Airport to boot Disney greeters - Orlando Sentinel, 9/22/05
Disney's Magical Express, the free service that shuttles Disney tourists and their baggage to and from Orlando International Airport, will no longer be able to lure in travelers with greeters on the airport's third level.
The employees, who wear oversized Mickey Mouse gloves, meet passengers as they enter the main airport terminal. Their location has been a source of friction for taxi, luxury car and rental-car services, which say Disney's exclusive access to the third level has significantly cut into their businesses.
"We don't let anybody else have greeters there," said airport board Chairman Jeffry Fuqua. "Everybody needs to have a fair opportunity and equal playing field."
The change came about Wednesday after the airport's attorney sent a letter to Disney's attorney informing him that the greeters need to be removed by Oct. 31. The letter also clarified that Walt Disney World guests who had not pre-arranged a ride on Magical Express would not be able to access the service once they arrived at the airport.
Fuqua said one option might be to require Magical Express to operate out of both the A and B sides of the terminal like most concessionaires such as rental-car companies and other shuttle services.
Currently Magical Express only operates out of the A terminal, and a change would significantly decrease the program's efficiency and result in an estimated increase of $15 million a year in Disney's operating costs, according to documents prepared by the company.
But Fuqua said other providers of transportation are required to operate on both sides of the airport despite the increased expenses and decreased efficiency.
"It costs more money for Hertz and the others to operate that way," Fuqua said. "We can't set our airport up to operate to Disney's pleasure."