Need help ... lotta help

Counselor99

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jul 14, 2017
As I slowly plow my way through all the posts, I am realizing that I need assistance. Long story short, my wife has stage 4 breast cancer and we have been told that we are on a "do what you love" timeline. My 9YO daughter and I for a number of reasons would love to see Japan and while there spend a couple days at Disney Sea/TDL. This is where the help part comes in ... We are looking at Summer travel dates due to the school calendar and likely only about 10 days in Japan total. Thinking about putting all of this together seems totally overwhelming without support. Especially, the Disney "stuffs". For WDW we have a TA we love, but she does not help with TDL. Wondering if there is anyone who can help us with this element and who might also be able to assist with other easy to navigate to "must do" experiences (besides lots of Ramen) in Japan ... Sorry for the vague open endedness of the ask but I am wanting to do this but am totally lost and could really use a helping hand ...
 

cisobe

Mouseketeer
Joined
Apr 30, 2013
Yikes, sorry to hear about your wife.

We have been to Tokyo 3 times now, so I can be of some help. We have gone to TDL/TDS on all of our trips, but only for a day or two on each trip (we have not stayed at the resort). We typically stay in Tokyo, and take the train out in the morning.

If Disney isn't your main focus for your trip to Japan, you might want to stay in Tokyo as Disney is about 25-30 minutes out of Tokyo station. It will be much more convenient to get around Tokyo to see the various Temples, Parks, the Imperial Palace, Shibuya Crossing, etc.

The first thing is to figure out where you want to stay (if not at Disney).

If it's just the 3 of you on this trip, it should be easier to find a hotel. A lot of hotel rooms accommodate 2-3 guests, and they are typically strict about it. We are a family of 5 so our hotel selection was a bit more restricted, however they were selected for the number of people they could accommodate and because the Airport Shuttle service provided pick-up and drop off to the hotel so you don't need to fuss too much about getting your bags on the train, transferring, etc.

I would suggest going this route to minimize the stress as navigating the trains and subways is a bit daunting at first especially with luggage. The two hotels I would suggest are the Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu or the Shiba Park Hotel. The Shibuya Excel is in an excellent location as it has direct access to Shibuya Station. The elevator lobby also looks out over the Shibuya Crossing. Its a nicer hotel, and there are lots of restaurants around the area. You can quickly get to almost anywhere in Tokyo from Shibuya Station so its really convenient. The staff spoke limited english, but we speak a little japanese so it was ok.

The Shiba Park hotel is close to Tokyo Tower, and its a block or two away from two different train stations so you can easily get around. This location was convenient for Tokyo Disney as we just needed to take the train 2 stops to Tokyo Station and transfer to the train to Maihama (Tokyo Disney). Its a couple blocks from a lot of restaurants too.

As for activities, there are tons of things to do in Tokyo. It really depends on what you are interested in.
Cat/Bunny Cafes, Shopping, Museums, Kid activities, Parks, Temples, History, etc.

Getting around is relatively easy, be sure to reserve a portable wifi or have international data (4G speeds) enabled on your phone. Google Maps gives great directions, and helps you figure out which trains to catch. etc.

Ask any questions, I can try answer what I can.
 


Counselor99

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jul 14, 2017
WOW! Thanks! Honestly, we have stayed on site at WDW every time we have gone and that is an experience we look forward to so would certainly split our time between on site and a more trad. off site hotel. Typically we travel with only carry on bags, but as my wife has some medical equipment that she needs to have with her having access to shuttles etc would be great in order to avoid as you said, carting stuff around on trains etc.

Are there shuttles from TDL etc to and from the airport similar to Magic Express? Are resorts potentially all inclusive with meal plans fast passes etc or are services separate? Thinking that booking "tours" may be a good idea for a way to see things and get around, thoughts? I found a fun Ramen Tour that got me thinking ...
 
  • Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    We didn't book at TDL package or stay at TDL (we commuted in from Shibuya), so I am no help but I just wanted to tell you that I hope you guys have an amazing trip. I am so sorry to hear about your wife, and I want this trip to be full of amazing memories for all of you.
     

    cisobe

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 30, 2013
    If you google tokyo limosine bus, you should find their website. You can search which airport you are arriving at, and which hotels are serviced by the bus. I'm not sure if their is a Magic Express from Disney. I'm sure others who have stayed at one of the Disney hotels, or neighboring hotels can provide clarification on that.
     

    corgi_monster

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 10, 2007
    I'm so sorry to hear about your wife, and I think it's great that you'll be making lots of memories together. Here are some tips:

    TDRExplorer is the English-speaking expert on TDR and I believe he offers a private planning service. I'm Japanese so I think I have some cred when I say that he has a profound understanding of Japanese culture.

    You'll likely be flying into Narita. The easiest way to get to TDR is via the Limousine Bus.

    I HIGHLY suggest splurging and doing a 2-night vacation package and staying at either the DL hotel or Miracosta. Summer in Japan gets as hot as Orlando and your wife might want to take a break in the middle of the day. You will get to enter the parks 15 minutes early, which doesn't sound like much, but it's absolutely worth it! The package will give you a bunch of FP and you can tour at your leisure.

    The Sheraton and Hilton at TDR are also good options that are easily accessible via monorail. You can book vacation packages with stays at both the Sheraton or Hilton.

    If you don't want to change hotels, I suggest looking at something near either Hatchobori or near Ginza-Itchome station. The train to TDR runs through Hatchobori so you don't have to deal with transferring trains. Most people will take a train (usually the Yamanote line) to Tokyo station and transfer to the Keiyo line, but it's a haul! Ginza-Itchome is about 3-4 blocks from the Keiyo line entrance of Tokyo Station.

    Non-Disney Tips:

    The most popular historical sights, temples, shrines, etc. are in Kyoto, which is about 2.5 hours away from Tokyo via bullet train. The bright lights and pop culture are best experienced in Tokyo.

    Decide NOW if you want to do Ghibli museum or a Michelin star restaurant because you will need to book reservations as soon as they open.

    You can find a Japanese-speaking virtual assistant on Craigslist or other classified listings. Going rate is usually about $20/hour.

    I find agoda usually has the best rates for hotels in Japan.

    Teamlab Borderless is not to be missed.
     
  • kbmartin

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 20, 2014
    So sorry to hear about your wife. I hope you will make some memories on this trip that you will cherish forever!

    Lots of people post trip reports on this forum. I would look through some to see what worked and didn't work for others on their trips. Maybe you could basically follow someone else's itinerary. If you're on Reddit, check out r/JapanTravel as many people look for critiques on their itineraries, seek advice, etc. They have a page filled with tons of information sorted by category.

    I think the thing that surprised me most during my research was booking a hotel in Tokyo. I was surprised to learn that many Japanese hotels charge per person rather than per room. For example, you might be researching, and it will look like a hotel is $150 per night, but when you go through the booking process, you may find out that it's three times that because you'll probably have three people sharing a room. If you stick to international hotel chains, it will be what you expect. Just wanted to make you aware of that! I didn't have any problems with the Disney portion of the trip - just when we moved to the Tokyo portion and were looking at hotels in Shinjuku.

    Good luck planning! It's overwhelming sometimes, but this forum is very helpful and friendly. Reach out anytime!
     

    Agent 86

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2013
    I'm very sorry about your wife's diagnosis.

    TDR Explorer recommends Maction Planet personalised tours:


    TDR Explorer also has a number of travel guides and other resources for DIY travel:




    Disney Tourist Blog (https://www.disneytouristblog.com/tokyo-disney-trip-planning-guide/) and their "sister" site Travel Caffeine (https://www.travelcaffeine.com/tokyo-japan-guide-tips/ and https://www.travelcaffeine.com/kyoto-japan-planning-guide/) are also great planning resources.

    As you will have hopefully seen from the responses so far, the DisBoarders are also happy to help answer any planning questions.
     

    LovesTimone

    Christmas Day 2017
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2009
    :hug::hug::hug::hug::hug::hug::hug::hug::hug: to you and your family from my family... I am terribly sorry for what is happening to your family...With that said, making memories to last a lifetime is what is important now...

    So I am in the process of planning for November of this year... 10 nights... The people here on the DIS are amazing, and will give you lots and lots of great info... not just great info... Solid Information...

