How Our Friends Flew From The US To All 3 Disney Parks In Asia Without Winning The Lottery

Going to see the Disney Theme Parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo are bucket list trips for many Disney fans. However most people never try to make the trip because it seems out of reach to them. The excuses that people most often give is that the flights are too long or the airfare is too expensive.

When I saw a post on Facebook from one of my friends saying that he and his wife just returned from Japan, I commented that I was so happy for them. I know they’re big Disney fans and I was thrilled they got to see Tokyo Disney. We talked a bit and I discovered that, in fact, they just returned from an epic 10 day trip where they visited all three of the Disney theme parks in Asia. On top of that, all their flights were booked with miles and they flew exclusively in business and first class the whole way. #FTW

It’s with his permission that I’m now going to share how they were able to go on this trip and pay almost nothing out of pocket for airfare. I’m quiet jealous of some of the flights they took, and am remembering that Sharon and I still haven’t been to Hong Kong or Shanghai.

Continue reading “How Our Friends Flew From The US To All 3 Disney Parks In Asia Without Winning The Lottery”

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Our Weekly Recap: 8/27/17 – 9/2/17

Hi y’all and if you’re reading this in the United States, happy Labor Day weekend! Here’s a quick recap of our posts from the past week:

Joe wrote about:

Sharon wrote about:

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

#TBT: Japan April 2005: One More Day at Tokyo Disney Sea

Woke up 8am and finished our last-minute (high speed) internet and packing. It was very overcast, so no view of Mt. Fuji today.

I had been promised Starbucks and was going to hold the guys to their promise . I had asked for directions from the concierge a day or two before and after finding the place (an adventure in itself…at first all we saw were steps and we wanted either an escalator or an elevator. I eventually found the escalators…but not after Joe and Steve took the ramp into a dental facility’s elevator), I was satiated with “good” coffee.

We did the reverse trip that we had taken last Friday, taking 3 trains back to TDL (we’ve been teasing Joe all trip about his continuous use of maps, even nicknaming him “Magellan,” but the truth of the matter was that he did a terrific job of getting us from city to city without getting lost even once). We had seen on the Japanese news stations that there had been a major train accident somewhere, but since we didn’t understand Japanese, we didn’t know the details. Our trains were all on time and the only indication of problems was written information that 3 train lines were “delayed” because of “accident.”

We arrived at Maihama Station without incident and made use of the advance check-in at Ikspiari, which was within walking distance to the station. We were able to get our monorail and park passes there, plus drop our luggage off with them, so we didn’t have to drag it with us all the way to the hotel. I made the mistake of saying “yes” when they asked me if there was anything fragile or valuable in my luggage…I had my laptop in my wheeled bag so I wouldn’t have to carry it in my backpack and they said they couldn’t be responsible for equipment like that…so the computer wound up in my backpack after all. Grrr…..

Free of luggage (except for the laptop), we went to the Bon Voyage gift shop, also right by the station, to pick up the souvenirs we saw on Friday but hadn’t wanted to drag with us to Tokyo.

Took the monorail to Miracosta and checked in. Although our room wasn’t ready yet, we were able to upgrade our room to a better view of Port Paradiso (that’s the best view they have…we wanted to go out in style ) and made arrangements for shuttle pickup to Narita airport for tomorrow.

After checking in, we went into TDS through the front entrance…we had never done it last week because we always took advantage of the park entrance within the hotel. As we entered, I found a locker for my laptop while Joe got his one roll of Advantix film developed (Note: I am finishing this entry up on the plane between Narita and Chicago and as of this writing, Joe and I taken 1,780 digital pictures and Steve has 2,626 under his belt…and both cameras have a few more pictures to be downloaded yet. That includes “let me take it a second time just in case” shots and the ones that, if they were on paper, would be burned).

