There are far too many Disney details to share to have written just one, all-encompassing post about traveling in Tokyo. With that said, let's dive right into our Tokyo Disney Parks adventure--the last two parks we had to cross off our Disney Parks checklist!
Ticketing and Hotels
Tokyo is home to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea and these two parks are tremendously different from one another. On the one hand, Tokyo Disneyland is a very familiar place if you've been to the Disneyland parks in California and Hong Kong. Tokyo DisneySea, on the other hand, is a whole different story. Built in 2001, this park is unrecognizable from its Disney cousins with a completely unique set of lands and attractions. As far as ticketing goes for this park, you can always purchase tickets at the parks or at the surrounding hotels. However, we found that the most convenient and thrifty way to go was through Klook. They offer single and multi-day packages that will shave a couple dollars off your ticket prices and keep you from waiting in an extra line at the parks. For your hotels, there are a number of great options around the Tokyo Disney Resort. There's even a hotel inside of DisneySea, The Hotel Miracosta.
There are four Disney Hotels, six Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotels, and four Tokyo Disney Resort Partner Hotels. We stayed at the Hilton Tokyo Bay Hotel, which is a Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotel with shuttle service to the parks. The hotel was beautiful and a walkable distance to the monorail line. A one-way pass on the monorail line will cost you about ¥220, approximately $2.00, and the line also accepts the JR Rail Pass. If you're traveling to your Tokyo Disney hotel from the airport, we recommend the Airport Limousine Bus. They are clean, quick, and it is very easy to find the desk and bus stop at the airport. Once you have your hotel, transportation, and tickets sorted, it's time to play!
Many people we've talked about Tokyo have asked if it was hard for us to get around and communicate without knowing any Japanese. We'd be lying if we said traveling to Japan isn't a trip outside of your comfort zone. It can be intimidating to venture to a country where English is the second language. That being said, the people in Japan are hands down some of the friendliest and most helpful people in the world. They will do their best to help you despite any language barrier. A bit of pantomime definitely helps with communication. Be prepared for excited, cheerful waves from attractions Cast Members as your ride vehicle takes off. Getting around the park is simple. In Tokyo Disney parks, English maps are available, all signs are in English, and even if an attraction's dialogue is in Japanese you'll still get the point. You'll likely run into a Cast Member or two who are very fluent in English and will excitedly converse with you! We met a gentleman In Tokyo DisneySea who chatted with us and sweetly offered to take our picture. To help you feel a prepared, here are some helpful Japanese words and phrases for visiting a Tokyo Disney park:
1.) Hello - Konnichiwa!
2.) Thank you - Arigatōgozaimashita! (phonetically it sounds like: "adigato gozaimaaas!" said very quickly)
3.) Excuse me - Sumimasen!
4.) Please - Onegaishimasu (phonetically it sounds like: "oh-negai-shimas"
5.) English map please - Eigo no chizu onegaishimasu (think of Eigo like the waffle, "Eggo", and chizu more like "chee-zoh")
6.) One, two, three, four (for when you have to tell attractions Cast Members how many are in your party) - Ichi, ni, san, and shi. Of course, you can much easier hold up your fingers to show the number of people you have.
Sleeping Beauty's pink castle serves as the iconic hub of this park, with many recognizable Disney lands and attractions throughout. While it does have a lot of similarities to other Disney parks, Tokyo Disneyland still incorporates many fun elements of Japanese culture.
Notable differences in attractions include "Pooh's Hunny Hunt", with a ride layout and vehicles similar to Mystic Manor in Hong Kong. We highly recommend this attraction if you are only planning to spend a half day exploring the park. We also highly recommend "Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek!", a unique attraction with a cute interactive element. In just one evening we were able to ride those two attractions as well as Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion Holiday, and Splash Mountain which were very similar to their counterparts in U.S parks. The park is also home to "Dreamlights", an electric night parade. The parade and its floats are visually stunning. If you are a big parade buff, be sure to nab a spot on the parade route before they are gone. Since we only had a couple hours in the park, we opted to watch the parade as we walked along its route to our next attraction instead.
