TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

day 3 TDS/TDL -now posted (Festival of Mystique & much more)
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Re: TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

Postby bert425 » Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:05 pm

Free day Nagoya-Tokyo Disney part 3 (and that amazing cooking class, many of those pics are courtesy Robb and/or Miyuki, who took lots of pics of us during the class)
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upon exiting the train onto the platform at Shimbashi Station, here was the view.

Every pic I took just blows me away again when I see it. . so much neon and signage - EVERYWHERE.

I absolutely love Japan.
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Not sure what, exactly, the attraction was at:

"Top*s Exciting Hall!"

Tho it caught my eye enough to snap a pic if it. . maybe a casino of some sort (more likely a Pachinko parlor)
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Exiting from the platform down into the station, this is yet another Japanese Rail station with some stunning stained glass installations in it.

The Peacock motif is seemingly very popular (saw it in a few stations), but this one seems to have steam trains in it too.
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and once we got out into the main square at the "front" of the station, I kinda got why. . . on display, a full sized steam engine.

Didn't get close enough to read any plaque that may have been there - and it would have been in Japanese anyways - but I suspect this is a decommissioned classic locomotive that has some history behind it. (based on that sign there with some times, I'd think there's a lecture about the train a few times a day)

lovely display to just stumble across tho, and glad I got to see it.
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Jon and I only got slightly lost (turned around the wrong way), but once we oriented ourselves towards the correct intersection, the directions Elissa had provided us to where the "Simply Oishii Japanese Cooking Class" was going to be held, were excellent and we found our way to it very quickly.

once we had found where we needed to be? we had about 40 minutes to roam the area "tourist-ing" and giving Jon a chance to deal with his bank to resolve the issue he was seeing with his ATM card.

this was a parking garage turntable in an alleyway we passed. For those living in metropolitan cities, this might be a familiar site, but having lived in Austin suburbs for decades, it was unique and interesting to me.
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the area was a little "sleepy" at this time (around 5:20 pm), but I really liked the laid back vibe in this neighborhood. and lots of narrow streets.
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among my favorite things about Japan is how the old architecture co-exists with the modern.

tho this could be a home, I suspect it is a restaurant, but the way it sits side by side with the tall buildings is beautiful.
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OMG. . I found a "cat lady" store.

literally everything in this woman's "pop up store" - a bit wider and deeper than a flea market booth we'd see here in the States - was cat themed, or cat lady themed.

it was all kinds of awesome, but no, I didn't by anything.

I'm a dog person.
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tho I certainly WAS tempted by the "vomiting kitty" tissue box holder.

LOL.. hairballs?
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NOTED !
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I wanted to go in, but it was starting to get a little chilly, and it was almost time to meet up for the class.

so I snapped a picture to let some of the others in the group - who are big Sake fans - know that it was right around the corner.
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and then we met up in front of the kitchen space for the Cooking class, and headed up.

we were going to learn to make Gyoza & Yakisoba, from a wonderful lady named Miyuki (and her two assistants).

I did take pictures of the recipe handout/booklet (and saved a copy of the booklet, that I've used for the Yakisoba but not for the Gyoza yet). . but not gonna post those pics.

if you wanna learn, take a class. It was so enjoyable and fun, and the food came out fantastic.

but you can follow Simply Oishi cooking class (and Miyuki) on Instagram at: Simply_oishii
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First challenge was to get the aprons on.

yes, I had the dumb -- and as was pointed out, "one would think bert would be better at figuring out things with straps/bondage". . . LOL

so lovely that someone caught this moment on camera tho!
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but eventually, I got it on, with some help from my teammates!
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after dividing into small groups, and we each had our "prep" plate.

you can see in this pic, we all have our instruction booklets too.

this is the prep plate that will allow us to prepare tonight during our class:

-- Pounded Cucumber Pickles (Tataki Kyuri)
-- Fried Gyoza Dumplings (Yaki Gyoza)
&
-- Yakisoba (Fried noodles)
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here was my cooking group - and we would all participate in most steps, taking turns to all have fun cooking and learning.
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here we all are, ready to begin, and that's Miss Miyuki on the front left ready to teach us!
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with her assistants in the background getting the kitchen ready, here's Miyuki demonstrating the correct way to pound the cucumber for the "Pounded Cucumber Pickles" dish
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and once our group had each finished, here is what the dish looks like.

(it would then sit and marinate until it would be eaten with the whole meal)

looks good, doesn't it? (it tasted FANTASTIC!)
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and here's Joey pounding his cucumber in the other group at our table.

