Meri Kurimasu from Tokyo Disney Resorts!

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juneau biscuits's picture
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Meri Kurimasu from Tokyo Disney Resorts!

Tokyo Disneyland 2017 23 - A Tree and Her Castle by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Aloha and Happy New Year to fellow forum members! I've been a way for a while, but you may remember me from my following trip reports (or if not, take a look if you feel inclined and have a few minutes to waste):

http://www.wdwforgrownups.com/forum/hauoli-makahiki-hou-disney-aulani-resort

http://www.wdwforgrownups.com/forum/mele-kalikimaka-wdw-adventure-2015-completed

http://www.wdwforgrownups.com/forum/mahalo-disneyland-60-magical-years-completed

As some of you might know, I'm a Hawaii local so getting out to the Disney parks is a rare treat for me. By the good Lord's blessings, I've been able to visit various parks three years running (looks like 2018 will break that streak). 2017 took me to the land of the Rising Sun and what is probably the best Disney park in the world...Tokyo Disneysea!

I'm about 75% done processing my images, so it maybe a few more weeks before I can delve into a comprehensive trip report. But in the meantime, I wanted to share a picture of Tokyo Disneyland's Cinderella Castle. Yes, I know it's been taken and posted a billion times, but it's so iconic that I can't help but use it as my opening act.

See you folks soon!

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Nice to see you again

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Oh my goodness, that picture is absolutely amazing. I can't wait to see and hear more about your trip!

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The best Disney photos I have seen including the ones on the Disney website! Very much look forward to your trip photos. You should make your photos available for purchase, they are that good!

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Can't wait to hear (and see) all about it!

JMed's picture
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Always one of my favorite reports to read and those pictures!!! Can't wait.

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"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

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Beautiful photo! I can't wait to read your report and see your beautiful photos biggrin

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Gorgeous shot. Can't wait for more!

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JoAnn C wrote:
Nice to see you again

Thanks JoAnn...it has been a while! Good to be back!

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Kristen K. wrote:
Oh my goodness, that picture is absolutely amazing. I can't wait to see and hear more about your trip!

Mahalo Kristen! I'm almost finished with the photos for the first installment...LOL!

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Mcheal wrote:
The best Disney photos I have seen including the ones on the Disney website! Very much look forward to your trip photos. You should make your photos available for purchase, they are that good!

I appreciate the kind words my friend...truly! I hope not to disappoint you with this batch of images!

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Allie wrote:
Can't wait to hear (and see) all about it!

Thanks Allie! Hope all is well with you and your family!

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JMed wrote:
Always one of my favorite reports to read and those pictures!!! Can't wait.

Thank you JMed! Hope you have been doing well!

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danijrod wrote:
Beautiful photo! I can't wait to read your report and see your beautiful photos biggrin

Thank you danijrod! I'm working feverishly to get the last batch of pics done for the first couple of posts!

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jtownpluto wrote:
Gorgeous shot. Can't wait for more!

Mahalo jtownpluto!!!

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Thank you everyone for your patience and kind words! I took quite a bit of photos (as usual), so culling through the images took up a good chunk of time. I always seem to post edit the top 100 images or so at a good clip, but tend to slow down after the initial excitement has worn off. A pinched nerve severely hampered my ability to sit at a laptop working in Photoshop so there's that too. I've come to the point where I have enough pictures to support my report, but still need to go back and process that image or two that is missing to complete the picture. Okay enough of my excuses!

A little background first...this was my 3rd time visiting the Tokyo parks. My first trip was in 2001, the year Disneysea opened. While the parks look pretty much the same, there has been some major and subtle additions/subtractions over the years which I'll cover as we move along. Suffice to say, one of the biggest changes has been the generalization and overall sameness to much of the merchandise. During my first two trips, I was constantly amazed at the variety and creative designs of park products. I remember picking up an Uncle Scrooge type PEZ dispenser which contained candy resembling silver dollar pieces. Or a Magical Aladdin Genie Bank that gave the illusion of money disappearing as you dropped it into a slot. The package designs for food products were unbelievable! Specially commissioned artwork that saw a life span of 2-3 months before being rotated out for new designs were common and expected. Alas, all good things come to an end and the imaginative spark of creativity that was a hallmark of Tokyo merchandise has succumb to a plethora of Duffy toys and a more generic vanilla approach found at the USA parks.

