Finished some packing and made my way down to the bus stop a little after 7am. Arrived at Disney's Animal Kingdom a little before 8am and decided to take a leisurely stroll through the park and hop in line for Kilimanjaro Safari. At 8am the line started to move and I was onboard quickly. After my Safari wandered through Gorilla Falls then around the Tree of Life. Watched the Winged Encounter at 9:15am on Discovery Island and then caught the first set of puppets at 9:45 for the Merry Menagerie. Headed for the front of the park and the bus stops. There was a Yacht & Beach Club bus, but no sign of a Boardwalk one. Since I was early I opted to board the waiting bus. Disembarked at the Yacht Club and walked around the Boardwalk. Returned to the room to gather up all our bags and at 11am headed for the Magical Express stop. Our bus showed up at 11:15am as scheduled and we were off to MCO. Dropped the suitcases and then grabbed lunch at the food court. Security took about 20 minutes to get through. Stopped by the Delta Sky Lounge to wait for my flight. The flight left a little late but arrived early back at LAX. Picked up our bags, took a shuttle the parking garage, found the car and headed for home to wrap up this vacation.
Thoughts & Observations:
- Due to our flight being cancelled and being moved to an earlier one I had only a couple hours of park time today. I was up early and packed so I headed for the bus stop just after 7am. Animal Kingdom opened at 7:30 to resort guests so I was heading that way this morning. The bus times were long and pushed later as usual, but a bus showed up earlier than listed and I was at the Animal Kingdom around 7:40am.
- For the early morning 30 minutes most of the non animal based attractions were open, meaning the two in Pandora, Everest, and DinoLand. None of those were on my list so once I arrived I made my way out to Africa and joined the growing queue for Kilimanjaro Safari. Note for the early entry they had it set up where resort guests were directed to the left at the Oasis to be scanned and let in the park, everyone else to the right to wait.
- The Safari opened at 8am and I was on a truck by 8:06am. I had an average driver and not much to look at for most of the Safari. We were stopped on the main savanna for several minutes waiting for the cattle to cross the road. Too bad no other other animals were nearby to look at. There were no white rhinos or elephants out. We did spot four cheetah though.
- I took a walk through Gorilla Falls and it was really quite. The family group had not made their way out yet.
- Spent some time walking around the Tree of Life Garden enjoying the quiet morning.
- Watched the first Winged Encounter of the morning. Always fun to see the birds in flight. I wish they would post the times. The time schedule basically lists it all day long.
- I watched the Merry Menagerie start their day. Only 4 performers were in the first group out.
- As I approached the bus stop there was a bus there waiting. It was only going to the Yacht & Beach Club, there would be a separate one for the Boardwalk. Since I was early I decided to take that then walk around to the Boardwalk. At the Yacht Club I thought about taking the Friendship boat across but it was backed up due to EPCOT opening.
- One advantage of an earlier flight is we did not have to check our bags. Our Magical Express bus time was 11:15 so we stayed in the room until our 11am checkout time then headed down for the bus.
- I was a little disappointed our final Magical Express trip was on a standard Mears Bus. The bus was on time, about 1/3 full, and made no stops so those were all wins. We arrived at the airport earlier than we had planned with no problems at all. So over the the 16 years of Magical Express I used it almost 30 times without any major issues. Hopefully the next service will have as strong a track record for me.
- I really do miss the airline check in at the resort and the luggage service. It is a pain to gather it from the bus and take it upstairs to check in. Once we got off the elevator and approached the Delta area there was a lengthy queue. We found the Sky Priority check in and it worked out great! There was no wait and we were on our way in a couple minutes.
- Since we were ahead of schedule stopped for a meal in the food court. Learned the Chik-Fil-A does not use the official app. They had some other mobile ordering option but since it was a short wait we just went to the register.
- I choose poorly at the TSA checkpoint. There were only a couple people in each line. I ended up behind this older couple and they had a hard time finding their IDs. They kept handing the TSA agent a medical card or something. After a handful of failed attempts they dug out the proper cards. Meanwhile all the other lanes around me were whizzing by. The screening process was backed up too. They had two x-ray machines feeding a single scanner. So there was a delay.
- We had access to the Delta Sky Lounge which was not overly crowded so that was nice. The lounge views are not that good with the obstructed windows. They did have a buffet and snacks available.
- We drew a much better plane assignment going home than coming out. It was a 737-900 and in pretty good shape. The Dish TV feed kept freezing and having to be restarted.
- The weather going across the country looked less than ideal and they were anticipating a bumpy flight. Turned out the path they took heading so far south worked to avoid most of it. We hit a couple pockets of rough air but overall a decent flight. Even the landing they were expecting to be rough with a large headwind turned out to be good.
- It took about 30 minutes from landing until we were at the baggage claim due to the gate not being available. Then it took another 20 minutes for our suitcases to come out. In the end it took about 75 minutes from touch down until we were at our car in the garage. The bus showed up a couple minutes after we got to the curb. A minor hiccup that it said it was out of service (seems the driver did not know or care to change it). Other than that the LAX Economy parking experiment went really well. The car was good and no problems exiting.
- My total trip time from leaving my room a the Boardwalk until reaching home was about 12 hours today.
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