(as you notice, Miyuki's helpers were circling the room, offering helpful advice and assistance as we worked)
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Pounded Cucumber Pickles made. . . Miyuki was ready to move on and teach us how to make the Fried Gyoza Dumplings.
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watch out! We've all got knives!

(to chop, cube, and peel the ingredients that make the Gyoza stuffing taste so dang good)
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-- insert Psycho music sting here --
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and the dumpling wrappers we were going to be using to make the Gyoza . . I took the pic so I could find them in the local Asian market here.
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then it was time to move on to making the filling for the Gyoza - taking turns cutting/slicing veggies and spices to mix into the meat.

Here's Allison using her strength to break down the fiber in the pork, and get all the goodies mixed in.
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Proud parents of a tray of Gyoza!

this may look like a lot, but some other teams absolutely smoked us - I think Robb's team made almost twice as many!
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Gyoza prepped, those got set aside, and then it was time to make the Yakisoba!

Hot Plates came out for each group, along with Raw Pork/Bacon, and a bunch of noodles, and we proceeded to saute/cook the meat and noodles. Taking turns stirring, to keep things from burning during this process.
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once the Yakisoba was cooked thru, the heat turned down to low, and we all gathered in the kitchen with our plates of uncooked Gyoza, and Miyuki showed us all how to lay the Gyoza in the frying pan, and the technique of covering & flipping the pan to make perfect fried Gyoza.


Each team pretty much picked one person to do the cooking/flipping. . . the rest of us mainly just watched, and got ready to eat :)
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based on this pic, the "cookers" on the teams were: Alex, Elissa, Trent, and David.

but here's the TPR group gathered in the kitchen! (minus Robb, who took the picture, thanks Robb!)
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and when perfectly flipped? here's Miyuki demonstrating what the Gyoza *should* look like when they come out of the pans.
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although ours certainly didn't come out too badly, and do look like the ones Miyuki made
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want a closer look?

here ya go.

yum and/or drooooool.

they were SO freaking good.
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we cleared off the hotplates with Yakisoba to the sides of the tables, and then we all sat down to dig in.

as noted. . everything was so, so good. even the pounded cucumber pickles were amazing.

I know I'm a decent cook, but I had no idea I could cook Japanese food like this, that was so easy to make, and would come out so great tasting.

I didn't remember to take a pic *before* I started eating, but I did remember before I made too much of a dent in the plate.
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I'm not a big beer drinker, but it was available, and I wanted to at least try Japanese beer. So I gave it a shot during the meal (tho mainly stuck with Ginger Ale).

I would say it tasted like a bit more robust Coors Lite (not as watered down tasting as some American beers).

we visited and chatted, and enjoyed the meal, and the company of the wonderful ladies who taught us during the class (if you ever make it to Tokyo? *highly* recommended, and I'm so thrilled that Robb & Elissa included this cooking class as part of the trip. It absolutely was a highlight, and so very enjoyable.

but eventually, we had to say our goodbyes, and head to the train station, as we were headed to Tokyo Disney complex to check into our final hotel for the trip!
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more stained glass in a Station, as we transferred from the line we were on, to the the line that connects to Tokyo Disney.

what was so nuts during the walk to the TDL/TDS station to get on that train, was the *steady* stream of people passing us in the other direction - coming back from Disney - and almost every one of them was wearing Mickey Ears (or Duffy Ears) and was carrying a TDL shopping bag.

seriously, like almost every single person.
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and then.

after a fairly short train ride.

we were there.

at the station.
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of course I stopped to get this pic.

I mean, I never, ever, thought I would set foot in this bucket list place. (and we had several days there - I had 4 full days, as was using a Tokyo free day to stay at TDL on Wed, and was staying an extra day after).

and no, it STILL wasn't enough :)
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we were arriving fairly late in the evening, so the Monorail station wasn't too crowded. *(per the clock in the next pic, it was ~10pm when we arrived)

made it easy to get this pic.
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and here it comes.

the TDL monorail, with it's famous Mickey Mouse Windows.
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we were getting on the Monoral at the Ikspiari station (the Downtown Disney area, if you will). . so we were going to be riding it to our hotel, the Hilton Tokyo Bay, that was at the Resort Stop on the Monorail.

meaning we were going to be passing DisneyLand, the stop between Ikspiari and our Hotel stop.

i was so giddy. .
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Mickey window from inside the monorail

i know he's supposed to be whistling, but I'm a child with a dirty mind. . so Mickey is doing something else here, methinks.
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especially since in the next window is drunk Mickey (so his inhibitions have been lowered)

LOL
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as noted, it was late, so the monorail was pretty empty when we got on. . . and was able to go to the very front.

that's the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel - that's just across the Monorail station from the TDL front gates.
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slightly blurry, as we were moving, but theres Space Mountain.
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closer pic of the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel.
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at the Monorail stop at Tokyo Disneyland. . . thru the station (and thru the monorail windows), here's Tokyo Disneyland's front gates, and covered Main Street.
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snapping a few more pics as we pulled out to get to our stop.

