Started my last morning at WDW off with the normal routine of packing up then checking in the luggage with the airline check in and other bags with Bell Services. Was at the Boardwalk bus stop about 9:10am but the bus to Animal Kingdom did not show up until 9:45am so I did not reach the park until after 10am. Walked through Discovery Island seeing some new puppets and then headed out to Pandora for a Flight of Passage FastPass. Continued on to Africa and used a FastPass+ for the Safari. Once back walked through the Tree of Life Garden and into Dinoland USA for lunch. Looked through the to-do list and everything was done and it was not raining yet so we decided to take a bus to the Contemporary then Monorail to TTC and onto Epcot. This took longer than planned so decided to skip more transportation and instead walk through Epcot back to the International Gateway where we caught a Friendship boat back to the Boardwalk. Picked up our carryons and changed. We were slightly ahead of schedule now so went out early and boarded an earlier Magical Express bus to the airport. At the airport stopped by the food court then the Disney Store before heading through security and out to the gate to wait. The plane was there, the flight crew showed up by no flight attendants.. they were on an inbound flight that was late. Boarded late and left the gate almost 30 minutes late. Then we got in line to take off, we were number 23, and had to wait.. and wait.. then move to the other side of the airport and wait. Finally at 9pm we were rolling down the runway, over 2 hours late. Arrived at LAX a after 11pm and made it back to our car by midnight and home just after 1am.
Thoughts & Observations:
- The Airline Check in Process is always slow for us. Not sure why but there always seems to be a challenge for them to process our boarding passes and bags. There was no one there and it still took us 20 minutes. It is still so much better than having to deal with bags and going to the airport so it is worth it.
- I always forget that when you leave the Boardwalk you check your carryons outside at the Valet booth and not inside at Bell Services. The process was quick and no problems at drop off or later when we picked them up.
- Overall this trip we had pretty good luck with the buses and timing. This ended this morning heading to Animal Kingdom. We walked up at 9:12am and it showed a 9:33 eta.. so a solid 20 minutes and there was no sign of a bus so longer for those already waiting. The bus showed up after 9:40 and we were finally seated at 9:46am and it was a full bus by this time. We disembarked at the Animal Kingdom at 10am. So it was about 50 minutes travel time this morning. For a morning trip to the park this seemed extremely long. While waiting we saw several buses to other destinations.
- I had gotten Flight of Passage FastPass+ and most of the group opted not to ride, instead wanting to relax in the park. I choose to ride. The standby wait time was posted at 3 hours when I entered the FastPass+ return queue. I was able to walk right up and was put into a boarding group with only a slight pause to tell the cast member my party size. So it could not have moved any faster for me. My total time from entering the queue until the exit gift shop was still around 30 minutes. It is not a quick experience. I have now experienced it a number of times and I think it is an ok attraction but not worth the insane stand by lines. As I have mentioned before I think my issue with it is the pre-show is not engaging to me and seems to drag. Then the ride itself is just ok. The tech is cool but watching a giant computer generated world just doesn't suck me into the story.
- I had another FastPass+ for Kilimanjaro Safari so headed there next. The FastPass return was backed up and wrapping in one of the former stroller parking areas. Even this long looking line moved quickly and we were waiting to board a truck in around 10 minutes. The poor standby line was stopped and not really moving as they tried to clear the FastPass backlog. The ride itself was a mixed bag today. Our driver was not very entertaining.. he was actually yawning throughout the trip. We did get to see a lot of animals moving around the savanna and in other spots. The elephants were not very close or active though.
- After lunch decided to pay a final visit to Epcot to see the status of the park today. Took a bus to the Contemporary since it was there as we walked out and then a Monorail to the TTC to transfer to the Epcot line. Epcot is becoming a large construction zone with more projects getting underway soon too. There are new walkways and driveways being built to accommodate this and I think it is really interesting to see this and curious how the final park will be.
- Thought about a final Skyliner trip as I walked by it at the International Gateway. I had a little over an hour until my Magical Express bus time but with the threatening weather I decided not to risk the trip and instead took a Friendship boat back to the Boardwalk to wrap up the vacation.
- Since we were there early walked out and asked to board the earlier Magical Express bus. This turned out to be great. There was only one other group onboard with us and no other stops. So it was a quick ride to the airport. We have had fairly good luck with Magical Express over the years. The last couple though we have shifted and usually ask for an extra 30-45 min earlier departure though just to be sure.
- While en route to the airport looked around for lunch options. Learned the Chik-Fil-A at the airport does not support the app/mobile order. So defaulted back to McDonalds which does support the app as well as deals. I had a mobile deal of 40% off a Big Mac or 10 Nuggets.. hard to pass that deal up.
- I lucked out and had TSA pre-check for the flight which saved me quite a bit of time. The regular TSA line was 20-30 min, and the pre-check was almost no wait. Unfortunately we had some fudge in a bag and that triggered a hand check of the bag which took forever due to a backup at that station.
- When I arrived in the gate area I saw our plane was there already. I stupidly said out loud (and via tweet) this was a positive sign for an on time departure. As boarding time near the terminal became very crowded and flight delays started to stack up around us. Delta had several flights arriving and leaving within a few minutes of each other. This lead to a lot of congestion, confusion and frustration for many. Our boarding time approached and I saw the captains head for the plane. No flight attendants though. Just before scheduled boarding time they announced that our crew was on a delayed flight and not in yet. That flight showed up late and the crew came off that one and walked to the next gate and right onto our flight. We finally were able to board and pushed back from the gate about 30 minutes late. Still not too bad. We started to Taxi and just kept taxing.. over to the far side of the airport. As we approached I saw a line of planes and thought that was odd. We stopped and after several minutes the captain came on saying there are delays taking off because of the approaching storm and all planes needing to be at least 30 miles apart. We were number 23 to take off and he had no idea how long so was going to shut the engines off to save fuel so we would not have to go back and refuel and add to the delay. So we sat on the taxiway along with other planes and they slowly took off. It was almost 5 minutes between planes. The pilot came on after about an hour saying that the winds shifted and they are changing the airport and takeoffs will be on another runway going the opposite direction. So we were going to re-position. By this time the storm arrived and it was pouring, windy and lightning outside. We followed the line of planes around to the side of the airport passing the gate we left 90 minutes before and completing our circular tour of the airport. The pilot described the back up as there was only a single lane through the storm and planes were required to be far apart to use the lane. I was listening to a stream of the tower audio and it sounded very rainy and bumpy for some of the take offs. We eventually made it to be next. The storm had let up a bit and it was still raining but not as hard. The take off was relatively smooth and we stayed below the clouds were quite a while before making our way up to a cruising altitude. In the end it was nearly a 2 hour delay. Then when we reached LAX the winds there were opposite normal so we had to go out over the ocean and circle back to land adding more time. And the final delay was we pulled up near the gate and there was no one there to guide the plane in so we had to wait again!
- The good news was bags came off near the start and there was no delay in picking up a bus back to the parking lot we used. We arrived about 10 minutes before midnight so that saved us from another day of parking at least. Finally reached home around 1am after a very long travel day. I did find it funny that as I was going to bed I did a quick check of twitter and people were lining up for Rise of the Resistance (since it was nearing 5am in Orlando).
Pedometer Information for the day:
Addition Blog Picture Posts from today: