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Photo TR: Adam's Return to Japan & 1st visit to Hong Kong


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Sega Joypolis and Tokyo city day

Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo Disneyland

Osaka Castle - Osaka Aquarium, Osaka Castle, Dotonbori & more!

Universal Studios Japan - Similar but different!

Kyoto - Temples, shrines, Fushimi Inari & street food!

Final Tokyo Day - Mitsukoshi, teamLab Borderless & more

Hong Kong Disneyland Day 1: Mystic Manor, food & more!

Hong Kong Disneyland Day 2 Part 1: Marvel, Disney Dim Sum & more!

Hong Kong Disneyland Day 2 Part 2: Rides, shows, food & nighttime fun!

 

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Original Post:

 

I've been fortunate enough to have done a lot of traveling in my life, but there has been no place I've loved more than Japan. Having taken my original Japan trip in 2006 and then our honeymoon in Shanghai and Tokyo, I was itching to get back to Japan as soon as I could... And with my wife and I's goal to visit all of the Disney Parks around the world following our wedding, we kept our eye out for fares until the right opportunity came up. We'd visited Disneyland twice following our wedding (once for our mini-moon and once for a 36 hour getaway) and Disneyland Paris the following Summer... Leaving just Hong Kong Disneyland in our sights. But when on that side of the world, you don't skip out on Tokyo Disney or Tokyo in general!

 

Compared to our honeymoon trip, we made it a point to spend more time on the experiences other than Disney, visiting Kyoto, Osaka (including Universal Studios Japan) and more of Tokyo than we saw during our last trip. Along the way we were able to knock a few of my like-to's off of the list (from having lived vicariously through so many Japan trip reports on these forums that went beyond Disney) and found a few gems on our own.

 

Our trip began with our first evening and day in Tokyo...

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This was not a short flight... But man, was the end result worth it!

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It has become a tradition of mine to take some Amorette's Patisserie desserts with me when taking longer trips...

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What do you do during a long flight? Watch incredibly obscure movies like Rat Race, obviously.

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A just like that we were back at the Tokyo Disney Resort, hopping on the monorail to Ikspiari.

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Ichizenya at Ikspiarari Kitchen has been my favorite quick service option on property since our honeymoon trip... I try to visit at least once per trip.

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We got in later in the evening, so we had enough time and energy to grab a bite and do a little bit of shopping before our first full day in the city. The Ikspiari Disney Store is always a must for us, considering how different the merchandise here is compared to the Bon Voyage Gifts and in-park options.

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I wasn't leaving Japan without these Oswald ears.

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Back in the land of Melon Bread and I couldn't be happier.

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The French may be known for their pastries, but I'd argue that Japan has perfected patisseries.

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Robb had recommended the Decks going back to his and Elissa's helping us to plan our honeymoon and while we didn't make it that time, this time around we made sure to give it a visit.

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Our main reason for heading out to Odaiba...

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I've always been intrigued by SEGA Joypolis... Going as far back to the mid-90's, Joypolis felt like the precursor and more-advanced implementation of the indoor amusement park model that inspired DisneyQuest. Arcades, virtual reality experiences and even an indoor coaster... Where stateside DisneyQuest concepts didn't even have a physical coaster. I'd always been enamored with how SEGA had managed to fit it all into a compact footprint where it wasn't even tried in the states. Now I'd finally experience it for myself.

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Yes, the urinals at Joypolis are interactive video games.

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I knew the complex had received some pretty significant face lifts over the years, with Gekion Live Coaster (formerly Veil of Darkness) replacing Spin Bullet. We waited an hour to ride the park's one coaster and it was worth it!

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The main stage at Joypolis is composed of a huge projection-mapped surface and a musion-style screen that allows Lopit, SEGA's original pop star character to perform in an insanely colorful, overwhelming show throughout the day.

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Coca-Cola Lime... I love Japan!

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I also love how much the Japanese love crepes.

