A Warning About the Disneyland Resort Express

Today’s blog post is a serious one.  Recently, mom and I had a very scary experience that I wanted to recount, in part because I don’t want someone else making the same mistake as us.  The situation I’m about to tell you about involves the Disneyland Resort Express.  If you are planning on visiting Disneyland, or anywhere that requires transportation using people you do not know, please read on.

For the last three years, mom and I have visited Disneyland.  The first two trips went smoothly enough.  During both of them, we rode the Disneyland Resort Express (watch out for the fake Disneyland Express, which is a scam and not the same thing).  This is a bus line associated with, but not run by, Disney, though they do use buses painted with Disney characters to make them very obvious to spot.  They are used to transport guests between the LAX and SNA airports and various hotels, including all three Disney hotels and some of the resort’s Good Neighbor Hotels.

Every time we went before, the bus was always waiting there by the time we got outside after our flight.  They often were not ready to leave yet, and we, along with multiple other groups of people, would wait for a short time before we were able to board the bus and get our 20-minute ride to the Disneyland Resort.

This time, things went…differently.  When we exited the SNA airport, the bus was not yet there.  That was okay, we thought, because the previous two buses had always technically been early.  A man talking to another man in a parked taxi watched us as we walked by, and we proceeded to the benches at the bus station.  A man sat on one bench, and a woman sat on another.  Normally, groups of people, usually families with excited children, are waiting.  The ticket booth was closed and locked.  This seemed odd, as it was always open before, but we already had tickets, which were always given to the bus driver anyway.

As we waited, I looked around, only to notice the man talking to the taxi driver, now joined by another man, was watching us.  There was a very odd vibe in the air.  The people at the benches were very solemn, and though a shuttle was parked in front of them, no one got in.

The bus arrives.  The driver sets down a stool to make it easier to board the stairs.  He acts surprised that the ticket booth is closed.  He looks at our tickets, but does not take them.  We get into the bus, but no one else does.  It is early, and the park isn’t supposed to be as crowded as our previous two visits, so we wonder if this is why no one else is joining us on the bus.  As we sit down, I notice the bus is dirtier and more worn out than previous buses, and a towel is stuffed into the air vent on the left side, towards the front.  The sign that says, “Gratuities are appreciated” was also missing.

When the bus driver begins to leave, he leaves the door open and goes forward, only to back up, and repeat the process.  He takes a long time to finally get the bus going.  I wonder if the bus door is broken, until he finally closes it, and we’re on our way.

I know the drive takes a little while, and I don’t exactly expect to recognize the scenery because, well, I don’t live in the Los Angeles area and have never spent much time here.  But we pass the sign for Anaheim and Riverside.  We keep driving and driving, and I start paying more attention to the signs.  Each sign says Los Angeles or Long Beach now.  Mom, who is sitting in the seat in front of me, is clearly paying attention to the signs now, too.  It is at this time that I realize…she notices that something is wrong, as well.  It’s not just me.

It feels as if the bus driver is purposely trying to get us lost and confused.  He changes roads far more than seems necessary.  The drive is taking longer than it should, and I only see signs for Los Angeles.  I start making a plan in my head.  I need to confirm that the bus driver is trying to take us somewhere else, and once I do, I need to communicate with mom that we need to figure out when to escape the bus and how.  I look up at the emergency exit on the roof, realizing that it is too high for me to reach, let alone climb out.  I decide that I will push my bags out of the way, to the seat beside me, so that I can escape quickly, and I will try to ram my way through that flimsy bus door and jump out onto the freeway if I have to.  I might not survive.  I might get hit by a car.  But I will not let this man take my mom and I wherever it is he has in mind.

Deliberating on what to do, mom gets out her phone.  I watch the screen, trying to confirm that she has plans of her own.  Nothing happens.  The screen stays white.  After several tries, she tells me that her Internet is not working.

Maybe it’s a coincidence.  Maybe not.  We’ve had Internet on our phones in the middle of nowhere.  But not in the middle of the greater Los Angeles area?  Something seems suspicious.

I check my phone, and I tell mom that my Internet is working.  The bus driver turns his head.  He is clearly listening in on our conversation.  I keep my voice casual.  I don’t want him to know yet that we’re on to him.  I tell her, my Internet is working, try my phone.  She, flustered, insists that she wants the Internet on her phone to come back.

She admits now that she doesn’t know why she was so insistent on this.  But even at the time, I could tell she was worried.

Suddenly, mom’s Internet returns, and the bus driver starts driving back in the direction of Anaheim.  It’s not long before we arrive on Harbor Boulevard, but I’m not convinced everything is okay until we start heading for the gate at the Disneyland Hotel.  (Now that we’ve greatly slowed, I plan to escape the bus if at any time he does anything suspicious.)  Here, there is one lane with a guard that the guests go through and one lane for the buses.  He goes into the wrong lane, the one with the guard, despite the fact that he’s driving a Disneyland bus.  It takes some time before the guard lets him through.

The bus stops at the hotel, and we get out quickly.  The bus driver, who had gotten out first, tells us to give our ticket to the man on the nearby bench.  We have never done this before, as the bus driver has always taken it every trip prior.  The man on the bench notices that we have given him the wrong ticket (the ticket to the airport, not from the airport), a detail the bus driver should have noticed.  After giving him the right ticket, we head into the hotel, relieved and confused after our recent experience.

We have since discussed this situation in great detail with my dad, and all three of us believe the bus driver was taking us somewhere and only stopped when he realized we had either caught on to his plans or had possibly gotten word out about our situation using our phones.  Dad also says it would be very easy for the bus driver to have jammed our Internet signal, with the fact that I was sitting one seat farther back possibly the only reason I didn’t experience the same loss of Internet.  It might have been the same reason mom’s Internet returned once he heard us talking.

Furthermore, we have since looked up directions from SNA to Anaheim and SNA to Los Angeles, and as far as we can tell, he definitely seemed to have taken the latter route.  The trip back to the airport (there were a lot of people on the bus this time, or else we wouldn’t have gotten on) was also far more straightforward and took 20 minutes, despite heavier traffic.  During the trip from the airport, I believe it was 30 minutes by the time we realized that something was wrong.

We have since contacted the Disneyland Resort Express about the situation.  Our guess is this man got an old DRE bus that was no longer in use and planned on using it to kidnap women who were alone at the bus stop, considering his suspicious behavior and how confused he seemed by things that should have been obvious to real DRE drivers.

I acknowledge that this is speculation, and I have no proof that he was definitely up to no good.  But our recent experience has made me further aware of the importance of being safe.  So I want to emphasize, especially to any solitary or small groups of women travelling alone, NEVER ever get on a bus/shuttle alone, even if it looks like the real deal.  And even if there are other people, be very careful that this is indeed the right vehicle and that there is nothing suspicious about the driver.  I recently heard of a group of people travelling to the Queen Mary whose bus driver started driving in the wrong direction, forcing his passengers to jump out the windows when he refused to stop or turn around.

Just…be safe and trust your gut instinct.  If something feels off, trust that feeling.  It’s better to be inconvenienced due to your caution than to end up hurt or worse.  Don’t take risks.  They’re never worth it in the end.

We believe there is a good chance that God saved our lives that day, using something as simple as a lost Internet signal to open up communication between my mother and I, communication that made the bus driver put a stop to his plans.  I don’t know what that man was planning.  I don’t know why he changed his mind when he did.  But we’re grateful to have come out of our potential ordeal unscathed and all the wiser.

33 thoughts on “A Warning About the Disneyland Resort Express

    1. Thanks! It was pretty frightening indeed, and I’m so glad everything turned out okay in the end. I’m certainly going to be a lot more careful in the future, though, so nothing like that ever happens again.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely hope they do something about that bus driver before someone gets hurt. I was always a bit nervous with any form of transportation where someone else is driving the vehicle, but this was the experience that will certainly make us rethink how we travel in the future. From now on, we’re wondering if it’s best to simply rent a car at the airport….

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Okay so one, that is terrifying and I’m glad you and your mom were okay. I actually recently read something similar where the person realized they had internet, made it known, and the would-be kidnapper took them to their proper destination. We shouldn’t have to do things like this, but unfortunately we live in a world where we do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad everything turned out okay. It was a really scary situation indeed. It’s even scarier that you read about a similar situation happening to someone else. It definitely seems like something fishy was going on with our bus driver, and I’m so grateful that my mom and I, and the person you read about, ended up surviving unscathed.