    It's just DH and I, we are empty nester's... This is what I have researched and learned so far...

    We are flying into Haneda, with Delta (premium select seat class the only class above this is Delta One for the long haul portion of our trip) ... We are flying with Delta for a couple of reasons... We are sky miles members, - We got a great deal through one of our CC, really good deal!!!... DH is a big guy 6'4" and I am 5'8" which we are bigger than the norm for Asian based airlines seats... We looked at ANA business class..as they offer lay flat seat... in the end the great price and seats options we went with Delta... If you are looking for a lay flat seat I would suggest ANA... and lot of people here really like the business class, and I know that they offer deals through some of the CC, Check out HaleyR trip report...

    I think that someone else pointed out that some Japanese hotels charge per person... So we are pretty much sticking to Hilton as we can get a true King size bed... which for us is important., as well it one price for the room, and not person....
    As well they have what they call "Family rooms", our friends that just went 6 adults and they stayed in family rooms, now for 6 they need 2 rooms... so find a family room with 3 beds should not be a problem at all...

    Japan is more of a cash based society...

    7-11 you can get cash from your CC.. at the ATM machine there...

    You will need WIFI, and extra battery so that your phones will work... order this ahead, and pick up at the airport....

    For the Disney portion of your trip... I would go all in and stay on site, I say this so that you can completely immerse your family in Disney Magic...and just be together as a family, and create those precious memories ... and the proximity to the parks is unbeatable... and this way if you need a break you can take one with out leaving the magic... As well on site they do offer awesome room themeing... maybe your wife and daughter favorite princess might be something to think about...to add even another layer of magic... Check out the Tokyo Disney Website...

    There are lots of options for travel...
    Trains being the most available and easiest way to get around... There is alot to learn about them, for us at least living here in Orlando, trains are not something that are in our wheel house... so I have been spending alot of time learning about them, You can get a train pass, Sucia is the pass that most people use, as you can use it not only for the trains, but to buy food, and drinks in the train stations...as well some store such as 7-11 take them, You just add put money on it, like a debt card....
    JR Pass - this is for the Shinkensan (bullet trains) it is only available to tourist 7, 14, 21 days, you will have to order it ahead of time, and pick it up at the airport...

    DH and I are going the private car route for airport pick-up and return trip... Flying from Orlando to Haneda is going to be quite a long really very long day... so when I arrive the last thing we want to do, is try to figure out trains, and drag the luggage around, when we are both jet lagged and exhausted ... I suggest this, as this might be something that would give you a chance to relax and let someone else take charge for a little while...

    Another thought you might want to check out Air B&B apartments... having a fridge and small kitchen might be the way to go for you and your family..., plus you can spread out a little more....
     

    gelatoni fan

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2018
    WOW! Thanks! Honestly, we have stayed on site at WDW every time we have gone and that is an experience we look forward to so would certainly split our time between on site and a more trad. off site hotel. Typically we travel with only carry on bags, but as my wife has some medical equipment that she needs to have with her having access to shuttles etc would be great in order to avoid as you said, carting stuff around on trains etc.

    Are there shuttles from TDL etc to and from the airport similar to Magic Express? Are resorts potentially all inclusive with meal plans fast passes etc or are services separate? Thinking that booking "tours" may be a good idea for a way to see things and get around, thoughts? I found a fun Ramen Tour that got me thinking ...
    Sorry to learn about your wife.

    There are no free shuttles but there are buses from the airport:

    Outside of those hours, you'll need to decide if you want to spend more for a taxi or take the subway.

    You can book a vacation package which includes fast passes, priority seating for shows, etc. They are quite expensive though so you'll have to decide if it's worth it to you. There are no meal plans at TDR but the food is quite reasonably priced unlike the US parks.
     