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Sonic Athletics was super fun... And you work up a sweat powering your character's progress by hitting the treadmill hard. Note: If you plan to visit Joypolis and you want to participate in experiences like this, you need to wear closed-toe shoes or be prepared to wear loaner boots.

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I love how Gekion really frames the atrium of Joypolis.

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This inversion is incredibly smooth and a unique sensation to experience facing sideways as the launched turn sends you spinning.

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With lines being pretty significant during our visit and our day not being reserved solely for Joypolis, we had to pick and choose which experiences we went for... Funny enough, Joypolis seemed to have a simulator experience for practically every mode of transportation. Wild Wing for planes, Wild Jungle Brothers for jeeps, Wild River: The Treasure Hunt for rafting.

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I wished I had time to experience this one...

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But I chose Zombie Zoo, just because I was so intrigued by the concept of an indoor haunt created by the minds at SEGA. The experience is not presented in English and the staff warned me about this, but when I agreed to stay, they gave me an English laminated book with a list of warnings and context of the story. In all honesty, the lack of English didn't take away from the experience. The story is fairly simple... Zombies are not uncommon in the world now, and one facility has domesticated them enough to offer a "Zombie Zoo" for visitors to experience the zombies at a distance. Led by one of the scientists/doctors at the facility and his bumbling assistant, the experience is more comedy-horror than outright horror. There are a few jump scares from room to room and as you get deeper in, the light-hearted tour turns into a more sinister plot to zombify guests, which results in a daring escape plan.

 

That's it in a nutshell. I'm glad I experienced Zombie Zoo overall.

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Dispatches for the coaster don't happen very often, so getting to watch another train zoom by was fun when I could.

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Halfpipe Tokyo had a longer line than Gekion so I had to skip this one.

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Spicy Taxi... What exactly makes it spicy, I'm not sure.

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For Larry...

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I didn't realize until we were here that Gekion Live Coaster's game experience changes seasonally and during my visit it was themed to Sonic the Hedgehog. The dark ride section of the coaster is neat in that the projector screens follow cars as they move down the track and shift away as you move between rooms. My inner eleven year old was absolutely blown away that I was able to ride a coaster to the tune to "Escape from the City" from Sonic Adventure 2.

 

The coaster is incredibly compact, but thanks to the dark ride elements it is actually a fairly long experience.

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Michael Jackson apparently visited Joypolis in 1996!

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I came, I saw, I wonder no more.

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One more for Larry...

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I still find it incredibly amusing that Tommy Lee Jones is the face of Boss after all these years.

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The Decks in Odaiba also have an old-school Disney Store!

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Vintage feel!

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Time for a ramen-themed food hall!

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When in Japan, get ramen and gyoza.

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The best ramen I've ever had... Curry ramen. Savory, spicy, flavorful. I was in absolute heaven!

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Pork bean sprouts as a side turned out to be enough to be its own entree.

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Tokyo Ramen Kokugikan "Mai" was an absolute highlight!

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I've now seen four Statue of Liberty replicas around the world.

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We wanted to revisit Harajuku and Takeshita Street since our time there was so short last time...

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We didn't realize we came at a busy time.

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After an amazing kickoff to our trip it was time to head back to our hotel and get an early night's rest before rope-dropping Tokyo DisneySea!

Edited by jedimaster1227
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Great start, Adam, and how exciting to see a report from several of the places that I'll get to in mine eventually!

 

(in particular, Joypolis, USJ, & TDL/TDS). . .as not only was it my 1st ever trip to Japan, it was my 1st ever visit to a Universal Park.

 

gonna be so fun to see how the experiences differ.

 

I may have missed it, but what is the timeframe that you were at Joypolis?

 

Wondering as when we went in early Oct (and i'll have that update up at some point in a week or two, since have a few parks before that point), at that time the Spin coaster was themed to a J-pop boy-band. Playing their video and song, thruout the "dark game" part of the ride, and during the finale end spinning around the "tower" section.

