TRANSCRIPT FROM 9/18 TPR TRIPS CHAT:
as far as the Japan trip i read it's going to be more of a trek, should I pack light?
Great 1st Question! I always advise packing light for any trip, and yes, this one as well. We will not be bringing bags to parks or stuffing them in fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo, but you will need to transport your stuff to 4 different hotels on bullet trains and the like. Keep in mind there are very few elevators and escalators in train stations so there will be a lot of stairs I recommend one medium size duffel or rolling piece, and a backpack for Japan. It will be warm pretty much every day but one so you won't need any jackets or many pairs of pants.
Japan-how many days will we be in Tokyo, and how many are allotted for TDL?
Falafel, keep in mind the itinerary is not set in stone at this time...but...there will be the arrival evening in Tokyo, the next morning, then once we return it will be our base camp for 6 nights. Keep in mind that even though we're in Tokyo, a lot of the parks we'll be traveling to are 1-2 hours outside of the city. You will have time most of the nights to go exploring though. As for Disney we have 3 full days scheduled for TDR with a few hours budgeted as an optional trip to Joypolis. For people on the West Coast of the US or who have a bit extra time, think about leaving a day later (Monday instead of Sunday) and you can get another full day in Tokyo (or Disney in our case!) Leave Monday around 3pm, and be in LAX by 8am Monday morning!
Ryan King [6:57pm]:
How much ESTIMATED money should we have on us in Japan? Will VISA be accepted there?
Ryan, I have not done a budget for 'extra money to bring' for Japan yet. Credit Cards are NOT widely accepted. Japan is still mostly a cash based society. Luckily, it is also one of the SAFEST countries to carry cash around in. nicer restaurants will take credit
cards, but at the amusement parks be prepared to pay cash for EVERYTHING. in fact we had to pay cash for several park admissions and expensive meals while we were there. so as scary as it sounds, you will HAVE to bring cash, and lots of it with you. Trust me, as an American that uses her discover card to charge $1.98 at the store it was quite scary and a shock, but it worked out well each time!
how expensive is stuff in Japan? ie What would be the USD equivalent of a McDonalds hamburger?
Derek, that's a question I can answer! Instead of value meals they're called 'Menu Sets'. My Menu set of hamburger, fries and a drink cost about 540 yen or about $5. when you keep in mind that their portions are smaller, it comes out a bit more expensive than normal McDonalds...or about the same as airport or theme park McDonalds here in the states. when I was very hungry I would get two of the hamburger sets! but as the trip went on, my stomach shrunk down to Japanese levels, so at that point the food was about the same price as
it is here! the one thing that is MUCH more money is Steak or nice meat. a small steak on a menu of a 'tgi friday's' type place would be about $30! curry and noodle dishes were all $5-$10. drinks were all on par with the US. You could get a slightly smaller can out of a vending machine for about $1.20 again, we can talk more detailed about pricing and food once our super secret group is put together!
i know that credit cards are not as popular in Japan, but what about ATM access?
Dave, I would say that 1 out of 5 atms would accept our cards. Post offices had the best luck. ATM's in Post offices I should have said. again, it's better to just bring boat loads of cash, scary I know, but a good idea
How easy is it to get around Japan not being able to read Japanese?
Gisco, most of Japan is pretty easy because they have Western Characters as well as Kanji...however some of the places we'll be going you’ll see Robb and I leaning out the window yelling to each other "Cyclops, guy walking, volcano, etc." to confirm where we are! Also, as for the language barrier, we will be passing out a 'cheat sheet' to all of our Japan participants in the hopes that they will learn 50 basic words and phrases which will make the trip that much more enjoyable. Again, on the TPR Japan Adventure trip, as much of an 'Adventure' it will be, keep in mind Robb and I have visited all of these parks before and have a good basic knowledge of what we're doing
how will we take care of the rail passes? will we be sent the vouchers for them ahead of time?
Another great question Falafel! I've actually been thinking about this a lot and I think that we'll decide on a case by case basis in the Japan Trip forum. Some people might not feel comfortable getting off a 15 hour flight, exchanging the pass, getting on a train, etc. For those people they will have the option to take a direct bus to the first hotel right from the airport... then I will get the rail pass exchanged for them, with them... for others that feel comfortable, we will send them their pass and DETAILED instructions on exactly what to do with it. again, we will discuss all of this in detail and full in the forum so everyone will feel comfortable!
I don't like sushi, will I starve in Japan?
