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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Disney World - Trip Log - Day 7

It was day 7 here at Disney World and our last day at the Walt Disney World Parks here in Orlando, Florida. There is not too much to report from the theme parks. We visited both Disney-MGM Studios and Epcot Center again to experience some of the attractions one last time before our flight departed this afternoon.

Just before we headed to the parks, we checked out of our rooms and went to the main depot to check-in for our airlines and stow our luggage. This was a VERY convenient way to get checked in and receive our boarding passes for our flight. Kudos to Disney for this setup -- it's great!

On the other side, the real story was with our trip back, and specifically with Disney's Magical Express, which is the Mears shuttle system. Let's just put it this way -- it was less than Magical. Disney has what they consider to be a "great" reservations system. Basically you are supposed to call 24-48 hours before your departure to make a reservation. You even receive this snazzy piece of paper that is supposedly your reservation for the trip. But, that's actually not the case.

When we arrived at the depot of the Caribbean Beach Hotel around 2:55pm (our reservation was for 4:00pm), there was a small line for the next Mears shuttle bus. We jumped in line with a few other folks only to quickly be made aware that the line was a "first come, first serve" line and our reservations were nothing more than something to keep the Magical Express aware of how many people were needing to go to the airport.

At first, we thought that was a good situation for us and we would get to the airport earlier than expected. The first Magical Express Shuttle arrived at 3:00pm almost full, so the first couple of people at the front of the line were able to get on and head to the Orlando airport. Things went quickly downhill from there.

First 3:30pm passed and no shuttle came. Next it was 4:00 and still no Magical Express. The bell and luggage desk seemed to pay little attention to the situation as now more than 100 people were waiting outside with their luggage trying to get the airport. At first, the bell desk and staff were relatively non-concerned. Then as we and the rest of crowd became more insistent that there was a problem, the finally called the folks at Mears. This was probably the most disappointing thing, that Disney Cast Members were not aware of the situation and initially did not understand that there was a problem.

Finally, a bus showed up at 4:45pm. We were lucky enough to get on and make it to the airport with enough time. Others were not so lucky. The lady and her daughter sitting next to missed their flight by the time we arrived at the airport. Since the departure was pretty late in the evening, it was possible that they were going to have to spend the evening in the airport or have to find another option. I hope in the end, Disney did something to make it up for them, as they likely would have to pay a ticket change fee to board a later flight.

Once we arrived at the airport, we headed down to our gate for United. Just a side note, that section of the Orlando airport is getting pretty run down. Hopefully some remodeling is due soon! The flight home luckily, was uneventful.

Read the rest of our trip log for all the details: