard bag. I agree with the advise I got from @gelatoni fan, any suitcase I would be willing to carry around on public transit was going to fit in the lockers by the bus station.

I knew going in I was unlike to get any fast passes, arriving on a national holiday (sports day) was not going to help with lines, but the unending rain probably did! Unfortunately, I was unprepared for just how long some of the lines would be, and that several rides would be closed for rain. As I got in, I was greeted by an older gentleman cleaning the streets (why does he need to sweep? The place is spotless? Is this really just a greeter in disguise?) who greeted me with questions in English, gave me a 'my first visit' sticker, and walked me over to the wait time boards to see what was open, closed, or a 160 minute wait (Soarin'). As he finished up being generally friendly, they announced the harbor show would be cancelled, a theme in my evening, and the characters came out in rain ponchos for a boat parade. It was very cute! I tried to get lottery tickets to a show but was told there was no show lottery, it was all stand by that day. I had a paper map which kept blowing away and was getting soaked, so I decided my best course of action was to just wander. I enjoyed the scenery in Mysterious Island, but did not want to start out with a wait so I skipped 20,000 leagues and thought I would come back later. It was all quite cool to see! I pulled right to Arabian coast. I did ride Sinbad, which was cute but I was a bit confused by the story line. Jasmine's Carpets were a 45 minute wait, and I decided if I were going to stand in a line it would be for a snack. I had heard about the tiger tails, but I never did figure out where to get them. I wandered into Lost River Delta. Raging Spirits seemed to be off line for rain? And the Indy ride was a 2 hour wait. I considered getting a snack, but kept moving to the still operating in the rain transit steamer. At this point it started pouring and my umbrella failed so I bailed on this and went into some gift shops. My kid is obsessed with Marie from Aristocats so I was on a mission. I did get her a passholder purse, but that was the only Marie merch I could find- she will be disappointed in me and I am going to have to make up for it at the Pokemon center in Nagoya later this week. I found myself in Port Discovery, which was unfortunate as I was trying to get to Mermaid Lagoon without my soaked, torn map. I decided I would come back for Aquatopia as I thought it would look cooler in full dark and I was getting hungry. This was a mistake. Into the american waterfront, but was not in love with the quick serve food options of burgers, and wandered into SS Columbia thinking I was at Magelleans, (again, mapless), and once inside realized my mistake. I was going to wait in the line for the teddy rosevelt lounge, but soon gave up and decided to go back to the burgers at Cape Cod. Before leaving I went upstairs and they were able to seat me very quickly. The food was very good, and I would happily eat it tomorrow- but wish I could have had the seasonal pear and chestnut desert in an American size it was SO GOOD! Back outside I decided I wanted to find one of the cute drinks on the October flier, but finding the booth and seeing it was whiskey and orange, I decided to pass. I think I would have normally been up for it, but having been up for 30ish hours, alcohol seemed like a poor choice. I went up to the electric railway on my way back to Aquatopia. It was a full out downpour when I got off the train, and even with a rain coat I thought aquatopia may not be so pleasant.
At this point I was exhausted. I went back toward the Harbor and poked around the shops for some cute Halloween merch and decided I made it to 8pm and that was enough. I did stop in for green alien mochi, which were super cute. I really wish I would have gotten something less cute that I could have stuffed into my backpack for when I was awake and hungry at 3am. I made my way out the wrong direction and asked the CM how to get to the airport bus area so I could retrieve my bags, Then onto the monorail and over to the Sheraton. I collapsed in bed for the next 5 hours and then woke up starving wishing I had more snacks!

Overall, it was fun but the rain and long lines for the rides that were open was a bit much for my sleepy self. I enjoyed wandering around and taking in the atmosphere, which is very different from the US parks. I wish I had gotten to a show, and am disappointed I did not ride Soarin, Aquatopia, or 20000 leagues under the sea. I do not think I will ever wait in the line for soarin, (I will not wait that long for a ride in a US park, either), and I am not sure I could pull a FP for before I need to take the bus back to the airport if I did come back Sunday morning, but I think I would be fine if I came back for snacks, Aquatopia, and 20,000 leagues.

