Update: Airport to boot Disney greeters

Discussion in 'Transportation' started by safetymom, Sep 22, 2005.

  1. safetymom

    safetymom Super Moderator

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    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news...0,564837.story?coll=orl-news-growth-headlines

    Airport to boot Disney greeters

    Taxis, other drivers said deal was unfair

    Beth Kassab | Sentinel Staff Writer
    Posted September 22, 2005

    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.

    Disney spokesman Jacob DiPietre said Disney plans to discuss the changes with airport officials, but he would not comment on when the greeters would be moved or what effect that might have on the service.

    "We evaluate and adjust our operations on an ongoing basis," DiPietre said.

    Since Disney began Magical Express as a pilot project in May, other providers of transportation at the airport have cried foul, saying the service and Disney's special access have dramatically hurt their businesses.

    Disney has said about 5,000 people ride Magical Express every day -- a number far above what the airport expected when it agreed to the 18-month trial run last year.

    "The response is considerably greater than we anticipated," Fuqua said.

    Earlier this month an attorney for the Greater Orlando Livery Association, a group of about 200 bus, van and luxury-car drivers, sent a letter to OIA Executive Director Bill Jennings demanding that the airport terminate Disney's contract for the program.

    Larry Colleton, the attorney for the association, said Disney's greeters were soliciting passengers who had not already signed up for Magical Express, which is against the airport's solicitation rules.

    Jennings had not responded to Colleton's letter and did not alert him about the changes for greeters.

    "It's kind of like too little, too late," Colleton said. "We still stand by our position that this contract should be terminated. How is Disney being held accountable for its material breach of the contract?"

    Disney has said it never violated any terms of its agreement with the airport.

    Airport officials said they want to schedule a series of meetings with Disney over the next 60 days to lay out a framework for how Magical Express and any similar services that might be offered by other companies in the future will operate.

    Of major concern is whether the pilot program is causing the airport to lose money because its other concessionaires may no longer pay as much in airport fees. Disney has spent $21 million on the program since May, about $2 million of that going to the airport through fees or improvements, according to documents from a private presentation Disney made to airport officials last month.

    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."
     
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  3. erikthewise

    erikthewise Guest

    It does sound pretty slinky that Disney is trying to avoid having to provide service to both terminals. They need to shape up on that.

    But it also sounds as if they airport was more than a little naive about the number of people involved. What did WDW tell them? "It's just little trial run in which all onsite guests for the next 18 months will be invited to participate."
     
  4. safetymom

    safetymom Super Moderator

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    Disney doesn't deserve all the blame. They had plenty of meetings before this started and OIA could have said something or denied them then.
     
  5. rlduvall

    rlduvall DIS Veteran

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    I sincerely see both sides of the argument, but it just makes me not want to use any other service besides Magical Express because now they are trying to force me to have to use their services; costing ME MONEY. Can't we all just get along. :)
     
  6. CarolA

    CarolA <a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/index.

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    Well, the airport is not being completely honest. Just last week I was harrassed by someone handing out advertsing flyers on right next to the Disney greeters.

    And the airport needs to be fair. If I have not prearranged a ride with the limos I should not be solicited by them (and as I walked thur the "Gauntlet" last weekend I was solicited. At least one of them asked me if I needed a ride)

    Sorry, but I think lots of the limo drivers have bought this on themselves. They gave lousy service and charge a fortune for it. Car Service to Disney is bmore expensive then a car service from my home to the airport in Atlanta and my journey in Atlanta takes longer.
     
  7. ducklite

    ducklite <font color=teal>Take the Poly, it's fabulous!<br>

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    I TOTALLY disagree that the car service people brought this on themselves.

    IMHO it was Disney's way of keeping people from visiting other attractions, and they were enabled by Mears who wanted nothing mroe than to put every other car service out of business.

    I'm glad that the airport is leveling the playing field. The telling line in that story is "Disney has said about 5,000 people ride Magical Express every day -- a number far above what the airport expected when it agreed to the 18-month trial run last year." That also leads me to believe that Disney might not have been totally upfront about other elements of the service.

    Anne

    PS--DL and JK--WAY TO GO!!
     
  8. canwegosoon

    canwegosoon DIS Veteran

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    Either way you look at it the market (us) seems to be overwhemiling demanding free transportation to the parks. It seems that Disney/Mears has undercut the market, and now all other providers are paying the price. I do not picture this service continuing in it's current state, and I think in the future WDW will be charging a nominal fee (20pp). I think that is when the taxi/luxry cars will pick back up. But I also believe they(luxury cars) were out pricing themselves on our last trip in March. Rates were $125 for some car services...but now I notice you can get the same transportation for $100. A more reasonable figure IMO. 1st rule of marketing charge what the market will bare.
     
  9. Lewisc

    Lewisc <a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/index.

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    NO REASON TO. When you get off the tram and enter the main terminal building you're not in the A or B side of the terminal but you're in the middle. There is no reason for any DME customer to walk to the B side since DME takes care of your luggage.

    Other ground transportation needs to be in both sides to avoid customers having to go back up to the main level and walk all the way across the airport to get to the other side after they get their luggage.

    MCO may be losing money. Disney is paying something like $1/ passenger and I suspect the airport makes more money with the concession fees paid by the other transportation companies. Look at the rental car concession fee. For most of us it averages more than $1 per passenger.

    I can see Disney replacing the greeters with signs. I can see the airport trying to increase Disney's fees. Since the service is free the limo companies might try to force Disney to transport the luggage of all guests, not just those who chose to use the DME buses. Right now a guest who uses a towncar and has to get his luggage first isn't going to get to the resort much faster than a guest who rides a DME bus.

