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  1. #1

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    Disney's Magical Express

    So let's weigh in about DME, how it works, and where the money goes.

    (This thread continues a discussion started elsewhere)
    Kevin Yee
    MiceAge Columnist

    I am the author of several Disney books:
    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
    Mouse Trap
    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

  2. #2

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    Well, there you have it. We're back to square one. So, while these trial runs carry too much baggage, I'm going to tote my personal belongings right past DME, board a regular ol' bus, contribute to traffic congestion, arrive at my hotel with my luggage intact, have a beer, shake hands with Goofy, and have myself a great time.
    The members of the Greater Orlando Livery Association thank you. (All the transportation companies are suffering greatly. Mears, although it has the contract for the DME buses, detests it - multiply $23 roundtrip by 100,000 passengers in a month or less and you get the picture.)
    That's approximately $2,300,000/mo. (or $27.600,000 anually). I was under the impression that DME service (including passenger transport) is free for the first 1 1/2 years. If so, does this mean that Disney is not offsetting any of the costs to Mears, while the bus company is waiting to break even and then turn a profit later on down the line? Is Mears currently losing money each month?
    DME is shifting the business AWAY from the Airport Shuttle side of Mears to Mears Bus Operations. In otherwords, isn't not a matter of Mears or anyone loosing business or money per se as it is a shift in business. Disney is paying Mears for the cost of chartering the buses. Mears IS making money from the buses being on charter, however this revenue is FAR, FAR less than when the guests were paying Mears for the transportation to/from WDW. As to wether or not Disney is making money on the venture or at least breaking even, that depends on how they've decided to pay for it. It could be that WDW is operating is as an EXPENSE in which case it just means that its another bill (just like the fireworks) to pay. It could be that they will be (or have) adjusted the room rates (or some other item's selling price) to increase revenue to cover the expense.
    One can only trust that the Mears contract extends quite a few years into the future. The company deserves to profit from this venture beginning in 2006 or 2007 - in consideration of the risk it is taking, and profit loss; not to mention all the extra work.

    Concerning the dollars that Mears is receiving from Disney for their service, my preference would be that WDW is placing it on the books as an expence. The room rates are steep enough. Hotel guests should not (through hidden charges or otherwise) in the end fund/offset costly projects such as DME , i.e. DuMb-E. If anything, Disney should charge DME customers at a significantly discounted rate - and compensate those that have had their luggage delayed, mixed-up or lost (with cash, merchandise, and/or themepark tickets and attraction passes).
    Any other thoughts?
    Kevin Yee
    MiceAge Columnist

    I am the author of several Disney books:
    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
    Mouse Trap
    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

  3. #3

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    Kevin, my thoughts are like many things implemented by Disney the past few years (from FastPass to Destination Disney at CRO to Magical Gatherings etc ...) that not nearly enough planning/training/educating the public was done in advance on this. It appears to be a disaster. Don't know if you saw Mouseplanet's take on it, said CMs are calling it the Tragical Express.

    My only hope is they get their act together. Get this thing working and -- in 18 months when they start charging for the service -- have thousands of willing guests a week pony up that cash AND have that money be put into a fund for transportation improvements around WDW, INCLUDING new monorail routes.

  4. #4

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    I'll let you know how it goes!

    We've usually done the towncar thing. With three of us it's almost a break-even compared to Mears.

    We thought we would give DME a shot this time. Our flight arrives early (10:00am) so I'm hoping the early arrivals will be lighter than later arrivals.

    Arriving at WL in 5 days.

    Hoping all will go well!
    Stuck in the Ozarks!

  5. #5

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    Well- it all depends on how well this is implemented. For those who don't drive/rent a car, this is not a bad deal. When I took the Disney cruise, both times, this is the option that is provided to you. i have to say it was great to walk off the plane and not worry about your luggage (although the first time I did worry, alot!not very trusting). I got to the hotel, checked in, got to my room, and 15 minutes later there was a knock on my door and my luggage had arrived! It really is better than waiting at the carousel for your luggage to arive - and of course mine is always the last one out, than have to lug my suitccase. Admittingly, I probably would not use this too often because I travl light (no kids) and rent a car. But, for those who are only staying on Disney property and not renting a car, this can be a good deal.
    Fratsor Sister - Delta Mu Chi Alpha

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  6. #6

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    It isn't that there wasn't planning. As a chauffeur and someone that's seen a great deal of the airport and literally thousands of people moved out of there for convention groups, its a matter a shear volume. There are two other issues going on - 1. The initial concept for DME had the guests receiving luggage tags prior to departure. This isn't happening so everyone has to stop by the counter to give a description of their luggage. 2. Instead of splitting up the loading areas into the four corners of the airport (corresponding to the four airside terminals), everyone is having to go to one corner which is creating a bottleneck AND confusion as guests have to find that corner.