Sad to say too that like the American parks, Tokyo is closing down or moving away from original unique attractions (ex: StormRider, surely one of the coolest attractions in Disneysea, replaced by Nemo & Friends SeaRider) to make room for rides that tie into Pixar/Marvel movies.

But all is not doom and gloom (far from it)! Disneysea still remains the pinnacle of Disney imagineering at its finest. The parks still maintain high levels of customer service, quality food, and cleanliness. So sit back, relax, and come along with me as I relive my journey to Japan!

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 03-Lobby Tryptych 01 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

I arrived a little after 10:00 pm at Haneda Airport, so transportation already became a slight issue due to the late hour. Disney bus services end at 8:00 pm so I was forced to take a private van to the Disney Celebration Hotel. It cost me $110.00 for a one way trip...pricey, but worth it since I didn't want to hassle with the trains after an 8 1/2 hour flight. My driver was waiting for me at the baggage carousel and kindly helped take my bags to a Mercedes Benz van. As I was the only passenger, we quickly departed the airport and made our way to the hotel. Even with little to no traffic, the ride took approximately 50 minutes.

Big caveat here if you're thinking of staying at Disney Celebration. While an official Disney hotel, it is NOT located on or near park premises! Had I know this before booking (and done a little more research), I would not have stayed here. My initial logic for booking was my interest in checking out Tokyo Disney's newest resort and also saving a little money (since it's their only designated "value" resort). Turns out the savings wasn't substantial (maybe $40.00 less than the Disney Ambassador, once a value hotel, but since upgraded to "deluxe" status upon the debut of Celebration). I would much rather pay a little less to stay at one of the "good neighbor" hotels like the Hilton or Sheraton and be much closer to the parks. I will concede that transportation service from Celebration to the parks are excellent, and they have buses leaving every 10 minutes. However, it's almost a half hour ride and should definitely be considered if booking here.

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 16 - Front Desk by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 05 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Celebration is comprised of two separate buildings with specific theming...Wishes and Discovery. I chose Discovery as it has more of a western frontier aspect. From the outside, the hotel is rather unimpressive with a "cookie cutter" look to it. You do know it's a Disney hotel the moment you enter the lobby, but like Paradise Pier, it comes across as major plussing rather than a hotel organically designed from the ground up (ala Hotel Miracosta).

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 04 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Being such a late arrival, I walked up to the front desk with no one in front or behind me. Besides the frontiersman Mickey statue, and a large couch designed as a canoe, not much else gave me a feel of "discovery" (so to speak). There were display cases with maquette of various Disney attractions and the obligatory Christmas tree or two.

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 01 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 11 - Journey to the Center of the Earth Ride Vehicle Maquette by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 13 - Jungle Cruise Ride Vehicle Maquette 02 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 14 - Jungle Cruise Lobby Diorama by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Christmas decorations at both the hotels and parks are very conservative and subtle (especially when compared with the USA parks). I wonder if part of it is the Japanese not really understanding the true meaning behind Christmas. Not that decorated trees and lights symbolize the birth of Christ, but it's an understanding that really makes this holiday more important than the others (to me at least).

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 15 - Lobby Christmas Trees by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

After checking in and taking a few photos, I headed up to my room. I was impressed with the colorful artwork covering the interior elevator doors...each elevator showcasing a different area of the parks.

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 02-Interior Elevator Door Art by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

The room itself was clean and comfortable. The large wall diorama adds a lot to give the room a "Disney" feel, although like the overall hotel, it still feels tacked on.

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 06 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 10 - Wall Diorama Detail by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

The amenities were of the usual high standards I associate with the Tokyo resorts. In fact, unlike the move towards generalized merchandise, the hotel toiletries are still hotel specific. And this is the only hotel that had Mickey Mouse house slippers available (a generous amount of four pairs in cello wrap were mine for the taking, but I showed some restraint and packed just two!).

