Tag Archives: Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland, 2016

We arrived at the Sheraton- one of the Disneyland resorts- and were upgraded to a penguin room. The penguin is the mascot of the hotel and they devote a whole floor to him including games, carpet, doors, bedspreads and furniture. Our daughter loved it.

The hotel also had a kids soft play area following a similar theme, electronic games, a miniature golf course and even an area where you can dress up as your favourite Disney character for a personalised photo shoot. Our daughter’s favourite game was the Sofia the First one where a hologram dressed her like the princess.

I was more impressed with the rest of the hotel including waterfall, two swimming pools, ocean views and even a fancy dessert bar with a fairy floss machine. My husband was most impressed with the fact that we could see the Disneyland castle and Disneysea volcano from our balcony and all we had to do was take a short monorail trip to get there.

We went to bed early- it was going to be a big two days.

I was so excited for our daughter’s first trip to Disneyland that I woke up before her. She dressed up in her Rapunzel dress that we had bought in Osaka with matching crown and princess doll that we had brought on our trip to Japan.

When we arrived at the Disneyland gates, we discovered that all the adults were dressed up too as this is allowed only for the week before Halloween. It made the day even better, the atmosphere was amazing and our daughter got to meet all the princesses.

There was another Rapunzel, Snow Whites, many Elsa’s, Jasmine, some Anna’s, Sleeping Beauty, a few Cinderella’s, Ariel, and even a Sophia, Amber and Princess Ivy. And of course there were many other Disney characters too, from Alice in Wonderland to Judy Hopps from Zootopia.

Our first ride was the Star Jets on the way to Toontown. Then we lined up for an hour to meet Mickey Mouse. It was worth it of course and while we waited, we took turns on the rides there with our daughter- Gadgets Go Coaster, Goofy’s House, Daisy’s Boat and Chip and Dale’s House.

We also met Pluto, bought a refillable Dumbo popcorn holder and saw the special Halloween parade with all the classic Disney characters- Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.

Fantasyland was exactly how I remembered it being in Los Angeles, but even better. There was the classic cups ride, the carousel, the flying Dumbo ride and you could actually go inside Cinderella’s castle to try on her glass slipper.

We went on a couple more rides in Tomorrowland, like the Monster’s Inc ride, and hit Adventureland when darkness hit. I love the New Orleans quarter here so we ate dinner in a café before riding Pirates of the Caribbean, another classic.

After a few more rides, it was time to call it on a very long day, put a happy little girl to sleep and watch the fireworks from our balcony.

Related posts: The Great Buddha, Nara, 2016Nara, 2016Castle and shopping in Osaka, 2016Osaka, 2016Onsen in Nantan, 2016Markets and Manga in Kyoto, 2016Gion, Kyoto, 2016Food and Fervour in Kyoto, 2016Kyoto, 2016Takeyama, 2016Samurai and Shidax in Kanazawa, 2016Seeking Geisha and Gardens in Kanazawa, 2016Kanazawa, 2016Tokyo, 2016: MiraikanTokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and YanakaTokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and ShibuyaTokyo, 2016: Ueno and HarajukuJapan, 2016

Japan, 2016

I thought Japan would be more different, more like the other and difficult to converse in- a challenge.

However, it seems that Japanese culture is somewhat familiar and the locals are used to tourists, perhaps because so many Australians now go to Japan to ski. Even in the smaller places, everyone spoke enough English for us to get by.

Despite the lack of anticipated culture shock, it was still a wonderful trip with lots to see, do and experience. The people were polite, friendly and helpful and the place was incredibly safe. The thought of getting pick pocketed never crossed my mind.

Tokyo was a crazy mish-mash of so many different things in so many different areas that I could not say that I have a clear picture of the city. There were lots of people too of course.

The ‘smaller town’ of Kanazawa felt more traditional and there were some beautiful places and moments to be experienced there. From here, our day trip to Takeyama took us through lovely countryside.

Kyoto was full of temples and the top sights, but was also the place where we felt the most at home, perhaps due to our friendly daily coffee shop lady and the local supermarket close by. We also went to an onsen in nearby Nantan where there were no other tourists.

Osaka seemed like the most liveable city with a great atmosphere and our day trip to Nara from here was a surprising highlight.