After entering the park, Joe bought a TDS watch and while he was waiting 10-20 minutes for them to remove a link, we went on the Great Search For The Mayor of Porto Paradiso. We are friendly with someone who was the Mayor for several months in 2001-2002 and so we REALLY wanted to find the Mayor. The last 2 days we had been in TDS, there was no Mayor to be found, at least not where and when we looked. Joe had tried to ask Guest Services about the Mayor back on Wednesday, but they didn’t seem to know much about him. Today I finally saw a group of some non-Asian performers so I asked them about the Mayor…the recommended asking their Stage Manager…who said he would still be out at 2pm, 3:10pm and 4:10pm…it was about 2:15pm by them, so we started looking where she pointed. And FINALLY we found him. We took a pic and, strangely enough, felt like we had accomplished something.

At this point, we split up with Steve to do our own thing.

After Joe picked up his watch, we went on 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea again (twice, actually), because I wanted to videotape it with Night Shot (I’m back to my old habits of taping just about everything…I think I have 14 hours of videotape logged for this vacation).

Joe was getting hungry so we stopped off for lunch at Vulcania Restaurant, which is near 20K. The buffeteria-style restaurant was as well-themed as the rest of the Mysterious Island land, and had the best Chinese food we had had all trip (yes. Chinese food in Japan).

We next saw the “Sail Away” show by the Columbia steamship. The entire show, (including the American songs like “By The Beautiful Sea”) was in Japanese, including the speaking roles by the non-Asian performers. It was very colorful and the music was moderately entertaining but I have no idea of the plot.

We met up with Steve at 4, got my computer out of the locker, went back to the hotel front desk and found out our room was ready. It took Bell Services 10 min to find all our stuff (some left here from last week, some left with Welcome Center that morning and some left with Bell Services after we went to Bon Voyage) and another 10 minutes to try to load it onto the bellman’s cart.

Our room, #4301, was a mirror image of our last Miracosta room, but with a couch instead of a bench and a table instead of a desk. Our view though, was awesome…we were just a few rooms away from the center of the building, looking over Porto Paradiso and the Mediterranean Harbor.

While in the room, we unpacked what we needed through the next morning and started re-packing to get ready to go home. Steve was still waiting for his battery to recharge so Joe and I went to the park. We went on the 3 best E-Ticket rides again (Indiana Jones, 20K and Journey to the Center of the Earth), then staked out our spots for BraviSEAmo.

 

BraviSEAmo had been down for rehab for the past 2 weeks and, in fact, we had come back to TDS this one day specifically to see it, since it was still not in operation last week. It was held on the water of Mediterranean Harbor and it was our understanding that it was the TDL version of Fantasmic (a nighttime water show). Joe asked a CM where was the “ichiban #1” place to see the show and she directed him to an area on the western side of the water, where about 2 dozen people were already sitting. We took our spots and waited the hour or so until the show. The show finally began with Mickey on a mythological-looking water cruiser, speaking to the audience (in Japanese), all around the harbor. And everything else was VERY Japanese. No narration…just fountains and some small fireworks, a big barge with a big person-shaped “god” made out of water (torso and head were simplified shapes and limbs were streaming, shooting water) and a spider/dragon shaped red thing that spewed fire balls out of its several “arms.” I think they had a fight or maybe they equaled each other out or maybe the water won…I dunno. The audience appeared enthralled. We were very “WTF?” Again, a time where we lost something because of the cultural differences. We taped it from “our spot” and Steve taped it from our room. Maybe we’ll understand it more when we watch the tapes. I doubt it though.

After BraviSEAmo, Joe and I went to Zambini Brothers Ristorante for dinner. Italian this time…I had rigatoni with meat sauce and Joe had gnocchis (we were amazed that the cashier could pronounce “gnocchis” better than most Floridians do…I grew up in an Italian neighborhood…they are NOT “guh-NAH-chees”…they are “NYOH-kees” ). Again, very good food. This restaurant has its own private label of real Italian wine, which includes a medallion and ribbon that commemorates TDS…we thought about buying one but decided it wasn’t worth $38/bottle.

Went on JTTCOTE one last time while we could, then headed back to the room to pack, when the park closed. I was POSITIVE we were going to have to use a shopping bag for some of our stuff but Joe is an excellent packer and between the 2 of us, we managed to get everything into 4 checked bags, 2 carry-ons and 2 personal bags.