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 09 - Bathroom Amenities by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 09 - Mickey House Slippers by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

I headed to bed a little after one, but found myself tossing and turning...first night before entering the park jitters. I got up early and decided to have breakfast since I knew it was going to be a two hour wait for park entry. In Japan, everything is vending machines! In order to participate in the morning buffet, you need to buy a ticket from a machine right outside the restaurant's entrance (the cost comes to roughly $13.00 an adult) You hand it to the cashier and you're off to find a table (since tipping is not allowed in Japan, there are no cash transactions inside the restaurant). Since it was early, the place was nearly empty so I had my choice of seating. Once at the buffet station, I marveled at the selection and quality of food. Japan's dining sensibilities are a little different from America, so seeing pasta as a main entree surprised me not the least. Croissants, and pastries in general, are a lot lighter and not as sweet or sugary.

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 08 - Salt Butter Rolls & Cream Danish by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 07 - Croissant Heaven @ Morning Breakfast Buffet by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel 17 - Breakfast Time! by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

I enjoyed the fare so much that I made a repeat appearance the following morning! Heartily satisfied, I left the dining
area to catch the bus for my first day at Disneysea!

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yay yay yay

Our patience has paid off!! I am very excited for this one. I have friends living in Japan right now. As much as I am afraid to fly I want to make this trip so badly. Not only to see them but to have and excuse to visit the parks.

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"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

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That sounds like my kind of breakfast! Off to a great start!

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JMed wrote:
yay yay yay

Our patience has paid off!! I am very excited for this one. I have friends living in Japan right now. As much as I am afraid to fly I want to make this trip so badly. Not only to see them but to have and excuse to visit the parks.

I'm rooting for you to make it to Japan JMed!!!

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Allie wrote:
That sounds like my kind of breakfast! Off to a great start!

Totally agree with you Allie...it was truly the breakfast of champions...LOL!

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Tokyo Disneysea 2017 29 - Cast Member Barnes @ Happy 15 Entry by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

After a hearty breakfast and a 10 minute wait outside the hotel, I boarded the bus to Disneysea! As mentioned earlier, it's about a 25 minute ride to the park, even with minimal traffic. Like its American counterparts, guests at a Tokyo Disney resort are allowed early entry to the park. But (and it's a big but), Japan's early entry is only 15 minutes prior to regular admission! They call it "Happy 15 Entry". Now if you're anything like me, you're knee jerk reaction was "Only 15 measly minutes???"! I'm paying premium resort prices and would want at least the standard hour we get back at home. But here's the thing - the Japanese are zealous in their love of all things Disney. Whatever you think is extreme in terms of fan dedication, times it by three for Japan. When I arrived two hours prior to park opening, the regular entrance lines stretched to Nova Scotia and back! And even the early entry crowd was already a mile long. After being hit with this sober realization, a 15 minute head start didn't seem so inconsequential anymore.

Though the Japanese will go through great lengths to assure a good spot or position in line, the crowds are always well behaved, orderly, and conscientious. When early admittance began, the line moved quickly because things here move with precision and speed. In the USA, you always have that one or two persons/family with missing/invalid passes or a ton of questions that holds up everything. In Japan, something like that is almost nonexistent. And since the majority of park goers are locals, the cultural difference makes even security checks amazingly quick. You don't lose much of those valuable minutes from the time the first guest enters the park. Running too is not allowed, but I'll be darn if even senior citizens are walking at a pace that left me eating dust!

Disneysea is laid out with seven themed areas or "port of calls". You start at Mediterranean Harbor which then branches out to the other six: Arabian Coast, Port Discovery, Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Lost River Delta, and American Waterfront. The first thing to catch your eye upon entering is the fountain globe...a spherical marvel to behold. I wouldn't argue that Mount Prometheus in Mysterious Island is the centerpiece of the park (much like the various castles). But, I would not chide anyone for seeing this as the icon of Disneysea either. I've attached several images of the globe taken either at sunset, the blue hour, or night. I have a few day shots, but it's really after sunset that the globe truly astounds!

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 03 - It All Began with a Mouse by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 13 - World Globe Waterfall @ Dusk by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 63 - World Globe Waterfall @ Dusk 02 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 12 - World Globe Waterfall @ Night by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Mediterranean Harbor is modeled after a traditional Italian city with its Venetian gondolas and canals. It's also home to the Hotel Miracosta...a full service resort that resides within the park. It's Disney theming at its finest, a careful construct of illusion mixed with real tactile experiences. The hotel not only serves to house guests, but it plays a strong role in transporting one to a romanticized European city.

