Hello, mentioned briefly on (one of my few posts lol) that I was going to Japan, so I thought I'd do a trip report. I'd been to Florida and Paris before, and after deciding which park we'd do next we decided on Tokyo, and god it was the most perfect place I have ever been. Both the country, city and parks itself. Its hard to think how any of the other parks will now beat it.
We had done alot of research before we booked it up about the best time of year to go, to maximise our time there with little ques etc. Sorry if not perfect and some errors, I typed it up whilst on the flight home on my iPad. Will be happy to answer any questions if you're planning on going. Also included a little on general Japan also.
[includes; both parks, staying offsite, transport, tickets, Shinkansen bullet train, domestic flight in Japan, baseball, Osaka, luggage delivery service.. Did most on a budget so hope it helps]
We got our flights in Air France's January sale for just under £400 return for a 10 day trip in late May. This was from Manchester to Tokyo with a connection in Paris, that was easy enough as only an hour away and easy to do at CDG. Flight was great, we got into Haneda at 6am... Very tired so we found a local onsen that was open 24 hours for a relax and they had reclining chairs to catch a few hours sleep to try sync our bodies to Japan time. We left there at 11am, dropped bags at hotel and went off to explore Tokyo.
The first two days we spent doing the tourist sites, it's a beautiful city and such an easy place to navigate. One tip if you're planning on travelling on the metro/JR lines a bit is get a PASMO card, can buy at any machine for 500¥ refundable.. And works like an Oyster card, just top it up and auto deducts amount... Easier than trying to work out price for each journey and buying individual tickets. We needed to use it to get TDR also so was very useful.
We stayed at APA Hotel Shiomi, which was 3 stops away from Tokyo station (7ish mins) and also 3 from Maihama (Stop for TDR, about 10 mins). Hotel was right opposite Shiomi station, would recommend. We got 6 nights there for about £240 for double non smoking room. Trains back late on no problem at all, running every 5 mins and not that packed.
Our first day in the parks was Disneysea, we purchased our tickets from a disney store in the city the day before, you have to chose which park on which day you are going to do. The park opened at 8, from what I read online the queues can be bad so we got there about 7.10am, and I would say get there no later than 7.20. We took croissants with us to eat in queue, park maps were available to plan your day and people watching the time flew. 8am came.... And so did the rush to get to Toy Story Mania.. I thought ratouille at Paris was bad... But you don't need a park map, you just follow the crowd (90% of them was going the same way) to know exactly where it is haha. The staffs attempts with 'no running' signs were being ignored, pretty mayhem. But we secured them, and the relaxing and fun day can now start. After getting a 10.30-11.30 slot the queue was already 40 mins by 5 mins after park opening. We then went to journey to centre of the earth, and walked right on, no queue, what a ride, we rode it again later that day. The fast pass system is like Paris (and possibly CA from what I've heard) just scan your paper ticket. And as your FP is approaching say 10-11am, you can go to another ride and grab another at 10am.. That is what we did all day, never waited more than 10 mins for a ride. Was brilliant, tried many different snacks popcorn flavours. We had tried Mochi the day previously in central Tokyo and didn't like it, but the little green aliens were so nice. Pricing for food inside the park isn't that bad, as most parks the set menus are great. The parade and evening show of Fantasmic! is something else, make sure you grab some snacks and get a good spot bout 45 mins before.. The Japanese are good at waiting patiently for the best views. Sadly the fireworks were cancelled due to the wind. Indiana Jones ride was impeccable, also rid more than once.. Different from other parks, so good. Queued 40 mins to meet Mickey in his anniversary wear, they ask when you join the line if you want a photo together or individually (me and my boyfriend) then your choice is final as cuts queue times.
Monorail to the park
Monorial isn't free like in Orlando, but the tickets make for a great memento.
