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Photo TR: Japan and southern China


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So here is the situation, I have been traveling with US Airways for many years (back when they were still named America West) so I have accumulated many frequent flyer miles (over a million to be exact). In February it was announced that US Airways (the new American) will be dropping Star Alliance program and switching to One World program which upon inspection has a lot of airlines that just aren't very well known so me and pops started booking trips using our miles on Star Alliance before we couldn't anymore. We booked a week long trip to Japan for the first week of October and I decided why not take the month of October off and visit my wife and daughter in Guangzhou China and while there visit some parks in that region. Enough about my boring story on to the report...

 

 

First a few disclaimers...

 

1. I didn't actually decide on posting a trip report until I got to China so my pictures from Japan are a bit lacking but enough people on TPR have amazing pictures of everything Japan so sorry about that.

 

2. The camera in the HTC ONE MAX phone is crap (ultra pixels is a crap gimmick, too bad I found out after my trip was finished) so the pictures aren't the best quality like I had hoped. I was fighting with getting good pictures while in China because the camera was having a hard time with the hazy skies and I kept trying different filters so please forgive me for this.

 

 

Now to the first group of pictures, pre-Disney...

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Obviously using miles we booked first class on the United 747. Personally I would never pay for first class when business works just the same at a third the price but when in Rome.

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Pops came along for the Japan portion of the trip.

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We arrived the same day Typhoon Phanfone hit Japan, we were delayed in San Francisco for 6 hours so we would arrive just after it hit Tokyo. The captain announced this was the typhoon when we flew over it.

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Honestly my favorite country in the world and I have arrived.

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Our hotel for the stay was the Hilton Tokyo Bay. If you are planning a trip to Tokyo Disney this really is a great alternative to the Disneyland hotel, the room rates are fare, we found this hotel to be slightly more English language friendly than the Disneyland hotel, it is a Disney good neighbor hotel and has all the Disney transportation nearby PLUS if you are a Hilton Honors member you can use your points to book this hotel.

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The room was comfortable with 2 twin beds and plenty of room to move about.

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From our room we could see both Disney parks. The rooms on the other side of the hotel overlook Tokyo Bay.

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The bathroom was nice with everything you would find in an American hotel.

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Including a shower and tub (with a TV)...

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And a western toilet (owning a home in China and traveling there often I have become very happy when I find a Western toilet while in Asia, I still cant get used to the hole in the floor). The controls for the toilet are only in Japanese so know the pictures because I accidently hit the bidet button on my first trip to Japan and what a surprise that was.

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There are these cool "retro" buses that take you from the hotel to the monorail station.

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Nothing says Disney like a giant Mickey head rear window. The tail lights are also "hidden" Mickeys.

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Inside the bus is just like the monorail with Mickey head handles.

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The air vents have that "retro" feel to them.

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Our visit to the TDR was 3 days so we bought the 3 day pass (day 1 at Tokyo Disneyland, Day 2 at Tokyo Disneysea and day 3 park hopper between the two parks) I will break this up into two groups the first being Tokyo Disneyland and the second Tokyo Disneysea.

 

On to Tokyo Disneyland...

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Must take the customary selfie at the entrance to Tokyo Disneyland.

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Tokyo Disney's castle in all its glory.

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Fantasia Mickey welcoming us to the castle.

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Main Street U.S.A. err... Japan

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Love the architecture of the buildings.

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I see this poor little Japanese woman and all I could think was them balloons were gonna carry her away like in the movie UP.

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Mandatory Space Mountain shot.

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Still my favorite dark ride anywhere. Come on American Disney parks, trackless dark rides are the way to go.

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Christopher Robins' room.

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The first "page" as we enter the que.

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Trying to get "artsy fartsy" but the crap camera in the phone just would not allow it.

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The Peter Pan ride is a clone of Disneyland's, but better, because it is in Japan.

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The grand carousel. As you can see the park was very busy, and this was a Tuesday the day after a major Typhoon hit the area.

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Inside Philharmagic.

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Beauty And The Beast display inside Philharmagic.

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It's a Small World was closed "for our future enjoyment" Cough Cough Hint Hint.

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Just a random shot of the plaza while waiting 90 minutes for the Monsters inc. shine a flashlight at things ride. Okay it's called Ride and go Seek.

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Cant be a Disneyland without the Dumbo ride.

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Oh Disney and your perfectly manicured lawns.

