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Old 10-13-2018, 08:31 AM   #1
PrincessSharon
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#ParkGoals

#ParkGoals
An Adventures By Disney Trip Report

Enchanted China, October 18 Ė November 4, 2018

I couldnít decide how to begin, so I guess Iíll (re)introduce myself first. Hi Iím Sharon. You can find more details about why Iíve been away in my Hello again post. I am a huge fan of Disney, especially the Disney parks, and itís my goal to visit every Disney Resort around the world. #ParkGoals

So the origin of this trip was way back in March of 2017. I got my Passholder newsletter email from Disney and it talked about a Passholder-exclusive Adventures By Disney trip to China with a custom itinerary that included days at Disneyland in California at the start of the Adventure. I checked out the itinerary and though it missed some things on the regular itinerary, it included some fun stuff not on the regular itinerary. I was ready to book it immediately! But there was one problem: it was in June of 2017 (I think Ė itís been a while ). Not only would that give me very little time to prepare, it was also the absolute worst time for me to be out of the office. But the seed had been planted.

A month or so later, I got another email from Disney, this time it was for a contest to win the ABD. I entered and didnít win but I figured that was the universeís way of telling me that I needed to make this trip happen and apparently, I had to pay my own way Ė darn you, universe!

So now itís May, 2017, and Disney announces the dates for the 2018 Adventures. I decided on October for a couple of reasons. First, the weather in October in China (Hong Kong in particular) is far more comfortable in October. Second, October is a good time for me to be out of the office for the length of time Iíd need for this trip. I decided on an Adults Only trip that happened to be the last one of the season.

I contacted my wonderful travel agent Megan and let her know what I wanted to book. I was surprised to find out that booking was already open for Adventure Insiders (those whoíve done ABD before) a day before it opened up to everyone. Like Disney Cruise Line, ABD trips are always cheapest right when booking opens. In fact, the trip I was taking could go up as much as $2,000 per person depending on how close you book to departure date. Yay for planning ahead!

Because I was paying my deposit with my Disney Savings Account, I needed to call it in myself. Meg had already done most of the work, I just needed to let the agent know a few details and it was official. I was going to China! And only 522 days to go. Thatís too many

So now that I brought it up, Iíll talk about the Disney Savings Account. I opened an account shortly after it was introduced. It seemed like a fun way to save for a Disney trip. The details are fuzzy now, but you set a goal and your travel date, and it works out how much you need to put in every couple of weeks. Then, when itís time for your trip, you use it to pay and you get a $20 Disney gift card for every $1,000 you use to pay for your Disney trip. Anyway, Disney ended the program last summer, and when they did so, they gave you an extra 5% of your balance on top of what you were supposed to get. So even though I wasnít able to get to my goal because it ended early, I ended up with more of a total bonus than if it hadnít gone under. I then just moved my bi-weekly deposits to my boring old, non-Disney savings account.

With the booking taken care of, it was time to start planning. The FAQ for this trip on the ABD site was actually quite helpful, and the reading list they provide was great. However, because a lot of the information I wanted wasnít available in one handy guidebook, I had to resort to new research methods. Two resources I hadnít ever used for trip planning before but I found very helpful were Pinterest and YouTube. Seriously, Pinterest is an incredible vacation-planning tool, and I have to thank my BFF Samantha Brown for suggesting it as such. Lots of good tips and tricks there. YouTube is a great source too, with vlogs from people around the world actually experiencing the Disney parks (all around the world). Although they are thorough, they are often more spoiler-laden than I wanted, so I sometimes watched with my eyes covered. But theyíre sort of how all the young kids are doing trip reports nowadays.

As far as websites go, Trip Advisor is always handy, but I was interested in information specifically about the Disney Parks. The English-language official Disney websites for both resorts were pretty good (very similar to the US ones). I also found TDR Explorer very helpful. It began its life as a site concentrating on the Tokyo Disney Resort, but now Chris, the owner, makes frequent trips to both HKDL and SDL so itís chock-full of good information.

