I remember years ago, when visiting DisneyWorld in Florida, an essential part of the holiday was getting a hire car for getting to and from your place of residence to the parks.
Each day you would drive to your park of choice, pay into the car park and have to park miles away from the entrance gate. Then you’d have to wait on the little road-train to take you to the gate, not forgetting of course to remember where where you parked your car.
At the end of the day, you’d queue again for your little road-train (like you hadn’t queued enough already) to get back to your car and head back home. Then you’d do it all again the next day, for a different park.
But there is another way, as we found on our recent trip.
There is such a thing as Disney resort transport, available to those fortunate enough to be staying in one of the many Disney Resort hotels in the DisneyWorld area, as we were.
Each Resort hotel has a series of bus-stops outside, each bus-stop is marked for one of the Disney parks. You simply wait at the stop and a Disney-branded, heavily air-con’d bus takes you, free of charge, straight to the gate of your chosen park. You go in. End of story.
You can use them to go from hotel to hotel, park to park, whatever you want and as often as you want. The buses run from seven in the morning til the parks close. The maximum wait time for a bus is twenty minutes, although typically less than ten. No parking fees, no parking, no driving, no hassle. It’s fab, as a customer I highly recommend it.
But if you take a step back and consider the scale of this, as I am wont to do, it’s mind-blowing. Do the math; with 7 park destinations and say 15 or so resort hotels, taking into account that a couple of the hotels may share transport, that’s something like 100 buses running for 17 hours a day, every day of the year.
That’s over 600k bus-hours per year.
Logistically, that’s massive. Consider the size of the driver pool, the shifts, the maintenance requirements, the consumables, the fuel, the management of it all. The cost of running that service must be huge. Mind you, with fuel at $2.50 a gallon in the US… Anyhoo, I’m sure the cost of the hotels, park tickets and merchandise are all suitably inflated to cover this.
The buses are often packed, but they also run empty or extremely sparsely populated on occasion as they run all the time time as opposed to running to capacity.
Disney obviously benefit from providing this service in that if those customers had to use their cars instead, their already massive car parks may need to be bigger and they’d have to lay on more road-trains and probably more staff to cover that. But then they’d get more money from car parking fees. However, like many things Disney, it’s all about the customer experience, and this is definitely a big plus on that front.
But thinking again, this time from an environmental perspective, that’s a lot of CO2; these buses are all big beasts and all have permanent air-con on the go. Based on the above hours per annum, and my estimate of an average of 15mph, I’d reckon the emissions generated are of the order of 1,380 tonnes of CO2 per year. That’s enough to run over 800 Scottish homes for a year. And that’s not counting all the landfill or recycling of tyres, oil, filters, batteries and other bus consumables/components.
Now I don’t have all the answers here, but the big question is if the buses weren’t provided, saving Disney a fortune, which they could pass on to their customers, would the CO2 generated by the increase in cars exceed the bus usage.