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 78 - Hotel Miracosta Facade by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Hotel Miracosta is my favorite Tokyo resort (and 2nd overall to the Wilderness Lodge), but I will cover that more extensively in another installment. My words could never do justice to the amazing detail and craftsmanship of this area, so hopefully my pictures will help impart some of the area's beauty...

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 35 - Gondolas On the Palazzo Canals 02 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 34 - Gondolas On the Palazzo Canals 01 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 60 - Sunny Mediterranean Days by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 25 - Cast Member Kawasaki Greets Visitors on Mediterranean Harbor by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 34 - Christmas Decorates the Venice Canal by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 78 - Balloon Decisions by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 32 - Mediterranean Harbor Wall Detail by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 26 - Mediterranean Harbor Side View by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 53 - Docking of the Renaissance by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

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Tokyo Disneysea 2017 08 - A Perfect Christmas 02 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

To be honest, I tend to view live shows/parades at Disney as a necessary evil...LOL! Meaning that I will grudgingly do it, but rarely feel its worth the time and energy of waiting in big crowds and long lines. I've been even more reluctant when it comes to the Japanese productions as Mickey and Duffy are often the star attractions. It's true I'm not a fan of the mouse and even less so of the bear. My affinity for Disney stems basically from the animated classics and the parks itself. But I knew going in I needed to sample the shows just to give my reports some balance and variety.

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 07 - A Perfect Christmas 01 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

"A Perfect Christmas" was the first show I attended at TDS. I had noticed guests staking out spots in front of the river as soon as the park opened. I made a mental note and made plans to watch the show on the following morning. Knowing the Japanese culture, I knew I needed to move at top speed in order to secure a good spot for photographing the show. I did a little reconnaissance earlier and found that the prime spots near the gates were reserved for families who booked vacation packages through Tokyo Disney. It's a specially priced package that includes park tickets and stays at the Disney resorts. It's something I had initially wanted to book, but it's only available to parties of two or more so I was out of luck (my wife opted for Alaska with her best friend so I travelled solo).

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 23 - A Perfect Christmas 04 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 85 - A Perfect Christmas 12 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 84 - A Perfect Christmas 11 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

If you're planning to stay at a Disney resort with family, I would definitely look into this option. After package seating, the next 5 feet or so are reserved for guests who prefer sitting. The Japanese are very conscientious when it comes to ensuring proper views for everyone (video cameras cannot be held above head level and children sitting on parent's shoulders are a no-no), so they allocate seats accordingly. Past that, there is an open walkway followed by an area for standing guests. For photography purposes, I chose the front row of this area for a clear and unobstructed view.

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 83 - A Perfect Christmas 10 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 82 - A Perfect Christmas 08 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

I ended up standing next to a gentleman from England who got there before me (he too was planning to photograph the show). He was the first person I heard speaking fluent English in a couple of days so of course I stuck up a conversation. He met his Japan wife in college and ended up moving to Tokyo to raise a family. They were planning to leave for Europe after their park visit, so it was an exciting time for all of them.

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 81 - A Perfect Christmas 07 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

After a wait of little over two hours, the show finally began and I must say it was almost worth the wait. Of course Mickey & Minnie were the stars, but what really made it for me was the appearance of Scrooge McDuck! He's an under rated character that I've never seen at the USA parks so this was a treat. The show itself was well choreographed with an extensive use of props and stage scenery. Santa Claus puts in his obligatory appearance at the finale in a huge sleigh. What the storyline or dramatic push was remains a mystery since it was entirely in Japanese, but the visuals are enough that the language barrier never puts a damper on the show. The backdrop of Mount Prometheus gives "Perfect Christmas" a very surreal and cool look, something no other Disney park can offer.

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 23 - A Perfect Christmas 05 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

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This all looks AMAZING. If I didn't know where you were I would think you were writing a post about Italy! Simply amazing...

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"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

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WOW. Everything looks stunning!

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Love Stunning pictures! Love your detailed report as always biggrin

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Oh my goodness, I don't know that I could pass up one of those Duffy balloons. One of these years I will make it there. It's on the Bucket List.

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JMed wrote:
This all looks AMAZING. If I didn't know where you were I would think you were writing a post about Italy! Simply amazing...

I know what you mean JMed! My wife and I will be visiting Italy in the fall so it will be interesting to do side by side comparisons.