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Always on the lookout at Disney parks to where they pay homage to Walt and Roy's father Elias Disney. Found it on a building in Frontierland.

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At Tokyo Disneyland New Orleans Square is actually part of Adventureland which means that Pirates Of The Carribean is located there also.

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The Blue Bayou restaurant is in Tokyo Disneyland and just like its California counterpart you dine on the Pirates Of The Carribean river. Sadly there is no Club 33 here, from what I could see anyway.

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SURE, looks like a perfect photo spot to me.

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It was Halloween time...

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...so the park had its Halloween decorations and displays out...

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...which meant Haunted Mansion Holiday was in full swing.

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To me this is the nicest looking Haunted Mansion of all the Disney parks.

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Love the employee uniforms at Haunted Mansion, they really fit the mood of the ride.

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The attention to detail in the rockwork just for the que is really amazing.

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BOO!!! muahahaha

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Inside the Queen of Hearts banquet hall, it is a cafeteria style restaurant and the food is pretty good. And no it was not off with anyone's head, although it was Halloween time.

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The dining area inside the Queen of Hearts dining hall. It was very visually pleasing.

 

 

Warning : the following are just random statues.

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Here is a video of the full 11 minute journey on the Tokyo Disneyland railroad. I originally shot this video because I found the HD 60fps setting on my phone and I wanted to try it out.

 

 

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Alright time to post up pics from Tokyo Disneysea. In this series I will post pics as you go around the park so there will be day and night pictures mixed together, please understand. Now on to the pics...

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Gotta start with the park selfie. Since Disneysea does not have a proper entrance like other parks pops and I took our selfie in front of the medeterranian sea with mount Prometheus in the background.

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Past Medeterranian harbor you come to the American Waterfront section of the park where you come across this amazing looking building, the Tower of Terror.

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As you enter Disneysea (under the Mira Costa hotel) and veer left you pass Medeterranian harbor, The theming in this area is very beautiful.

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Oops! Note to self do not hit the enter button when arranging photos...

 

Lets try this again, Disneysea pics part 2...

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The lobby in the Tower of Terror is very nicely detailed.

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The broken elevator shaft, and they just got done carving all that beautiful Italian marble. What a shame.

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the lighting on the building is beautiful at night. I really love this version of the Tower Of Terror, the story is unique and actually it carries over into other sections of the park, The effects are amazing (I stood right next to the statue during the pre-show and still could not see how they did it). I would say this is the best of all the Tower Of Terrors if it wasn't for the OTS seatbelts on the ride portion so I still give the nod to Orlando but if the ride vehicle ever goes to lap bars only this version would be perfect in every detail.

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Tucked away in a corner by Tower Of Terror is the new land, Toyville Trolley Park.

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This new "land" is small but contains a few midway games, the mr. Potato Head carnival barker animatronic and of course Toy Story Mania. This is the new hotness here, 30 minutes after the park is open to the public there is a 4 hour wait for this ride and 90 minutes after the park opens all fast passes for the day have been given out. Word of advice go straight to the fast pass line when the park opens, wait the 40 minutes in the fast pass line then when you get your fast pass you can walk on ToT and Journey since everyone is in line at Toy Story Mania.

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The Toy Story Mania que is much like Orlando's except the mr. Potato Head animatronic is outside in his own area.

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Continuing through the American Waterfront this is the sailing day buffet, its a little pricey but the food is good and various "non-Disney" characters stroll about and interact with guests.

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Welcome to the Port Of New York.

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A large ocean liner within the confines of Disney.

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I present to you the Columbia sailing ship. All this time going to Disneysea I always thought this was a retired working cruise ship but come to find out it was built solely for Disney, another fun fact I came across that I never knew... this park was originally intended to be built in Long Beach, California (I knew that part) and this ship was always planned to be named Columbia as an ode to the Columbia sailing ship at Disneyland.

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From the bow of the ship looking back. And yes I did do the Titanic "king of the world" impersonation.

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From the SS Columbia looking towards Medeterranian harbor.

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From the SS Columbia looking towards American Waterfront.

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From the SS Columbia looking towards Tokyo bay with downtown Tokyo in the background and the Monorail on the other side of the stone breaker wall.

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Most people don't realize there is a second ship in this area, a fishing vessel.