Another unique location in the park to visit is the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. This quick-service, buffet-style restaurant features life-sized characters from the Alice in Wonderland animated film, tons of theming, and a tasty assortment of desserts!
Now we REALLY dive in. Although Tokyo Disneyland may be very familiar to other Disney parks, Tokyo DisneySea is its own entity entirely. With lands like Mermaid Lagoon and the Mysterious Island, Tokyo DisneySea will make any Disney expert feel transported to an unknown realm of Disney. All the different lands are a spectacle in and of themselves! With meticulous detail and creative storytelling, sufficient time should be spent enjoying each land of DisneySea. While exploring the park, keep an eye out for Tokyo Disney's "Crazy Janitors" who mime along to impeccably timed sound effects. We caught one in Arabian Coast and he was an absolute riot! Cheeky and adorable, with perfectly timed audio gags that have no language barrier.
One major topic we NEED to mention about this park is its attractions. There are so many unique things to discover in this park, that you'll want to give yourself a whole day to explore and create a plan of attack before you arrive.
1.) Get to the park at its opening and quickly make your way to Journey to the Center of the Earth for a FastPass. Most guests will be headed to Toy Story Mania first, but if you've done this attraction in Walt Disney World you can skip it. Once you get your FastPass, get in the standby line for the attraction while it's still short. This will give you two chances to ride the attraction.
2.) From there, head to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to get in line while that attraction has a shorter wait. Stop by the small Nautilus Galley for tasty Gyoza Dog and Kirin beer. Since we were visiting in September's Halloween season, our Gyoza Dogs were villain themed!
3.) You'll want to get a Fast Pass for Tower of Terror after your Journey to the Center of the Earth FastPass, as they run out quickly. The story behind this Tower of Terror is different than the other Disney versions and, although all the narrations are in Japanese, you'll get a good idea of the story through visuals.
4.) Another must-see attraction is Sinbad's Storybook Voyage. A dark boat attraction, Sinbad's Voyage takes you through different scenes depicting Sinbad's adventures. The music, while in Japanese, is still very catchy written by Disney legend Alan Menken. You'll love it for the music as well as the adorable Chandu. Get in the standby line for this attraction at any time of the day.
Other attractions we enjoyed are the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull, Nemo and Friends SeaRider, and the Raging Spirits roller-coaster (you'll want to use the single rider line--just go up to the FastPass line, hold up your first finger, and say "single rider"). Additionally, check out the Fortress Explorations in Mediterranean Harbor. If you're not afraid of stumbling through a puzzle in Japanese, take the Leonardo Challenge. Everything from the map to the audio instructions are in Japanese, so you'll get a good laugh trying to figure out the different challenges to get to the end. Get through all the puzzles like we did (somehow) and enjoy the great sense of pride! The map makes a nice free souvenir as well. Even if you aren't up for the Leonardo Challenge, you can still walk the different "exhibits" which showcase profound inventions and their creators from centuries ago.
Now to my favorite part: dining in Tokyo Disney! The food and drink selections at Tokyo DisneySea were some of my favorite at any Disney Park. We essentially ate our weight in snacks at DisneySea. To be fair, we traveled with friends so when one person got a snack everyone would get to sample it. We tried the Gyoza Dogs (pictured above), Little Green Men Mochi, Chandu Buns, Ursula Shrimp Buns, Potato Churros, and various ice cream treats. We highly recommend everything, especially the Gyoza Dogs, Mochi, and Chandu Buns. Tokyo Disney also has a wide array of popcorn, with a number of different flavors ranging from Shrimp to Milk Chocolate.