Finally, the other world of Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea, transported us to the happiest place on earth and did it so well that we almost forgot we were in Japan.

Then of course, there is the culinary journey that is Japan. Rather than trying specific restaurants, we sampled the cuisine known in each area, as everywhere had good food. I discovered that it is true that the best food we found was near the train stations and I did get a bit rice and noodled out.

Through it all, many questions came to mind that made me want to read and learn more about Japanese culture. The mixture of tradition and modernity, Asian and Western, was intriguing. Even though Japan may not be the other, I think we still only scratched the surface and there is much more exploring needed to unlock the secrets of this interesting country.

Next time: we start the journey in Tokyo.

It’s an American Thing

My favorite city in America is San Francisco with its Golden Gate Bridge. I can image myself living in one of the city’s terraces on a steep hill. A New York loft in Soho comes in a close second, just a short subway ride from Central Park.

And then there is Las Vegas, where you can see the whole world in one place, San Diego where you can see all the animals in the whole world in one place and Los Angeles where you can see all the stars in the whole world in one place.

One of my favorite trips in America was a Californian road trip along Route 66 and Big Sur- seeing the natural beauty of Joshua Tree National Park and the Grand Canyon plus the man made mansion Hearst Castle along the way. California just has so much to offer. There are ghost towns in the desert, seals on the coast and redwoods in Yosemite.

My bestie is from the tiny town of Stuart, Nebraska- a four-hour drive through cornfields from Omaha. I was lucky enough to be included in their annual 4th July celebrations and it was really something special to be welcomed as one of the family.

Of course, my love affair with American culture started early on with Snow White and a trip to Disneyland. I always wondered what it would be like to go to a real American high school like in Buffy, or a real American college like in Beverly Hills 90210 or go to a football game with real American cheerleaders like in Hellcats.

Anne Rice and Twilight peaked my interest in visiting the Deep South and Washington State. The Vampire Diaries and The Originals have made me want to visit Georgia and New Orleans. Gilmore Girls makes me want to go to New England and let’s not forget Sex and the City for New York inspiration, cosmopolitan style.

Which brings me to shopping of course. You can get anything you want at ridiculously low prices compared to Australia, which probably explains why most of us shop online these days.

There is the tasty simplicity of the classic American diner, the best Mexican food and margarita’s outside of Mexico and buffalo ribs smoked the right way. If you have room for desert, there is jello pie, smores and Twizzlers.

The country is so varied, that I can see why you may never want to leave. If you want mountains, you can go to Colorado, if you want water parks, you go to Florida, if you want a history lesson, you go to Washington DC.

I would love to visit a plantation in Louisiana, party for a night in Miami and drift up the coast of Oregon. It would be great to stay in a Boston brownstone, a Chicago skyscraper or a Hampton’s mansion.

The people are friendly, welcoming and enthusiastic about their country. Yes, America has a bit of something for everyone, and I guess that’s what makes the country so great in the first place.

Related posts: It’s a Canadian Thing, San Francisco, 2007- Part 1: Falling in love again, Las Vegas, 2007, USA Road tip, 2007Disneyland, 2007, Los Angeles, 2007New York, 2005, Part 2: Sex and the City Style, TV replays and movie marathons, USA, 1990

Disneyland, 2007

My jetlag woke me at 3am and Opera next door was just closing. I was privy to a car park conversation between a guy and girl exiting the nightclub, which turned into a much accounted travel story.

“What’s your name?” he said.

“Destiny,” she said.

“Destiny! I f-ing LOVE that name!,” he said.

“What’s your name?” she said.

“John,” he said.

Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, but this tickled me no end and I tried to contain my laughter on the top bunk so as not to wake my husband-to-be (HTB) on the bottom bunk. Unbeknownst to me, he was also awake, had heard the whole conversation.

Later that morning we were woken by a knock on the door which heralded our bus ride to the airport to pick up our hire car. No more walking for us! With no time to wash, we quickly chucked our stuff into our backpacks and headed downstairs.

After picking up some other passengers at the famous Chateau Marmont on the other side of Hollywood Boulevard, we hit the freeway. After obtaining our car we headed to Anaheim and Disneyland.