      Next time I go anywhere, I might just rent a car at the airport. That’s probably the best way to stay safe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s such a shame we have to do this. I know I’ve read stories about women getting Ubers or Lyfts and it’s not actually the driver. It’s why they say you ask them (the driver) to say whom they’re picking up instead of asking, “Are you the Uber?” because they could just say yes to that. When I was a kid my parents gave me a password that they said they’d tell anyone who said they were there to pick me up. One day a man in a car tried to use that, and I asked him for the password and he drove away. When I told one of my mom friends about that, she said she was going to implement it for her son. It’s freaking terrifying.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I recently read a whole bunch of scary stories about Uber. I never trusted services like that even before I read about how dangerous they are.

        That’s scary about that man that drove up to you when you were a kid. My mom and her sister had scary experiences like that when they were kids. As children, my mom and her friend were walking, and a man told them to get into his car. The friend almost did it, but my mom stopped her. My aunt had another scary experience as a child where she was followed home by a guy and ended up having to hide until he left. When I was in middle school, we were free to do what we wanted during PE. So I was just walking around the field, and a car pulled up on the other side of the chain link fence that surrounded the field. I immediately left, and the car left, but I saw them drive by several more times. It’s a very scary world we live in.

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      3. What gets me is I”m almost 40 years old and these things are STILL happening. Nearly every woman I know has a story like this. There was one Halloween where I stopped a guy from doing something to a girl passed out on a couch. Funny enough I was dressed as an angel. I wound up pulling up a chair and sitting in front of her until her boyfriend showed back up and I told him what had been going on. He was really angry and said that no one liked that particular guy anyway. It was one of those situations where I was a bit tipsy, but I was less drunk and I sobered up a bit because it was a real situation.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I used to think that the world was more dangerous now than it used to be, but looking back, this kind of scary stuff has been going on for a long time. I’m glad you were able to protect that girl (you were definitely her guardian angel). There’s just so many creepy people in the world! We’ve already had two stalkers on our YouTube channel, and it’s not really all that big yet. Fortunately, the situation didn’t get dangerous or anything, but it makes me think twice about interacting with strangers.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. One of my blogger buddies streams on Twitch, but she never shows her face. She’s mentioned she’s had issues in the past so I can’t blame her. I’m a little more fast and loose with my info than I probably should be. I had a weird thing happen a few years ago where I kept receiving these earrings in the mail from this unknown source. I STILL have no idea what that was about o.O

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      6. That is pretty strange about the earrings. After that incident on YouTube, I stopped posting any of my Disneyland or cosplay pictures online (except for my Foxy the Pirate cosplay, since that covers my face). It’s a shame because I enjoyed sharing those kinds of things, but it’s better to be safe. YouTube is really the only place where I ever had any problems, but I’m careful everywhere on the Internet now.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Luckily for me, Cary, one of my other two fellow Virtual Bastion admins, has been keeping up with the comments for me. After that incident, I just can’t deal with YouTube comments myself anymore. I hear that a lot of YouTubers either don’t look at their comments or have someone else read them.

        Not sure why YouTube seems to have more weird comments than other sites. I’ve been on WordPress for far longer, and I can only remember one really bad commenter. They ranted at me once because I didn’t share their love of Super Paper Mario. And then I never heard from them again, fortunately.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I think it’s easier to be an ass on YouTube whereas WordPress has better filters and most people here run blogs and that takes more effort than just watching/trolling videos. I had someone mad at me because I was critical of this older book The King of Elfland’s daughter. I wound up blocking him, but I can count on one hand the bad comments I’ve gotten here.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Bad comments have been rare elsewhere, too, such as fanfiction.net. Very few bad comments on that site, too. I think I had the grumpiest people when I wrote some Harry Potter fanfics. I think my commenters were people who knew the series better than I did, and I was just kind of writing for fun. (I mean, doesn’t everyone write fan fiction for fun…?) And even then, it was nothing belligerent or anything.

        But you’re right, it takes more effort for someone to read a blog post or a story than it does to sit back and watch a video, so that probably does make it far less likely to get bad commenters on blogs and fanfics.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I’ve definitely gotten those kinds of comments before, but if you’re writing fanfic, I almost feel like you can let certain things slide. Like I know my one Northern Lights ignores events that happen after the game, which I explain, and it’s just like eh? It’s obviously not canon and though it would be nice if it would fit in with the world of the story, it’s more of a speculative/what if situation. People have the right to criticize I guess, and of course fandom culture can be toxic if it gets out of hand.

        I really think that’s the difference. YouTube caters towards casual observation and commentary whereas blogging takes actual work. Even if you’re just reading post, it still takes more effort to do so.