On top of the snacking, we also ate lunch at Vulcania in the Mysterious Island section of the park. We loved the food, location, and Jules-Verne theme of this restaurant. The story behind Vulcania is that it once was a geothermal station carved into Mount Prometheus, but has since been converted into a mess hall for Captain Nemo's crew. The industrial restaurant looks like it truly has been carved into the rock of Mount Prometheus. All restaurants in Tokyo Disney have plastic mock-ups of their dishes on display so Guests can see what the food looks like before ordering. This definitely makes deciding what to eat a breeze for any non-Japanese speaker. Inside Vulcania is a "buffeteria" style set-up where you make your food selections, are served, pay, then take your food to a table. The restaurant offers a selection of Chinese dishes such as fried rice, dim sum, chicken, and more.
Another fun way to discover DisneySea is by visiting two of its lounges, The Teddy Roosevelt Lounge and Magellan's Lounge. We had heard about the unique lounges in DisneySea, so we made it a point experience them both. First, we visited The Teddy Roosevelt Lounge. Located at the top of the S.S Columbia ship in the American Waterfront section of the park, you'll be transported to the early 1900s in this rustic salute to America's 26th President. Rich wood surrounds you, extravagant upholstery lines the booths, portraits of Roosevelt pay tribute, and bears perch atop the bar. The overall ambiance and period detail of this lounge is so impressive that it's one of the grander of all the Disney lounges we've seen. We were jealous that it lives in Japan and not in one of the stateside parks! Not fair! Drink menus here are expansive with many pages that offer no English names, but no descriptions. We enjoyed being risky and playing "cocktail roulette" by picking drinks for their funny names and seeing what we got.
Once we eventually said our goodbyes to Roosevelt's, we made our way through the park until we came across Magellan's Lounge in the Fortress Explorations area of Mediterranean Harbor. The first level of Magellan's is a table service restaurant while the second level houses the lounge. Themed after astronomy, this is another bar that is absolutely breathtaking. Its centerpiece is a two-story globe with constellations hovering over it on the ceiling above. With the same large drink menu, cocktail roulette can also be played here! We also recommend you research S.E.A, the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. While Disney has incorporated this society's members into a number of worldwide Disney attractions, Tokyo DisneySea is where it all originated. You'll find nods to S.E.A nestled throughout the Fortress Explorations area of the park.
We hope you enjoyed this brief, turned thorough, description of Tokyo's two Disney parks (admittedly mainly DisneySea). DisneySea is, in our opinion, one of the best Disney Parks in the world that we highly recommend any Disney buff visits. Have any questions about Tokyo's Disney parks? Have you been to them? Share your questions, thoughts, favorite attractions, or favorite snacks with us in the comments section below!
The newest of the Disney Parks, Shanghai Disneyland opened on June 16th of 2016. Since it was February 2017 when we ventured to Shanghai, we were beside ourselves with excitement to be able to visit the park that wasn't even a year old. With so many staple attractions and so many brand new Disney additions, it was tricky to decide what to do and see in just one day at the park. That being said, we were pretty satisfied with how our day panned out! Read on to see our list of the four MUST DO attractions in Shanghai Disneyland!
1.) Camp Discovery Challenge Trail
2.)Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure
3.) Tron Lightcycle Power Run
The visually spectacular Tron Lightcycle Power Run, now being built in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, is one of the most thrilling attractions in Shanghai Disneyland and definitely lands itself on the must-do list. Rocketing its lightcycles through the Grid at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, Tron is a heart pounding and unique adventure. Ride this attraction once during the day and once at night to get two very different experiences and stop by the outside of the building to admire the brilliant, color-changing, aesthetic of the attraction.
4.) Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack's Stunt Spectacular
So there you have it: Journey Genies top four must do attractions in Shanghai Disneyland! Have you experienced the newest Disney Park yet? Have any favorite attractions or any you are dying to see? Drop a comment below! Want help planning your own international Disney vacation? Click the button below!
