Trip Report: Tokyo

Konichiwa! We recently returned from Tokyo, Japan where my husband and I celebrated 10 years together. Tokyo has been on my husband’s bucket list for a long time, and visiting all the Disney parks is #1 on my bucket list! So off we went, 11 hours from LAX on Delta Airlines arriving at NRT the following afternoon.

Day 1: Welcome!

After getting through security, it was time for us to locate the Klook desk to retrieve our Friendly Limousine Bus vouchers. Klook is a discount travel website, perfect for traveling in Japan and the Limousine Bus is airport transpiration into the city. While doing this, we were approached to do a T.V. Interview where they asked us questions about our relationship. After looking into it, I found this was for the popular show “Why Did You Come To Japan?”. So keep an eye out for billboards and merch coming soon like Homer Simpsons, Mr. Sparkles.

After taking the hour journey into the city, we arrived at the Conrad Tokyo to check in. Hands down the most luxurious hotel we’ve ever stayed at, and the most wonderful service. Now, if you haven’t realized I like to plan and be prepared, so when I couldn’t book my Disneyland tickets online it made me panic a bit.  So after checking in we scurried over to the Disney Store in Shibuya to purchase our tickets. Arriving at the cutest Disney store we quickly got to the 3rd floor where the ticket counter is located. Tickets were extremely easy to purchase and the Cast Members were very friendly. With the tickets in hand, we explored a bit of Shibuya before heading back to our hotel to rest after a long day.

Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

We woke up at 4:45 am due to a combination of jet lag and excitement. After getting ready we jumped on the train and headed to Maihama Station and walked over to Disneyland, arriving an hour before opening. To no surprise, there was already a short line to get in and only grew longer as the hour passed by.

Being very aware of how long the queues get, we raced over to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt once the gates opened. It’s a very cute trackless ride that differs from the one in the States. Next, we needed to get a FastPass for Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek so we could come back later in the day to bypass the normal queue. After running around we made our way to the front of the park to take our time going in a clockwise direction to visit each land. We made sure to fuel up at the Sweetheart Cafe with the goodies below.

Jungle Cruise was a highlight in Adventureland and I especially loved the little food area by China Voyager, it felt like a small market. Unlike Disneyland Anaheim, the train at Tokyo Disneyland only goes around 2 lands but is still worth a ride with great photo ops. We also made sure to catch a showing of Country Bear Theater since it’s no longer at the Anaheim Park. When we needed a short break we stopped off at Camp Woodchuck Kitchen in Westernland which has balcony seating that overlooks the river. There’s not much to do in Critter Country beside Splash Mountain but I definitely suggest taking a peak or dining at Grandma Sara’s Kitchen.

Next, we made our way to Fantasyland which is a cute area, similar to the other parks. We were able to ride Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Pooh’s Hunny Hunt from earlier. Probably the cutest dining in the park is located in this land and is all Alice in Wonderland themed, Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. You’ll notice a lot of the restaurants and carts can quickly get lines, especially if they released new seasonal offerings. Our favorite cart in Toon Town is Mickey’s Trailer which offers different Spring Rolls, including a Pizza Roll!

After we grabbed a few Spring Rolls we made our way to Tomorrowland to use our FastPass for Monsters, which is similar to Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters just without the points. After exploring Monstropolis we grabbed a bite to eat at Plazma Ray’s Diner and Pan Galactic Pizza Port which has an awesome little show above the ordering window.

After a long and exciting day, we headed back to the hotel and ordered room service while watching crazy fun Japanese game shows.

Day 3: Tokyo Disney Sea

We woke up again pretty early to make sure we got to the park to line up before opening. While in line we got pretty hungry so I went to find something to hold us over. There are a few drink vending machines near the lockers and for food the closest place is near Maihama Station, so come prepared. Once the park opened we raced towards Mysterious Island to ride Journey to the Center of the Earth which quickly became our favorite ride. After our thrilling journey, we made our way to obtain our first fastpass of the day, the Tower of Terror.