Went to bed around midnight or so…and then Steve’s cell phone rang around 4:30am. Steve is computer programmer for an insurance company and is on call 24/7, even when he is on vacation. They apparently had a problem with a program so they called him. He and Joe got the laptop set up so he could fix the problem remotely, then all was quiet again.


Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

Our Weekly Recap: 7/23/17 – 7/29/17

Hi everyone! It’s the weekend! Woo HOO! Here’s a quick recap of our posts this week:

Joe wrote about:

Sharon wrote about:

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

#TBT: Tokyo Disney Sea, April 2005: Day Two!

MODERN-DAY NOTE: When I originally wrote this entry for my personal blog in 2005, I didn’t include pictures. I have no idea why, short of how much time it took to do so. I’ll include a few in the course of the post but most will be towards the bottom. Please enjoy!

Not in as much of a hurry today, so woke up at 8:30am and didn’t get out of bed until nearly 10am…ah, heaven!

Today is a day to notice more and more of the little things (in the rain).

Details, details, details…
Continue reading “#TBT: Tokyo Disney Sea, April 2005: Day Two!”

Our Weekly Recap: 7/9/17 – 7/15/17

Hi y’all and welcome to the weekend! Here’s a quick recap of our posts this week:

Joe wrote about:

Sharon wrote about:

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

#TBT: April 2005: Tokyo Disney Sea (Day 1)

MODERN-DAY NOTE: When I originally wrote this entry for my personal blog in 2005, I didn’t include pictures. I have no idea why, short of how much time it took to do so. I’ll include a few in the course of the post but most will be towards the bottom. Please enjoy!

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 5.03.12 PMTokyo Disney Sea (TDS) was scheduled to open at 9am, so the 3 of us were awake at 7am and out the door by 8:45am. We bought 4-day park hopper passes wherein we have to pick our parks of choice for the first 2 days and then can park hop for the other 2 days. So our plan was to go to TDS today today, TDL tomorrow and figure out Wed. and Thur. when we got to them.

Since we’re staying at the Hotel Miracosta, TDS is just outside our lobby (much like the Grand Californian at Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel in Disneyland Paris). That was SO convenient! As low as the crime rate is in Japan, everyone still has to go through a bag check, though. The security guards who do bag check are much nicer than stateside, though.

Caught a quick breakfast at Mama Biscotti’s Bakery, the pastry shop in the first land (called Porto Paradiso), which is the equivalent of “Main Street,” except it’s more horizontal than vertical and looks more like a seaside Italian town than Main Street USA. I had a really good almond cream danish at the bakery, but I guess Disney coffee is Disney coffee internationally…just so-so. Joe had a cranberry muffin and a chocolate chip muffin and Steve (our friend traveling with us on this trip) had an apple danish.

We then meandered to the Mysterious Island land, which housed various attractions based on Captain Nemo. During the entire walk from Porto Paradiso to this area, my mouth was just wide open, I was in so much awe. I mean, the attention to detail went as far are carved “N’s” (for Nautilus) on the queue stanchions. For those of you who live in or have visited Florida, the closest attention to detail that I’ve ever seen is at Islands of Adventure and this park just blows IOA away. For the first 3 or 4 lands, I would just say “unbelievable. Totally unbelievable,” over and over, it was just so beautiful. So perfect.