  • Counselor99

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 14, 2017
    Not sure how to reply to all of the kind words. Crappy situation (keeping it G rated) for sure, but we do what we can. That said... How far in advance do you all make your plans? From what i can tell, I can make plane reservations a year out but looks like some of the other stuff has to wait until closer to travel dates. Accurate? Can someone please explain the concept of picking things up at the airport? We have portable chargers etc and phones with data and wifi are you good folks referring to a unique process just with Japan? Seems like the airport is a vacation stop in and of itself ... train tix, hotel etc. How many "travel days" do you allow for? I am most curious about the inbound leg and if there is a recovery day needed?
     

    gelatoni fan

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2018
    That said... How far in advance do you all make your plans? From what i can tell, I can make plane reservations a year out but looks like some of the other stuff has to wait until closer to travel dates. Accurate? Can someone please explain the concept of picking things up at the airport? We have portable chargers etc and phones with data and wifi are you good folks referring to a unique process just with Japan? Seems like the airport is a vacation stop in and of itself ... train tix, hotel etc. How many "travel days" do you allow for? I am most curious about the inbound leg and if there is a recovery day needed?
    I'm relatively last minute so I make plans anywhere from 20 hours to 5 months in advance. Many hotels don't do reservations until about 90 days in advance. If you don't feel comfortable with that, you could book a refundable rate at an international hotel chain right now (Hilton or Sheraton Tokyo Bay for Tokyo Disney) and then cancel that if you find a better deal closer to your travel date. You can book flights now.

    There will be designated locations at the airport to pick up whatever you pre-ordered: wifi eggs, SIM cards, certain Disney tickets, etc. If you are not experienced with international travel and want to avoid the trouble of picking up things at the airport, you can contact your mobile carrier to see if they have an international data plan that covers Japan. Otherwise going the SIM card or wifi egg route will usually be cheaper. The advantage of going with the wifi egg is that your entire family can share it but a disadvantage is that it requires to be charged and can overheat depending on how tucked away in your bag it is. I generally prefer using SIM cards but they are not an option if you are on most Verizon phones or have phone locked to your carrier.

    Whether a recovery day is needed will depend on how good you are with jetlag. If you don't know if you can handle the jetlag, you'll probably want the recovery day, especially if you are flying from the US in a fare class that doesn't include lay-flat seats.
     

    cisobe

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 30, 2013
    We book our hotel through booking.com or travelocity.com. My wife is a nurse, and she has to put her vacation request in January, and it gets finalized in February. We typically start planning and making reservations from February, and travel in June or July. But everyone is different and plan differently. We like to have things planned out ahead of time.

    We typically start with coordinating airfare and hotel first.

    From there, we start looking at the major attractions we want to go to, and see which days are best....i.e. if we are going to go to TDL/TDS, we start planning our itinerary around that, shooting to be in the parts in the middle of the week which is typically the least busy time. Other things like KidZania have english days on Wednesdays only, so we plan for that as well. Everything else that isn't day specific gets planned around these attractions.

    As mentioned before getting a portable wifi puck or hotspot is the most cost effective way to get data for you and anyone you're traveling with. We used a company called Global Advanced Communications the 3 times we went to rent the wifi puck. You can reserve and pay for your wifi puck online, and pick it up at the post office at the airport, or have it shipped to your hotel and it should be waiting for you when you check in. We have always picked it up from the airport post office. Just tell them you are picking up, show them your passport, and they hand you the package which includes the wifi puck, a batter pack/charger, instructions, and a return envelope. When you're done at the end of your trip, put everything into the envelope, and drop it in the post box before you go through security.

    One of my friends used her phone with international roaming and data, but said it was 2g/3g, and was really slow, so a little caution if you plan to go that route, check with your carrier.

    For travel days. We live in Hawaii, so Tokyo is 18-19 hours a head of us... or in simple terms for me to understand, 5-6 hours behind + 1 day. We typically go to sleep early and get up really early for the first few days as our bodies adjust to the time difference. So we plan to go places that open early for these days, and plan for shorter days upfront. We have gone to Tsukiji Fish Market on these days, so we can get there when things are starting to open and beat the crowds. If you're coming from the continental US, then it will be more like a 10-12 hour time difference, so it will likely be a harder adjustment. When we went to London, that was about a 12 hour time difference, we ended up forcing ourselves to go to sleep early the first night there to get our internal clocks more closer in sync with local time.
     