Second day was Disneyland, we got there for 8am for 9am park opening and I'd say not get there any later, breakfast in the queue again with park maps... The characters come out into the courtyard to wave to people to pass the time also. All very well organised no pushing in. Fast pass rush this time wasn't 'as' crazy but with poohs honey hunt being closed the rush for monsters inc was higher. We had our running shoes on after TSM the morning before but it's closer to the gates haha. Within 20 minutes of park opening we had got FP for monsters inc, rode space mountain and star tours (wasn't expecting it to be 3D and have BB8, is that the version Paris is getting now?). All walk on so was hard to say no, we rode space mountain 3 times that day, including at park closing. Then sat down and enjoyed a coffee from the bakery at the top of 'main street'. The perfect photo is a serious thing over there, self timers propped on top of popcorn buckets is quite interesting to watch in front of the castle.. Matching outfits and themed wear unlike any other park. Same system with FPs, we did the same as yesterday with no waiting more than 10 mins for a ride. We're not really big character meet fans (minus a Mickey photo every trip) so can't comment on queues but you do see some not so popular characters just walking around the lands. Queen of hearts restaurant was brilliantly themed. We watched the day parade not far from there as its where it starts, most people sit to watch it then standing behind that which is very good. The dream lights parade blew my mind, we only caught it briefly in Florida so loved catching it in full. We got a space on the benches at the castle for that around 30 mins before. Our evening meal we ate in the food court in the shopping centre type thing just outside the park as we just felt like Japanese style food, and was half the price with only 10 min walk. Evening fireworks cancelled due to winds again, but the lights show was running, brilliant again. One mans dream we missed out on the lottery but you can queue for the first show we got there about 20 mins before and got pretty central seats together, it's a big theatre but deffo one to catch.
Language barrier wasn't really a problem, most staff know the key words to know when you're asking for directions etc, and they're so happy and helpful and really went out their way for us. They well and truly made the day magical for us. All really interested to know where you're from and even late into the day smiling away and waving you off.
We was out there for our anniversary and we went to the Disneyland Hotel for drinks, you don't have to be a guest there but it was lovely to go in as we wasn't lucky enough to be staying there. We got themed cocktails and the whole no tipping thing in Japan came apparent that night when we had finished they hadn't took the bill yet, it was only ¥20 change (about 5p) so just left it there, but one of the staff caught us later on just as we had left the reception area and gave us the change. So don't be afraid to go and have a look into the hotels, they're beautiful and give a break from the parks (or a different evening for special drinks/meal).
Evening visit to Disneyland hotel for drinks
We had planned on going Osaka for 3 days/ 2 nights before our flight home, originally we had planned to go Universal studios there, but with it being on a weekend and walking on everything at Disney we decided to leave it as didn't think it would be as enjoyable and just went off with a day trip to Kyoto in mind. We had researched the Shinkansen bullet train before we went, it came up as £90 each one way, we couldnt afford £360 for the both of us return, so we took it one way, booking that on the day in Tokyo station on our card (accepted our Visa card fine) and it was a great experience which was on our bucket list. We had booked an internal budget flight with jetstar for £25 from Osaka to Narita for the way back, worked out perfectly as evening flight back and then airport hotel then the morning after we had our flight back to Manchester from Narita so was more convenient anyway.
We had our luggage transferred by the luggage delivery service whilst we was away in Osaka from our Tokyo hotel to Narita airport hotel, so we could take hand luggage only to Osaka. We checked in advance they would receive the service and took our bags to reception upon checkout and filled out a quick form. It was just short of ¥2800 (£15ish) for 2 full size bags (around 15KG) to be transferred, we couldn't have even added one checked baggage onto our flight for that cheap. I was a little worried, but had heard reviews on here about it, and it was safely waiting at the airport hotel for us 48 hours later when we checked in, would defiantly recommend!
Osaka is a great place, especially if you like your food! If you're not into sampling new food etc, maybe not the best place. But we was really excited to visit and loved it. Tried many different types of food, all so cheap too, and will go back if we ever return to Japan.
Whilst in Tokyo we also went to a baseball game at Tokyo Dome, we didn't know it was happening until we was there. So we thought on the off we would try and get tickets. Seating was sold out but we got standing tickets at the ticket office 10 minutes before the start for just ¥1000 yen each, we didn't really know the rules but we had a brilliant time. I believe it was the first game of the season.
I can't think of much else to mention really but summery;
- don't be afraid to stay offsite (queues aren't bad if you are patient just be prepared)
- If travelling around Japan and not got a rail pass check out flights, there are 7 flights a day from Osaka to Tokyo the air stewardess was saying and mostly all full, and for quarter the price it is the preferred option for most.
- Take a blanket or something to sit on for parades etc
- Maximise the fast pass system, and try to do the parks on weekdays
- Start saving as you'll want to go back, we are!
Any questions or pictures of stuff please ask