Throughout our travels we have witnessed and become targets of various travel scams. While we were able to avoid (or at least mitigate the damage of) those scams, many fall victim to them everyday. Below we talk about the scams we've encountered, where to expect them, and how to avoid them.
3.) The Dirty Cop - Mexico
You've rented a car in Mexico and are driving it back to the airport. Suddenly, while approaching your exit for the airport, a police officer pulls you over. You're sure you weren't speeding, but he shows you a radar gun that reads otherwise. He takes your license and tells you that you can't have it back until you've paid your ticket, which he tries to get you to pay then and there without appearing in traffic court of any kind. He tells you the court isn't open until tomorrow and seems surprised when you tell him you're on the way to the airport to fly home. After walking around your car to peek through windows and see what valuables you have, he asks "what do you want to do about it?" and waits for you to offer to pay him whatever cash you have in your wallet.
Sure enough, we were pulled over by a cop on a motorcycle just yards from the highway exit to the airport. These guys are experts at profiling tourists in a rental car. We knew for a fact we weren't speeding because I, already knowing about the scam, had been calling out all of the changing speed limits as we drove past. The cop insisted we were speeding and showed us a radar gun with a bogus speed on it. The cop then took Brent's license and told him he couldn't get it back until he paid the $300 ticket at the police station when it opened the next day. When we let him know we were headed to the airport he asked what we wanted to do about it. Being prepared, we told him he could keep our license, mail us the ticket, and we'd come back to pay it (knowing that it is our passports, not license, that get us back into the U.S. and he sure as hell wasn't going to take those from us). He tried to push us to offer him money, even telling us he would "discount" the amount of the ticket to $180. When we told him we didn't have that much money he asked how much we had. Brent pulled out a $10 and the cop took it, throwing Brent's I.D back into the car. We then asked if he knew of a place where we could get gas that took credit cards, as said that was our last $10. When he heard that, he tossed the bill back into the car, told us where the nearest gas station was, and let us go.
Best way to avoid this scam: Avoid renting a car in Mexico. Take a shuttle or taxi to your hotel instead. If you do choose to rent a car in Mexico, be aware of this scam and its popularity. It might just happen to you, so don't let yourself be shaken down by the dirty cops.
These are just a number of scams we've seen first hand while traveling internationally. There are a number of others out there that travelers need to be aware of. For instance, while it hasn't ever happened to us, we're always vigilant of pick-pocketing and take measures to reduce the risk. Always be aware of your surroundings when traveling to a foreign country and avoid distractions that may be a set up for a pick-pocket scheme. Carry your money and valuables wisely.
Of course, our number one tip for avoiding travel scams is doing your research. Before you travel, look up popular scams in the city you're going to. Knowledge is power!
Have you ever fallen prey to a travel scam or narrowly avoided becoming victim to one? Drop us your story in the comments below!
And as always, before you plan a big trip, consult your Journey Genies! We'll get you set up and prepared for your vacation so you can enjoy, and be smart about, your travel!
What would you do if you only had 24hrs to explore Rome? That was the question we asked ourselves last August, when we took a short trip to the Eternal City. If you have the stamina and shoes for it, you can make it to many of Rome's beautiful sights in just one day. Let’s dive right into our itinerary!
We arrived in Rome on a Saturday morning and decided to stay at a Hilton that was attached to the Fiumicino Airport. For the ease of checking-in, dropping off bags, and heading straight off on our exploration this location was excellent. Plus, we really appreciated that the short walk to the airport meant we could get as much sleep as our jet-lagged selves could before boarding our flight back home!