    Linkura

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 13, 2017
    The Disney hotels only book 6 months in advance for packages, 5 months for non-packages.
     

    nono

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2005
    What does your wife like particularly when traveling? Maybe we can all brainstorm for something special in Japan along those lines too...
     

    PiratesMansion

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 14, 2013
    If you're planning on traveling outside of Tokyo at all, you might want to consider the Japan Rail Pass. If you're going round trip from Tokyo to Kyoto (highly recommended, I much prefer Kyoto and you get a much better sense of the country's history IMO) it pretty much pays for itself.

    The most important rule is: DO NOT GO TO TOKYO DISNEY RESORT ON WEEKENDS. I cannot emphasize this enough. It will not end well.

    You will also want to look at their refurbishment calendar. Something WILL be closed during your trip as they are constantly refurbishing attractions and entertainment. If you can toggle your trip a bit to avoid a major closure, do it. Ideally, you should try to make sure Pooh's Hunny Hunt, Monsters, the new Beauty and the Beast attraction, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Tower of Terror, and Sindbad's Storybook Voyage are all open during your trip.

    While they of course have very nice on site hotels, they are pricey, rarely if ever discounted, and go very quickly six months out. However, there are also a number of third party hotels (TDR calls them the "official hotels") on the monorail line, including a Hilton and a Sheraton. The Hilton is known for occasionally having flash sales that offer significant savings (we scored rooms there last summer for ~$130/night this way; Hilton Honors members (free to join) also get a large free breakfast buffet each morning). I wouldn't consider the TDR managed but off site Celebration Hotel; you're better off on the monorail line.

    If at all possible, fly to Japan on a foreign airline; you'll get MUCH better service.

    While some things in Japan may seem oddly regimented to you (particularly if you want to book tickets to certain attractions like Ghibli), I think once you get there everything tends to be easier and more straightforward than it seems when you're first trying to book it all. Japan is an amazing country!
     

    Agent 86

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2013
    How far in advance do you all make your plans? From what i can tell, I can make plane reservations a year out but looks like some of the other stuff has to wait until closer to travel dates. Accurate? Can someone please explain the concept of picking things up at the airport? We have portable chargers etc and phones with data and wifi are you good folks referring to a unique process just with Japan? Seems like the airport is a vacation stop in and of itself ... train tix, hotel etc. How many "travel days" do you allow for? I am most curious about the inbound leg and if there is a recovery day needed?
    I think we're unusual in many respects, but I'll reply:

    - airfares are booked up to a year in advance - basically as soon as a sale opens up;
    - hotels are booked whenever a sale is available. We usually book *something* pretty soon after booking airfares, but make sure we can cancel it without cost if something better pops up. For "Disney", we keep an eye on Hilton waiting for a 50% off sale for our travel dates. We also keep an eye out for discounts in other locations (e.g. Tokyo proper). We can often go through several different bookings for the same date in the lead up to a holiday - always cancelling in favour of cheaper or better located accommodation;
    - everything else is booked as soon as the booking window opens (if it's massively in demand). Weather-dependent stuff we may wait until closer to the trip to try to get a better idea of when we'll have clear days;
    - we don't pick anything up at the airport as we use global roaming, don't need portable phone battery chargers and have Suica cards from previous visits;
    - we don't have full "travel days", except for actual "day trips". The bullet trains are so quick that "travel" would only take up half a day at most (e.g. between Tokyo and Kyoto); and
    - we don't need a "recovery day" as the flight time is only nine hours, so not long enough to incur any jet lag.
     

    indoshakespeare

    Reach out and find your Happily Ever After
    Joined
    Jun 7, 2011
    Try to go June or early July if possible because late July and August is the peak holiday season in Japan and the peak heat/humidity.
     

    Counselor99

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 14, 2017
    Try to go June or early July if possible because late July and August is the peak holiday season in Japan and the peak heat/humidity.
    I was just going to ask about dates. Some folks I have read suggest NOT going in July but along with the school calendar is the fact that my parents typically come for a month from the middle of June to the middle of July making the middle to end of July an "easy" time according to the calendar for us to go. I am sure we can be flexible with my folks but kinda want to make sure it makes sense to avoid mid to late july...

    Now to start building a spreadsheet and sharing it here with a rough timeline ...
     





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