So, this afternoon, I left the house to go to Mall at Millenia, do some shopping among the sisterhood there and get something for my mother for Mother's Day. Got done quite faster than I thought... so, what to do next???
An impromptu Quality Control Visit to the MK and EPCOT, that's what's next!!
Off I go down I-4 to El Mundo de Walt Disney (as most non-native locals call the place around here)... and arrive there at around 3:45pm. The AAA Diamond lot was closed and I noticed that the parking CMs were filling the very LAST row of the far west parking lot area (the one closest to Hess than to the TTC...) I decided to skip and go gayly forward to the Grand (?) FL Hotel and park at their self-park guest and CM area. Hopped on the monorail and arrived at the MK a few moments later, near deaf because of the loud mono spiel.
Much to my surprise, the MK was closing at 7pm tonight... but I reckon it was because of Grad Nite tonight. Who knows.
The park, while a bit busy, was not crowded at all... which is perfect since these are the times when the very few custodial CMs (actually I do not remember seeing one at all) can actually keep up with the guests' trashing the park. For the most part, the park was decently clean.. just your usual napking here, some of the same dirt spots I have come to recognize in Tomorrowland, or a discarded water bottle there. Yet I was perplexed at how many non-custodial CM's do stand next to these little imperfections yet DO NOT bother to bend over and pick up the rubbish. Doesn't anyone take a bit of pride while working at the MK anymore???
Or are their huge bellies not allowing them to bend over?? I mean, you can burn a few calories just collecting a discarded guidemap off the floor, and trust me... some CMs need the exercise, and better fitted costumes as well.
I also walked pass POTC which is once again closed to guests. A wall covers a portion of the front entrance and I believe that is where the new signage will be installed. Nearby, Hook, Mr. Smee, Peter Pan and Wendy (all newly arrived from their new night time gig at Universal Japan I suppose) pose galantly for photos with guests. This particular Peter looked 12, while Wendy looked 28. Oh well... they looked great in costume and acted the parts accordingly.. That is what matters.
Nearby...on the POTC wall... a sign reads "Dead Men Do tell tales". Original.. eh? That was besides the customary "this ride is closed for 'improvements' that won't match those bieng done in CA to POTC" sign. More puzzling... CM's in Flying Carpet costumes were stading next to the POTC signs directing guests to "move along.. nothing to see here".
Over on Main Street, the entire Sports shop (formerly the Magic shop and Penny Arcades) is totally closed for refurbishing at this time. No loss there.
This being a mostly sunny day...it makes a big impact on the MK. Buildings look brighter and everything looks more colorful.. Or maybe they have added some new paint here and there? But for the most part..everything looked GREAT!
Now... on to my ever lasting frustration: The monorail service. As I leave the MK, mono CMs are stationed just outside the gate, telling people.."Only the Ferry Boat to the TTC at this time folks..." I think to myself..."here we go again.." I am beginning to believe they do this on purpose everytime Team Disney finds out TDLFAN is out and about at the resort unnanounced.
Anyways.. since I had parked at the Grand (?) FL Hotel... I go directly to the resort monorail line which was opened. After waiting there for about 5 minutes, a big surly CM yells at the crowd that a "monorail was stuck in the beam and the service is being delayed..and YOU (the resort guests) will be SECOND in line to board" I was like.. WT.. (shush your mouth!) About a minute later, we see monorail red coming over.. and I see progress... but WAIT! Red is not in the resort beam, but coming backwards in the express bean, fully loaded with guests, and so it enters the MK station. Doors opened and out poor some very unhappy guests who apparently had departed the MK station earlier bound for the TTC and were delayed out there on the beam for a wee long time before being returned to their point of origin!!!
Two mins later or so... Mono Yellow arrives, doors open on the opposite side of us (center/exit platform) guests disembark, and the guests who were back at the station from Mono red are invited to board. Doors close and off they were... It was another 5 mins or so before we (the resort guest line) were boarded on the next monorail. At this point in time... several guests around me are b*** and moaning and saying how "ridiculous" this situation was jada jada... or at least that's all I could hear since the spiels were blasting loudly and furiously over the PA system. Anyways... I finally arrived at my car about 40 mins after I left the MK.
One note about the monorail spiels... They are too loud, too frequent and too MUCH!!! There are so many spiels now being recited by that annoying voice, that one spiel is not quite over before the next one cuts in. In other words... it's a constant assault of loud jibberish.... jada jada jada, blah blah blah.. Utterly ridiculous!!! It has gotten so bad that while a monorail is in motion, there are NO breaks from the constant blah blah blah hurling at us thru the PA system...
All of this monorail drama was worthy of an Irwin Allen movie... really!
Now... On to EPCOT. Drove my car and arrived at EPCOT's auto plaza at around 5:20pm or so.. There is only ONE attendant doing switchback duty with two auto lines.. There were 14 cars on the right lane, and 15 on the left (yes, I counted them) Seemed to me this CM could have used some help. With this much traffic, one plaza CM is simply not enough and not acceptable. After waiting for about 5 mins.. I flash my AP and am allowed to proceed. Gleefully, I parked my car in one of those "reserved" spaces at the beginning of each park row ("reserved" for who? TDLFAN?) and a short walk to EPCOT's front entrance... and I witness fiasco in the making. Only 3 turnstyle stations opened, guests backed up all the way to the backside of the ticket booths, no "Guests with NO bags" line anywhere, which I could have used since my grandma didn't come along today, and no relief in sight. Ay ay ay... I put myself at the mercy of God and stand in the shortest line I saw which was about 30 guests deep... Took almost 12 mins to reach the turnstyle, mostly because of that idiotic "bag search" and also because 1 out of every 3 guests seemed to have problems with the finger scanner...either they did not know how to insert fingers, or the system was not reading the tickets properly. Anyways... same old disaster at the turstyle.
After so much delay and frustration, I marched to Guest Relations to give them my opinion about their staffing shortages and how guests are being made to wait too long unnecesarily. The nice CM, who I had to ask to speak to me in spanish since his accent was quite strong and I was having a hard time understanding it (this happens when two people with respective accents of their own collide in conversation. Don't believe me? Go to Manchester UK),
finally confessed to me that turnstyle frustrations and delays are just about the most common complaint from guests all day long, day in and day out. In his words, translated here for your benefit. Oh well...
At least while standing in line at Guest Relations, I got to enjoy the guest whose 8 year old daughter had been missing for a while now and how he was telling everyone off for not handling the situation to his satisfaction. Personally, I feel he could have been a better parent and keep a leash on his little Princess, but that's a different trauma.
Finally, After a quick stop to get the AP-exclusive Flower Fest pin #3, I left EPCOT and came home.
In closing.. if you have read thru all of this... One of the interesting aspects of visiting WDW every now and then is to be pleasantly surprised. Sometime it does happen. Today, it didn't. It pains me to see a lack of consistency in regards to good customer service. Management needs to realize that operating their parks with minimun staffing impacts the overall satisfaction of the guests. I was NOT the only one fuming out there today...trust me on that. But many won't take the time to tell management about it. It's very sad. Disney guests deserve better than this... and a free "front of the line" pass to conpensate for my troubles (which I declined to accept, much to the Guest Relation CM's surprise) does not fix the problems I see at WDW on a recurrent basis.
Hopefully next time, it will be a better day at WDW.