    Quote Originally Posted by WDW1974
    Kevin, my thoughts are like many things implemented by Disney the past few years (from FastPass to Destination Disney at CRO to Magical Gatherings etc ...) that not nearly enough planning/training/educating the public was done in advance on this. It appears to be a disaster. Don't know if you saw Mouseplanet's take on it, said CMs are calling it the Tragical Express.

    My only hope is they get their act together. Get this thing working and -- in 18 months when they start charging for the service -- have thousands of willing guests a week pony up that cash AND have that money be put into a fund for transportation improvements around WDW, INCLUDING new monorail routes.

  7. #7

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    After reading the "Tradigcal Express" article over at MousePlanet, I am going to wait a few years and see if this program is still around before trying it out. If they do keep it around for a while, then it will definately take some time for them to work the 'kinks' out of the system. Last thing I want is for them to lose any of my luggage. Some stuff, no matter how much they compensate for, can not be replaced.

  8. #8

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    I'm sold on DME

    I realize I'm only one person, but I have nothing but positives to say about DME. I arrived at MCO on Sunday May 8. I got into a long DME check-in line at 9:37 a.m., and at 10:02 a.m. my bus was pulling out of the airport headed for Caribbean Beach Resort. To me, 25 minutes sounds pretty great. Wouldn't it have taken me longer just waiting at baggage claim alone?

    As far as money, I'm FAR from being a business-oriented person, but here's my take (I apologize if I'm repeating the very repeated obvious): Disney wants as many of travelers' dollars as possible. Every dollar NOT spent on a town car, taxi, or regular Mears shuttle is potentially a dollar spent on Disney property for Disney goods and/or services. In addition, if they sway some would-be car renters towards using DME instead, they have successfully reduced easy access to the non-Disney world for the length of those guests' stays, and thus increased the likelihood that those travelers will spend more money on Disney property for Disney goods and/or services.

    -- Eric

  9. #9

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    It's nice to hear from somebody that it actually worked well for. The article I read on Mouseplanet answered my questions on how many buses to how many resorts. Usually when I go, I am coming off the plane like it's the Amazing Race and want to get to the resort as soon as possible, plus I like to eat at resort restaurants as much as theme park restaurants, so I usually rent a car. But I would consider trying this for the convenience sometime.

  10. #10

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    I think I've decided to try it, kinks and all. It will save us $120 on a town car or $60 on Mears. We land very early in the morning (before 6:00), so how bad can it be! That's a meal or two!

    I'll definitely be carrying on my essentials and a couple non-essentials in case of catastrophe, or the possibility of not being with my luggage for a couple days, though.

    Our trip isn't until December, so I still have some time to change my mind.

  11. #11

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    We're at T - 3days and counting. Still no luggage tags. :confused:

    I'm sure it will be fine.

    I guess to put it in context: on vacation, not working, 5 days with my 2 favorite ladies (wife & daughter), 5 days at WDW, 5 days at WL, don't go back to work till June 1. So I spend a few minutes in the airport.
    Stuck in the Ozarks!

  12. #12

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    Most travel agents I've talked to said I probably shouldn't try it until it is developed further. I sort of agree.

    Dealing with luggage isn't as bad as being without it or possibly not getting it for a day or two. And dealing with luggage is certainly better than having my luggage miss my departing flight.

    I think Mears will be my service of choice this June.

  13. #13

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    Just got my baggage tags. T - 35 hours and counting.

    If you're thinking of doing Mears and you've got 4 or more in your group I really suggest looking at the towncar services. We've done both and found the towncar to be the best way. Most of them meet you at the gate and take you down to baggage claim where they get your bags for you. Then they take you straight to YOUR resort or if you want, most will stop at a grocery store for 15-20min and let you get your snacks and drinks.

    With 3 in your group the towncar should cost about $20 more (I thought it was worth it).

    With 4 in your group it should be a break-even.

    Just remember to reserve your towncar as soon as you know when your going.

    Good Travels.
    Stuck in the Ozarks!

  14. #14

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    It's a new service so there is going to be problems. I have no more faith in Disney getting my bags to my destination than the airlines. It's a sad fact that you need to carry "must have" items with you. On the other hand knowing this you carry what you need and don't let lost luggage spoil your visit. What I haven't heard is complaints about transporting the people. How is that going?

  15. #15

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    Well my actual situation was that I didn't hear about DME until after I had already purchased Mears shuttle service for the two of us. But I was wondering if it was worth it to just use DME instead because we wouldn't have to worry about luggage.

    I think I'd rather hold off, especially because our schedule is so full, we can't afford to miss anything.

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