 

the video stage also had turned into a "virtual" concert for the band. I honestly thought they were appearing live (or one of them was) based on the crowd reaction and participation. . but when got a look at the stage - no pics permitted - everyone was just watching a projected performance on the screens.

 

it was so interesting to see.

 

we liked Decks too, and tho we didn't eat at the Ramen Alley, everything you posted looks like it tasted amazing.

 

can't wait to see more

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With lines being pretty significant during our visit and our day not being reserved solely for Joypolis, we had to pick and choose which experiences we went for... Funny enough, Joypolis seemed to have a simulator experience for practically every mode of transportation. Wild Wing for planes, Wild Jungle Brothers for jeeps, Wild River: The Treasure Hunt for rafting.

 

Lotte World has these 3 rides installed as well and I think a park in Dubai has the set, so if it's any consolation you chose something unique to Japan over a ride that's been cloned.

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The melon flavored drinks, breads, treats were all done so well. They could easily end up being gross but leave it to Japan to perfect the flavor!

 

Sega looks like a fun unique park, especially the coaster. Great start to the report, Adam! Thanks for taking the time to post everything.

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Great start, Adam, and how exciting to see a report from several of the places that I'll get to in mine eventually!

 

I may have missed it, but what is the timeframe that you were at Joypolis?

 

Thanks Bert! We were there in early April of this year!

 

How exactly does a urinal interactive video game work?

 

It is just like most point-and-shoot arcade games.

 

Lotte World has these 3 rides installed as well and I think a park in Dubai has the set, so if it's any consolation you chose something unique to Japan over a ride that's been cloned.

 

That is good to know! I really enjoyed Joypolis overall, but now that I've been and seen what they have I probably wouldn't rush back over more time in the city or at Tokyo Disney, but it was a great side experience for this trip!

 

The melon flavored drinks, breads, treats were all done so well. They could easily end up being gross but leave it to Japan to perfect the flavor!

 

Sega looks like a fun unique park, especially the coaster. Great start to the report, Adam! Thanks for taking the time to post everything.

 

Melon Bread, Melon Fanta and Melon Soda Churros are three of the things I consistently find myself craving here at home.

 

Glad you all have enjoyed this report so far! Lots more ahead!

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Great report! I was pleased to go and do Joypolis, especially because we only spent about two hours there (after 10 PM pass). There were no lines, so we walked on Gekion three or so times, did the halfpipe, and four or so other simulators. They were all quite fun! The area around the park itself also is best seen at night, imo. Rainbow bridge and the views of the city are really quite great there.

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After our first day in the city, it was time to visit my favorite theme park on the planet, Tokyo DisneySea. This would be my third visit to Tokyo Disney in my life, and still this was my most anticipated portion of the trip. To say this park is amazing would be the greatest understatement a person could make about theme parks. The park was originally built with an unrivaled budget and the additions that have followed since its 2001 debut have followed the same standard, even for attractions that are "copies" of those found in other parks around the world. The atmosphere, the architecture, the theming, music, lands and food make this park the absolute best Disney has ever done.

 

Since we had spent so much time at the Tokyo Disney Resort during our Honeymoon, we opted for a shortened visit this time around so we could explore more of Japan. That meant one day at DisneySea and one day at Disneyland. Funny enough, despite having half the time we did from before, I found myself less stressed to accomplish everything during this trip, and in the process I was able to enjoy more details in the park than I ever had before.

 

While last time we visited during the Tanabata Festival (and the time before that I was here for the Tokyo DisneySea 5th Anniversary Celebration), this time our trip was in between events with the Easter 2019 event starting just a few days after our visit. As a result we were able to experience a few of the Easter offerings including some merchandise while still getting a chance to enjoy some of the non-seasonal offerings that would go away for Easter like the new Dreaming Up parade the next day at Disneyland.

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There are few views better than this in my opinion...