I am off to work in the morning and considering if I should attempt to come back to TDS on my last half day, or stick with my plan for TDL. The weather prediction for next weekend is maybe rain, which is less than ideal.
 

yankee3366

Mouseketeer
Joined
Aug 20, 2010
How disappointing! Weather yesterday was yucky, which usually means better crowd levels, but since it was a holiday... :(
Depending on when you may be able to do another half day, it may be worth it.
 

TheHamm

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 12, 2017
I’m not upset but disappointed about the crowds and weather. If this were the main purpose of my trip and my only shot to go ever I would be very sad. Unfortunately, my business trips to Japan have historically been in July or when a typhoon hits, so this may just be the kind of day I should expect.

My one shot at another half day would be next Sunday morning, also not low crowds. I’m 80% sure I will do it, but I’m not sure how much more to expect.
 
  • yankee3366

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 20, 2010
    This upcoming weekend will still have relatively high crowds since we're getting closer to Halloween. But if you're just looking to enjoy the park and can get there early for some FPs, it won't be a total waste.
     

    Agent 86

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2013
    If you do head back - don't forget to check out the single rider lines!

    There aren't too many, but if the ride is open, you should be able to get on pretty quickly.

    And maybe try to download the official app (with help from staff in your hotel or maybe even at the park) or a electronic / digital copy of the map on your phone so that you're not struggling with the paper map?
     

    TheHamm

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 12, 2017
    A Do- Over- Starlight Passport at DisneySea take 2

    I had been on the fence about returning to TDR as there was some rain predicted for Sunday, I would have to buy a full park ticket, and I was not wowed by my rainy experience at TDS on Monday night. But my meeting on Saturday ended early and I had lots of time on the Shinkansen to think about it. I decided that I would return, but had the wisdom to search online and see that online tickets for Sunday were already sold out. I did not have a hotel yet as I was not sure how the Saturday meetings would go and I wanted the option to return toward HND on Sunday morning if I needed it. I checked all of the Disney and partner resorts as they offer guaranteed park entry and found the Hilton had an honors member rate that was within what my company would allow and I booked it. I then had a good luck with the train schedule and found myself at the Disney monorail station and decided that since I had not blown my per diem all week I had some extra budget so why not go Saturday night, too? It seemed only fair to give Disney Sea a chance to redeem itself. Luggage stowed in the ample lockers at the park entrance, second Starlight ticket acquired, and map downloaded, I was ready to go.

    A note: The official app is not available on the US iTunes site. I vaguely remembered reading this from the TDRExplorer’s web page, but had forgotten. Earlier in the week with assistance from co-workers amused by my willingness for silly side trips (I have a history of this) I attempted to create myself a Japanese i-tunes account but this seemed to require a credit card issued in Japan and my US card did not work. So, no app. I did try watching the Tokyo Disney Sea webpage as it had some wait time information posted, and Saturday night it was reasonably accurate. That was not the case on Sunday.