Around noon, once we dropped off our bags and freshened up in the hotel, we took the Leonardo Express train into the city. The Leonardo Express offers direct service from the Fiumicino Airport to Termini (Rome’s transportation hub) and is an easy 30-minute ride. We used that time to plan how we would get tickets into the Vatican Museum (since this was a last-minute trip, a lot of our planning was done on the go). From Termini Station we transferred to the A line on the Metropolitana di Roma to Ottaviano S. Pietro, a stop just outside of the Vatican’s walls. After a short walk we arrived in St. Peter’s Square to a breathtaking monument of 1600's architecture. The towering obelisk and surrounding columns are a sight to behold as you feel tiny in the center of it all. As with most August days in Italy, it was a scorcher outside. We filled a water bottle with some fresh drinking water from the nasoni (or “big nose”) water fountains in the square while we took in our view.
From the Vatican City we made our way by metro to the Coliseum. We arrived at 5pm and made our way through the ancient ruins. Amongst the honeycomb of arches, we felt transported back to the time of gladiators and Roman Imperial strength. After exploring the Coliseum, we crossed the street to the Roman Forum where our Coliseum tickets were supposed to double as tickets into the Forum as well. However, due to its early closing time we were left to walk the outside of the grounds and survey from above without walking through. This ended up being enough for us anyway, as we were able to see quite a bit from the outside and quickly move onto our next stops: the Spanish Steps and Fontana di Trevi! We decided to take a self-guided walking tour from the Roman Forum which was a twenty minute jaunt through Roman streets and past notable sights with Rick Steves’ book leading the way. Our tour ended at the marvelous Trevi Fountain. Nestled between narrow Roman streets and tall buildings, we were surprised by the grand fountain’s juxtaposition to the neighborhoods of Rome.
It was starting to get late after our time at the fountain, so we decided to look for a tasty dinner spot in a piazza close by. It was hard to choose just where to eat with the wide assortment of beautiful piazzas and their outdoor restaurants. After walking through a number of gorgeous squares we sat down for dinner in a quiet little piazza at Osteria ar Galletto. The waitstaff there were very friendly and spoke English well. Ours even knew about Charlotte, NC through his love of Michael Jordan. The food and the scenery at the osteria was outstanding and just what we needed after our long day of exploring. Dinner was topped off with a walk to a nearby gelateria, of course.
Gelato in hand, we enjoyed one last evening stroll through the stunning piazzas before hailing a cab back to the hotel. Our cab driver was friendly, though he spoke only Italian. Luckily, with what Italian I can remember, we were able to communicate with him about our destination, the cost (€40), and that he only accepted cash (most cabs in Italy do not take credit cards). We returned to our hotel for a good night’s sleep and in the morning we were back in the airport heading home.
Was 24 hours enough time in Rome?
Is 24 hours EVER enough time to explore a new, exciting city? Of course not! However, we felt really good about the number of things we were able to see and didn’t feel like we missed out on too much. I would love to go back to get a really great pizza and explore some of the lesser known places, but our next stop in Italy is likely going to be Venice.
Reasons to use us for your trip to Rome?: 1.) Our wide array of fantastic international travel partners! 2.) We hoofed it all around Rome in 24 hours, but would build your custom itinerary so you could relax and take in Rome how you prefer. 3.) Our knowledge, experience, and willingness to see these places first-hand lets you feel confident that you’ll be fully prepared to enjoy Rome without a care!
We'll be back with our next post to talk about tourist scams in different countries and how to avoid them!
We're kinda new to this, so expect these to [hopefully] get better as time goes on. Here on the Journey Genies travel blog, we'll be posting a number of in-depth destination reviews, travel tips, vacation favorites, and some of our stories from the road. We're super excited to have a platform to share everything we've learned about different cultures, travel hacks, and everything in between!
Travel is a huge passion for us and we love that we get to share that passion and curiosity with all of you! We have a LOT of destinations and topics to talk about, but if there are any subjects you have questions about or would like us to write a blog post for, send us your requests! Have a city you've always wanted to visit and are curious to learn more about? Wondering what pressed squid in Hong Kong tastes like? Simply Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the topic, question, or destination you'd like us to review and we'll try to whip up a blog post in your honor!
We'll have our first official destination post coming soon all about what to do if you only have 24 hours in Rome, like we did last year!