This time of year has been a particularly difficult one for me ever since September 11, 2001. It is this time of year we remember and mourn all those who were suddenly and cruelly taken away from their family and friends.
In a September 13, 2009 article I posted to my own blog I mentioned how in early 2000 my then employer temporarily relocated our company to the 106th floor of tower two in the World Trade Center as our mid-town headquarters was undergoing a major refurbishment. The plan called for the construction to be completed and for us to return to the mid-town location in late September 2001. I was never comfortable in the World Trade Center but I was able to block out and put my fears aside. Fortunately for us things didn’t go as planned and after returning from a vacation to Walt Disney World with my family in early July 2001 I was back in my mid-town office.
I’ll never forget the day of the attack I was in my office about to leave for Brooklyn on business when the news broke of a small commuter plane flying into tower one of the World Trade Center. Immediately that uncomfortable feeling I had from the time my company was located in the World Trade Center came rushing back. Though I felt uneasy not knowing what was really taking place at the time I still headed out of the office and into the subway to take the downtown train to Brooklyn.
The train pulled into the Canal Street station and the conductor announced the train was now out of service. At the time none of the people in the subway knew what was happening or why. The train just sat in the station. I didn’t have a cell phone back then so I decided to use a pay phone to call my office. I must have tried calling a dozen times from a few different pay phones. I couldn’t get through. I kept getting a recording to the effect that due to emergency police activity the phone lines were not available. I spotted a train on the other side of the tracks heading back uptown. Sensing something was terribly wrong I raced to get on that train. As the train pulled out the conductor announced it was the last train heading into Queens with stops through midtown Manhattan.
A short time later the train pulled into my stop, 34th Street. I got off the train still not knowing what was actually happening. I exited the subway to find the streets packed with people trying to make their way to the subway. I even heard a few people shouting “They’re going to attack the Empire State Building!”
I entered my building and took the elevator back to my office. It was then I learned the first plane was a passenger plane and there was a second passenger plane that hit tower two as well. Needless to say I was as stunned as everyone else in the office, city, and our nation that horrific day.
None of our phone lines were working so I couldn’t contact my family. Later I learned my mother in law was panicked because she thought my office was still in the World Trade Center and my wife told me of the horror as she sat motionless in front of the television as the second plan slammed into tower two.
In the office we had a radio and internet access to keep us apprised of the events as the day unfolded. We learned of a third plane crashing into the Pentagon and a fourth that went down in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We discussed what could have been if we were still located on the 106th floor of tower two. Would we have listened to the announcements to remain in our office? Would we have tried to leave and would we have been able to make it out?
It’s the “what ifs” that I will never be able to answer and it’s the “what ifs” that will always haunt me but I’m grateful to be alive to ask the “what ifs.”
A little after 4:00 that afternoon the Port Authority began running New Jersey Transit trains from New York City’s Penn Station to Newark, New Jersey where bus service was being provided for travel throughout the state. I left the office and made my way home. I arrived at my house at approximately 6:30. I was lucky I made it home that evening.
So you might be asking yourself if this is a Disney blog site why am I writing about 9/11? I am writing about 9/11 because it’s a reminder of how the cowardly act of some despicable souls changed the world and the way we travel forever. With so many Disney vacationers flying to and from the Orlando airports we now must get to the airport well in advance of our flight to go through multiple security check points. All our baggage must now go through an x-ray machine and what doesn’t fit in the x-ray machine is thoroughly checked by security. We can no longer carry more than 3 ounces of liquids on board a plane. Anyone carrying a bag must have it checked by security before entering one of Disney World’s parks.
Traveling by plane to and from Disney is no longer as easy as showing up at the airport, checking your bags, breezing through security, and taking your seat before flying. Now we must all endure longer lines and wait times. This is a small price to pay to ensure our safety and those of our loved ones.
To make your air travel as convenient as possible arrive at the airport well before your flight’s departure time. Having a lot of patience and above all remaining calm will help you deal with the process. Make sure you have required identification, i.e. valid driver’s license, passport, etc. Keep handy tickets, boarding passes and other necessary documents for flying. Always keep your bags in your possession. Be vigilant of your surroundings and everyone around you. Also, talk to your children beforehand prepare them for the security check points and what they need to do with their favorite toy or stuffed animal. If you’re flying home from Walt Disney World it’s important to remember not to put items in your carry-on bag like snow globes which typically contain more than 3 ounces of liquid because they will be confiscated by security.
Remembering why we have to go through all this and following these basic rules will help get you on your flight and on your way to or from Walt Disney World.
Contributed by: Stuart S. (NDD #47). Stuart is our resident Disney geek and creator of Disney Geek Dad.