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Garet's Japan 2012 Tour


Garet
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So last February, my school surprised me with a week off from work, after a lot of help from Robb and Elissa, I had a list of websites and a route set out. I had originally planned to start from Tokyo and work my way to Osaka but Journeys rehab schedule made me reverse my decision. I'll try and get an update up every 3 days or so as I edit the pictures.

 

Part 1: Universal Studios (This post)

Part 2: Yokohama Sea Paradise

Part 3: Yokohama Cosmoworld

Part 4: Fuji Q

Part 5: Disneyland

Part 6: Disneyland At Night

Part 7: DisneySea

Part 8: DisneySea at Night & Fantasmic

Part 9: Tokyo Parks

Part 10: Tobu Zoo

Final Part: Tokyo Culture

 

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Universal Studios.

 

Universal Studios was one of my only weekend park trips, I got to the park pretty early Sunday morning to find a line already forming outside the gates. Since I heard Japanese parks could get seriously busy I wanted to get a big locker early (I'd yet to check my stuff into my hostel) and buy a fast pass. I really liked Universal Japans opening ceremony, in Singapore, Po had come out and waved to the crowd as the gates were opened but in Japan all the staff came out to wave and greet the crowd from ride operators to cleaners lining all the way down main street until Woody Woodpecker showed up checked his (imaginary) wristwatch and quickly tried to rush everyone off to their jobs at which everyone ran off to their posts, it was just a nice way for everyone to get some recognition and I don't think i've seen any other park have so many employees get to come say hello (although the gates at Disney were always far to busy to see in to).

 

The majority of the visitors seemed to be season pass holders so getting in the gate took a while since each person had to have their head scanned by a camera and checked against their season pass and the system seemed to be having issues. Once in though the rest of they day ran smoothly. I think I may have enjoyed this Universal more than Singapore, I've seen people describe it as a greatest hits park and that seemed pretty accurate, I went to Florida when I was too young to remember most of the details but walking around Japan i felt like I'd seen most of these rides before.

 

I did however have 1 or 2 negative experiences compared to Singapore though, firstly was the fast-passes, I knew beforehand that there were two tiers of fastpass and even with the 7 attraction pass i'd still be made to choose between attractions (I wonder what all the people complaining about cedar fair having a two tiered system would make of the top tier still not covering all attractions) and so I'd planned my day accordingly to try and utilize single rider and the fast pass to try and make a half day out of it to go explore Osaka, only to find myself being turned away because the fast pass line would only open once the line was past a certain length (it was a 20 minute line and the fastpass line went right up to the boats to be boarded),I ended up spending the whole day just to try and get my moneys worth out of the coupons. It seemed very different from in Singapore where they warned you as you bought them that they might not be needed if it was a quiet day but still let you use them no matter the lines length. I also found unlike Singapore where the staff happily took pictures for you with your own camera as well as their own professional cameras whereas there were people everywhere in Japan stopping you from taking pictures in quite a few places so an official photographer could come over to take it.

 

Anyway here are the pictures, it was a rainy day so it was quite difficult to take pictures and unlike a few other parks i visited in Japan, they were very strict about taking pictures in loading areas or on-ride so this is probably my weakest update, but hopefully you'll all stick around for the obligatory "Did x person have a good day at fuji q?" post

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Well at least I know i'm on the right subway

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Kong overlooks city walk

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Anybody else remember these guys? Apparently they left their house and set up a bubble tea shop

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A line had already formed an hour and a half before entry

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Elmo was at the entrance, they were still making the sesame street area when i visited

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Happy 10th anniversary to Mr and Mrs Woodpecker

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I'd seen the pictures but the dome was much bigger than it looked in any pictures.

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Suprisingly most of the opening crowd went to spiderman and space fantasy than hollywood dream, I went straight to BTTF since it was the only ride without single-rider

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Will get to this ride later

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I skipped these since the fast pass option was one of these movies or Hollywood Dream and it wasn't worth the hour line later to see these movies

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I wonder how many theme parks have these, i'd just seen one of these in Everland

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As much as I love BTTF, on both my rides people were laughing at how the ride starts in 2012 (the date of my ride) and then we jump a whole 3 years into the future of flying cars, it really does show its age. Since the voices are dubbed in japanese I wonder how much it would cost for them just to rerecord the voices and state the year as 2095 and change the dials.