Gisco, HA! If anyone here knows me and my eating habits, you know that I don't go NEAR sushi...I have no survived 4.5 weeks in Japan! Yes there is a lot of sushi and seafood, but there is also plenty of Italian, Indian, fast food, snack food, french food, etc. Oh, and Mister Donut! Mmmm Donuts... anyways, no, even picky eaters will be okay in Japan...now granted if you're a picky eater and you're going to be annoying, then you shouldn't go! There were some days that I didn't eat that much, and then the next day I would find a McDonalds and make up for it! (Or go into my stash of Oreos!) So be prepared, but most people will find food no problem!
Are they any books that you recommend reading to gain more knowledge of japans' customs and what to and what not to do's?
Jarmor, we will be helping everyone with things like this once we open up the "uber secret Japan trip only" forum! seriously though, just do some research online, check out sites like japanguide.com and you'll start there! there are little things to know, and we'll make sure you know them and feel comfortable before we go. like, don't blow your nose in public! you can eat on bullet trains, but not other trains! don't be loud! stuff like that!
Why do the trip forums have to be "secret"... why not allow people not on certain trip have the benefit of information exchanged there?
Simlesa, we have always published our guides, our info, where we stayed, etc...but the trip forums are only for trip participants. It's kind of a perk. We get to know each other, make fun of people, chat about the trips, etc.
Ryan King [6:14pm]:
Will we be hitting Steel Dragon 2000 On the Japan Trip?
Ryan, I don't think we'll literally hit it (unless it's closed again!) but yes, we will be going to Nagashima Spa Land and if it's open, you'll be riding it! (provided it doesn't chuck anymore wheels into the water park!)
medical attention in Japan...how is it?
Jarmor, well, we never needed it (and hope that no one ever will!) One of the things we always recommend though is that people purchase their own travel insurance, that INCLUDES Medical! Japan is a very civilized and advanced country, they have hospitals and everything...plus we will have a japan/english dictionary should anyone need to figure out how to say some horrible medical condition! if however you're a sickly person who goes to the hospital a lot, and can't breathe, and has a handicap sticker you probably should think about staying closer to home! (love you Wes, hope you read the transcript!)
if a typhoon hits on one of the "not to be missed" park days, will the schedule be readjusted for everyone, or at least those who want to go there?
Derek, good question! One of the plusses to doing this trip 'adventure' style and not on a coach, means we can adjust the itinerary as much as possible realistically if a typhoon hits, we will probably miss something...but WE can decide what we miss we can go to parks that do better in rain, we can try and cram two big parks in a day, etc. Robb and I have a lot of experience with rain, snow, typhoons, dead trains, etc. We kind of feel like we have a good idea of contingency plans! We will do our best to make sure everyone has a good time, and gets on all the coasters we can. But again, don't expect to get EVERY credit in Japan. Talk to anyone who has been there, and they will tell you the same. There is often a ride down due to weather, operations, etc.
how easy is to stay in touch with the US, cell phones, calling etc. I run a business and need to be in contact with my business, not constantly, however.
Fol, from Japan there are phone cards...or if you want a cell phone you will need to rent one IN Japan as they are on a completely different frequency than pretty much anywhere else in the world. If you bring a laptop, lots of hotels will have high-speed, and all had cheap dial up
Are there any add-ons likely for the Midwest?
Will, at this time there are no scheduled add-on’s for the Midwest. With all of the trips next summer, we probably won't do a Midwest add-on. We are happy though to help people plan their own add-on’s if they're interested
How many parks in the Spain trip again?
apollo, Eight on the official itinerary at this point
electrical outlets...I heard they are different in Japan...
I'll let Robb take that one, since he's our resident electrical dude!
The 2-prong electrical outlets are the same in Japan, but if you have any 3-prong plugs you'll need to get a standard 3 to 2 prong adapter. We have brought laptops, cameras, chargers, etc to Japan and plugged them right into the wall with no problem. There will be a section on this in the guide that we'll produce for the participants of the Japan trip.
Choice of Japan or the Midwest, which would you go for?
abc, that's really something you have to figure out for yourself. They are two very different trips, to two very different places, with very different coasters and rides. Are you more interested in wood or steel coasters? more interested in culture, or credits? are you a Disney fan? etc think about some of those questions then email Robb or I privately and maybe we can help
Sort of related to the Sushi question, I don't mind trying different foods, but how are vegetarian options in both the USA and Japan? Hercules [6:09pm]: Midwest - How hard is it to eat as a "healthy" vegetarian in the Mid-west? Any veg friendly parks or cities?
Eating Vegetarian in Japan is VERY easy. There are lots of noodle dishes everywhere as well as rice dishes. also pizza and pasta was found at almost every park! As for the Midwest...well, that's going to be a bit tougher. There will be days were we will stop at fast food places to grab a quick bite when we're on the road, and when we stay at hotels, there will either be a restaurant in the hotel, or one within walking distance. but it is America, and we're somewhat getting more health conscious so worst case scenario you can get a crappy salad!