We had read that some attractions can have a wait of 45 min just to get your Fastpass and a stand-by wait of 3 hours. We purposely didn’t go to the parks on a weekend, figuring the crowds would be horrible. Well, for us today, most rides were a WALK-ON! I don’t know if it was because it was a Monday, or because it was on the chilly side or because the World Expo in Nagoya is taking all the crowds, but we had NO lines ALL DAY LONG. It was absolutely, positively wonderful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnyway, the first attraction we went on was Journey to the Center of the Earth. The queue for this ride was amazing. It has little displays everywhere but we couldn’t see them all because the line wasn’t going to those places. We got through the queue to the loading area, which is set up with a main line leading to a elevator, which takes you to the ride loading area. The elevator is similar to the old Living Seas Hydrolator except this one actually moved a floor since you load and unload from the same door. The ride vehicles are themed to earth digging cars with pointed fronts and enclosed cabins. You are seated, 3 rows of 2 seats, and sent off into the ride. The ride is based on the book of the same name. You are shown the wonders they have found, something goes wrong and you have to get back home. The ride show is great but the ride system is the amazing part. Imagine a Test Track like car, with the acceleration possibility. Put the high acceleration on a 30 degree incline with curves in the dark. Top off the hill with some zero-G lift and then back to the mountain for the finish. It’s amazing.

After riding that twice, we headed to 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. How can I explain this one? You go on a 20K-themed queue (lots of nautical equipment and caves) to get into the biosphere vehicles, which looks like brown, metal submarines. The ride vehicles hold 6 people (2 at the front window and 2 at each of the side windows). The way they do the ride is amazing. Think of the old 20K ride at WDW where you and the show are underwater. Well here, the windows are double-paned and between the panes is water that they can make bubble or stay still, so you can feel like you’re under water, or going up or down (with the bubbles) without actually being under water. You’re on a winding track that shows audioanimatronic fishes and sea monsters and the giant squid and whatever else you would normally find in a 20K ride, except that they’re all dry but they LOOK like they’re under water because of the water in the glass and some lighting effects. During parts of the ride, you have the opportunity to aim flashlights “outside,” to get a better view of what’s under the “ocean.” I know that’s a horrible description, but it’s unlike any other attraction we’ve ever been on. It’s also way too dark to videotape well, even with night shot. Sorry. Or, as they say in Japan, Gomenasai!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next land we visited was Mermaid Lagoon, which is based, of course, on The Little Mermaid. They have an indoor area with some kiddie rides (albeit beautifully-themed kiddie rides) that we didn’t go on, but we did visit the “Under the Sea” show at the Mermaid Lagoon Theater. Normally I would think that a show in a area like this would be a little fluff show to lead to the Ariel meeting area. Having read in advance, we went in anyway. This show is amazing. It is theater in the round. Ariel rises out of the center of the stage suspended by 2 wires. This contraption allows her to spin around 360 to simulate doing flips in the water. The wires are connected to a huge rig on the ceiling which takes Ariel flying around over the audience. Other characters from the movie are in the show too, either as HUGE puppets, or on wires, or both. The show is a condensed version of the movie with emphasis on 3 songs (in English) and some dialog (in Japanese). We all left the show with open jaws, not expecting anything like that.

The Sleepy Whale Shoppe was a cute gift shop that looked like a big whale. You go in through the whale’s mouth, where the carpet is rubbery-gushy and pinkish (because it’s his tongue), and then turns blue because you’re in his gullet. The ceiling of the shop shows his backbone and ribs. You exit around where his appendix would be, by the way ;-). Very well-done.

Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster was the equivalent of Gadget’s Go Coaster. A cute little kiddie coaster that was about 45 seconds long. There was no line, so we went on.

The next land we visited was Arabian Coast. It was themed to be a cross between Aladdin and Sinbad, with a little generic Arabia thrown in, as well.

Caravan Carousel. This is a merry-go-round. But by now, we know nothing is simple in this park. The Carousel is 2 levels with elephants, camels, horses and the Genie from Aladdin. Each side of the carousel has a painting on it of an Arabian Scene and the music is from Aladdin.

Sinbad’s Seven Voyages. This is a Small World-like boat ride. The entry area tells of the history of Sinbad, in Japanese. You then get on the boat, and follow Sinbad on his journeys. The animatronics on this ride are first rate. The movements are generations ahead of anything we have in any of our parks. We might have a character or 2 which are amazing, but every little doll in this ride is capable of amazing movements.

As we left the Arabian Coast, we saw the construction site of their new roller coaster, Raging Spirits, which is set to open this summer. Between that and the brand-new version of TZTOT that they’re building (not a cookie cutter version…new theming, new storyline, and I bet new effects too), it gives us a good excuse to go back .

