25X: Disney Decks the Halls

No matter how many “Oh, we had some airline vouchers to use up before the end of the year” excuses we try to employ, just know this: we’re crazy (also, I’m writing this with less than four hours of sleep under my belt, so Duffy the Disney Bear with me here).  Yes, we did have Southwest Airlines vouchers which were going to expire in the next six months, and yes, we got our hotel room for basically nothing, but when all’s said and done: I really just wanted to see Walt Disney World decked out for the holidays.  So we flew down Saturday morning and only returned just a few hours ago.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom, which was the main reason we went down to Orlando; today, we’re going to discuss Christmas decorations.

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One of the handful of trees in the Downtown Disney shopping district.

Christmas, to me, is about going big or going home.  If you’re not going to bring your A-game with your gifts, your cookies, or your decorations, then get the eff out.  The holidays are not about being subtle or understated, they’re about big blow-up Charlie Brown snow globes in your front yard and department stores gussied up in red like $10 hookers.

My dad makes fun of my mom for “throwing up Christmas” all over their house for a month each year, with light-up village displays and nativity scenes and wreaths and garland everywhere, but I love it: Christmas, to me, is taking the season and wrapping yourself up in it. (more…)

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Jeff and Lance, Big in Japan Part III: Tokyo Disney Resort

Okay, folks, Part III of our Japan trip report awaits below! Still a lazy bum and haven’t caught up on Parts I and II? Check ’em out now before venturing on…to the photo dump…err, I mean, “Tokyo Disney Trip Report!”

[Side note: I am in tremendous debt to Carrie from Disney Travel Babble, whose 2010 Tokyo Disney trip report was a huge inspiration (and blueprint!) for our Tokyo Disney…and Japan in general!…trip. Thanks, Carrie!]

Here’s a little bit of Lance+Jeff trivia for you all out there: Tokyo Disney was the first thing we ever decided to do during our initial Tokyo planning discussions waaaaay back last winter.  In fact, we’d actually planned on going to Tokyo Disney long before the opportunity presented itself for us to go to Walt Disney World this past summer.

I’m sure plenty of you are asking (as I have myself, many times): why fly halfway around the world to go to a Disney park? (Because I wanted to, you dumb jerks! Don’t judge me! ::runs away to cry in a corner::)

Actually, there are good answers and there are bad answers to that question, and it really depends on what sort of traveller you are.  I’d like to think that I enjoy experiencing local culture, but I also love Disney.  I guess that’s the bad answer, since Disney isn’t Japanese, so therefore not local culture.

However, I would push back a little bit on the idea that Tokyo Disney is not Japanese.  First of all, for those in the know, Tokyo Disney is not owned or operated by the Disney corporation as we know it.  Instead, while it’s designed by Imagineers, the park is actually owned by the Oriental Land Company, which licenses the rights to Disney likenesses from the Disney corporation.  So, there’s a technical reason why the park is Japanese.

[The Oriental Land Company also spends what seems to be a bajillion dollars in elaborate theming, rides, and shows, so you could argue that the park is also more “Disney” than Disney-owned parks, since they are more likely to match in cash what the Imagineers dream up. They apparently spent $4 billion on Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo Disneyland’s neighboring park, before opening day.]

The monorail taking us from Bayside Station (where the official resort hotels are) back to Tokyo Disneyland Station!

There’s also an emotional reason why this park is Japanese: I know I’m generalizing, but many, many Japanese people are crazy about Disney.  The photos below don’t accurately capture just how into the experience our fellow park guests were.  Now, I know it was right around Halloween when we visited, but so many people were wearing costumes, Disney hats, Disney sweatshirts, Disney changepurses and backpacks and carrying around Duffys in different costumes…there is a passion for Disney, especially in the teen/twenties set that you just don’t see in the same volume at the American parks.

Lastly, I wanted to visit Tokyo Disney for one specific reason: Tokyo DisneySea. This is the only Disney park that you can’t find some version of in the United States (thanks a lot, Santa Monica!) Ever since I stumbled upon its Wikipedia page years ago, I’ve been drawn to this park, a watery mix of Epcot’s World Showcase with the fantasy of the Magic Kingdom.

I didn’t and still don’t care that we spent, like, 20 percent of our trip at Tokyo Disney.  I loved it.

Well, maybe not all of it…

Due to some sort of Tokyo law where transportation has to charge a fee (so I’ve read), it costs about $3 USD to take the Tokyo Disney monorail one way!

Given our tight schedule on this first day at Tokyo Disney (remember, we’d already gone to the Ghibli Museum and seen the Shiki Theatre production of Beauty and the Beast), we purchased the After 6 PM Passport ticket to Tokyo Disneyland.  We did this for a few reasons:

  1. I read that lines in the morning at the Tokyo parks get really bad, so I changed around our hotels at the last minute so we could stay in an “official” Disney hotel the night before we went to DisneySea instead of taking the subway 30+ minutes from a Tokyo hotel
  2. Well, now that we’re going to be in the resort area that night anyway, why not spend the $40 to spend four hours at Tokyo Disneyland?  I hadn’t originally planned on visiting Disneyland at all, but this afforded us the opportunity to at least see a little bit of that park, too!

Above: me, introducing the escalator from Disneyland Station down to the park.

I’m ridiculously happy that we were able to visit during the Halloween season when everything was decked out for the holiday.  Above: scary coach which looks to have repurposed the horses from Cinderella.

Yay! We’re here! (more…)

Walt Disney World 2012 Day Two Trip Report

[…or, Tilda Swinton in “We Need To Talk About Duffy”]

For our Day One coverage, check out this post!

First, I want to point out that the fetal Mickeys still exist. My pals and I saw this whole line in Disney World about five years ago and were mystified by how weird they were. Now, only a handful of Mickey and Minnies remain in a Hollywood Studios souvenir shop:

I want to draw your attention to the stuffed animals to the left, behind fetal Mickey.  “Why, is that a generic teddy bear?” you ask. “Why would I buy a regular ol’ teddy bear at Disney World when I could have a fetal Mickey?”

Let me tell you something. That is no regular teddy bear. That is DUFFY. Duffy the Disney Bear.

(more…)