Day 8 (Saturday, April 29)
Bidding "kwa heri" to Animal Kingdom Lodge
A snag in my travel plans
A different view of Yosemite
(Click on any photo to see a larger version. Click on links to see additional information or photos.)
Today I woke up at 6:30, 8:15, and 9:00. It will be good to get back to my own bed--and my own time zone! I got up, finished packing, and took my bags down to the Magical Express desk about 10:00 a.m. They mentioned that they'd had computer problems earlier in the morning, and had gone to another resort to print out the boarding passes and luggage tags for today's departing AKL guests.
Okay, no big deal--until they couldn't find my passes and tags. They recognized my name and knew they'd printed out the documents, but couldn't find them anywhere. They were able to print out new boarding passes for me now that their system was back up, but American Airlines' baggage-check software wouldn't allow them to print duplicate luggage tags. That means they couldn't accept my luggage for the Magical Express service. So much for not having to deal with my bags until I got back to the San Jose airport. :-(
Since I couldn't check my bags, I took them to the valet station at the porte cochere and left them there. Then I went to The Mara and got some cereal. After that, I went back to my room, picked up my carryon bags, and said goodbye to Arusha Savanna for the last time (at least for now!). The savanna was empty of animals--except for the two-legged ones who were doing the daily savanna cleanup and maintenance.
Around 11:00 a.m., I went back out the front of the hotel to hang out until my Magical Express bus arrived. I spotted one loading, so although I was actually assigned to a later bus, the driver said he had room and I could take this one instead. So I retrieved my luggage from the valet station and got on the bus.
We left Animal Kingdom Lodge about 11:10 a.m. After a stop at Pop Century, we arrived at Orlando International at 12:15 p.m. Because I hadn't been able to check my bags at the hotel, I had to do it here, so I went to the American Airlines counter and took care of that. As before, American's bag-check software thought I had already checked my allotment of two bags, so it didn't want to give me more tags at the self-service check-in kiosk. So I had to go to the regular check-in counter. Even there, the lady who helped me had to convince the computer to print new luggage tags for me. She mentioned that there had been problems with Magical Express check-in every Saturday. That was probably an overstatement, but clearly, she had seen problems with it before.
After going through security and taking the tram to the proper terminal, I bought and ate a grilled chicken sandwich and some frozen yogurt. Then I wandered to my gate about 1:15, well in advance of my 2:30 flight. I'd seen some storms in eastern Texas or Louisiana on the weather reports, so I took a Dramamine just in case. But we only ever got light bumpiness. I read some and dozed at other times; it was too cloudy below the plane for any sightseeing, unfortunately.
We arrived at DFW about 4:15 local time, and I took the Skylink train over to the terminal I needed for my flight to San Jose. As I mentioned in my Day 1 report, Skylink is an elevated train system that opened about a year ago, replacing the underground train at DFW. (The old system was used in the original TV movie of "The Lathe of Heaven," by the way.) Skylink seems to be a very efficient system, with short times between trains. And there are nice views of the airport as you travel around.
I had plenty of time until my flight to San Jose, so I got a small pizza and some frozen yogurt. Then the flight was delayed. So although I settled in at the gate about 5:15, we didn't leave the runway until 7:15 p.m., nearly 40 minutes later than scheduled. After that, the trip was uneventful.
We saw a pretty sunset above the clouds as we flew over Nevada. Because we were flying at 500 mph (give or take) in the same direction the Earth was turning, we slowed down the sun's apparent movement, slowing its disappearance below the horizon. Just after that, we came in over Mono Lake and Yosemite.
I couldn't remember ever having seen so much snow there! Which is not surprising, considering that this year's snow levels in that area are about 150% of normal. (No, I didn't take this photo from the plane! I took it during a visit to Yosemite just a couple of weeks before my WDW trip.)
We must have made up some time, because we landed about 8:30, only 15 minutes or so behind schedule. I was home about 45 minutes later. Tomorrow morning, I'll wake up to the sight of a house cat instead of zebras. But that's okay, because it's good to be home.