I did purchase a new guidebook to help me with my general planning. I ended up choosing the DK one, because I love all the photos, and hey, thatís what all my other guidebooks are!

There were some personal issues that I needed to address. My passport was due to expire in September 2017, so I took care of renewing that right away. I think it took about 9 days total. I was nervous about sending the old one in and being passport-less for a little while. Because what would I do if some handsome, rich guy suddenly wanted to whisk me away in his private jet to a quaint little cafť in Paris for lunch? It happens to people all the time! On television Luckily, that didnít happen to me. Wait. I guess itís not so lucky, really.

When you travel to mainland China, you need to get a tourist visa. I was happy be a New Yorker, where I could apply in person. You need to have your travel arrangements booked when you apply for the visa (flights and hotels). In researching the process, I heard horror stories about folks being denied the visa for reasons like wearing glasses or your ears not showing in the photo, so I was a bit nervous about it when I finally went to get mine.

One Tuesday this summer, I went to the Chinese Consulate here in NYC (which I had romanticized in my head as a chic, fancy place filled with thousands-of-years-old Chinese art, but turned out to be more like the Chinese version of the DMV!). I presented my application, hotel and flight bookings (ABD sent me this) and passport to an agent who checked everything over. Iíd forgotten that I needed a copy of my passport as well as the original, so she sent me to the copy machine that was conveniently located in the corner (there was also a photo booth available, but Iíd gotten mine done at AAA ahead of time and my photo met their strict standards). Copy in hand, I returned to the agent, got a number and when it came up, I headed to window 3 as the sign directed.

I handed over my application and passport and this agent quickly looked everything over and told me ďItíll be ready on Friday.Ē Remember, itís Tuesday. I didnít feel as nervous being without my passport because I figured that the handsome rich guy could wait until the weekend to whisk me away. That was it. It was so easy, I thought something was sure to go wrong when I went to pick it up, but nothing did! The visa is good for 10 years (or until my passport expires). Which means a return trip will be that much easier.

There are several things Iíll have to deal with that, for me (and most Americans, I think) are outside the norm. Letís just say Iím glad I did my research ahead of time, so I could prepare in advance! First, the bathrooms in China have squat toilets. Itís basically a hole in the floor. Go ahead and Google it, Iíll wait. Some bathrooms will also have western toilets in addition to the squat toilets, but you canít count on it. Another thing to consider is that China seems to be a B.Y.O.T.P. country. Toilet paper is often not provided, and when it is, you often have to grab some from a large community roll before entering the stall. So I purchased a few portable rolls to carry with me (as well as sanitizing wipes) just in case.

This is one of the many, many reasons Iím happy to be traveling with ABD, because they already know where the western toilets are, and I know theyíve already worked them into our itinerary. I kind of feel like I maybe need to use the squat toilet once, just as an adventure so stay tuned to see if that happens.

Another thing to consider is the Great Firewall of China. Many of the websites we use everyday like Facebook (which I donít use), Instagram (which I do use), Google (and associated things like Gmail, Google maps, Google translate, etc.) and YouTube are all blocked in mainland China! Iím mostly ok with being ďoff the gridĒ for a couple of weeks, but I do hope to share photos and Instagram stories, so Iím considering either buying a SIM card in Hong Kong (which would work in mainland China without firewall issues) or using a VPN. I do have an international phone plan (Verizon), but Iíve heard conflicting reports about whether or not my access will be blocked.

Another challenge to be faced is the pollution. Sometimes the air quality is so poor that even the locals wear masks. So Iíve bought some at the Dollar Tree. Then I checked Amazon and they had some super cute ones, so I might actually buy those too! The tap water isnít safe for consumption either. Fortunately, bottled water is plentiful, and most hotels will provide you with a couple of bottles every day. They even recommend you use it to brush your teeth. This is another area where ABD guides will be stars Ė they always provide all the bottled water you need throughout the day.