(remember, it's my first time seeing it, so took a lot of pics, tho not sharing *all* of them).
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the park had just closed, so that's why the blurry folks are all leaving the park, not going in.
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a little blurry, but Space Mountain being all red.

after a minute or so more, we pulled into our station, and a short walk later? we were standing in the lobby of Hilton Tokyo Bay - our home for the next few days.

our luggage transfer had arrived, and was waiting for us in the lobby. So Elissa got us all checked in while Robb handed out park tickets, and advised us all what we should expect the next day (I believe the park opened at 9, but it's advised to get there much earlier, so I planned to be out there by 7:30 at the latest queuing up).

the way the park hoppers work in Tokyo Disney complex, is that you have to pick one park only for the 1st day, and then the 2nd day you must go to the OTHER park. if you are staying more than 2 days, then on the 3rd day, you can hop back and forth between the parks.

Wednesday was technically a Tokyo free day for anyone that didn't want to do the Disney parks, but Robb & Elissa asked that everyone at least swing by Disneyland and go in, so that way on Thursday, everyone would be at Tokyo DisneySea.

although there was a TON more stuff that I would have loved to do in Tokyo? Disney was the entire reason I wanted to go on this trip. Bucketlist stuff. . . so I was gonna spend the entire day, Open-Close at Disneyland.

sounded like quite a few others were going to do that as well, and a group of us decided to hang out together in the park, and made plans to meet up in the morning to eat breakfast at the hotel buffet, and head out to the park together.

and with that, we said our goodnights, after a very long day, and everyone headed up to our rooms.
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this time I remembered to take a pic of the room on the 1st night, before there were clothes/purchases everywhere!

so if you ever wondered what a room at Hilton Tokyo Bay (in the Tokyo Disney Complex) looks like? here ya go.

at the door, looking down hallway.
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Stepping into the main room. . love the lights in the headboards.

this was, I think, the biggest room during the trip.

while perhaps a little dated, it was very comfortable, and made for a really enjoyable stay (I have pics of the view in the morning, I think .. so those will be in the next update).
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looking back towards the door, from the settee.

ooo.. some mood lighting options?
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yep!
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even gayer with the bathroom light off. . . LOL

and thus, after a quick call home to tell the spouse about my fantastic day, and how I was actually at Tokyo Disney. . . then a shower. . and I crashed hard, ready to get up early and cross TDL off my bucket list.

hope you enjoyed reading thus far, as there are gonna be a TON of pictures of TDL & TDS over the next couple of weeks.
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Re: TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

Postby Nrthwnd » Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:14 pm

Great stuff there Bert, especially that cooking class! What a great "souvenir" of a trip like that. Including the recipes you can do at home, especially those yummy-looking Pounded Pickles there! Great treat I'm sure.

And of course I am soooooo looking forward to your reporting on that "Other Resort" you went to. :mickey:
Last edited by Nrthwnd on Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:15 pm.
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Re: TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:15 pm

That cooking class looks so fun! Your gyoza look very good.

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Re: TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

Postby Nrthwnd » Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:50 pm

By the way Bert.... I was wondering about the Gyozas. Did anybody ask about making a lot of them,
and then freezing some for future meals? Or is this totally frowned upon, in Japan?

I ask this, because here in Vancouver, we have a number of Asian-based food companies who supply local grocery stores with uncooked, pre-made, frozen ones, under Brand Names I might add. And they're as good, IMhO. But of course I can get them made fresh, too.

I just thought I would ask their/TPR's opinion of possibly doing this, with a fresh LARGE batch of Gyozas. :)
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Re: TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

Postby bert425 » Wed Feb 19, 2020 7:51 pm

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:That cooking class looks so fun! Your gyoza look very good.


thanks, but those are not just mine. Alex, Zach, and Allison's Gyoza forming skills are on display there too. . and Alex is who cooked most of em (can't recall if Zach took a turn on the pan, but i know I didn't).


Nrthwnd wrote:By the way Bert.... I was wondering about the Gyozas. Did anybody ask about making a lot of them,
and then freezing some for future meals? Or is this totally frowned upon, in Japan?

