So now we’re all aboard the plane and we’re ready to go. I’m sitting in the front with Brody. It’s his first time flying and when I ask him if he’s excited, he gives me one of those 14 year old shrugs. But he can’t fool me! His eyes are wide open and I can see the smile on his face when he thinks I’m not looking. As the plane pulls away from the jet way thingy, he leans forward and looks out the window. And yup, his eyes are full of wonder and excitement.
I was a little disappointed that when they did the safety thing about where the exits are, don’t form a line for the restroom at the front of the plane and how to blow up your life vest, they didn’t sing it or rhyme it. I thought that was one of the benefits of flying Southwest. Sort of like a traveling air show. But the waitresses in the sky DID pass out peanuts, to which Brody replied “They really DO pass out peanuts! I thought it was just like a.. stereotype”. It was cute, he had no idea that peanuts are the main source of protein on flights these days. I insisted he make a trip to the restroom because everyone should pee in a plane at least once. I was sorry Barb wasn’t sitting with us to experience all his firsts.
So after the uneventful flight to Baltimore (no screaming babies… or adults, no highjacking, no one with a shoe bomb [Thank goodness they check all the shoes, huh?] and no plane crash, we land safely. I already know that I will get off the plane last but they come to tell me to wait to deplane so everyone else can get out .And of course get another chance to throw daggers at me.
So I wait and the plane empties out except for me and Brody. At least FIVE different airline people, including the pilot, come over to tell me my scooter will be here in just a minute. I’m perfectly patient, knowing what a pain in the ass it must be for them to have to bring it up. After a few minutes, the sky waitresses for the next flight come on board as does the pilot and co-pilot. Now I’m starting to get nervous. I don’t know where this plane is headed but I don’t want to go there! Finally, fifty-three people tell me the scooter has arrived! Have you ever had SO MUCH customer service that you just want to scream at them? Maybe it’s just Massachusetts people but I have no patience for that. For three and four and five people coming over and being sickly sweet and telling me the same thing. Yes, yes, I know the scooter is here – do you see me trying to get up? Sigh.
So I get onto the scooter and scoot up the ramp… only to be met by 100+ people who have been standing in line waiting to board the plane but couldn’t because once again, the fat lady in the scooter needed to perform her one lady parade. Again, I’ve caused a plane full of people to hate me. Lovely, just lovely. Can anyone guess what happens next? Yep… We get to our gate for the connecting flight to Orlando and guess who they’re waiting for to board the plane? And guess who’s got to scoot by the angry huddled masses? This parade I’ve got going on is getting ridiculous. Maybe I should be throwing beads to people or something. At this point, I just want to crawl under a rock…
I scoot down the runway and hobble onto the plane, Brody beside me every step of the way, being my +1. But wait, what’s this? The front bulkhead seats are taken! People are already on the plane, in MY seats! But there’s no assigned seating on Southwest, which makes it a free for all. Apparently these people were on the previous flight and are continuing on to Orlando. So I end up walking down to the fourth or fifth row. I ask Brody if he wants the window seat, but if he does, he’s not getting out during the flight because once I sit down, I’m not going anywhere. He decides to let me have the window and I sit. And then I scoot over…wait… no, I don’t scoot over. I CAN’T scoot over! I’m stuck!! My left foot (not the movie) can’t get past the metal part of the row in front of me, and because I can’t lean forward due to the seats in front of me beingthisclose, I have no leverage to free the foot. And because I can’t scoot, Brody is standing in the aisle and holding up the passengers again! Executive decision time! Brody, you need to crawl over the seat and sit by the window because I can’t move. He goes to the empty row behind me and manages to jump over into his seat without kicking me in the head, so I guess that’s one for the plus column, right?
So I’m stuck in the aisle seat for the whole flight, which is fine. The plane lands and yes, you know the drill… wait til everyone deplanes then my scooter will come. This time though, the waiting is a Godsend. Why? Because guess who is stuck and can’t get up?