My HTB had never been to Disneyland before and I couldn’t wait to share my memories of the happiest place on earth with him. We took the obligatory photos in front of the Mickey and Minnie Mouse made out of flowers at the entry and then walked down Main Street.

First stop was Adventureland. We went on the Jungle Cruise, which hadn’t changed much and climbed the new to me Tarzan’s House. The Indiana Jones adventure was the highlight- it really seemed like that rock was going to roll on top of us.

In Frontierland we saw the Rivers of America, Tom Sawyer Island and the Mark Twain Riverboat. We had a bite to eat in New Orleans Square and then went on the classic Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The new Haunted Mansion had clever use of holograms and was themed to match a kid’s movie that I hadn’t seen. The best ride was the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.

Next we headed to Critter Country and my all time favourite ride- Splash Mountain. It was just as good as I had remembered it and this time we didn’t have to line up for as long.

We passed the iconic Enchanted Castle in Fantasyland, had a ride on the Storybookland canal boats and a spin in the Mad Tea Party cups. I indulged a little nostalgia with a trip on the Matterhorn bobsleds and a journey into It’s a Small World. The song was just as annoying as I remembered it, but they had updated a few areas, like the 2008 New Year’s Eve in Paris.

Mickey’s Toontown was a completely new area to me. The rides were more for big kids, but we still went on Roger Rabbits Cartoon spin and Go Gadget’s Go Coaster.

Tomorrowland was my HTB’s favourite- probably mostly due to the Star Tours area which was very well fitted out. After a spin in Autopia, we had run out of time, so started our walk back to our cheap Anaheim motel passing the Enchanted Castle lit up for night on the way. As we neared our motel we saw the closing fireworks over the park.

Ah, Disneyland, the original, and still a joy.

Related posts: Los Angeles, 2007, USA, 1990, Travel rememberings, All things Disney

All things Disney

I love all things Disney.

From the moment my grandma took me to see my first film- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs- I was hooked.

I know that it’s supposedly commercial, but I can’t help but get caught up in the hype. And I enjoy it.

I’ve been to the original Disneyland in Los Angeles 3 times and I am sure I will be visiting again. I would also love to go to Disney World in Florida and maybe Disneyland Paris too.

The old traditional Disney Princesses like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Belle from Beauty and the Beast hold special memories from my childhood.

Ariel, The Little Mermaid, was my favourite as I love the ocean and the thought of being able to live under the sea.

There have been a few additions since then of Jasmine from Aladdin, Pocahontas, Rapunzel from Tangled, Mulan and some weird frog princess who I’ve never heard of, but the concept is still there- perhaps in a new age inclusive kind of way.

Brave teaches little girls to be strong, independent and in control, and I can’t really argue with that message that’s for sure.

Micky Mouse is an institution that has grown and adapted over time to include more animals and better animation. And what child growing up in the 80’s can forget Bambi, Lady and the Tramp and Tinkerbell from Peter Pan?

I’ve recently been introduced to the new Disney Princess for younger girls- Sofia the First- and I must say I’m impressed. It’s not too repetitive or hard to watch as a lot of kids shows can be, and they have cleverly tied in cameos from the fully grown Disney Princesses. The good fairies from Sleeping Beauty- Flora, Fauna and Merryweather are also in the series.

A lot of the newer movies made in collaboration with Pixar, such as Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Up are quite good, with jokes for adults as well as kids. The only one I’m not sure of is Frozen, but everywhere you look there is another child in an Elsa dress so who I am to argue with popular opinion?

Disneyfy me up I say!

Related posts: Survivor Season 29: San Juan Del Mar, What is news?, What came in best: the book or the movie?, Random Public Holiday Ramblings, The New Amazing Race Australia, The New Bachelor Australia, TV Replays and Movie Marathons

USA, 1990

All I remember about our family trip to Los Angeles, California in 1990 is Universal Studios and Disneyland.

At Universal, we got attacked by Jaws and King Kong and then caught in a flood. We were greeted personally by name by ETon a cutting edge computer bike ride; saw the Blues Brothers, animal actors and Harry and the Henderson’s shows and met KITT and the scientist from Back to the Future.

