Orlando Anti-Magic

Note to self:  Always allow a two-hour minimum to check in for a flight out of Orlando International Airport in Florida during NON-peak travel times; allow three-hours during heavy traffic hours, holidays, school breaks, or summer vacation.  Grab a great book or super simple easy reading that you can easily pick up and put down.  I like fun pieces, like jokes, short stories, or even quotations, like those in the Champagne Quotes: Historical to Hysterical section of the book Champagne!  Facts, Fizz, Food & Fun.

If you’ve ever flown to Orlando to visit Mickey Mouse and company, you have undoubtedly witnessed (and been a part of) some of the most intricate examples of smooth crowd control ever conceived.  Large signs offering directions, gathering points, vital information, and virtually anything else flash from all directions and are repeated at multiple locations… just in case we were distracted and missed the first one… or two… or three postings.  A variety of ribbons and ropes are set up everywhere to help channel all of us cattle smoothly through the seemingly endless serpentine patterns that make us mistakenly THINK we are near our destination… over and over again.  Okay, this is fine also.  This is all wonderful, in fact.  From the airport to the Magic Kingdom and virtually anywhere else where a crowd might gather, such as a window to order ice cream, these systems help keep everything moving in an orderly fashion.

Wow!  Times have certainly changed.  When I first headed to college in Florida, Disney World had not yet opened.  The Orlando – Kissimmee area was just a lot of undeveloped land and one very, very long drive to a small parking lot with one tiny building in which a guide displayed and described coming features in a miniature 3-D version of the Magic Kingdom.  We all “Ooohed and Aaahhed” with genuine enthusiasm.  Even the great creative visionary Walt Disney himself couldn’t have predicted the concrete jungle and hundreds of miles of theme parks and resorts and parking lots and entertainments that would follow, drawing millions of visitors to central Florida.  But I digress….

It had been quite a while since my husband and I had flown into or out of Orlando’s International Airport.  Upon our arrival this last week, we immediately observed the enormous mass of people attempting to get through security.  In true Orlando fashion, I noticed large signs overhead stating how many minutes the wait time would be from the point of that sign.  Niiiiice!  Unfortunately, there was a very large crowd still just attempting to “mash, mush, and merge” their way into the lines that were being cattled through the winding ropes.  Oh, boy!  I made the mental note to self that there seemed a great deficiency in the number of security stations, so the typical one-hour lead time for domestic flights appeared grossly insufficient.

So true!  We try to fly in “off-peak” times to avoid the rush.  However, we’d arrived in one of those “off-peak” times for departures, and the number of departing travelers appeared anything but less than huge.  So, when departing, we showed up extra early.  I just loved the signs of encouragement stating “15 minutes waiting time from this point.”  Ummmm… try 45 minutes, instead.  Now, if you also had to do something like return a rental car, stand in line to check in baggage, or walk to the far end of one of the huge terminals, you’d better multiply that 45 minutes by at least 2.5.  I was so glad we had planned ahead.  We returned our car, checked in our luggage, and spent one full hour clearing security.  Our gate was another 10- to 15-minute jaunt away.

We love traveling, but we also love reducing stress.  If you do too, please make note that you need two hours in Orlando.  If you are traveling during heavy volume times, you best allow much more than that!  I’d rather be all checked in and cleared through security and have time on my hands than have super stress that we may miss the flight.  There are plenty of restaurants and places to lounge to pass any extra time you may blessedly get.

Please share information on any other airports that regularly need much longer check-in times or any other tidbits of airport travel savvy you may have… with love and laughter!

About Cathy Burnham Martin

Author of 20+ books, and counting! A professional voice-over artist, dedicated foodie, and lifelong corporate communications geek, Cathy Burnham Martin has enjoyed a highly eclectic career, ranging from the arts and journalism to finance, telecommunications, and publishing. Along with her husband, Ron Martin, she has passions for entertaining, gardening, volunteering, active and visual arts, GREAT food, and traveling. Cathy often says, "I believe that we all should live with as much contagious enthusiasm as possible... Whether we're with friends or family, taking people along for the ride is more than half the fun."
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