I ask this, because here in Vancouver, we have a number of Asian-based food companies who supply local grocery stores with uncooked, pre-made, frozen ones, under Brand Names I might add. And they're as good, IMhO. But of course I can get them made fresh, too.

I just thought I would ask their/TPR's opinion of possibly doing this, with a fresh LARGE batch of Gyozas. :)


I dunno about frowned upon, but I think I recall Elissa telling us that they make big batches and freeze them.
so best input will be from her if she comments.

but I believe the answer was yes, you can do that.
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Re: TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

Postby jedimaster1227 » Thu Feb 20, 2020 12:19 pm

The design of the rooms at the Hilton Tokyo Bay surprised us too. Fun and futuristic. We enjoyed our stay there last year!

Thanks for sharing another great update!
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Re: TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

Postby SharkTums » Thu Feb 20, 2020 1:31 pm

And now I'm hungry for Gyoza!!!

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Re: TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Thu Feb 20, 2020 2:06 pm

^ As far as I'm concerned, that's the very best problem to have.

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Re: TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

Postby bert425 » Thu Feb 20, 2020 2:36 pm

jedimaster1227 wrote:The design of the rooms at the Hilton Tokyo Bay surprised us too. Fun and futuristic. We enjoyed our stay there last year!

Thanks for sharing another great update!


thanks, really appreciate it.

there were a few broken things in the room, hence my comment that it's a little dated (loose light, fan didn't work in bathroom). . minor stuff, but I really did enjoy the "mood lighting" in the room.

and that settee was super comfortable, and large enough to dump a lot of stuff purchased on it :)

SharkTums wrote:And now I'm hungry for Gyoza!!!


Tell me about it!

try posting that update while trying to stick to a diet! But I'm determined to stick to it and get back to weight before our Carowinds trip in June.


ytterbiumanalyst wrote:^ As far as I'm concerned, that's the very best problem to have.

yeah.. but not if one is trying to avoid even glancing at a Test Seat!

(tho the moment I'm back below 200. . hopefully before the end of March. . I'm treating myself to Sushi buffet that has fantastic Gyoza)
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Re: TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

Postby bert425 » Mon Feb 24, 2020 5:10 pm

it's finally time!

I've finally gotten to the point in my Japan trip with TPR, where we got to Tokyo Disney, and I'm ready to spend a full day in the park(s) that have been at the top of my bucket list for many, many years.

I know that one can never have too many photo-trip reports from Tokyo Disney complex, but I won't bore y'all with EVERY picture I took during my 4 days in the parks. . but I will post a lot, so really hope y'all enjoy.

I am gonna try to keep commentary down (good luck, right?). .but gonna try to provide some context for some batches of pics, without doing a full play by play of what I did every moment in the parks.

1st Park? as mentioned in the prior report, Tokyo Disneyland (the next day would be Tokyo DisneySea)

Let's go!
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Waking up, and looking out the window. Here's the view i had from my room at the Hilton Tokyo Bay.

there is a lot of construction going on at the Tokyo Disney Compex - including on the Castle.

but in this pic can see Space Mountain on the Left, and the Castle on the right.

I believe I was told the construction right in front of me, is either a parking garage, or a new hotel. . but just beyond that? that's the show building for Beast's Castle (you can see the scaffolding up on the front of it).

the building on the left, also with the scaffolding - is the new Fantastyland Forest Theater - TDL's 1st indoor theater.
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zooming in on Castle, and B&B ride show building
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zooming in on Space Mountain & new theater
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and some pics of the monorail from my hotel room.
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after a quick breakfast (which I didn't get any pics of this day. .not sure if I did on other days yet), we headed out to the Monorail station, a good 1 hour before park open, to line up.

From this station pic, you can see our hotel: the Hilton Tokyo Bay.

just a short walk to the monorail.
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so cute
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me not really believing I'm finally here.
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it was early, so the Monorail was pretty deserted - especially since the hotels are the stop just after Disneyland, so those who were going to line up, had already exited before we got on, for an almost complete loop to get back to that park.

tho we were going to pass Tokyo DisneySea stop along the way.
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so much adorable detail in the Monorails!
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it's not a "long" ride, but it was long enough that Jon and I grabbed a pic on a seat with Micky behind us.
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and then we were at the Tokyo Disneyland stop, and this display greeted us!
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Spooktacular! (and pretty cute).

love the pumpkin "micky ears" on the ghost.
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looking at one of the Brochures I picked up at the station before leaving.