    In I went! No FPs were left, Soarin’ was FP entrance only- no standby, and I was too late for any of the show lotteries. I made it my business to try some of the seasonal snacks featured in the ‘Today’ pamphlet. As my Japanese is rudimentary, I could not quite figure out what the items were so I went by picture. First up ended up being some sort of blue jelly on the bottom of sparkling white wine, whipped cream, and what I believe passion fruit puree on the top at Café Portofino’s. This was my favorite specialty cocktail of the evening. I realized people were claiming spots for Fantismic, but I really wanted to hit a few things I had missed before so I thought I would try to come back later. I wandered the American waterfront a bit, it was a bit odd as it looks nothing like any American waterfront I have seen in my lifetime. I was a bit hungry and one of the snack lines looked short so I figured I would stop as I had not eaten since I left Hyogo-ken at lunchtime. I was surprised the ‘chicken roll’ was literally pieces of chicken rolled up in chicken skin, in a paper sleeve. I figured if it were an amazing snack the line would have been longer and one bite confirmed my suspicion. Next up was the Whiskey Orange special cocktail at Barnacle Bills. Like so many cocktails in Japan, I thought it was far too sweet. But it was nice to have while checking out Haunted Mansion all lit up. After this I went to Nemo & Friends SeaRider. For some reason I thought this was a track ride, so I was surprised when I went into what I thought was a small theater. I was more surprised to learn it was more of a motion simulator. It was cute, I think my kids would have liked it, but I was not thrilled to get wet when it was a bit chilly outside and actually not raining- a rarity in my week. Fantasia started as I was getting off the ride, and I decided I probably couldn’t make it to a reasonable viewing spot before it was over, so I passed. Aquatopia was also on my to do list, so I hit that next. It was a fun ride, and while simple, it was different than anything else I have ridden. Monday night the line was at an hour, I would not want to wait that long for it, but the 15 minutes on Saturday night was fine. I was headed for a snack at Tropic Al’s but it closed before I got there, so I went on to Basecamp for the last special cocktail. Similarly over sweet, but it was nice to sit down and sip it while checking out the detail of Raging Spirits all lit with fire- missed that on my rainy night. I briefly considered trying to ride it with the single rider line because it seems cool, but then remembered how terrible I felt after Rockin' Rollercoaster and realized that would have been the end of my night so decided to move on. I was similarly disappointed I had not realized Sultan’s Oasis closed early as I had made acquiring Chandu’s Tail a goal, one which I did not achieve. I did enjoy Jasmine’s Carpets and hit Sinbad’s again. By now it was after 9pm and I had wanted to hit 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and maybe get a few souvenirs, so I wandered through Mermaid Lagoon but skipped the rides. After my undersea voyage I headed back to the Harbor area, and wandered through the shops. It was now 9:30 and I was exhausted and concerned I would not be able to fit anything in my suitcase (I had been planning on sticking to carry on luggage, which was ultimately foiled from the large quantity of matcha treats my friend gifted me when I stopped earlier in the trip) so I decided to go check into the hotel.

    Perhaps the most surprising part of my whole week came at the Hilton check in. After the rate and tax were listed, both matching the advertised price on their webpage when I booked, was a 12% Service fee. I tried to ask what it was, and after several staff went to get another staff member, someone finally told me “You may not know, but we do not have a custom of tipping in Japan, so we just charge the tip on the bill.” To me this is absolutely garbage. I am well aware there is no tipping in Japan. I also stayed at the Hilton in Nagoya two nights prior and there was no ‘service fee’ added to my bill, which I pulled out and asked about. They then told me it was something that is done at the Disney area hotels. So I pulled out my receipt from the Sheraton down the block to confirm that there was no service fee there either. In the end, it did nothing but make me more furious. The hotel and its staff were lovely, but I will never stay there again. I really do feel cheated and as if they are taking advantage of having a bunch of foreigners. This service fee also puts it above the cap at which my company will pay for the night so now I am on the hook to pay out of pocket which I had not planned for. I was and am still very irritated.

    To be continued. Next Up: a morning at Tokyo Disneyland.
     

    MKTokyo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 24, 2018
    Perhaps the most surprising part of my whole week came at the Hilton check in. After the rate and tax were listed, both matching the advertised price on their webpage when I booked, was a 12% Service fee. I tried to ask what it was, and after several staff went to get another staff member, someone finally told me “You may not know, but we do not have a custom of tipping in Japan, so we just charge the tip on the bill.” To me this is absolutely garbage. I am well aware there is no tipping in Japan. I also stayed at the Hilton in Nagoya two nights prior and there was no ‘service fee’ added to my bill, which I pulled out and asked about. They then told me it was something that is done at the Disney area hotels. So I pulled out my receipt from the Sheraton down the block to confirm that there was no service fee there either. In the end, it did nothing but make me more furious. The hotel and its staff were lovely, but I will never stay there again. I really do feel cheated and as if they are taking advantage of having a bunch of foreigners. This service fee also puts it above the cap at which my company will pay for the night so now I am on the hook to pay out of pocket which I had not planned for. I was and am still very irritated.
    I took a look at their website and it has a yellow banner that says: "All room rates shown are exclusive of tax and service charge."

    Underneath every room rate it states:

    Plus 13.00% service charge per stay, plus tax

    The amount of the service charge is also noted as a fee on the "total for stay" page.
     
  • TheHamm

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 12, 2017
    A Quick Sunday Morning DL Visit Squeezed in Before a Flight Home

    I'm back to finish up my commentary should anyone need an opinion on a AM only trip.
    While I could have found other things to do with my Sunday morning that would have been less expensive, I was happy to have this chance. If one loves Disney and is in Tokyo with limited time, I think half days are a fun choice.