How do you know if your check has gone through?
Homer, I will not deposit checks until I know who is on the trip...I've been sending out an email once a week to let people know when we have gotten their deposits. I am due to do another email tonight (after chat!)
am I able to get beer out of those vending machines, or do you need some sort of weird Japanese ID card that I won't have
Derek, you can get beer and gundams from vending machines! Totally easy, no id required! but along those same lines, underage drinking will NOT be tolerated on any TPR trips
Erik Johnson [6:20pm]:
Will you guys bring some DVDs on the mid-west trip for us to watch?
Erik, we were planning on bringing lots of VHS copies on 'how to do beverage distribution' seriously though, yes we will be bringing entertainment for the bus. Earl will most likely be a part of the collection.
I'm really thinking to go to the mid west trip and I would like to know if being gay cause any trouble with u
hasard, we always have plenty of gay people on our trips. It's not a problem. but we have gays, both obvious, and not obvious, and we all seem to get along with each other
On any on the trips, will you know the night before what time you have to be up and ready?
deguy, we always make it VERY clear what time you need to be ready and what time we're departing the next morning
I really wanted to go on the UK trip, but couldn't make it at that time. I'm very interested in going to Japan and thought this would be a great way to do it. My question is, would this be a good first trip with this group? I'd be a little afraid of being overwhelmed flying by myself, meeting all these new people at once, and all in a foreign country. I'm 35, not a kid, and would really love to go.
Folnevar, sounds like maybe you should send a quick email to Robb or I. Where are you flying from? have you traveled by yourself before? have you traveled internationally at all? will this be your first big coaster trip? etc. let's chat over email and figure it out! I'm sure you'd be fine though...actually Japan was Dan's first big international trip!
Ryan King [6:31pm]:
Can I pound innocent sleeping Japanese people while they are sleeping on the trains?
Ryan, I'm glad you brought that up. NO, YOU CAN'T ]: Seriously, it was one thing to do it at Thorpe Park in the UK, but you will honestly freak out and offend the Japanese by doing crap like that They are very reserved on the outside (even though they're crazier and weirder than us underground!) and that would NOT be appropriate on any level
Any idea on how many days and how much $ any add-on to Spain will be?
sfne, not at this time. We are currently exploring 3 different add-on options for the Spain trip. We will talk about this more once the Spain Trip secret forum is open. to be safe the add-on will be 3-5 days and range from $500-$850 depending on what we do. actually, it could probably go up to $1000, but I honestly don't know!
What would you do if someone got separated from the group in a place like Japan?
Will...LAUGH A LOT! Seriously though, there should not be a way for someone to get lost. We will be a smaller group, have sub captains, and worst case scenario it will be like the UK trip where you will have our cell phone number and can call us. since we'll be doing the entire trip on public transport, obviously you'll be able to catch up with us! seriously though. Do not get lost, do not get separated...that simple!
Will we get to use a badger trailer in Japan?
gisco, sadly no...just the mongoose one. Sorry for everyone else, that is an inside joke from the uber secret UK board!
Would the Japanese parks and places the group would visit, would it stay PG
Drop, well we won't be going to any 'red-light' districts, we don't break any laws, etc. Granted Japanese TV at times can be a bit more graphic than American! As with any group of mostly adults, I can assume there may be some R-Rated language here and there, but other than that, not quite sure what you mean. From the deposits we've received so far, it does seem like we will have kids on each trip, so we'll be mostly good!
For Spain - is the expectation that we would have the same coach and driver for the whole trip (similar to UK)
Larry, that's correct. We will have one coach, and one driver. He will have a day off where we will spend the day at Port Aventura.
once you're notified that you're on a trip, how quickly do you have to confirm your "reservation?"
mc, I'm not sure I totally understand what you mean... In October we will notify everyone who made, or didn't make it...open up the trip boards. and then you're next deposit is due in the new year (check individual flyer for specific date) then it is no longer fully refundable. Also, just so everyone knows, you are welcome to pay early, pay in different installments etc. Just as long as you meet the required deadlines. We had some people do this for the UK trip so they would basically bank their money with us so they wouldn't spend it!
Ryan King [6:44pm]:
If in the case Godzilla attacked during a park day...what are we supposed to do by the means of attacking or running?
Ryan, if Godzilla attacks the rest of us will just sacrifice you to him and run the other way. Go ahead and Pound him all you want!
are there any certain shots or anything that we may want to consider before going to Japan out of the ordinary ones?
Derek, you need more shots to go to SFMM then Japan! Seriously, NO! I don't go places that require shots!