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Allie wrote:
WOW. Everything looks stunning!

The reality is even more stunning Allie!

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danijrod wrote:
Love Stunning pictures! Love your detailed report as always biggrin

Much mahalo! Glad you're enjoying the TR!

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Kristen K. wrote:
Oh my goodness, I don't know that I could pass up one of those Duffy balloons. One of these years I will make it there. It's on the Bucket List.

It's amazing how popular Duffy is in Japan. Even Aulani has quite the selection of mdse!

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Tokyo Disneysea 2017 88- Mediterranean Harbor Pano by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

The panorama above was taken on one of the rare days the sky was blue (gray seemed to be the color of choice for most of the trip). This picture really illustrates the mind boggling talents of Imagineers when given an ample budget and creative freedom. With Disney buying up every license they can get their hands on, I fear the day will come when original park designs NOT tied into existing properties will be a thing of the past. So feast your eyes on majestic Mount Prometheus as it anchors Fortress Explorations and segues into the Mediterranean Harbor. It would be sad to see this architectural and engineering feat replaced by a hodge podge of Pixar and Marvel lands!

Full disclosure here. I'm a life long collector having started with comic books and branching out into books, toys, movie memorabilia, gum cards, original art, and tons more. As I've advanced in age, I've come to that point where downsizing and getting rid of clutter has moved up on the priority ladder. The photos I take are now my take home "souvenirs" although I still enjoy browsing through the various stores.

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 31 - Mickey & Minnie Window Display by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

The various shops and restaurants are careful to maintain the Italian theming with "Merchants of Venice" and "Mamma Biscotti's Bakery" being two of my favorites. The window displays and attention to details are top notch, although the merchandise itself is somewhat generic. T-shirts, a popular item in the states, are scare here. Shirts with theme park designs are almost non-existant. I did manage to find one with a Disneysea logo, but otherwise, nada!

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 88- Merchants of Venice Display 01 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

"Omiyage" (gift) is a very important tradition in Japan. The locals purchase multiple items to give as presents to family and friends upon returning home. In Hawaii, sales associates are use to giving Japanese tourists extra packages when ringing up their purchases. Being able to give the gift in a bag with the store logo/name is very prestigious (and sort of proves they were on vacation). I did buy a number of pins and snacks for friends, and the cast members were constantly adding extra bags into my package. I ended up giving quite a bit back as I hate to waste (especially when it comes to plastic).

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 91- Merchants of Venice Display 02 by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

One of the most popular omiyage is snacks. Besides having colorful outside packaging, a majority of the snacks are individually wrapped. This allows the buyer to divide the snacks between a number of recipients (thus the need for extra bags). Japanese sweets use a lot less sugar than American versions and tend to be a lot lighter. A very popular treat is "arare" or rice crackers. Covered with a shoyu sauce and "nori" (seaweed), its tastes a lot better than how it sounds. If you do visit the parks, try it in addition to the standard cookies & candies.

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 86- Water Fountain Detail by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 87- Mamma Biscotti Detail by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Mamma Biscotti's Bakery is right outside Miracosta's park entrance so I found myself having coffee and a delicious danish during much of my hotel stay. I think I've learned to enjoy those moments of soaking in the sights and just living in the moment. It doesn't last long until I'm back out there fighting the crowds and trying to take a decent picture, but hey, you take what you can get!

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 90- Mamma Biscotti Counter Displa.jpgy by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 77 - Baked Goods @ Mamma Biscotti's by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

While in the Mediterranean area, I decided to give the snack cart a try.

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 41 - Mickey Ice Bars Anyone? by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

It was a toss up between the Tiramisu Ice Cream Sandwich and the Mickey "Tropical Fruit" Ice Bar. Being from Hawaii, where tropical treats are pretty common, I opted for the Tiramisu.

Tokyo Disneysea 2017 36 - Tiramisu Ice Cream Sandwich by JUNEAU BISCUITS, on Flickr

Like the pastries, Japan ice cream tends to be less sweet which makes devouring one of these high calorie delights guilt free (almost). Unfortunately, this was one of the rare times where they actual experience failed to live up to the hype. The cookie layer was frozen so hard that I could barely bite off a piece. The overall flavor tasted very indistinct and somewhat bland. A rare thumbs down for a food item at the Tokyo parks!