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Around the World in Disney Days

Friday, May 22, 2009

 How did we ever get along without Facebook? Did we manage to spend our hours productively without the ability to make our "favorite five" lists and share them with strangers all over the world? (Or did we just lie around on the couch watching television instead?)

The other day, I found myself listing the five things I'd immediately spend tons of cash on if I were to hit the lottery big time. Yes, the charitable foundation and the big house were at the top of my list, along with sending my husband to Mongolia (honest, he's wanted to go there for decades). And, you guessed it, so was a fabulous vacation to all the Disney Parks around the world. (After all, my spouse will be in Mongolia for a while, and the boy and I need to keep ourselves occupied somehow, right?) I've been to nine of the Disney Parks already, only missing Tokyo DisneySea and Hong Kong Disneyland, but I'd love to take a leisurely couple months to visit them all sequentially, and also enjoy some of the surrounding areas.

I'd be somewhat tempted to visit in chronological order, but given the distances involved that's impractical. So instead, I'd start at Disneyland, as the original park, and make my way around the world to Asia and Europe, finishing the trip in Orlando. On general principle, the visit to each resort must begin with a walk down Main Street USA (or its equivalent). And each visit must also include a ride on it's a small world, natch.

My dream itinerary would look something like this:

Days 1-7: Disneyland. I'd probably be tempted to stay at my across-the-street favorite Best Western. But since we're talking splurge time, I'd upgrade to a split stay between the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and the Paradise Pier Hotel, even though each is a longer walk to the gates. (Why am I snubbing the Disneyland Hotel? Despite its sentimental appeal, I just haven't been impressed when I've visited the lobby. Plus it's the longest walk from those all-important gates.) Top restaurants on my list? Gotta hit the Blue Bayou, plus maybe wrangle an invitation to Club 33 somehow. Most important attraction? The one and only original Enchanted Tiki Room for sure, plus the one and only Matterhorn.

More than half of my time would be in the parks, but if I can hit the season right, I'd like to get back to see the Fullerton Flyers again, and perhaps the Lake Elsinore Storm, to meet my minor league baseball needs. Maybe a little side trip to Old Town Root Beer in Temecula? I'd also want to spend a day in Los Angeles. They've got a great Japanese American National Museum, perhaps especially apropos given my next destination…..

Days 8-38: Tokyo Disneyland. Good heavens, I cannot imagine spending less than two weeks in Japan! And heck, we're talking major lottery winnage, and no worries about missing work, so let's get serious and just spend a month. I love Tokyo, and would want to use Disneyland as a home base for my time there, so I'd start with a week at the Tokyo DisneySea Hotel Miracosta, which is located inside of DisneySea itself. I'd need to hit the Disneyland park first though, for that walk down World Bazaar, which is much like a covered Main Street USA (I have a rather happy and strange memory of a pair Japanese tourists asking to take my picture there; I still wish I'd gotten their picture too). Where to eat? Gotta get to the Restaurant Hokusai, and how about the Blue Bayou again? And let's hope that DreamLights is still running, so I can see the current version of my beloved Main Street Electrical Parade.

Some days would be park days, others I'd spend roaming my favorite neighborhoods of Shinjuku and Shibuya, checking out museums, and stocking up on toys from geek heaven, Akihabara. The middle of my trip, I'd roam to other parts of Japan. I wanna go back to Iwatayama Monkey Park! It's just outside Kyoto, which has one of the most amazing train stations on earth, which looks as if somebody dropped a shopping mall in the middle of the Death Star. I simply must visit Sanrio Harmonyland in Oita Prefecture, a companion park to my beloved Sanrio Puroland in Tama City. And yes, there is time for more somber things as well…I have not yet visited Hiroshima, and would make it a priority. And then back to Tokyo! I'd spend another week at the Disneyland Resort, this time splitting my stay between the Disney Ambassador Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel. What's not to love?

Days 39-49: Hong Kong Disneyland. Now, from all I've heard about this park, I could easily just do it in a day and then head on to Paris. But why miss out on this opportunity to check out Hong Kong? I'm a city girl, and this is just the sort of cosmopolitan metropolis I love to ramble through. Hong Kong Disneyland is on Lantau Island, not far from the city, so I'd make the resort my home base, splitting my stay between the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and Disney's Hollywood Hotel. I'm sure I'd have plenty of meals on property, but the dining options at the resort aren't really turning my crank so I'd do a little research to find some fine dining downtown instead.

I fear I'd get bored at Hong Kong Disneyland rather quickly, especially as there are essentially no unique attractions, and I would have had plenty of time on these attractions during my earlier stops. But no matter! I've never had the chance to see Muppet Mobile Lab in person, and hopefully it would still be there.

Days 50-60: Disneyland Paris. Ahhh, I love Paris! And with the glorious city of lights just a 30 minute train ride away from Disneyland Paris, I'd check myself into the Disneyland Paris Hotel for my entire stay, booking a room overlooking Main Street USA. I'd run right down Main Street to visit the dragon's lair, under Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. I'd probably grab a meal at the Blue Lagoon (based on the Blue Bayou, but always makes me think of Brooke Shields unfortunately!), but the real dining attraction would be Walt's: An American Restaurant. I'd enjoy my favorite versions of both Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion (Phantom Manor), and take my first spin on Space Mountain: Mission 2 (unless, of course, I manage to ride that one first this summer, when I'm planning an actual trip and not just dreaming). At this point in the trip, I'm getting tired just thinking about all the jet lag and second languages to deal with! And I may have spent more time in Paris than any of the other cities on the itinerary, so while I'm sure I'd make my usual pilgrimage to La Tour Eiffel and Centre Pompideau, I'll bet that some days I'd just pamper myself at the Disneyland Hotel's Celestia Spa. And before I knew it, it would be time for the final lap:

Days 61-68: Walt Disney World. What, only 7 days in Orlando, what with its four theme parks as opposed to everybody else's one or two? But yes. Many of the attractions are practically identical from park to park worldwide, and I'm sure I would have had a chance to get my picture with any character I'd hoped for at this point. And hey, after two months on the road I'm sure I'd be looking forward to seeing my own bed again! But I'd still spend this last week with the Mouse, checking into Concierge level at the Contemporary, and walking right down the middle of Main Street USA to begin my visit. A couple meals at Chef Mickeys, Le Cellier, Sci Fi Dine In, and Victoria and Alberts would help me unwind after my global journey; I'm sure I'd especially appreciate every menu being primarily in my first language.

I can only imagine what it would be like to check out of the Contemporary on the last day of my trip, and head back home with my laundry and copious souvenirs. And, I'm sure, my next trip already booked. You know, I've still never been on a Disney Cruise.