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Except for this one.

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Soaring: Fantastic Flight was still under construction during our visit, but it was easy to see that the show building would be well masked with theming. Only Tokyo Disney could make an attraction that already exists around the world totally unique and themed enough to fit into the most well themed park in the world.

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Still one of the absolute best rides on the planet... So naturally we went here first.

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Fun little details in the queue including a model designed by Captain Nemo for air travel...

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Best elevator is best.

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Still the best use of the Test Track ride system to date.

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The Ukiwa Bun is still one of my favorite snacks in the entire resort!

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The Cape Cod section of the park lacks in attractions, but it makes up for it in scenery.

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Seriously breathtaking.

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Perfect.

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I love that the waterline behind the S.S. Columbia is actually in line with the sea beyond the berm of the park. The monorail and road cut behind the barrier you see at the water's edge, but beyond those is an actual body of water.

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Best Tower is best.

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I love the way the marquee works here...

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Such an awesome, subtle effect.

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The American Waterfront is one of the best designed lands to exist in a theme park.

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In advance of Easter 2019, the Usapiyo had begun to roll out throughout the park.

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Placemaking with no purpose other than it being nice and adding to the land. Details that matter.

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I love the vibe that Easter brings to the park!

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The design of the Broadway Music Theatre in the American Waterfront is spectacular.

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Best restroom is best.

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So much cute!

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If one were to consider proposing or getting married at Tokyo DisneySea, I believe this would be the ideal place to do it.

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I finally found the park's dedication plaque!

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I will never get over the fact that this is in a theme park.

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Just unbelievable.

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Absolutely unreal.

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My shock and awe will never wear off.

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Just can't get enough.

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We came back for more several times throughout the day thanks to Tokyo Disney's continued use of the old-school FastPass system.

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There are so many neat areas of Mysterious Island to take in.

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The queue structure for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea has always blown me away.

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What a sight!

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Mermaid Lagoon is so fully fleshed out, it could be its own Disney Family Entertainment Center built regionally and that would be enough.

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Raging Spirits manages to take a pretty standard coaster and wrap it with some pretty great theming.

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The rock work in frame here is amazing.

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The layers and sightlines help with the forced perspective of the park's central icon and how each of the themed lands is built around it.

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I rode Scuttle's Scooters back in 2006 but haven't had a chance to give it another go.

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A must take picture when at Tokyo DisneySea...

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I'd not taken the time to read the entrance's Royal Proclamation... A nod to Walt Disney's original Disneyland opening speech, "To all who come to this happy place, welcome..."

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For Larry.

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Seriously, if they built this land anywhere else as its own attraction, it would still do incredibly well.

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There's just SO MUCH!

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Spot the Killer from The Little Mermaid TV show makes an appearance in the water play area in Mermaid Lagoon.

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You don't go to Mermaid Lagoon and leave without a Sea Salt Monaka.

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Distinctly Japanese...

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Authentically cute!

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How is this real?

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The cutest of cute merch.

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(Continued)

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A remaining element from the former StormRider attraction...

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Always loved this detail...

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Oh yeah, we were here for Aquatopia.

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This attraction has no story or purpose to exist other than because it can... And IT IS AWESOME!

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So incredibly fun!

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Port Discovery's dedication plaque...

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Sailor Mickey and I see each other a lot, just not here in Cape Cod.

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The "Hello, New York!" show at the American Waterfront was super high energy!

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The Sail Away Buffet had closed since our last visit and the venue re-opened as the new quick service Dockside Diner.

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Thank you FastPass!

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So much detail!

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A very different entrance experience compared to any of the other Tower of Terror attractions...

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I never noticed this stained glass feature in the entrance lobby, but it is awesome!

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These art pieces hang in the lobby, showing how Harrison Hightower collected artifacts from other lands in Tokyo DisneySea.

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"This as you may recognize is not a maintenance service elevator, not still in operation, not waiting for you..."