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If there's one place where you can make your insitute work and not need to sell it to Krusty surely its Japan, Doc?

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The shop had lots of awesome BTTF stuff

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BTTF rice crackers anyone?

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Mr Fusion underwear anyone?

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Continuing our tour of things you can no longer do in Orlando

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Official photographers at the ready

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I couldn't take pictures but damn the ride operator was awesome, she had a higher pitched voice than any anime I have ever seen, right until the shark showed up at which point she took on a voice like a Japanese masked Christian Bale

Edited by Garet
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Part 2:

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I think this was the only ride I was told it was Ok to bring my camera, the ride op just said no flash.

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There was a lot of fire

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Now we enter the rides were inside and I couldn't take pictures part of the tour

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This ride was all kinds of messed up Japanese awesomeness

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Does Spain know about this?

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Single rider lines were very popular

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I'd already used my fast-pass for Space fantasy but I decided i'd check out japanese T-2

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Loved the bobble-head terminator

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I'll cover waterworld when i get around to Universal Singapore photos

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Is that Japanese Jackie Chan?

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I was losing light when I photographed Hollywood Dream, I think this may have been my only B&M of the trip

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Take the tunnel

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I wanted a front row seat but sadly they had a hot girls only policy due to this being one of the only outside rides for tourists to photograph.

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I'll end this update with Jurassic Park

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Onwards to Yokohama

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Thanks for the report, makes me miss Japan even more. Can't believe all that merchandise!!!

 

I owe many thanks to you guys, if you hadn't helped me with the planning and found me all those rehab schedules. I would have done the trip backwards and missed out on Journey To the center of the earth at disney and jaws at universal.

 

Will try and have part 2 of the tour up on the 19th.

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Sooooo sad I'm going to miss the first part of the upcoming TPR Japan Tour this late June,

which includes Universal.

 

It all looks as great as it ever did, lol. Thanks for sharing this part of your tour with us.

 

And......SPACE FANTASY > Hollywood Dream!

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Thanks for the awesome trip report and photos. I love seeing these reports of parks I've never been to.

 

For people that have been there, how does Universal Japan compare to the stateside parks? I know Tokyo Disneyland is famous for it's quality, cleanliness, and upkeep of the attractions.. Is Universal the same way? Most of the rides are clones and the theming seems very simular to the state side parks, but is there anything that makes this park stand out in your minds?

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^It's sort of "Universal's Greatest Hits." This park has some of the best attractions of all the Universal parks (such as Spider-man and Jaws) and throws in in some original attractions (that is, Hollywood Dream and Space Fantasy). It's a great park and definitely worth visiting.

 

Jaws in Japanese in amazing!

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AWESOME report! I'd totally forgotten that so many of Universal's best rides were all here. Incredible.

 

^LOL! I just made a special mental note to pack an extra empty bag dedicated exclusively to Japanese BTTF souvenirs.

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Awesome report. Isn't Hollywood Dream going to turn its trains backwards?

 

Hollywood Dream is already running 2 trains backwards (with the other 2 running forwards - giving guests a choice). Folks on the TPR Japan trip Add-On will get to experience Hollywood Dream - Backdrop just a few weeks before the park returns the attraction back to it's normal operation in mid-July.

 

I'm pretty confident this has proved to be a very popular decision by the park!

http://www.japancrush.com/2013/stories/customers-queue-for-7-hours-to-try-backward-roller-coaster.html

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Thanks for the awesome trip report and photos. I love seeing these reports of parks I've never been to.

 

For people that have been there, how does Universal Japan compare to the stateside parks? I know Tokyo Disneyland is famous for it's quality, cleanliness, and upkeep of the attractions.. Is Universal the same way? Most of the rides are clones and the theming seems very simular to the state side parks, but is there anything that makes this park stand out in your minds?