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      11. I’m not typically bothered by most fan fiction comments I get, since I understand that not everyone’s going to interpret characters or events the same way, and fandoms can be rather personal. Comments are rarely actually rude, though, even when people do disagree with some aspects of my stories from time to time. I know one person didn’t like how I portrayed Demyx from Kingdom Hearts. We discussed it a bit, and I actually agreed with them that I was a bit off with his personality…I just kind of liked the way he was commonly shown in the fandom and went with that. (I made him a bit more immature than he really should have been, but I kind of thought this version of the character was pretty funny.) In the end, fan fiction’s really just supposed to be fun, both for the writer and the reader, and honestly, I had a lot of fun writing a rather inaccurate version of the character. In fact, it resulted in one of my funniest stories.

        Sometimes, people even like my own versions of a character or the events that take place better than the official version. It’s always nice to hear from people who think my version is better than what’s canon.

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      12. It’s interesting critiquing fanfictions because on one hand, critiques are critical to becoming a better writer, but with fandom characters, there’s still a lot of interpretation to weed through especially if you’re writing an AU or tackling a “what if,” which is what most fanfictions are, so the characters may not act exactly as they do in the original story, but rather act as they might if they’d been placed in the situation the fic writer is placing them in. That’s what I use for my justifications because I tend to go the “what if” route, and I must have a thousand head canons for my characters. I also feel like if it’s a case of you not liking how a character is portrayed, there are other fanfics out there. I find it’s not really worth my time to complain to another writer about how they’re going about their story when I can just find another or possibly write my own. Now fandoms I don’t know as much and/or don’t write, I could see it being a bummer if you can’t find a story that suits your fancy, but that’s not much different from non-fanfiction writing. The Breath of the Wild story I’m working on came out of me wanted to write something I’d want to read (same for my FFVII stories). I’m sure your version of Demyx was perfectly fine, and YOU liked it, which is what really matters. Fanfic is supposed to be fun!

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      13. That is true, if someone doesn’t like one’s portrayal of a character, they can always try another story. And honestly, it’s always nice to give someone’s version of a character a chance because sometimes they come up with ideas that I really like and influence my own view of a character. I really love Disney’s Haunted Mansion, but being a ride and everything, there is a lot of room for interpretation for the various characters. I found some short Haunted Mansion fan comics and doodles online years ago, and that person’s version of the characters greatly influenced how I see them now.

        That’s what’s especially fun about characters that don’t have much character development. I often like to take characters from games that I like, but are actually rather shallow in how they’re portrayed, and try to make them feel like real people. I’ve been working really slowly on this Ratchet and Clank novel (I really like the story, but I have trouble finding time to work on it), and one of my favorite parts about writing it has been to really develop Dr. Nefarious’ character, since he’s really just a goofy and stereotypical mad scientist in the games. So far, people have been enjoying my version of the character.

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      14. Same here! I’ve gotten a lot of ideas and inspiration from other fanfiction writers ,so I always try to reference them. It’s how head canons are built and built upon. If I don’t like how someone is writing a character I don’t really see the need to complain because it’s THEIR interpretation. It’s fine to give feedback on the writing or if the person asks, but some people just want to be mean.

        Characters like that are fun because they’re essentially blank slates with small traits around them. It’s like “what’s a hot take on this mad scientist” and you can build from there.

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      15. My portrayal of Kefka is based on a fan’s own interpretation of him. I actually thought the information was official until I learned that it was just a fan biography, but by then, it had become such a part of my headcanon for him that I didn’t feel like I could just start anew. So I just try to let people know that many of my ideas initially came from somewhere else…even if I can’t really give credit to the exact person, since I’m not sure myself….

        There’s an interesting fan backstory for the Haunted Mansion characters that I once found on this website that’s no longer around (I had to use the Internet archive to find it again recently). I think a lot of fans built upon it, so it’s kind of become an “official” fan backstory. I’m working on my own Haunted Mansion fan fiction that uses many of the details that they started, though I’m building upon it and changing certain details to fit in with my own ideas. Their ideas have acted as a really useful stepping stone for my own story, though I have no idea if this fan fic will ever see the light of day. Many of my stories end up unfinished…if they’re even started at all.

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      16. I don’t even want to talk about the number of story ideas I have saved. I feel like I’m a story idea collector hehe. As long as I have them in my notes, at least I can always go back to them, and I’ll never run out of ideas.