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The moment in which Shiriki Utundu was handed off to Harrison Hightower...

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Best preshow ever!

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Shiriki is the best original Disney character created for a park... Except for maybe the Lava Monster.

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One of these trips I'll get around to riding the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line.

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Look at this amazing popcorn bucket we bought!

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I finally got a chance to experience Fortress Explorations!

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So many cool spaces in this attraction!

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The founders of SEA...

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This gravity-based pendulum is mesmerizing...

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So many neat visual experiences here.

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The DisneySea Electric Railway adds great kinetic energy to this side of the park.

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A look towards the land where the newest port at Tokyo DisneySea will be.

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Lost River Delta is amazing.

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Thank you FastPass!

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Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull manages to elevate the already perfect Indiana Jones Adventure attraction from California and make it even better!

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Raging Spirits looks great at night!

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Flying Carpet Curry from the Casbah Food Court in the Arabian Coast is never a bad choice.

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We finally got a chance to stop into the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge during this trip... Which meant I'd be consuming a Melon Soda Float and an authentic Manhattan!

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Keeping up my goofy tradition of silly entrance photos in this plaza.

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I love that Tokyo Disney still offers CDs of their music... I might have bought a lot of it during this trip. I might have.

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Thank you FastPass!

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No Sallah here...

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But Paco is pretty great too!

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea never photographs well for me, but I managed to snag this fun shot!

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Mochi bites!

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Curry bread is an amazing thing that we have nothing like in the States...

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White chocolate and strawberry popcorn!

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The Pork Roll and the Chicken Roll from the American Waterfront are both great!

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Hi friend!

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You can't visit Tokyo DisneySea and not get a Gyoza Dog.

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Games of chance here are great in that you never lose, even when you do!

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Thanks to the Tanabata Festival, Chandu Buns weren't available during our last trip but we more than made up for it this time around.

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The Arabian Coast is such an underrated gem in the park.

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Casbah Food Court is a great place to get a quick service bite in the park.

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I genuinely, intentionally saved the best part of Tokyo DisneySea for the last part of the report...

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This attraction is so much better than any video or photos will show.

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The level of detail found inside is amazing!

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The music is absolutely infectious...

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The story is absolutely adorable...

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The animatronics are fantastic and huge!

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And then there's Chandu.

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There is no attraction I miss more in Tokyo than Sinbad's Storybook Voyage.

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I found a hidden Jasmin & Aladdin this time around!

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I can see the attraction clear as day with my eyes closed.

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Sadly our visit to Tokyo DisneySea came to a close... Next up was Tokyo Disneyland!

Edited by jedimaster1227
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Oh Adam, you make it so difficult for me. We aren't planning to visit TDS and TDL until....2025.

Reading through your trip there (and Bert's recent one too, I will admit) just makes it all the more

a - go - nizing a wait, until then.

 

Still, it's very nice to see what's new (or in the process of, like Soaring was, for you) at both parks.

 

And the food - mmmmmm. All food in Japan is pretty special to us. And your photos/captions easily proved that.

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Adam, great photos and description of that makes TDS so special. It really is a park that surprises and delights from the moment you enter. It's so cool to read reviews from people who have gotten to visit more than a couple times and hear that the experience never wavers.

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Always nice to see some DisneySea. It's always nice to see anything out of Japan period, but Tokyo Disney especially.

 

Since you mentioned the old school Fastpass system, you saw the very last of it since Soaring's opening was also when the resort introduced its new Fastpass system. It's like California's system (where you can either use your phone to grab a time slot, or grab a reminder slip the old school way), but without the upcharge to use the mobile app. Unfortunately, the Tokyo Disney app is currently only available on Japanese app stores with no international releases. I'm hoping a version for international visitors makes its way to other app stores in the not too distant future, but for now, you have to have a Japanese account to use the app.