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As you continue walking you come to the Cape Cod portion of American Waterfront. My mother is from Cape Cod, Hyannis Port to be exact (she grew up about a mile from the Kennedy compound), I showed her pics of this area the first time I visited Disneysea and commented it has the same look and feel as where she grew up so good job Disney.

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Cape Cod.

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This is the Town Hall building that houses a counter service restaurant with good ol' fashioned American food. If you enter the door on the left it is a standard seating area but if you enter the door on the right you will be treated to a show featuring Duffy the bear.

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Some of the decorations in the restaurant.

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The cannon in front of Town Hall.

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Cape Cod waterfront, this definitely reminds me of my grandmothers house.

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Cape Cod waterfront.

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Go on up to the lighthouse and take a few minutes to stop and just look out over the water, very peaceful and relaxing.

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Continue walking and you come across the Port Discovery section of the park. There are only 2 rides here and I will get slack for this but they are my favorite rides here at Disneysea, Aquatopia and Storm Rider (plus the station for the Electric Railway.

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This is the show building for Storm Rider which is a big clunky version Star Tours. The ride film is old and grainy, the ride vehicle shakes and rattles as it moves, the pre show is kinda lame plus depending on where you sit you get more wet than on most flume rides but something about this ride just makes me smile from beginning to end.

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The Fast Pass area for Storm Rider is nicely themed to the area.

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All these years and that leak is still there.

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Disney's Electric Railway in front of Mount Prometheus taken from Port Discovery.

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While I am in a video posting mood, here is the Disneysea Electric Railway between The New York port and Port Discovery. This was taken looking out the waterfront side of the train.

 

 

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Disneysea pics part 3

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Once you leave Port Discovery you enter Lost River Delta and this is the first thing you come up on. What was an innocent picture of a beached plane with the call letters of C3PO now becomes a picture of a newly announced land (possibly Frozen?).

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This is the location for the character meet and greet, behind it is Indiana Jones. Unfortunately I had taken so many pictures of it on previous trips I did not get any this trip.

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Raging Spirits is TDR's only looping coaster. It is a clone of the Indiana Jones ride at Paris Disneyland.

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The next land is Arabian Coast.

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Sinbad is an indoor boat ride like Prates Of The Carribean with the story being you are following Sinbad as he explores new lands seeking goods for his homeland.

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We follow Sinbad and his little tiger cat in this adventure.

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This scene the monkey people give him lots of bananas in trade for instruments... it's a strange ride. but a nice little ride.

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There are nice little random scenes everywhere in this area.

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The main plaza of Arabian Coast.

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Contained in this building is the double decker carousel.

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The next land you come to is Mermaid Lagoon. This is the kids section of the park featuring an indoor area which houses several rides.

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The statue of king Triton as you enter the show building.

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The sleeping whale gift shop.

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Located just outside the show building is a great family coaster (okay, it's a credit) named Flounders Flying Fish coaster.

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Hands down the greatest sign found at any park.

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I don't know if this is a new flavor of popcorn or not but I have never seen it before but it smelled good.

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Mysterious Island is the final land and is located in the middle of the park. This is where you will find the Journey To The Center Of The Earth.

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The theming in this land is quite impressive.

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The mountain is being drilled.

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Amazing attention to detail.

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The lagoon in the center of Mysterious Island. The spiral staircase across the way is the entrance to 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, an unusual submarine ride filled with effects.

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View from the que of 20,000 Leagues ride.

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My final view of my Disney portion of my trip. It was so sad to leave.

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Next up will be our second half of the Japan journey, Universal Studios Japan and their Halloween Horror Nights festivities.

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On a side note This is Haneda airport in Tokyo. This airport has a rooftop observation deck where you can watch the airplanes and you do not even need a ticket to go up there, that is a great idea.

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Been a little sick so I have been slow in organizing the next batch of pics from Universal Japan so for now I will throw this up...

 

 

If you have never been to Tokyo Disney and want to know what it is like being there here is a 5 minute video I shot while standing line at Storm Rider of people walking by. The camera is aimed in one direction, no panning the area, it was shot in HD at 60fps so if you switch to HD on the YouTube settings it should feel like you are there watching people yourself.

 

 

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Thank you for the great pictures and trip report. I never get tired of seeing Tokyo Disney and Disney Sea pictures!!

 

 

Thanx, I always get a bit teary eyed every time I leave the Tokyo Disney Resort, There is just something very magical about that place,

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Here are the batch of pre-Universal pictures, hope you enjoy...

