I've been lurking here for about a year and I have really learned a lot! Thank you for sharing your collective wealth of knowledge. It has been invaluable in planning our trip.
A little background: in 2008 I had a chance to go to London in late November, but was hesitant because I didn't want to miss Thanksgiving and my oldest son's birthday. The solution my wife and I came up with was to bring him along. From the moment that decision was made the focus of the trip became giving our son an educational and very fun experience that would expand his horizons, let us do some dad/son bonding and basically create some lifelong memories. Let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions we ever made and the best money we ever spent. We added a few days in France to the end of the trip. My son knew we were going to Paris, but didn't know the whole story. On our last night in London my wife, via video-chat from back home, clued him in that he and I were going to Disneyland Paris. She got to see the look on his face as the news sank in. Needless to say, he was a happy camper. Meanwhile, back at home, our other two kids just assumed they too would get a one-on-one trip of a lifetime and started planning where they would go. We had created a monster (but don't regret it one bit).
Fast forward to today and I'm working away on the trip my second-oldest son and I will take in a few short weeks. It's worth saying again how helpful your experience has been in pulling this all together. Here's the rundown on the TDR portion of the trip:
Tuesday, July 29 8:00 PM, arrive in Narita from Cairns, Australia via Jetstar. We're going to immediately head to the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay so we can get an early start the next morning. We check-out on Saturday, July 3rd for a few days in Tokyo proper before heading back to the States. So, that gives us three full days at the parks, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday. We'll probably hit a park Saturday morning too before we check-out even though I've learned it can be crazily crowded. It promises to be a good time.
So many questions...... I'd appreciate any help you can offer.
Since we're arriving so late we will have missed the TDR Limo Bus. The trip from the airport to the Sheraton has been the aspect of the trip I have been most concerned about. If I was by myself it would be no big deal, but with a ten year old in tow, at night, after an 8 hour flight, with luggage, not speaking the language, in a country I haven't been before.....well, it kinda ratchets up the potential stress factor. I'm sure it will turn out to be a positive adventure to my son rather than an ordeal, but I just want to be prepared as possible.
I see 3 possibilities: taxi (big bucks), limo bus/taxi combination, train.
If we take the train to TDR it seems that TDLFAN's route (Keisei Skyliner / Limited Express to Funabashi - JR yellow train to Nishi-Funabashi - Musashino Line to Maihama) might be best bet. But I haven't been able to figure out a couple things. I have been pouring over timetables, wikis, trip reports etc.but I still need some help.
Is it true that the Keisei Evening liner doesn't stop at Funabashi Station? Also, I've seen timetables which show the Keisei Skyliner departing NRT as late as 2200 hrs. Wouldn't this make it an EveningLiner? I guess what I need to know is: at the late hour we will be traveling (2100 - 2200 hrs.) should I avoid the Keisei Skyliner and/or EveningLiner and take the Keisei Limited Express to ensure reaching Funabashi Station? Might the late hour also affect connections on JR or Musashino legs?
If we end up going all the way into Tokyo Station I have a question about the Tunnel of Doom that's commented on so much. Just how long is it? Timewise, I've heard ranges from ten to twenty minutes to walk its length. Of course, people walk at different speeds, but how long would you estimate it might take healthy folks walking at a leisurely pace each with one piece of good rolling luggage? Could someone try to give a rough guess of its length?
I've read there are limo buses to other hotels not too far from TDR that run late into the night. What do you think of taking one of those buses and then taking a taxi to Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay? Do you recommend any particular hotel route?
Is the monorail free for guests of the Sheraton Grande? If so, is it still free for awhile after we checkout - in order to get to Maihama station?
Maybe I'm operating from a stereotype, but do longer work days translate to rush hour times different than the USA? I see rush hour as roughly 7-9 am and 4-6 pm. Would you say this is also the case in Japan? It might make a difference as to when we travel around town.
I've seen conflicting info regarding fastpasses. Can they still be used after the return time printed on the fastpass as in WDW?
Where can I find more info about the show lottery? Is it similar to WDW where you use your passport in a machine to get a fastpass for a show?
We're looking at getting a 4 day passport. I understand that we must go to one park the first day and the other park the next day and parkhop on days 3 and 4. Do I have to specify which parks we intend to go to on which days when I purchase the passports?
Generally speaking, would you say the parks are significantly less crowded in the evenings?
So, there it is. I've gone from not knowing what to ask to having a million questions to having this bunch. That's progress isn't it?