We got a 6:15 wake up call and got ready so that Brennan and I could leave by 7. The two of us took most of the luggage back through the (now deserted) temple grounds and then headed to Don’s apartment, while Justin and Trudy went to Disneyland ahead of us. The hardest part of our journey was switching trains in Ueno, one of the busiest stations in Tokyo, in order to get on the JR loop line to Takadanobaba. We met Don at the station at 8:30, and he took us on the 10-minute walk to his apartment. He actually had two adjacent apartments in a building near the Waseda University campus, where he was working for a year. One apartment was empty, however, since most of his family had recently returned to the U.S.
Brennan and I felt much freer walking back to Takadanobaba sans luggage, we ate breakfast at McDonalds before jumping on the subway for our trip to Disneyland. After switching to a JR train and taking it to the top of Tokyo Bay, we reached our destination after a total of 45 minutes, and were soon reunited with the rest of the family. We started around the park in a clockwise direction, first going to the Pirates of the Caribbean, which had been updated since I was a kid to include characters from the new movies. Many of the rides had a very nostalgic feel, even though I had last been to Disney World with my family since I was close to Brennan’s age. I even dragged the family to the Tiki Room with the singing parrots, which was actually called the Chiki Room in Japan, since there is no “ti” in the Japanese language. That made the experience even funnier that it already was.
We had lunch about halfway around the park, at “Grandma Sara’s Kitchen”, an underground “burrow” where the octogenarian possum apparently lived. The food was really good, tasting just like American “down home” cooking. After lunch, we continued on our tour, heading to the Haunted Mansion, where we spent our longest time in line, 80 minutes. We had been surprised how many people were at Disneyland that day, it being a weekday in December. It had ended up being a really nice day, weather wise, with sunshine and temperatures in the mid-50s, which may have contributed to the park’s popularity that day.
By the time we worked our way around to Space Mountain, it was almost 6 pm. Since it was the last major ride we wanted to go on, Trudy and I agreed to separate from the kids so they could go on more rides together and we could do some shopping. First, we watched Mickey and friends light the Christmas trees in front of Cinderella’s Castle and then we headed to one of the gift shops near the entrance of the park. Just then, the phone rang. Don and his 15-year old daughter Bryce had decided on the spur of the moment to come to the park for the after 6 discount admission and were just outside buying their tickets. We met up with them, but since we were about to meet the kids for dinner, while the Capeners had already eaten, we agreed to meet Don and Bryce in Fantasyland in time to watch the Electric Light Parade together.
After meeting the boys and eating at the “Great Waffle House”, we hurried to the spot where we were meeting the Capeners. The parade was amazing, and included an almost endless array of floats containing all of our favorite Disney characters. It lasted nearly 30 minutes, after which we returned to the Pirates so we could ride it with Don and Bryce. Bryce then wanted to go on lots more rides, but Don was content to watch a repeat of the lighting ceremony, along with the nightly display of fireworks, so we once again let the kids run off to do their thing, while we kept Don company. After the fireworks, we got a snack together and waited for the kids to rejoin us when the park closed at 10 pm.
We all rode back to Don’s apartment building together and went to bed with sore feet and completely worn out from our day.