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The Universal Port hotel, our home for 3 days while we were in Osaka. This is a nice hotel that is across the street from the Universal complex and only a 5 minute walk to the front gate. The room rates were very reasonable (the lowest of the 3 hotels on site), the staff were overly friendly, theme park tickets are sold at the hotel and most employees speak English very well (I speak Japanese but pops is English only so it is good for him).

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The room was nice, a little smaller than the Hilton in Tokyo, but spacious none the less. The room had 2 twin beds, a couch, and a television, not bad although the one thing we found it to be lacking was storage space so we were using the couch as a closet.

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The bathroom was nice with all the amenities you could ask for plus a tub and shower.

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And best of all a western toilet, YAY.

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The entire Universal Complex could be seen from the room (I see you Hogwarts)

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What is a Universal Studios without a City Walk. It is a nice sized version with some names that you would recognize but mostly it is occupied with Japanese style gift shops so you can pickup all those crazy Japanese knick knacks you always wanted.

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Here is a look down the main section of City Walk. The construction on the left is of a new third on-site (fourth Universal) hotel. I keep hearing how much attendance has increased since Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened that the fourth hotel will be definitely needed.

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Hmm, looks familiar.

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On a side note this is MOS burger, Japans own hamburger restaurant (ala McDonalds, Burger King, etc...) and it is SO GOOD. They have locations all over Japan and other portions of Asia and I highly recommend trying it.

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And at the end of City Walk you reach the entry plaza to Universal Studios Japan...

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We visited Universal Studios Japan for several days during their Halloween Horror Nights and it is not set up like HHN in the states, your ticket is good for all day and includes the HHN activities. There were 3 haunted walk through attractions, 5 of the rides were normal operation during the day then transformed at night into haunted attractions and 2 haunted restaurants. Here is a rundown of the haunted attractions and what is experienced.

 

First off we did not do either haunted restaurant, honestly I did not even know about them until we got to the Dark Restaurant and all 5 seatings were already sold out. We looked in through the window at the second restaurant but it didn't look worth spending money on (the Dark Restaurant is the superior one). Also Biohazzard: the real 2 was an upcharge attraction and by the time I found out all the tickets for the day had been sold. There were several scare zones throughout the park but they all had the same theme, Angry Zombies. Every 20 minutes the scareacters did a dance in the street to Thriller, I will include a video...

 

 

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SPOILERS AHEAD...

 

 

really, SPOILERS AHEAD...

 

 

last chance, SPOILERS AHEAD...

 

 

Of the "other" two mazes Chucky's Toy Factory was the best. The que is set up as a showroom for the Toy Toy kids toy company that created the Good Boy "Chucky" doll and has many of their toys on display. You then enter the factory where Chucky has taken over and carnage and mayhem is what awaits us in every room. This was a really good maze with nice set pieces, a good story and many scares around every corner (the picture at the end was definitely unexpected). It is not to the caliber of Universal Orlando or California but still very good.

 

The other maze was Friday the 13th and it had a bit of a flaw to it, well for me it was a flaw. Before you enter they break us up into groups of 8 people and then hand us a length of rope that we must hold onto the entire maze. My group consisted of me and 6 High School age (looking) Japanese girls and they nominated me to be the leader (I think you can see where this is going). For the entire maze all I heard was the girls screaming and they were all grabbing on to me very tightly, maybe 10 years ago and before I became married I would have enjoyed it but now not so much. Anyway there were many random rooms that Jason jumped out at us and scarred everyone. The set pieces were not up to par with Chucky and the fact that Jason was in every room kinda took away the atmosphere for me so this maze was kinda disappointing.

 

Of the 5 rides that were transformed into haunted rides the best was Jurassic Park. The ride starts out the same but midway through the lagoon portion the fog starts and we begin seeing body parts strewn about. You can then start making out through the fog bodies hanging from the trees and a couple of scareacters that jump out from the bushes. Once we enter the show building the dinosaurs are covered up and at every perch the girl from the Ring movie jumps out trying to attack us then we hit the drop and the ride is over. They did a lot of work in just the hour that it was closed to transform this ride and they did a good job with it.