The bulk of the TR will be in the Globetrotting forum, but it will begin in the Disneyland forum. Donít worry, Iíll always post links so you wonít get lost.

Up next: The Enchanted Itinerary
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Old 10-13-2018, 09:06 AM   #2
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This sounds like a wonderful trip. I can't wait to read all about it.
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Old 10-13-2018, 10:20 AM   #3
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I am so excited to read another Princess Sharon trip report and exceedingly happy to see you back here on PP.
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Old 10-13-2018, 10:34 AM   #4
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So jealous! I'm still hoping we get to China next November, but I'm not sure if our plans will work out at this stage...

I've seen the squat toilets before, although I don't remember where. I want to say Japan maybe or Hong Kong? You have to at least see one, even if you don't use it (I drew the line at that!) Good to know about the toilet paper... I'll store that bit of useful information away!
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Old 10-13-2018, 12:36 PM   #5
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Oh my goodness, this made my day to pop in here and see a PTR from you! Iíve missed your warm, funny, detailed TRs! This trip sounds absolutely amazing! (Although I canít believe that youíre moving the day you come back from this trip! )


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Old 10-13-2018, 01:36 PM   #6
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I'm so excited for another PSha TR!!! But for it to be to CHINA....whoa! Jackpot! Can't wait to hear all about it! And also your ABD experiences as well as we are looking at possibly doing one in 2020.
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Old 10-13-2018, 02:11 PM   #7
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Sounds like the makings of a great adventure! At least your organized and know what to expect when you arrive there. Glad the Visa application process worked out for you. Probably good you're on an ABD trip with the sanitary issues that are involved and might not be pleasant if you were going on your own.
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Old 10-13-2018, 04:12 PM   #8
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Great start, glad you were able to get the visa and passport back before you are whisked away to Paris.
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Old 10-13-2018, 07:17 PM   #9
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Great start to what should be a great adventure. Even more adventurous when you add in the toilet situation.
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Old 10-13-2018, 09:19 PM   #10
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Sounds like things are going smoothly with pre-trip prep.
Just to let you know, I think squatty-potties are vastly superior to Western ones. Without getting in to too much detail, I don’t like ....touching anything to public toilets. With the Chinese ones, you don’t touch anything. As long as you get the hang of how to bend your knees, you’ll be fine. Just make sure to check the bend in your knees as it relates to your pants. My daughter, who was 7 yrs old at the time, misjudged, and we’ll just say she needed time to dry....
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Old 10-13-2018, 11:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by cubfancolleen View Post
Sounds like things are going smoothly with pre-trip prep.
Just to let you know, I think squatty-potties are vastly superior to Western ones. Without getting in to too much detail, I donít like ....touching anything to public toilets. With the Chinese ones, you donít touch anything. As long as you get the hang of how to bend your knees, youíll be fine. Just make sure to check the bend in your knees as it relates to your pants. My daughter, who was 7 yrs old at the time, misjudged, and weíll just say she needed time to dry....

This is getting quite detailed and perhaps TMI regarding the toilet situation in China! But it's quite funny as how else to describe it! I'm sort of laughing about this inside as don't expect this on this site, but how else to cover this? But, I think you've covered it well!


