On The Road To SCIP 2006

Today I made the journey to Orlando Florida to attend the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professional’s Annual Conference. I would have gone last year, but my wife was busy having a baby and demanded my presence (she didn’t have to demand it, but she did anyway. Thorough gal.

I booked my flights on Air Tran Airways, which was a new airline for me. I tried to get on my usual Northwest, but they were more expensive and didn’t fit the schedule as well, and weren’t direct. I was pleasantly suprised, both by the airline and a new feature I tried out for the first time – buying an upgrade at an automated checkin kiosk.

For fifty bucks I could upgrade to business class. Very smart pricing. For a two hour flight, $50 is the absolute limit of what I’d pay, and I’m not sure I’ll pay it on the way back although I noticed after I bought it I saw the sign nearby that advertised prices from “$35 to $60”, so clearly it’s variable, presumably according to demand and availability, which is also smart. Like I said, I bought it, and ended up in seat 1A. Not bad. Not the coddling I’ve received on a few other lucky upgrades, but still pretty good. The airplane looked almost new. We left on time, and arrived early. Altogether, very nice and I’d fly them again.

Now for Disney, as the conference is at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort. First, I’d been told via SCIP’s website to book passage on Disney’s Magical Express to get from the airport to the resort. I got to their website and was told to give them my baggage claim check at the Disney Welcome Center on level 1 of Terminal A. Sounds pretty simple, right?

So I get off the plane and after suitable walking – the kind grandparents brag about as their childhood walk to school – I get to the baggage claim. At this point, I have seen not one sign for Disney, Welcome Center or other. I’m just figuring that my free shuttle right might just be worth what I paid for it, and head for the baggage claim. I get there and actually do something that might just make God take my penis away – I ask for directions. Turns out the Welcome Center is on the floor below the baggage claim, but there’s no sign to tell me that.

Note to Disney: No, we’re not idiots, but everyone is disoriented and stupid when they get off an airplane. It’s the food, or the small bathrooms or breathing the same air over and over. Give us a break, and a sign.

I get down there and the Magical Express Counter greets me as I get off the elevator. A few more lines, showing of documents, following of people wearing large stuffed white gloves and I’m on the Magical Express itself – a motor coach 😉 I re-live a bit of my youth as I hear the children around me express their excitement and anticipation. I get off the coach amid a throng of luggage and confused folks getting ready to board the coach. No sign pointing me to the front desk or check-in counter. I following my instincts.

The resort itself is typical Disney splendor – huge, immaculate, and staffed with an international (read: heavily accented) cadre of “cast members.” The walk from the conference floor to my room is long enough that I began and completed a call to my wife before I ran out of walk. It’s very pleasant because it’s eighty degrees outside and perfectly sunny, but I needn’t worry about gaining any weight while I’m here.

It’s also expensive – I paid twenty bucks for lunch, which was better than fast food but not by much. It did include a margarita, but even so that only added four bucks. My company will reimburse me five dollars for this meal.

All the same it’s Disney and it’s pretty darn nice even if it’s expensive. But the one thing that really burns me, I mean to the point where my next email is to the leadership of SCIP, is that they charge for Internet access. Give me a break. It’s 2006. Even the cheapest hotels next to the airport in Milwaukee offer Internet for free and having Disney, the master of details, ding me $10 a day for it is an insult. C’mon Mickey, get on the ball here.

The one thing that kinda burns me, but I’ve still got faith, is that my bag, whch Disney was supposed to bring to my room is AWOL. I arrived at about 12:30pm, and it was 4pm when I left my room sans bag. It’s now 7pm, and after dinner I’m planning to arrive to my room with my bag in it.

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