Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Home at last!

     Our last day of vacation was OK.  It started out really well.  I was up bright and early and I headed out alone (while everyone else was still asleep) to find myself some breakfast and figure out what we needed to do and where we needed to go to get all ready for our plane ride home.  Not surprisingly Disney works hard to make our airport experience as painless as possible too.  Our final bill was hanging on door so we had no need to check out.  Our boarding passes and luggage tags were also waiting on the door knob as well.  We were thrilled and amazed to find that we had A and B boarding passes for Southwest (for those of you who don't fly, Southwest does not have assigned seats but they have A boarding,  family boarding [for people travelling with kids under age 4], B boarding and a C boarding group-- They board in that order and as the plane fills up you have fewer and fewer seats together to choose from).  We typically end up in the end of the b or early c group and are some of the last people on the plane so we never get to sit together.  We were thrilled to realize we would be able to sit near enough to talk to one another.  Disney has free transportation to the airport from the hotel also and they make sure to pick you up three hours prior to your flight so you have plenty time to get settled in the airport before your departure and we had our bus assignment all printed out for us too.   We were actually getting picked up just shy of three hours ahead of time but I figured the parks and resorts weren't that crowded so we probably wouldn't encounter enormous lines at the airport either. Once I scouted around and found where we drop our luggage, I headed back to our room and found the boys were all awake.   We quickly packed up all suitcases and everything from the room and headed to drop off our bags.  Bell services will gladly hold our carry- on bags for the day so we can still tour a park or two while waiting for our 2:00 bus time.  It's great that Disney thinks of everything!  We quickly ate breakfast and decided to split up.  Ian really wanted to try and get back into the Animal Kingdom and ride Dinosaur since it broke down on him the other day and Evan and Alec really wanted to head back to the Magic Kingdom and ride the Barnstormer and Thunder Mountain again. 
     My mother in law and I headed into the Magic Kingdom and we were just amazed that once again the crowds had thinned out and we had no wait times for any rides.  We hopped on the train on Main Street and rode around to Frontierland to ride Thunder Mountain.  From there we hopped back on the train and rode around to Fantasyland where we hopped right onto the Barnstormer.  Alec really wanted to ride by himself and he really wanted to sit in the back of the roller coaster.  He asked the ride attendant very politely and she was happy to accommodate him.  I talked the boys into riding Dumbo and they were very excited to see how it had been redesigned.  The ride itself has water fountains and bright colors and inside the waiting area are some games and toys for little ones.   After Dumbo we did a bit of shopping and learned that Ian and my husband were done at the Animal Kingdom and heading to meet us at the Magic Kingdom.  The boys just wanted to ride the tea cups, but since I knew Ian wanted to ride them too we decided to wait.  We got back on the train and headed around to Frontierland again where we sat to watch the Country Bear Jamboree.  It was a cute show and the boys had never wanted to stop and watch it before.  I said the magic words "air conditioning" and they were all for it this trip.  I think they enjoyed it even if I'm not sure they got most of the jokes.  We headed to the tea cups when we were done and found that Ian was already on the ride (so much for waiting!) so we headed into line and rode next.  We all picked one last ride and got ready to head back to our hotel.  Ian rode Space Mountain while the younger boys rode Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger ride.
      On our way to eat lunch and exit the park we encountered Push the talking trash can.  I have read about Push and we were excited to see and meet him.  We stopped to listen and laugh.  I love those delightful and unexpected experiences you often run into at Disney.  It just sort of adds to the magic.  We stopped around 12:30 to get lunch and by the time we sat to ate it was almost 1!   I really wanted to be leaving the park by 1 so we had enough time to get around Walt Disney world and be waiting at the bus stop on- time.  I quickly realized that we were running late and so I started getting nervous.  The boys picked up on it too and they started getting nervous.    We quickly finished eating and got to our bus line as soon as we could.  For once, our bus was not there right away and we had to wait.  We didn't wait long, but I was getting even more nervous...  we had less than an hour before the magical express bus was picking us up and we still had to get our carry- on bags.  We got on our bus and pretty much anything that could slow us down, did slow us down.  We ran from our bus stop to bell services and made it before the Magical Express showed  up.  Phew!  We breathed a huge sigh of relief.  We were going to make it to the airport on time.... 







Alec is really starting to enjoy riding the rides alone




I know it looks like a regular trash can but it "walks"
and talks.... so fun!