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After our amazing day at Tokyo DisneySea, I was thrilled to be heading back to Tokyo Disneyland. While DisneySea is obviously the main draw for me to the Tokyo Disney Resort due to its totally unique experience, Tokyo Disneyland is without a doubt the best castle park (overall) I've been to... It manages to combine many of things I love about Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, while featuring some unique experiences (like Pooh's Hunny Hunt and Monsters Inc.), all presented with the warmth and care of the Tokyo Disney Cast Members. Just an amazing experience in every way.

 

As I mentioned in the last update, we were here just days before the start of Easter 2019 at the parks, so while park decor, food and merchandise was already set up for the season, the park's offerings were the regular experiences found when the park isn't celebrating a special event. This was a plus for us because we really wanted to see the park's new daytime parade Dreaming Up which wouldn't be running during the Easter celebration.

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I think Tokyo Disneyland's entrance experience is the strongest of any castle park around the world. You enter the World Bazaar through this structure and world outside the berm is behind you.

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I've spent hours roaming World Bazaar and there's so much to love.

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Obviously this was going to be our first stop...

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Pooh's Hunny Hunt stands as one of the greatest Disney attractions ever, even after its innovative ride system has been used and updated for attractions around the world.

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There is just much taking place in each room of the attraction...

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The detail is overwhelming.

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Just incredible.

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The Heffalumps and Woozles scene is absolute perfection.

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So much to take in!

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A sweet ending...

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Cute!

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So much cute Pooh merch!

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Where do you go after experiencing one of the best attractions on the planet? Great American Waffle Company, of course!

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I didn't get to experience this bliss during my first visit to Tokyo Disneyland (I honestly don't know how I missed it considering how much food I tried last time around), but I wasn't going to miss it this time. And the wait (approximately two years and 45 minutes) was well worth it!

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I love Tokyo's commitment to spontaneous entertainment throughout their parks. It adds energy to the quietest of corners throughout the lands.

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Space Mountain wasn't open during our last visit, so I wasn't going to miss a chance to experience it this time around.

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It took every ounce of me not to bring this giant Baymax plush back to Florida.

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Baymax Easter Egg found.

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While Star Tours itself is the same as its stateside counterparts, the show building and its extended queue are unique and gorgeous.

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I am enamored by this building.

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More random entertainment!

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Of course our first Fastpasses for the day brought us back here.

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it's a small world was also closed for refurbishment during our last visit. I was genuinely excited to experience this one during this trip.

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In case Larry needed this...

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Or this.

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We had just seen Book of Mormon earlier this year so...

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Attraction poster...

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WHAT A GORGEOUS LOAD STATION!!!

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I'm in love.

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During its refurbishment, it's a small world received the character overlay that has come to most of these attractions (only Magic Kingdom's remains character free at this point). I was surprised to see a character as current as Moana already included.

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Cinderella and Prince Charming...

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Alice and the White Rabbit.

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Merida and the triplets (as bears) from Brave...

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Rapunzel from Tangled...

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Pinocchio!

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It was cute to see Hercules and Pegasus represented in the attraction. You don't find much related to this film in the any of the parks.

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Lilo and Stitch...

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Time for one of my favorite meals...

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Pork Katsu Curry at Hungry Bear Restaurant. Just incredible.

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And another favorite of mine...

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The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha e Komo Mai! is charming and unique.

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To be totally honest, I wouldn't mind this version of the show finding its way to Florida...

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Best Jungle Cruise is best.

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I love all of the subtle gags in the queue.

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Look at this beauty!

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Hidden Mickey found!

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I love these caution signs at the loading dock.

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These need to be on t-shirts.

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Ready to take a ride?

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Our vessel for this Jungle Cruise...

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(Continued)

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There's something that happens in this scene, only in the Tokyo Disneyland version and it is magical. And I won't spoil it.

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Still funny, no matter where you are.

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I love these added details found throughout the ride.

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The fog effect is quite effective.

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HIPPO JAWS!!!

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Beautiful.

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I might own two full sets of these totems now... I might.

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Let's Party Gras! is a fun show in Adventureland.

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I love how the classic architecture of Tomorrowland is still in place today at Tokyo Disneyland.

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Thank you Fastpass!

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This will be a delicious and refreshing experience!

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The escape pod is actually a chicken exit! Amazing!

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Similar yet different.

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Esmeralda was roaming Fantasyland during our visit.

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I now present to you... The backside... Of... CASTLE!

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A look back towards World Bazaar from the Castle Forecourt.

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I've always appreciated the darker paint scheme found on the castle brickwork here compared to the one found at the Magic Kingdom.

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Beautiful.

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Usatama!

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Easter desserts with Easter souvenirs!

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Delicious and adorable!

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What do you do while you're waiting for the parade to come? Bakery picnic!

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Dreaming Up replaced Happiness is Here in two ways, in that it actually was the replacement for the former parade, and that it is now my favorite daytime parade I've seen.

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Alice in Wonderland is the inspiration for one of the grand floats in the parade.

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Pinocchio inspires another...

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The princesses get a beautiful float of their own.

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Beauty and the Beast is quite fun.

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I love how big Winnie the Pooh is in Japan.

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Big Hero 6!

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Mary Poppins and Peter Pan share a float, and it is one of the best in show.

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Westernland is especially gorgeous at this time of day...

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Who doesn't love Big Thunder Mountain?

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What a view!

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Easily the best version of Splash Mountain in existence.

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I finally found Tony Solari!

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Time for Dream Lights, the best nighttime parade in existence!

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It is like the Main Street Electrical Parade but amped up and updated regularly with new floats.

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Classic Disney nighttime parade iconography...

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One of my favorites!

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The Genie is incredible!

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Sadly it was time to head out...

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See ya...

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Real soon.

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The new floats fit perfectly in the show, and keep the parade experience current for newer generations.

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The finale of Dream Lights is absolutely breathtaking.

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Celebrate! Tokyo Disneyland was a special fireworks show honoring the 35th anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland. The Tiki Room segment was my favorite part of the experience.

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There was no shortage of fire during the show.

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Monsters Inc. Ride and Go Seek is just plain fun.

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And adorable too!

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On the way out I spotted something peculiar...

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I hadn't seen the entrance to Club 33 in Tokyo Disneyland before this visit.

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Stunning.

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^ I love this update, thanks so much for sharing!

 

Brings back some incredible memories - in particular of Pooh's Hunny Hunt, and the Mickey Waffle.

 

we didn't get to see Genie, although caught the parade 3 times - he was broken and being repaired all 3 times I was able to see (just bad timing, unfortunately), but the rest of that parade is stunning!

 

Even if the "adult Pete" sitting in Elliot's hands is kind of terrifying (I thought every time I saw it). . LOL

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Following our amazing two days at the Tokyo Disney Resort it was time to go someplace totally new... Osaka! While Universal Studios Japan was a priority for us, we planned a day for the city (our travel day) so we could experience a little more of Japan beyond just theme parks. This included the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, Osaka Castle and Dotonbori, and along the way some great food!

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Leaving our hotel at the Tokyo Disney Resort, I took one last Mike Wazowski melon bread with me for the road. We hopped on the JR Maihama line to Tokyo Station where we got our seats on the bullet train to Osaka...

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Several hours later, we arrived in Osaka and made a beeline to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan area. As it turns out, there's more to the complex including a cruise terminal, a ferris wheel and a LEGOLAND Discovery Center.

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The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is known as one of the largest public aquariums in the world (defeated by the Georgia Aquarium and Chimelong Ocean Kingdom years after it opened).

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A Costa cruise ship was in port during our visit.

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The Tempozan Harbor Village complex includes a themed food hall featuring traditional Japanese street foods... One in particular caught my eye.

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These Takoyaki are apparently very popular...