Tokyo Disneyland
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Tokyo DisneySea
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and coming down the steps from the station, on the side opposite the park is the GORGEOUS Disneyland Hotel.

i didn't realize how stunning this was the night before in the dark.

unfortunately, I never had enough time to wander over into the lobby to look around. . if I ever get back? will take a moment to do that, perhaps after park closes for the night.
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another look at this beauty.
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even the murals on the monorail station - as you pass under it to get to the park gates - are beautiful.

Fantastyland mural, with Alice, the Haunted Mansion, Carousel & Castle.
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holy.

and this was about an hour before opening.

if you've ever heard Robb talk about Japanese efficiency tho, you'd not be surprised that this huge crowd in front of us was orderly, and in the park - once gates opened - in under 5 minutes.
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a pic behind me, with large amounts of people showing up every moment (and Monorail arrival).

the space behind me would fill up all the way across to the Disneyland Hotel.
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lots of folks dressing up during our visit - likely because of Halloween (or maybe folks just like to dress up to come to Disney).

these two ladies were happy to pose for me, tho they did not want their faces in the picture (and even checked to make sure the pic I took did not include their heads. . . I'm guessing they were playing hooky from work or school to come to Disney?).

I never did figure out what the outfits were tho. . Lion King Cheerleaders?

no one really seemed to know.
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time passed quickly, people watching and chatting, and then the park opened.
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the famous covered Main Street. . with the castle at the end

(and in this pic, you can't really see the construction cranes).
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love the cast members out front with the giant Micky Hands waving folks in to the restaurant for morning coffee, treats.
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we bypassed Star Tours for the moment, heading towards Space Mountain.

i honestly can't recall if we picked up a fast pass for Space Mountain..but I think we did not, and picked up one for Monsters Inc as we walked by it instead, and did Standby for SM.
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holy. . look at this line already.

but based on the following pics, we did Standby line.
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looking out at Tomorrowland from the Escalator up to Space Mountain's main queue.

those folks sitting/queued up on the left are for the 1st showing of "One Man's Dream" - which was a popular show that recently ended it's run at the park.
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castle, with the crane in view now.
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loved the multiple "chicken exits" at Space Mountain. . there were several, all labeled "Escape Pod"
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didn't love all the signage for Coke everywhere. . but with some nice framing, you can remove "presented by Coca-Cola" from most of your pics.
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yeah. . definitely in the standby line.
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it was continuously moving tho.
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after our ride on Space Mountain, and a ride on Star Tours (which I ended up riding, I think 4 times over the days), and our Monster's Inc ride, we headed our of Tomorrowland, and towards Fantastyland. . with eyes on Pooh's HunnyHunt and Haunted Mansion.

but to get there from Tomorrowland, you can pass thru the "new" section of Fantasyland, that will be Beauty and the Beast.

these pics are all from October, 2019. The land is supposed to open up in ~2 months . . but this is what it looked like then.

heading into the land, the new Theater.
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Beast's Castle (that houses the main ride)
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Gaston's Pub
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theming!
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Belle's House?
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the new Toontown sign that went up on the other side of this new Beauty & the Beast section
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Fast Pass for Pooh in hand, I know we then headed over to Haunted Mansion Holiday (they had the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay on. .I'd never seen any version that way, and was so excited).

passing It's a Small World (for the moment)
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the Alice in Wonderland section is wonderfully themed. such a great job . . love it.
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and there were Guests who'd come to the park in costume posing for pics.
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and they didn't mind if I snapped one of them too.
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LOVE this soda machine more than the ones at Fuji-Q that were in the logo there.
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at the Haunted Mansion, but stopping for a pic with a cast member before getting in line.

everyone was so nice, although not a lot of English speaking. . I got the feeling that the park caters way more to locals than visitors. . tho all cast members were SUPER nice, and made an effort to communicate.

and everyone was happy to pose for a picture when I asked.

oh, and I love the Pumpkin Elephant lanterns surrounding Dumbo in the background here.
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Dumbo in flight. . and the ride all done up for Halloween.
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the crane was nice enough to move out from blocking the castle shot from behind, so snapped a quick pic.
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but this is really what I was here for.

the line looked massive, but was really only ~25 minutes until we were entering the Mansion.
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I LOVED these umbrellas, and if Disney sold them? we'd have one out over our back patio set right now.
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Close up of the top of one of the Umbrellas.
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I thought I was appropriately dressed for Haunted Mansion! (I actually got several comments (well. . pointing and "thumbs up") on my shirt while we were in line)

I bought it probably 12 years ago at Disneyland in California.
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