    The full day ticket price is less than the mid-day ticket price currently available stateside, and I got one FP on a busy weekend morning. I imagine I could have done more on a week day, but that is not how my business trip planning worked out!

    I woke, packed, and ran downstairs to check out of the hotel, drop my bags, and get my park ticket. The evening before I had gone to book my limobus ticket back to Haneda and was talked out of my original plan to just pick up the bus from the park. The rationale was that (1) you cannot reserve a ticket for a park departure. You line up at the stop and get on if there is space (2) They told me [I was skeptical] that the buses had run very late the day before. The AM was smooth, with the slight hiccup that I had to wait until 7am to buy the ticket. Apparently there are set times they can sell the park tickets and I missed the cutoff the night before. As the park opened at 8 I wanted to get there as close to 7 as possible.

    I made it on the monorail at 7:10 and was awestruck at how chaotic and busy the park was so early. It was the most bumping and jockeying to get to the front of the line that I have seen in Japan! I got in quickly at park open, and headed directly to get a FP for Pooh. By the time I got there, the FP read out was an 11:30 return, but the ticket spat out 2pm. I asked the CM if there was a way to return it as there was no way I would still be in the park, and she helped me cancel it, and checked the app for the current FP time for Monsters (stated to be 10am) and I dashed off to get that. I got a Monster's FP for 11:30 and returned to wait standby for Pooh. I loved this ride! It has a lot of hype and I was prepared to think it was good but did not live up to all the love it gets. The queue is more fun at WDW, buy the ride itself was fantastic. I did like the random motion of the cars, but there were a few scene pieces I wanted to see but did not spin by, so I look forward to riding it again sometime.

    I did a bit of shopping on my way over to It's a Small World. This is my favorite ride in FL and CA, and I declare Tokyo's is even better! The queue is phenomenal, and I think even my impatient children would have been reasonably distracted and occupied for the 40 minute wait.

    I had intended to hit Haunted Mansion with its holiday overlay next, but having skipped breakfast I went in search of a snack. I got the seasonal ice cream cone at Troubadour Tavern and loved that it actually tasted of Pumpkin, not cinnamon and cloves as is the case for all the fall snacks in the US. [my kids cannot read, so they need never know I ate ice cream for breakfast, something I would not let them do!] I got in line for HM, but noticed everyone lining up to see the parade and decided to hop out and wait for that. I really do not understand the system of sit vs. stand but found the crowd management of CMs for the parade impressive. I thought I should sit as everyone else was, but was told I needed to stand- maybe sitting is for people with kids or more than one person? I was surprised that everyone had to fold up their stroller, and lie it flat on the ground. I would not have cared if they kept the one in front of me upright as I was standing anyhow and it would have taken up less surface area left open a spot for someone to sit. The parade was fantastic. I loved every minute of it. Perhaps I could pay more attention to the detail as I was not attending to my own little people, but I think this was far better than any of the parades I have seen at WDW or DL.

    Parade done, I was still hungry and set off in search of a churro. Mission accomplished with another seasonal snack and I had about 45 minutes before my one and only FP, which I did not think was long enough for any of the rides. So, shopping I went! I had been told by the helpful CM at the Pooh FP that I could show up 10 minutes early and that had been my plan, but I lost track of time. I was happy I had the FP, as I waited less than 10 minutes to get on the ride. It was very cute and fun, my kids would enjoy it. Finished and with 30 minutes before I needed to get to my bus, I headed out. I was impressed by how many people were still crushing into the gate at nearly noon.

    I got back to the Hilton, grabbed my bags, and went to wait for the bus. One pulled up 10 minutes early than I expected, but apparently the buses were running more than an hour late, and the staff told me to just get on this one if I wanted to make my flight. This bus was not stopping at the international terminal, but I was more concerned about my actually ticketed bus being even more late, not about getting from part of the airport to the other. We then rode around to pick up other passengers and they did not let people on at one of the parks, so I was glad I took the advice of the hotel staff to purchase a ticket, even if it was not for the bus I actually rode. The bus also took longer to arrive than the advertised transit time. I easily found the inter-terminal bus and made it to the terminal to check my bag and head for the lounge.
     
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