I can certainly say I'm glad I don't have to deal with situations like this in the USA! In a lot of ways China is still a third world nation. I'm guessing it's not just in the rural areas with something like this and probably in places like Beijing, Shanghai and perhaps Hong Kong. Kind of surprised me hearing about this in developed cities like this. But, Hong Kong not as likely. I've had friends who have visited China and have liked it for the most part but there are some odd things they have experienced. Will share if interested.
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Old 10-14-2018, 08:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by cubfancolleen View Post
Sounds like things are going smoothly with pre-trip prep.
Just to let you know, I think squatty-potties are vastly superior to Western ones. Without getting in to too much detail, I donít like ....touching anything to public toilets. With the Chinese ones, you donít touch anything. As long as you get the hang of how to bend your knees, youíll be fine. Just make sure to check the bend in your knees as it relates to your pants. My daughter, who was 7 yrs old at the time, misjudged, and weíll just say she needed time to dry....
It would be something I could not do with my bad knees and hips.
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Old 10-14-2018, 08:39 AM   #13
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In a lot of ways China is still a third world nation. I'm guessing it's not just in the rural areas with something like this and probably in places like Beijing, Shanghai and perhaps Hong Kong. :
I would definitely have to say it would be a huge mistake to describe China as third world. Iíve been at least 6 times, spending two weeks or more each trip. Iíve traveled to many different places within China.
Not to get into too much (again) on the toilets, they are probably not what youíre imagining. They are ceramic, just like ours, in most places, and flush, just like ours. Itís just the way you approach them thatís different. And many places do have Western ones.
Chinaís culture is thousands of years old, too, making them in some ways well beyond Western civilizations.
OK, off my soap box now.
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Old 10-14-2018, 12:32 PM   #14
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I would definitely have to say it would be a huge mistake to describe China as third world. Iíve been at least 6 times, spending two weeks or more each trip. Iíve traveled to many different places within China.
Not to get into too much (again) on the toilets, they are probably not what youíre imagining. They are ceramic, just like ours, in most places, and flush, just like ours. Itís just the way you approach them thatís different. And many places do have Western ones.
Chinaís culture is thousands of years old, too, making them in some ways well beyond Western civilizations.
OK, off my soap box now.

No problem. This makes more sense now as I had a different idea about them as you said.
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Old 10-14-2018, 03:33 PM   #15
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for reading, everyone!

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This sounds like a wonderful trip. I can't wait to read all about it.
I'm so excited about it I could burst!

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I am so excited to read another Princess Sharon trip report and exceedingly happy to see you back here on PP.
Thanks!

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So jealous! I'm still hoping we get to China next November, but I'm not sure if our plans will work out at this stage...

I've seen the squat toilets before, although I don't remember where. I want to say Japan maybe or Hong Kong? You have to at least see one, even if you don't use it (I drew the line at that!) Good to know about the toilet paper... I'll store that bit of useful information away!
Well, if next November doesn't work out...

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Oh my goodness, this made my day to pop in here and see a PTR from you! Iíve missed your warm, funny, detailed TRs! This trip sounds absolutely amazing! (Although I canít believe that youíre moving the day you come back from this trip! )


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Thanks! I can't believe I decided to move that day either, but with just a few days to go, everything's done or at least will be! I've packed up what I need to and the movers will do the hard work.

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I'm so excited for another PSha TR!!! But for it to be to CHINA....whoa! Jackpot! Can't wait to hear all about it! And also your ABD experiences as well as we are looking at possibly doing one in 2020.
Oh my goodness, I can do a commercial for ABD! This will be my 5th and I've loved every one so much!

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Sounds like the makings of a great adventure! At least your organized and know what to expect when you arrive there. Glad the Visa application process worked out for you. Probably good you're on an ABD trip with the sanitary issues that are involved and might not be pleasant if you were going on your own.
That's why it's so important to research a destination so you know what to expect.

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Great start, glad you were able to get the visa and passport back before you are whisked away to Paris.


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Great start to what should be a great adventure. Even more adventurous when you add in the toilet situation.


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Sounds like things are going smoothly with pre-trip prep.
Just to let you know, I think squatty-potties are vastly superior to Western ones. Without getting in to too much detail, I donít like ....touching anything to public toilets. With the Chinese ones, you donít touch anything. As long as you get the hang of how to bend your knees, youíll be fine. Just make sure to check the bend in your knees as it relates to your pants. My daughter, who was 7 yrs old at the time, misjudged, and weíll just say she needed time to dry....
Having done the "hover" move before myself, I know what you mean.
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