Yes ladies and gents, I am full fledged stuck in aisle five, seat C. In a matter of three seconds, I’m already imagining the chaos I’m about to face. I’m already thinking about how they’re going to try to get me out and how none of their attempts will work. And sure enough, once they realize I’m not getting up but everyone is off the plane already, the line of Helpful Harrys starts. One by each, the flight attendants, the pilot (I’m not even kidding), the co-pilot, the guy who brought my scooter up… they come to ask me how they can help. But they can’t. Short of bringing in maintenance and removing the row of seats in front of me, there’s nothing they can do. Brody jumps the seats again and tries to help but I’m the only one who can unstick me. And after several attempts and physics experiments, I manage to squeeze myself up, out, and into the aisle. Whew! I thought I was going to be a permanent airplane fixture!
For once, I’m not greeted by angry villagers because it’s nearly 10pm and I think the airport is shutting down. The gate area is practically a ghost town. So off we go, 7 stranded castaways… oh wait, wrong story… 7 tired vacationers in search of the Magical Express.
Have you ever been to Orlando airport? It’s one of those places where you take the walking sidewalk to the monorail shuttle to the concourse to the gateway to the indoor hotel in the middle of the airport to the long hallway to the short hallway to the.. well, you get my point, right? We’re following the signs to Disney’s Magical Express and finally we see the check in area. I immediately get that feeling. You know the one… where you’re waiting in line at the bank and you see that one teller… the one that takes forever. She counts out your one dollar bills as if they were hundreds, holding them to the light, then makes a mistake anyway? You know - her? And as you’re in line, you’re trying to figure out if she’s going to be the one to say “Next please” when it’s your turn? Yeah, that’s the feeling I got. As we approach I’m doing the math and it’s not working out in my favor (remember I said that math isn’t my strong suit). Sure enough, we get that agent.
Barb breaks out the “Disney Wristbands”, we put them on and touch the Mickey insignia to the Mickey orb on the desk. And we’re checked in. OMG, is it possible that we’ve successfully completed a task with no issue? Hahahaha… of course not!!
Now think back to part one - during check in, just before Barb had to make a mad dash home for the carry on. Remember? I was supposed to tell the Southwest ticket agent that we didn’t have the special yellow stickers that indicated we were Magical Express people. But I forgot. Sigh!
The whole thing with the Magical Express is that they take care of picking up your luggage and bringing it to your room – so you don’t have to deal with baggage claim or schlepping luggage to a taxi or shuttle. You get to bypass that and just board the huge motor coach that is emblazoned with ‘Disney Magical Express” on it. It then drops everyone off at their resorts where their luggage is waiting for them (uh huh, yeah, right…). But our luggage is naked! No yellow tags! So we tell this to Henrietta, or whatever her name was, and you could almost see her brain come to a complete stop. “No yellow stickers… this does not compute… danger, danger Will Robinson”… A five minute discussion ensues ending with her walking away to check with someone else. I KNEW we should have waited for the other teller! She comes back with news that if she can just have our baggage claim tickets, we’ll be fine and we can finally go forward to the magical area to catch the magical bus.
Off we go, through the cattle ropes, even though the place was nearly empty. When we got up closer, they sectioned us off into the handicapped area because of the scooter. Now let me say this… I’m a seasoned traveler, though as I said, it’s been awhile. But if I’ve learned anything by living life in this body, it’s to be my own advocate and to be prepared. Prior to starting this trip, I checked over and over with the travel agent and Disney guides online about the transportation. I was assured there would be no problems. Hahahaha!
Smiling person #1 comes to tell us that it will be just a moment. Smiling person #2 comes to tell us that it’ll be just another few minutes. Smiling person #1 comes back and asks “Are you able to get off the scooter?”. By this time, I tired and cranky and I want to respond with “No, I never get off the scooter. I sleep on it, shower on it, in fact, I’m fused to it!” But I don’t say that. But I DO say no, because I realize that they want me to get off the scooter and enter the bus through the regular door. However, I’m no regular person! There is NO WAY I would be able to get up those bus steps. They’re like 3 feet high I think, right?
Along comes smiling person #3 and says that the bus cannot accommodate me on the scooter, but not to worry, they’ve called in the cavalry! They have a solution, so if we could just hold on… like we’re going to go anywhere? Finally a passenger van that can carry me on my scooter and my 6 companions shows up and off we go to Disney World. And with the exception of the Disney Wristband, none of this vacation has been “Magical” yet!
Stay tuned! More to come – hotel fun and park madness!