    Of course it's not the limo companies fault. There really isn't any way to compete with a business that provides a service far below cost, which free certainly is.
     
  10. Gary M

    Gary M DIS Veteran

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    I had read something in the past about Disney thinking about building their own airport. This may be completely unfounded. but who knows.
     
  11. ducklite

    ducklite <font color=teal>Take the Poly, it's fabulous!<br>

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    Kind of. At one point of the initial concept, they were going to have a private airstrip for people to pilot their own planes in. YOu can still see it as you ride the monorail from Epcot to teh TTC out the right side. It was an idea which in concept was nice, but in reality was not going to work for multiple reasons.

    Anne
     
  12. DisneyMommyMichelle

    DisneyMommyMichelle Always Dreaming...

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    argg....leave Disney alone. I personally think if the limo services and taxi companies would lower their prices they wouldn't be whining as much. I'm sorry but when you take a limo to a resort RIGHT OUTSIDE WDW it's almost 10$ cheaper than going to the WORLD they UP their prices just b/c they know you are going to WDW.

    I'm always going ot take what's free over what i have to pay for haha....We are taking DME and are happy to be doing so.
     
  13. Lewisc

    Lewisc <a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/index.

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    Not true. I just checked FL Tours, Tiffany and ***********. *********** does charge an extra $5 for MK resorts since Disney charges them.

    Other than that the rates to Disney resorts are the same as other hotels in the same general area.

    They do charge less for the International Drive hotels but they leave the airport via the N road and I think the mileage is less.

    edited to say I checked the rates of the board sponsor and two other towncar companies that get mentioned a lot. I see one of them is now getting censored. It's a company that was allowed to be mentioned by name just yesterday.
     
  14. ducklite

    ducklite <font color=teal>Take the Poly, it's fabulous!<br>

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    It is.

    Anne
     
  15. pplasky

    pplasky DIS Veteran

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    People will still be able to use ME for the remainder of the contracted period, which I believe is Oct of 2006. After that, Disney was going to start charging for the service. It was only piloted and free during the 50th celebration. Get people hooked and then charge. As long as you sign up ahead of time and can follow directions, it will still be accessable until the end of 2006.
     
  16. Tinkim

    Tinkim DIS Veteran

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    Can somebody explain this whole ME thing to me? I was under the impression that you had to book ME in advance with a package deal and it is free. So my question is aren't the people at the aiport with the big white Mickey hands mostly just directing people where to go? They are not actually soliciting are they? If I didn't book ME in advance I couldn't just walk up and get on the bus could I? I guess I am just trying to understand what the problem is exactly. I understand the private towncar and limo companies are losing money to ME but I don't understand the solicitation part of it. Is is just the presence of the ME people making travelers aware that Disney offers this service for free that is the problem? Thanks. Just curious.
     
  17. Lewisc

    Lewisc <a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/index.

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    Disney is allowing resort guests to take ME buses even if they didn't sign up in advance. Disney is also sending guests who aren't eligible for DME over to the Mears desk and allowing them to buy a ticket and then transporting them on DME buses.
     
  18. goofy4tink

    goofy4tink No tags...not needed! Transportation moderator Moderator

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    While I can understand the towncar/limo services position..I do have to say that every single time I have been to MCO and gone down that escalator, I have been approached by someone asking me if I need a ride to WDW or anyplace else. Every single time!!! I haven't seen Disney people soliciting anyone. And the one time, the first time I used DME, that I actually needed to find a white-gloved person, I couldn't!! I just wandered around aimlessly, heading down but with no idea where I was going.
    Did Disney give completely, upfront and honest info to MCO? Probably not. I, for one, wish that they weren't offering DME to anyone who hasn't reserved it in advance. To me, that could be a breach. No different than the towncar people soliciting me. You either have reservations or you don't. Especially since it's free.
    When Disney starts charging for this in Nov '06, I'll probably go back to using a towncar service if it costs the same as DME for the three of us. But, I am not going to spend more than $30 more to use a towncar service. For example...DME for the three of us, at $25 pp, would be $75 (obviously). If a towncar is going to cost me $100 and then a tip of $20-30 on top of that, I am not going to use a towncar..plain and simple. I can use that extra money for my food budget.
     
  19. Tinkim

    Tinkim DIS Veteran

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    Thanks Lewisc. Now I get it. I didn't realize that you could get on an ME bus without the advance reservation or that you could purchase a ticket for the DME if you didn't even have a package. That makes a lot more sense. We have been to WDW three times since 1999 and have never been approached by someone asking if we needed a ride. I guess we must look super confident and as if we know what we are doing. :rotfl:
     
  20. CarolA

    CarolA <a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/index.

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    My presonal rule is to avoid any business with a "mandatory tip" Tipping should be based on SERVICE not a mandatory fee.... If it's mandatory it just needs to be added to the cost!!!! Some of the towncars have a "mandatory tip"... Let's see you can be late, drive badly, treat me rudely and you want a "mandatory tip"????

    I have seen the folks at the airport and I would NOT in any way call what they are doing soliciting... Perhaps if MCO could put up some information stands and good signage to the stands that would reduce Disney's need to pay folks....
     
  21. CarolA

    CarolA <a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/index.

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    Which would still be legal... Mears is a licensee and owns the buses so Mears would of course have to pay the airport commission fee on every fare they sell.

    The fact that Mears chartered the buses is not really that much different then if my company charters a Mears bus.
     

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