In search of some food, we took the DisneySea Electric Railway from American Waterfront to Port Discovery and walked over to Lost River Delta. We were able to skip the line on Indiana Jones with the single-rider option, which a lot of people don’t utilize. For Joey, we found some chicken and a fruit soda drink at the Lost River Cookhouse. For myself, I got a Chandu chicken curry steam bun at Sultan’s Oasis in the Arabian Coast. They say you’re supposed to wait 30 minutes before going in the water after eating but that wasn’t going to stop us from going under the sea at Mermaid Lagoon.

Tower of Terror is awesomely themed with my favorite Imagineer, Joe Rohde playing a role as the main character, Harrison Hightower. The Cast Members were extremely nice and gave us a history sheet in English. While in the area we made sure to get the Alien Mochi and flavored popcorn to continue our snaking quest. The theater shows in the park are very popular and either have long lines or have a lottery system to view them so we skipped over those. Instead, we took our time strolling through shops and taking in the amazing atmosphere to end our day.

Day 4: Both Parks!

This was our chance to sleep in and take the parks at a slow leisurely pace. We stopped off at Starbucks to get the morning started and to my dismay, I forgot to purchase a “You Are Here” mug to add to our collection. We got to Disneyland right at opening and saw how LONG the lines can get if you don’t show up early. Not to worry, the lines move rather quickly to get in although become a little jumbled with “merging”. After walking around Disneyland took the adorable monorail to Disney Sea.

We stopped off at The Teddy Roosevelt Lounge to enjoy some drinks and light food. TRL is a very well themed bar with dark woods and sophisticated decor. Since we felt so fancy we strolled over to the Venetian Gondolas for a gondola ride in the Mediterranean Harbor as the sun was setting. We spent the rest of the day filming on the GoPro and exploring the Ports before calling it a night.

Day 5: Asakusa & Shibuya

We spent the day exploring Asakusa and the temples which really gave us a feel of traditional Japan. Certain places were very calming with people paying respect or taking in the beauty of the surroundings. It’s not uncommon to see people dressed in kimonos around the temple, and most are excepting of photos being taken. The shops in the area pull a huge tourist crowd and there are a lot of souvenirs to choose from.

While trekking all across Tokyo my boots failed me and I needed to find a new pair of shoes. What better place to go shopping than Shibuya? Even late at night, this place has such electric energy, with its beaming lights and music blaring from shops. We watched as hundreds of people crossed the famous Shibuya Crossing from the 2nd floor of Starbucks, where I also didn’t think to get my mug 🙁

Day 6: Akihabara

I bet you’re wondering how we started our day, right? I hope you guessed WITH OWLS!!! Tokyo has a lot of animal cafes and going into one I wanted to make sure the animals were treated right and cared for properly so I did A LOT of research. This is how I found my best friend, HoneyBee who I now send owl posts to weekly. I could have spent all day with these beautiful creatures but there was a lot more for us to explore.

What is one to do after spending time with owls? Explore Akihabara of course! Most of the buildings we wandered into have 8 stories give or take a few, truly a geek’s paradise. The arcades are so incredibly loud and colorful, it’s very exciting to witness. The crane games are especially fun to watch or play but also addicting so watch out or you’ll end up broke. What’s great is you see people of all ages playing and having a fun time.

To top the day off, which was definitely hard to do, we dressed up in costume. Not just for any reason, oh no, we dressed up as Mario and Luigi to go-kart around Tokyo! Driving through the streets of Tokyo with the Sky Tree in the distance and a pack of go-karts following a guide was so exhilarating. People would wave at us as we zoomed past or take videos at stoplights which made the experience so much more memorable.

Ending the night was difficult to do as there was so much racing (haha) through our minds. When we got back to our new hotel they had special treats set out for us to celebrate our anniversary and we viewed the Disneyland Castle Fireworks from our bed. Mirroring a Cinderella moment but with my Prince by my side.

Day 7: Harajuku & Shinjuku

Woke up wondering if we were going to relive day 6 like the movie Groundhogs day. Nope! There are still a lot of exciting things to see and do. We took the train to Harajuku to check out the famous Takeshita Street. Not a street for those who like to avoid crowds as this is another huge tourist spot. Bright pastel colors are found in stores, people, and even food.