        







      The magical express bus showed up and they were just about filled so the driver did not have room for all 6 of us plus the other assorted couples waiting to board.  Here's where I felt our day really started to take a nose dive.   Rather than check flight times to see who had the later flight or ask any questions of any kind the driver told us that since we were the largest group we should stay behind and wait for the other bus that way he could take all the other adults with him.  Do these people not realize how hard it is to corral three kids through the airport and security?  Did this bus driver not realize that by waiting another 30 minutes for another bus we might miss our flight since we were now going to be picked up only 2 hours prior to flight time?  How can a scheduled bus and bus stop not have enough seats?!  I was getting angry and I was getting nervous.  We pay more money for a direct flight.  My boys HATE to fly and direct flights make it slightly less painful.  If we missed our flight and got bumped to stand-by there was no way we were all making it onto the same flight and no way we'd make it onto a direct flight.  I was livid and already composing my letter to Disney in my head.  I know there isn't much they can do to make it right after the fact but I always try to share the good and the bad points of our vacation with them anyway so they can improve for the future.   The driver promised to call and see if he could get another bus to pick us up earlier but we settled in to wait the 30 minutes.  The boys started bickering, tensions were high and our magical vacation was obviously over.  I questioned what would happen if the next bus didn't have room.  Wouldn't we then be screwing up someone else's day?  Yes.  Yes we did.  Our bus driver did radio in and they did find us another bus, one that was done picking up passengers and that was ready to head to the airport.  They had to make an unscheduled stop to pick us up.  There were seats left, but none next to one another.  Evan freaked at sitting next to a stranger and people offered to move.  I felt awful!  Once we were settled, the bus headed on their way.  It's a 30-40 min. ride to the airport.  I think I watched every minute tick by on the clock. 
      Once at the airport we headed right to the security check in.  We had boarding passes and ID ready and the signs told us we'd have a 15 min. wait for security.  Once again I'm relaxing thinking we've got this.  Our flight isn't for another hour or so.  Security will take 15-20 min. tops and we'll head out to our plane.  Fine.  While it is chaotic to get the whole family through security we've never had a problem.  Usually we manage to find some nice, friendly agents that we talk to and work with.. not this time!   Perhaps this isn't P/C but today I'm using my blog to rant and rave about airport security.  Don't get me wrong I have no problem with having airport security.  I totally understand why they're there and I feel bad if I end up making their day worse (like the time we forgot we had a water bottle in the bottom of the bag!  Though even that agent smiled when we apologized and she offered to escort us out so we could finish drinking it or throw it away for us).  We fly enough that I know most of the general procedures but I'm certainly no expert.   I don't  have a problem with their policies even if some seem over the top to me... (did you know cheap plastic toy weapons are treated like real weapons??  We didn't-- until we tried to get the toy one we bought in the morning through)!  Had we bought it sooner in the trip it would def. have gone into our checked luggage but I didn't think it would be an issue.  Yes, I know on the scan it would look like a gun and they'd have to open the bag to check it over but really you threaten to throw it away?!  C'mon!  It's plastic, lights up and weighs less than an ounce.  I couldn't turn it into a weapon it I threw it at someone! Even so I would not have had a problem with them wanting to get rid of the toy gun for us.  
      But I do have a problem with the attitude of many people working as airport security-- in particular the agents we encountered yesterday.   I'm sure it's not an easy job, it's certainly got to be a thankless job, but please do not treat me like dog poo that is stuck to the bottom of your shoe!   It is your job, you chose this line of work and continue to choose it everyday.  If you hate people and hate your job-- QUIT!  Don't take it out on everyone you see.  We had four different groups of people stopped, all of us commiserating and complaining.  Sure some of it was about the actual policies but mostly it was about how we were being treated.  Sorry I didn't know that a cheap, lightweight, light up plastic toy gun was considered contraband and could be confiscated.   Sorry I did not know that Laptops must go in the bin with NOTHING else (since we were told to put our shoes in with the laptop last week in Providence).  Sorry, I did not know that treating people with respect (as all their boards pledge and promise to do) meant speaking to me s- l- o- w- l- y while rolling your eyes and sighing.  I do not need a lecture.  I do not need to her derision dripping off of every word coming out of your mouth.  Sorry I didn't know that respect meant saying to your fellow agent loud enough for me to hear  "oh there's nothing wrong with the bags but I'm holding them here anyway since it says we can if they don't follow procedure."  Sorry I was on vacation and didn't keep up with the news.  Sorry I had no idea that the Sh@# had hit the fan while I was riding on Splash Mountain and security had heightened once again.   My kids were getting very nervous.   I could see the vein throbbing in my husband's neck (the poor guy who owns the laptop and offered to put the toy in his carry- on since he was the only one with any room in it).   I was starting to worry, once again, that we were going to miss our flight.  We finally made it through security, with all of our luggage (toy included).  And we made it to our plane early enough that we were all able to go to the bathroom and get a drink.  We boarded with the "b" group and all sat together.  The flight was smooth and the boys were quiet-- it was smooth sailing for the rest of the day.  Phew!  What a learning experience for all of us. 
      
        

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