 

I was too young to remember Florida clearly but I can compare it to Singapore. I think the only thing as I said in my report that stood out as a negative was the operations on fast pass, no-one could help me find where to buy a waterworld fastpass and even with the top-tier fast-pass i was turned away in the mornings because lines were under half hour (same with single rider lines), not a big deal but I much preferred Singapore's method of we'll warn people at the ticket office the park might be quiet but if they want to buy one anyway, we'll let them use it even if there are 0 people in line (i'm looking at you Battlestar Gallactica). Oh and Singapores we'll take pictures with your camera for you as well as trying to sell you one of ours, but I feel Japans way of only letting official camera in the photo zones is a standard at nearly most parks except Disneys (do they do the same with peoples cameras for you at all Disney's, I only have Tokyo to go on for this, I didn't have a camera when I visited Paris). Everything else was completely positive, the staff was great, the park was clean and as most people said it is definately a greatest hit sort of park.

 

Also Jaws in Japanese needs to be experienced, I kind of had a miss on my first ride, the lady just seemed to be going through the motions but my second lady was the most amazing guide. If you ever see a christopher nolan directed, japanese anime super-heroine film with the standard i'll make a grouchy voice in a mask, it's probably her doing the voice. She could switch between super high-pitched, super-fast speaking to japanese terminator and back at the slightest sign of any pesky sharks.

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Ok, Part 2: Yokohama Sea Paradise.

 

I'll be honest, i didn't do much research into this place, I knew it had a huge drop tower and that I had to go try it but apart from that I did 0 research. I was actually really pleasantly surprised by this park, the aquarium had a really nice variety of animals and a show, plus an open aquarium where you could touch the dolphins and beluga whales and a nice little assortment of rides. I'd planned on spending half a day but, the island its one was a really nice place to chill out on, so in the end I decided instead of having a huge credit day just to chill out here and make it my rest day. I really, really enjoyed this park.

 

One thing I have heard though is this park can be quite busy. I'm not sure since it was really dead when I went and barely anyone around but even still, I did wait half hour for some of the rides like the boat drop and the roller-coaster, mainly since it was just the one train with slow loading and unloading, plus their on-ride photo was a cameraman that did each row and the teenagers and school groups who were there kept asking for re-takes.

 

I'm not usually the biggest fan of aquariums, I tend to be in and out in under 2 hours in even the biggest ones and I find when people say they are the x biggest it just turns out to be a giant central tank which you see multiple times as you go around to the point where I get a little bit bored but I found this one just the right size, not big by any standards but with a surprising variety of animals and fish to see.

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The drop tower could be seen maybe at least 20 minutes before I arrived if not more, when I saw it way off in the distance I couldn't believe the size of it you can seriously see it for miles!

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The island has a nice setting

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There were quite a lot of sharks

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I really hope that middle patch isn't a baby bear that someone rolled over.

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Whale sharks aren't that big.....

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Until they swim up against the window

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There was an escape while I was photographing, sadly high speed chases aren't exciting when the escaped prisoner is a walrus

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Showtime for the whales

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True love

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Ok I'll move onto the rides....

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I think this may have been my first ever TOGO. If it was, I love TOGO coasters, this one was suprisingly fun.

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I'm never good at captioning roller coaster pictures, so I'll just share the pictures until we move on

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Observation tower time.

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Coaster layout

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More coaster layout

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The open aquarium

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Main aquarium

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And the monster I was here to ride

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They weren't jumping but they were standing on the splashdown on some of the runs

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For what had quite a small layout (for a rapids ride) this was a lot more fun than a lot of the bigger rapids rides I have been on. And it could hold quite a few people, I wish more parks had mini rapids like this (that can still hold a lot of people unlike some parks *cough*Fuji*cough*) I think it had just been re-done since it was now listed as aqua ride II

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I rode this the day after the accident at Hopi-Hari and there was a lot of discussion by people who thought all Intamin towers were required to have seat-belts. This one definitely didn't as well as Lotte Worlds and Tobu Zoo's.

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107m is a long way down

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Out of interest how do people find this compared to Lex Luthor at SFMM? A lot of people said this was the best but has that opinion now changed?

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Now you see them.....

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..... Now you don't. They were running 2 sides. 1 with the surprise, 1 without. I enjoyed both but I think the edge went to the non-surprise one, the plain drop seemed much faster and forceful.

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On the way out I had to take this picture, the squished up walrus and the child's face cracks me up.

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Good-bye Sea Paradise, you were a little more out the way by public transport than I thought you'd be but you were worth every minute of it.

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A great update and I'm glad to hear that this Togo is enjoyable. I'll need to conquer Blue Fall someday.

 

The shot of the four dolphins underwater is awesome!

 

The dolphin tunnel was the other of the 3 aquariums (I think you buy tickets to each separately if you don't get the all day-pass since there was a register and turnstile at the entrance). It was pretty small but it did make for some really good pictures. I wouldn't want to be in it when it's really crowded though.

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^Did you get a chance to see their big show? I have never been so impressed as I was that they had TRAINED WHALE SHARKS!?!??!

 

Yes, I actually really thought it was really well done, they seem to put a lot of effort into their work here, I actually arrived at the park one hour too early by accident and it was interesting seeing how much care all the trainers were doing for all the animals before opening time. It had a much nicer feel to it compared to Tobu Zoo, normally asian zoos don't shock me as much as they should and i've seen some really tiny pens here in Korea, but when I visited Tobu, most of the 1st animals I saw seemed to be in concrete ditches full of 100% mud and I just didn't want to take any pictures of it, in the end I got my credits and just left without going into the rest of the zoo part.

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Is this what you mean by the trained whale shark when they had it do a lap of honor in front of the guests?

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In my diver shot on the previous page and in the show I swear I only saw 1 whale shark but in this picture I can see another tail in the background, does anyone know if there is 1 or 2 whale sharks at Sea Paradise? And if it's 2 where did the second one keep disappearing too? This picture was definitely taken when the show wasn't happening. (Damn I just realized I should have watched the second show through the underwater window, would have been a different way of seeing a show)

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^When we saw the show they had the Whale Shark pull a ball on a string down to start the show. Not just the feeding stuff before the show. It was really impressive!

 

Maybe I was too busy setting up my camera, but I really don't remember that. I'm 99% sure that they didn't do that on this occasion though, I was fascinated by the whale sharks, I went through the aquarium 3 times trying to find a viewing area before a worker figured out what I was trying to find and showed me the side door to them, I think i'd have noticed if it was doing a trick. Hopefully they still do that because honestly although I loved all the parks in Japan that I visited, I think Sea Paradise was the only one where I just relaxed, at the others with all the lines you are constantly trying to plan where you will head next and trying to schedule your day best in your head to get as many rides as you can, so Sea Paradise is definitely top of my list of places I want to re-visit, It makes for a real nice rest-day I feel from the rest of busy Japan.

 

edit: Looking at some you-tube videos, there are a few differences in the show I saw, but when I visited a lot of the show area was in scaffolding or had temporary construction walls compared to the wider back area of the videos when I visited so it may have been due to refurbishment that they didn't do these things.

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Part 3: Yokohama Cosmoworld

 

This is a really small update since i'm saving it all up for the 3 big updates to follow, on the way back from Sea Paradise I decided to get off and spend a quick hour at Cosmoworld. I'm not normally a credit hunter so I will generally skip credits in favor of a ride I would rather try (I skipped the line for a coaster at Fuji to try out the flat rides) but I had to try out the "air-time" log flume, it definitely lived up to its name. the park was dead since it was late at night and extremely windy, I rode the ferris wheel and the wind was slamming the windows so hard you could barely hear yourself so it was difficult to get pictures of anything going since I seemed to be one of the only people riding the rides. I was also out of money so I didn't ride much since it was pay per ride.

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Tallest building in Japan greeted me as I left the station

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This park has a great back drop for being in the city

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Almost at the park

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Arrived (and my first ever Disko, so many parks seem to add them just after i've visited them)

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This ferris wheel was huge!

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This coaster wasn't anything too special

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TAKE THE TUNNEL

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sploosh

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Ok, so you've seen all my pictures of rollercoasters in my previous TR's. Top Thrill Dragster, Millenium Force,T-express etc. All clear shots, but no matter how many times I tried I always got motion blur on the log flume.... It's just that fast! :p

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I think I was the only one to ride this the whole time I was there

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Other side of the park

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After getting lost on all the levels of the park, I finally found the ferris wheel entrance

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One of only 2 times I saw it go round.

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I don't think any-one was there

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That ends this mini-update, I took quite a lot of pictures at the next couple of parks so i'll have to break them into multiple updates.... who wants 100 photos of it's a small world?

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