Will the Japan trip be manageable for someone who isn't into trying new foods? Like...will there be pepperoni pizza?
DaCock, you'll be in school, you can't go, no one cares! and yes, they had pepperoni pizza, but it also had corn on it!
What would be the best time to get the best deal on airfare?
Will, that depends on which trip. Also you should know since you were on the UK board, that we all posted when we found good deals, and helped each other. The same will happen this time around
how will the weather be? *sorry if this was asked, i just got home from wk*
Japan will be hot and humid most days. It will rain about 1/4 of the time. Fuji Q will be cold and overcast. Picture Florida weather, but a little less hot, and a little less severity of rain. again, we will talk more about this, and how to pack for this on the trip board!
What is going to be the first park on the Japan trip?
gisco, again keep in mind that it's not set in stone at this time, but right now it looks like people will arrive early evening to the hotel and head to LaQua. or if LaQua is open later than Galaxy Express 999, you will hit 999 first, then head to LaQua
You talked about packing light. Do you get a chance to do laundry if you need to? Wouldn't want to be all stinky!
Fol, there will most likely NOT be a chance to do laundry. Come prepared with 18 shirts, 5-7 pairs of shorts, one pair of pants, etc. We will talk about packing in detail later, but there is no reason you can't pack light, and not smell!
do we need to bring over yens or do they take da dollar?
Jarmor...nowhere will they accept dollars in Japan. You will need to have your money exchanged (preferably before you get to Japan!) They only accept Yen. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, American Express, all have very good currency exchange programs. we can help you with this more later.
OK, I'm clued on exchange rates, but I want to know how is Japanese currency structured? Could I expect to receive 100 Yen bills or 1,000 Yen coins for instance?
you will get coins up to 500yen... then there are 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10000 yen bills. The 1 yen coins are so crappy and feel like plastic we were guilty of throwing them away! (hope jewy doesn't see that!)
Does Japan have one of those Octopus card type things?
Derek, they have one in it's infancy...it's called Suica and it's Penguin related! however it is not in wide enough use yet that we will be using it =( in fact, it's pretty much only in central Tokyo, and not used for much other than trains and things in train stations as opposed to Hong Kong where it's used for everything. hopefully it will catch on more in the future, and if it jumps a lot in popularity over the next year we'll look into getting them!
If Barry really goes on the trip, can he have a separate 'more adventurous' itinerary from everyone else?
I figure Barry will die on the first day anyways so we'll be okay
Erik Johnson [7:10pm]:
Is there hope for a Taiko no Tatsujin tournament on the Japan trip?
lol, I know several places that have machines!
soon will we be able to see "the list" of who’s going ?
Allison, we're not going to post a list cheerleader try out style! once the postmarked deadline has passed we will wait about 5 days, then open up the trip forum to the people who made it, and send emails to anyone who has to be on a wait list
What will the 'one meal per day' be? McDonalds?
Scream, HAHA very funny... most days it will be breakfast...some days we will have group meals at the parks...dome days it might consist of Robb and I handing everyone 1000 yen and saying go at it! It will truly be an adventure!
I’m sure this will be answered on the Japan board, but.... will we be able to know who is flying on what day, etc, to maybe meet up etc.
CaFly, YES! Of course! I always encourage people to try and get on the same flights whenever possible, meet up, safety in numbers you know!
Did you get my paypal deposit for Spain?
Paul, I think so... but I'll have to check...also there will be a confirmation email going out tonight to peoples deposits we received
is it true there is no diet soda in Japan?
Dave, there is diet soda, and there are interesting drinks without sugar...it just takes some research to find which they are, and the 'brand name diet soda's' are only found in major areas
what is the night life like in Japan
Jarmor, lol...well...Dan and Robb were solicited by a hot young Japanese hooker in Shinjuku!
is there a possibility of dollywood on the Midwest trip, or is that out of the way, or is it considered the south?
Dollywood will NOT be on the Midwest trip as it is part of the “South”
Twister II [10:30pm]:
When scheduling flights for the Midwest would we leave earlier in the day, or later in the evening to see if we'd have to come a day before?
Twister, the trip will end LATE Sunday night, you will have to schedule a flight for the next day
like is there anything bad that people could do and should look out for so that we don’t get kicked off the list to go
Allison, breaking park rules, getting banned from TPR, stuff like that would get you kicked from the trip once you were accepted. anyone who breaks a law, harasses another trip participant, breaks one of our TPR Rules will be kicked off the trip, during the trip
Twister II [10:32pm]:
I mean for flights INTO, should we arrive a day before, or would that morning work?
Twister, you'll have to arrive the night before, or take a redeye that would get you in super early...but keep in mind, there are ALWAYS flight delays...I would recommend everyone get there the day before