 

My second favorite transformation was Backdraft, we did this on the first night we were there and didn't realize that the rides were transformed into haunted rides we just saw the wait was down to 40 minutes and got in line (this was the only haunted attraction that pops did with me, he usually does not do them but we did not know it was changed and just thought it would be Backdraft). The first room was transformed into a lab and a scientist came out and talked about ghost videos to us then showed us a video of a doll that mysteriously smiled (the Japanese are obsessed with ghost videos and more so ghost photos, look it up) then items started falling around the room so we go to the second room. In this room the scientist was talking to us and strange noises started appearing so he leaves to investigate and we then hear his screams overhead and in a window at the top of the room the girl from the Ring movie appears. We then move into the final room where the factory fire usually is but in the middle of the room now is a 55 gallon drum and the girl from the Ring movie starts to crawl out of it. The lights go off and when they come back on the girl is in front of us and she starts running to the left of the room and the lights go out. When they come back on she is standing next to the people in the front row, she then lunges at them and the lights go out again. they immediately come back on and now there are 6 girls, 3 one each side and 1 at each row. the lights go out again and everyone starts screaming (they are now crawling through the rows touching everyone) and then the lights come on and they are all gone and we leave the attraction. This was really a lot of fun and even pops had a good time laughing at everyone.

 

My third favorite haunted ride was Space Fantasy, all they did for this ride was turn the lights off in the ride portion but I really love this ride so it was fun plus the single rider line was open even for the haunt so I rode it 4 times. For the haunted portion the only thing they did was in the round pre show room all the t.v.'s were showing a fuzzy video of a well in the woods then the girl from the Ring movie slams into the glass doors and scares everyone. Are you seeing a pattern with the haunted rides transformation? Yep, they were all themed to the Ring movie.

 

My second least favorite transformation was Terminator 2. The preshow starts the same but the portion of the movie where Sarah and John Conner appear is now a well in the woods and the girl from the Ring movie crawls out of it and comes towards the screen then the end of the Cyberdyne promotional video comes back on. We are now rushed into the theater portion (none of the Terminator portion of the ride happens) and the girl from the Ring movie shows up and yada yada yada we survive. The cool thing is they do the fog effect twice and the seats dropping twice. other than that, well...

 

The worst transformation was Back To The Future. At the beginning everything was the same except during the safety video they dubbed over the boy with the creaking voice (I forget what movie it was from). The ride film is identical, we chase Biff through time then for no reason about halfway through we are in a house going around it (I will give them credit, they programmed the Deloreans to feel like they are floating and when we came to a set of stairs they did bounce along). We turn into a room and... any guesses what happens next? That's right, the girl from the Ring movie is in there and screams and the ride is over... WHAT?!? It was really bad. I hope they improve on it next year.

 

 

Anyhow that is my review of Universal Studios Japan HHN #4. Now on to the pics...

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I've never seen the White Chocolate Popcorn flavor at Tokyo Disney either! So new it is!

 

Cool report from Universal, definitely want to check out their version of HHN at some point.

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Really enjoying your TR of your travels and the Japanese parks! I've never been to Asia and even though there are lots of Japanese TRs every one is so different with new pics and reviews. I love reading them all. Is it normal for the hotels over there to have two twin beds instead of two doubles? How often do you get to see your wife since you mentioned she lives over that way? Looking forward to the upcoming installments.

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Cool report from Universal, definitely want to check out their version of HHN at some point.

 

 

Elissa, as I mentioned this event is not up to par with Orlando or California but I definitely would recommend you and Robb experience it because the atmosphere of the entire event makes it worth it. The fact that one ticket is good for all day and includes the haunt event is unique and before you think the haunts will be too busy at night to experience them Biohazard: the Real 2 opened at noon, Chucky opened at 1pm and Jason opened at 2pm. The rides that transformed into the haunted rides closed at 4:30 pm and reopened at 5:30 (some a little earlier) plus you can buy a haunt express pass and get front of line access to many of them. I did not plan ahead but you are better at that than me and you can buy the tickets for Biohazard and the Dark Diner early (the Dark Diner had 5 seatings that started at 12pm so 2 of the seatings were for lunch and 3 for dinner). The biggest factor of making this event is the Japanese people really have a lot of fun with this event, a lot were dressed in costumes, some very elaborate (I saw 5 girls dressed as the nurses from Silent Hill, the film version, and they looked exactly like they just jumped off the movie screen, amazing detail in their costumes) and they just seemed to really have fun which made the event really a fun and enjoyable time.

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