1. Christmas Fantasy 2014 – Tokyo Disneyland, Japan

    Last week I happened to be in Japan for a couple of nights for work. I had one full day free on Friday so I decided to go to Tokyo Disneyland. Normally I would avoid the Japanese Disney parks on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday as they get incredibly busy but when I looked at the online calendar I saw that the Friday (the only day I could go) was going to be the first day for all the Christmas celebrations, I knew I had to go. I had missed out on seeing the Christmas decorations there a few years ago due to a massive storm and as this was possibly my last trip to Japan for a while, the decision was a no brainer.

    I last visited the Tokyo Disney Resort two years ago (I cannot believe it has been that long) and getting to the parks was quick and easy as I was staying in Shinjuku in the middle of Tokyo. However on this visit I was staying in Narita near the airport. Getting to the parks is still incredibly easy but it does take a lot longer and cost a bit more. I wanted to get to the park for opening at 8am which limited my options even more. The first direct bus from Narita Airport and both the Skyliner and Narita Express trains (with a change in Tokyo) would get me to the park an hour and a half after opening. Once again Hyperdia came to the rescue and there was a Keisei Sky Access Express train leaving Narita Airport at 7.01 am with one change at Higashi-Matsudo and then the JR Musashino Line to Maihama. Things got interesting when the train stopped at Nishi-Funabashi and people were actually being packed onto the train like you always see in YouTube videos. Let me tell you that being on an already packed train when more people are being packed on is an experience and definitely not one I could do on a regular basis. But for a couple of stops I thought it was hilarious albeit uncomfortable.

    I arrived at Maihama station just after 8am and from there it is only a few minutes walk to the park entrance. Thankfully there were no lines to buy tickets or even enter the park. I was also incredibly lucky that the weather that day was perfect – it rained every other day that week!

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    As soon as I entered the park there were Christmas decorations everywhere including the beautiful Christmas tree in World Bazaar. After taking a few quick photos, I headed straight to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt to get a Fastpass as I knew how busy the park and the rides would get later on.

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    After getting a Fastpass for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, I then took the opportunity to go on a couple of rides in Fantasyland that didn’t have any queues at that time including It’s a Small World. The ride was decorated for the Christmas season as “It’s a Small World Very Merry Holidays” – I’m glad I went on this when I did as the line was very long later on in the day. I also went on The Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare whilst the line was only 25 minutes – another ride which was decorated for the Halloween and Christmas seasons. I really enjoyed the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay – even more so than the Disneyland version in Anaheim that I went on last year.

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    A few more rides later and it was time for the first Santa Village Parade at 10am. Most people had been waiting for this parade since park opening (probably the reason why the rides were so empty until this time) but I managed to get a great spot to watch the parade in the first standing row close to where the parade starts near Splash Mountain. I love the fact that in Tokyo Disneyland they make sure that everyone gets a great view – there’s no children on shoulders, no umbrellas, ears or strollers in the way – I wish all the parks could be this civilised.

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    After the parade I could then take it easy for the rest of the day. I used Fastpasses on both Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and Splash Mountain as well as enjoying several shows including Minnie, Oh Minnie and the Happiness is Here Parade. As days at Disney can be long, I really enjoy grabbing a drink and then taking a seat and waiting for parades and shows whilst watching the world go by.

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    I did enter the lottery for tickets to the One Man’s Dream show but sadly it wasn’t my lucky day. I also made sure I got my curry popcorn fix – it’s so addictive and it had been a while! I also watched the second Santa Village Parade as I enjoyed it so much that morning. This time I watched it from Westernland.

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    Later on in the evening, I grabbed a spot ready to watch Christmas Dreamlights at 7.30pm. Dreamlights is my favourite Disney nighttime parade (although I have yet to see Paint the Night at Hong Kong Disneyland) so I wanted to make sure I had a good view. The parade is very similar to the regular Dreamlights parade however the characters are all wearing Christmas outfits and the soundtrack has Christmas music incorporated into it.

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    Sadly as I had to get the train back to Narita I was not able to stay to watch the Starbright Christmas fireworks. After a last few photos leaving the park, I headed back to Maihama station to get the train back to Narita.

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    Thankfully the trains were much quieter than that morning. However after the long day I decided to get the JR Keiyo Line into Tokyo Station and then get the JR Yamanote Line to Ueno Station to catch the Keisei Eveningliner train back to Narita. The Eveningliner is an oasis of calm and you get a comfortable reclining seat with lots of legroom so I was able to sleep on the journey. By the time I got back to my hotel it was 11pm – no wonder I slept well that night and on the way back to London the next day!

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