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In case you're wondering how Takoyaki is made, they pour dough into a special cooking tray (like a waffle iron) and drop a piece of cooked octopus tentacle in the center of the dough. The chef then flips the dough with a wooden stick for an evenly cooked, doughy fritter to form around the octopus meat.

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I tried all three varieties they had to offer. And there were none left when I was done.

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We might have tried a lot of other food while we were here too...

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There was a strong part of me that considered trying Subway's shrimp sandwich...

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Fashionable.

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King Doge!

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Inside of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is habitat for less-aquatic creatures...

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They have capybaras here!

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Pirahna 3-D!!!!

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Different stages of penguin fluff.

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The Pacific white-sided dolphins were gorgeous.

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Manta rays!

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I've now visited two aquariums around the world that house whale sharks.

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MOLA MOLA!!!

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I could watch these Ocean Sunfish swim all day!

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Another look at one of the whale sharks at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan...

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Nightmare fuel... And dinner fuel.

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Kaiyukan had a really fantastic room filled with different kinds of jellyfish near the end of the experience.

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Hello happy harbor seal!

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Harbor seals are among our favorite sea creatures...

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This one was just happily eating some ice, just because.

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Foreshadowing what we'd be experiencing during the next day...

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This trip was planned in part around the Cherry Blossom season... And we were well rewarded for our planning!

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Photos don't often do these beautiful flowers justice.

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They really are worth seeing in person where and when you can!

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There it is...

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Osaka Castle was a must do-for this trip, if only because we hadn't gotten close to one of the Japanese castles during our previous trips.

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The old world meets new in this shot that I'm especially proud of.

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More cherry blossom fancy...

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I was very very tempted to try Fugu sashimi (pufferfish) during this trip, but having had some back luck in the past with unique shellfish while traveling and this being so early in our trip, I erred on the side of caution to not risk getting sick.

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Dotonbori at night is stunning!

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GYOZA!!! We each bought a box from this location and they were wonderful!

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My wife realized as we were roaming Dotonbori that we weren't far away from the place that makes the viral fluffy cheesecake that you always see people jiggling online.

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Here comes ours!

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I highly recommend visiting Dotonbori if you're planning on going to Osaka.

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I love the canals in the middle of the city.

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We found Gyu-Kaku!

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Next up, something new...

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Famous shot is famous.

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After sitting dormant for 9 years, the Don Quixote Ferris Wheel reopened in 2018 in Dotonbori, so I wasn't going to pass up the chance to ride.

 

Riders board their vehicles from the top floor of the convenience store (which that itself makes the craziest of American big box stores seem tame) with the seats facing inward. Once the vehicle has dispatched, the entire platform holding the seats rotates 180 degrees to face outward.

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This ferris wheel is unique in that it is "l" shaped, with the ascent and descent being vertical with a slight crest over the top to head back down. It can be a bit intimidating.

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And in the fact that the vehicle moves at a really slow speed and scarily shakes, creaks and groans along the way, it is a terrifying experience... But we survived!

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I'M SMAUG!

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We took our fluffy cheesecake back to the room with us to enjoy and then passed out... The next morning would bring us to our first international Universal Studios park...

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what a great report!

 

Dontonbori looks fantastic during the night - I saw it during day time and was blown away, but at night? gorgeous.

 

and LOL. . I had no idea that "famous" shot is "famous"

(I just went and took a look at my pics, and I too took a picture of the runner guy, since he was interesting. why is he famous?).

 

the Castle is gorgeous! i didn't' do that one (we went to Himeji Castle instead), but the Osaka Castle is beautiful.

 

don't wanna get too far over the skis on your report, but at Citywalk did you go to the Takoyaki "mall" area? those Takoyaki were amazing too.

 

thanks for sharing.

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Looks like a great day in Osaka. I wanted to see Dotonbori too, but didn't have time since it was our arrival day in Japan. Did you go inside Osaka Castle? I got there just after they stopped selling admission for the day.

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