The next land we visited was Lost River Delta, which is based on Indiana Jones and adventure in general. Here there are lots more trees and lush greenery, to give you the feeling that you’re deep in the woods.

Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull. This is essentially the same ride as at Disneyland Park in California but the ride has a different theme. Since the story is in Japanese, we really don’t know what was happening. It had something to do with a skull and it had snakes and bugs and a wind vortex in it, among other things . The most amazing part of this attraction is the queue. The exterior is a huge Aztec temple. HUGE! You enter the temple, and see the dig in progress. The entry hall is immense. The line winds around the first room 3 times to reveal more on each level. Amazing stuff.

We had lunch reservations at our hotel at 1:30pm so around 12:15 or so, we started our way back to the Hotel MiraCosta. We took the Disney Sea Transit Steamer Line, which was, in essence, a Friendship Boat, but with a retractable roof for adverse weather conditions.

We still had a good 45 minutes before lunch, so the guys agreed to look at some shops in Porto Paradiso. The variety of merchandise is amazing and although the guys whisked me out of the stores much sooner than *I* would have liked, I knew I’d be back. Soon.

Lunch was at Silk Road Garden, a Chinese restaurant at our hotel. I had an appetizer of spring rolls and a main course of fried rice with shrimp and asparagus. Joe and Steve got a meal for 2…a choice of 5 appetizers, a small entrée and a dessert. The food was good but as we quickly discovered about TDLR restaurants, VERY overpriced.

After lunch, we decided to split up for a while. Joey was tired so he went back to the room for a nap. Steve went back to the park to hit some more rides and I went shopping. I’m up to about 7 new Disney CDs that I didn’t already have . The merchandising TDS has is terrific because they still have land-specific items. So besides the generic Fab 5 (well, 4…I saw very little Pluto) stuff, they would have a line of clothes and gifts and toys and stuff specific for Mermaid Lagoon, The Lost Delta, etc. VERY cool.

Anyway, we met up again at our room at 5pm.

After taking some pictures of our room from the outside (our room overlooks the entrance to the park), we went back to TDS.

We walked to the American Waterfront land, which doesn’t have any major attractions/rides, but has access to the DisneySea Electric Railway (think WDW Railway). From there, we rode to Port Discovery and went on Stormrider, which was a Japanese-language simulator based on being able to manipulate the weather. From what we could tell, no one can manipulate the weather, by the way.

We then took the Electric Railway back to the American Waterfront to see a stage show, “Encore!” at the Broadway Music Theatre. It was a review of songs from older popular Broadway musicals, such as Oklahoma, Evita, Cats, Chorus Line, Porgy & Bess, 42nd St., Beauty & The Beast, West Side Story, The Music Man, Gypsy, etc. The 3 of us enjoyed the show immensely, partially because it was almost all in English.

We next walked back to Port Discover, to go on Aquatopia. This is another one that’s hard to explain. You’re in a car that’s designed to make you think you’re floating on water, but on close inspection, you’re actually only in a few inches of water. The water has vortexes, waterfalls, squirting fountains, etc. The cars take you on what feels like random variations of paths always JUST missing the fountains, etc, thanks to the wonders of a GPS system.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost of the rest of the night was spent on going back on the attractions we enjoyed most, such as Indy, Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20K. We grabbed a Gyoza Sausage and apple tea soda at the cart that supposedly has LONG lines during normal days (we had no line), and took some pictures of the full-size Nautilus submarine for Steve.

Just before the park closed, we went on the Fortress Explorations, which is the equivalent of Fort Sam Clemens, with LOTS of places of interactive play and places to explore. The theme of this attraction is “wondrous machines and scientific instruments.” Very fun for kids, including these 3 grown-up kids.

The park closed at 10pm so after the guys stopped off at Mama Biscotti’s again for dessert, we went back to the room, very happy and utterly exhausted. None of us can remember the last time we did a full day at a park .

Tomorrow is Tokyo Disneyland. Until next time, Sayonara!

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

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