I relived my childhood on the Matterhorn bobsleds in Disneyland. We walked down Main Street, USA to Sleeping Beauty Castle and visited New Orleans Square. We rode the Mark Twain Riverboat, the cable car and went mad in It’s a Small World.

Only mum would brave a second day at Disneyland, while Dad opted to stay at the Thunderbird Motel. My favourite ride was the Splash Mountain log ride themed with Brer Rabbit and Brer Bear. Even though it was new and had the biggest line, I went on it three times.

We left LA for Lake Henshaw and a drive through the Anza- Borrego Desert in our dark blue hire car. We visited the small town and church of Santa Ysabel and Julian with its weird pioneer museum featuring a stuffed raccoon.

In San Diego, we stayed with my parents friends Teri and Steve. They had two young boys who I enjoyed watching The Little Mermaid movie with and going to their favourite park on the harbour. It was the 75th Anniversary of San Diego Zoo when we visited and I remember the iconic flamingos at the entrance.

I loved Sea World San Diegowhere I petted a dolphin and saw the famous Shamu killer whale show. Mum pointed out the dolphin prams that they used for me last time I was there as a toddler and I got my photo taken with the Shamu in a costume.

Leaving San Diego, we drove through the Mojave desert to Yosemite National Park. I remember seeing Half Dome and driving right through the middle of a large redwood tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

We drove past mountains with white windmills, Mono Lake and stayed in a Tee Pee in the desert. I remember visiting the eerie Bodie ghost town where you could look inside the empty buildings.

Ending our road trip in San Francisco, my dad wanted to visit the hippy mecca Haight- Ashbury. I remember the pink Palace of Fine Arts theatre on a Lake. We caught a cable car up a steep hill, went to Golden Gate Park and visited Seal Rocks.

We flew home through Honolulu, Oahu in Hawaii where I got my picture taken with a macaw. Mum and I went shopping at the very cheap Waikiki, while my dad sat by the surfer statue on the beach. I remember going to the white Pearl Harbour Memorial and driving to Diamond Head. We went to Iolani Palace, Waimea Bay, Hanauma Bay and Pali lookout. We saw a hula dancer show and dad went windsurfing at Kailua.

Related posts: Travel rememberings, All Creatures Great and Small, TV Replays and Movie Marathons

Travel rememberings

My parents had been married and travelling for 10 years before they had me. They travelled to Afghanistan before there was a Lonely Planet guide for the country, went to the Black Forest in Germany when the Berlin Wall was still up and got my mother’s engagement ring in Turkey. Or was it that I was conceived in Turkey? Or maybe that was the second time they went back?

Either way, they travelled A LOT. So much so that even they have trouble remembering where they have been in what year, let alone wether I was there or not. This was also before the time of digital cameras with locality devices recording every time, date, place and memory.

Therefore, it can be hard to piece together where I have travelled before my own memory kicks in, but I will endeavour to give it a go. A lot of the stories are snippets of memories that have been retold to me over the years or photo’s that have been unearthed and referenced.

When I was three weeks old, my parents left me with my grandparents in England and travelled to Corsica. Apparently it was a pre-arranged trip- not child abandonment as it would be labelled today. Perhaps due to this trip, or maybe because of it, I was henceforth deemed old enough and dragged on every trip that came after.

There were trips to England where my father lived, Australia where my mother lived, Canada where my uncle lived and Sri Lanka where a lot of mum’s family lived. It was a time when maybe they were trying to decide where to live or maybe they were making the most of the flexibility they had until I started primary school at age five.

My parents remember me riding a red scooter down the driveway at my grandparents’ house in Weymouth.

My mum remembers that all I ate on the European combi van tour when I was six months old was Boots powdered baby food.

We went to Yugoslavia before it was renamed.

There are pictures of me holding natural cotton flowers on a hill in Scotland.

My dad remembers going on the Matterhorn roller coaster with me as a toddler in Disneyland.

There is a picture of me sitting on Chacmool at Chichen Itza with a nappy on.

There is a photo of me as a baby with my face full of chocolate in high chair in Maui.

The two places that I am sure we never went to are China and Japan as they have never held any interest for my parents.

Calling any friends or family who can fill in the blanks to please comment below!

Related posts: I first started travelling, Top 5 Wildlife to Spot in California, Home is where you make it