After a walk through a neighborhood and we found our way to Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku, and Golden Gai. Although we only walked around that day in these areas we could have easily spent multiple days taking in this bustling area.

Day 8: Sayōnara

With only a few hours to spare before being whisked away to the airport, we decided to visit Disneyland one more time. Even with 8 days, we didn’t have enough time to see everything that we had planned but that’s the beauty so we can start planning the next visit. The people and city have so much to offer and were so welcoming. Thank you Tokyo, you will hold a special place in my heart.

Have you been to Japan? What are your favorite things to explore or what would you look forward to most?

Trip Report: New York City Thanksgiving


 Trip Report: New York City Thanksgiving

I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to visit NYC for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With my mom along for the excursion, we were flown out to New York for an experience we’d never forget.

Arriving at JFK the day before Thanksgiving, we needed to make our way to Manhattan. There are a few different ways to get into the city from JFK or LaGuardia Airport. Taxi, car share, Shuttle, or subway are the most common. I chose a taxi since I know it’s a flat rate traveling into Manhattan and it’s easy to get right outside baggage claim. Something new I noticed since the last time I was there, is that the Port

Authority of NY & NJ gives out receipts to show the rate and cab number you’re getting into. No doubt this cuts down on drivers pocketing money or overcharging.

When you get into the cab they will ask for your destination and enter in code 2 into their meter which is the flat rate fee + any tolls or surcharges. Another new thing I noticed is the touch tv screen in the back seat where you can view your rate, city information, and payment options at the end of the ride.

We checked into the Hilton Garden Inn Time Square, not actually in Time Square but right around the corner on 8th Ave between 48th & 49th St. I typically like to stay at Hilton properties because of their Honors reward program and the amenities they come with. If you like staying at hotels check which company will give you the best rewards based on your needs. They all tend to be really competitive to make you their loyal customer so you have some choices.

I enjoyed our stay at the Hilton Garden Inn TS, they have spacious clean rooms and friendly staff. Our view overlooked 8th Ave out towards the Hudson River. When I needed a few items for my new tattoo, there were two choices nearby, a Duane Reade (Walgreens company) and a Rite Aide. The nearest subway entrance is a block up on 50th St. a blue line, which was a bonus for us, as it had an elevator for my mom.

On Thanksgiving day we woke up at 4:30 am and hopped onto the subway going uptown towards our grandstand entrance. Our tickets stated they start letting in at 6 am, we got there at 5:30 am and there was already a line around the block. Once in, we were directed towards the bleachers that line Central Park West. We had amazing seats but definitely froze! A few things I wish we would have brought; seat pads, a blanket, and hand warmers. For some reason, I expected there to be music playing during the parade but there wasn’t.

After the parade, we went to the Top of The Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center. What an amazing view of Manhattan! You can purchase your tickets online in advance for a selected time slot

and arrive a few minutes before that designated time. There are 3 observation decks once up top and special tickets you can purchase to come back at sunset or night.

For Thanksgiving dinner, we were treated to a luxury buffet at The View Restaurant, which sits 48 stories above Time Square in the Marriott Marquis. The floor rotates giving spectacular city views, making a complete 360 during the hour. There were 3 or 4 stations with different offerings of a decadent food assortment. Add great company and red wine sangria and it made for a memorable evening.

We continued the next 5 days running around Manhattan in full tourist mode. Since this was my mom’s first time in NYC I didn’t want her to miss a thing. We hopped on the Big Bus Tour, which was brilliant since she can’t walk very well. They have 4 colored routes plus the night tour. The only ones that don’t have hop-off locations are the Brooklyn and the night tour. There are many different tickets available depending on whether we chose the 2-day bus tour with the night tour.

We moved hotels a few times to get to different parts of the city, including Hampton Inn Financial District and the Conrad New York located across from the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 memorial. Staying at the Conrad was such a privilege, a way to end NY on a high note.
Well, that’s enough of me rambling on, thanks for listening. You can view the rest of the trip in the photos below. If you have any questions please let me know.