        Head canon and fanon is hard to keep track of. I try to give credit where it’s due, too, but it’s impossible to remember exactly where every idea comes from. With Sephiroth in FFVII someone somewhere started calling him a general even though that was never his canon rank, but it’s now considered canon with the fans and it makes sense so people just go with it. It’s not unless you go back that you realize that was never given in game. I kind of equate it to some songs being viewed a particular way even though the artist wrote it to be COMPLETELY different. There’s something to be said for Authorial Intent vs. Death of the Author, which is FASCINATING to dig into if you’re a big ole dork like me :p

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      17. I have three unfinished stories currently on fanfiction.net. Two of them I don’t think I’ll ever finish, while there’s another I’d really like to finish someday, but I don’t know when I’ll get around to it. And despite that, I’m actually thinking of starting another story, even when I have so many other ideas I should be finishing!

        There are ideas in Kingdom Hearts fan fics that I read that are used throughout so many people’s stories that it kind of becomes official. For example, I often see stories where Even and Aeleus are friends, and it’s become official in my head, too, since I like the idea so much, and it makes sense. It’s cool sometimes when fans are able to build upon a world beyond its original source material.

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      18. I think that’s a common writer refrain :p I currently have four writing projects, though one is more audio than writing, and innumerable story ideas. I

        I love when head canon becomes fanon. There are numerous factions in the Final Fantasy fandom and even more when you break it down by game, so in the FFVII fandom I’m happy there’s a decent faction for Aeriseph that seems to stay out of the complete dumpster fire that is the CloTi vs Clerith shippers. THAT is one thing I don’t understand maybe because I’m kinda old lol. Who cares what people ship? Just…read the stories you like, buuuut nerds can be the biggest drama queens :p

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      19. I actually didn’t learn what “shipping” was until fairly recently. I’m usually quite late when it comes to learning about new terms. I feel so old-fashioned sometimes, ha ha! I don’t ship characters too often, but there were two Ratchet and Clank characters I decided would be great together…and I was happy to learn that there were some other fans of the pairing, as well. I’d like to write about them someday, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet, like most story ideas I have. Most of the time, though, I enjoy reading about/writing about platonic relationships.

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      20. It took me forever to be able to even read stories on the internet lol. I used to print them out so I’d have a physical copy, but I was able to get over that when I started writing myself. There are plenty of people who enjoy and prefer platonic relationships in fanfic, too!

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      21. I used to print out stories, too. Years ago, there was this really good story I enjoyed, but when I looked for it later, it was gone. After that, I started printing out good stories so I’d always get to read them whenever I wanted. I don’t do that anymore, but it was a while before I got over my fear of losing access to my favorite fan fics.

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      22. That’s another reason I liked printing out stories. Things on the internet can be ephemeral. I’ve taken down a few of my fanfics so I know other writers have done the same. I remember this site RPG Fan that had stories on it, too. No clue if it’s still in existence, but I printed out a lot of stuff from there. Now I think you can just copy and paste stuff to work and save it that way. Save the trees! :p

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      23. More recently, I’ve started just copying and pasting stories or saving them as PDFs, too. I think Archive of Our Own lets people save stories as PDFs, but fanfiction.net is a bit more difficult. I even saved this small website I liked through screenshots, which I pieced together in Photoshop. The site is gone now, but I got it back through this Internet Archive site. (I might have mentioned that before, though. But I can’t remember….)

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      24. AO3 is so much better than fanfiction.net is so many ways. They actually advocate for their writers against suits and whatnot whereas FF.net will just throw you under the bus. But they stopped allowing anything MA years ago, which is irritating. They’re still the biggest fanfiction repository so I post stuff there if I can, but I much prefer the Archive. Deviant Art isn’t a terrible place for it either, but it’s more known for visual art, and I really haven’t found any fanfics I like on there.

        Liked by 1 person

      25. I heard rumors in the past that fanfiction.net would remove stories or ban accounts if someone complained about that person, without even bothering to see if their claims were true. Not sure if that’s true or not, but they definitely don’t seem to care about their writers too much and don’t ever seem interested in checking emails and the like. (I feel like the admins of that site kind of abandoned it, and it just…exists on its own now.)

        Deviant Art isn’t that great when it comes to fan fiction. I added some stories in the past, but having each chapter separate is rather annoying. And I agree, I can’t find any good stories there…probably because they’re so few. I’ll just stick with fanfiction.net (because they’re huge) and AO3 in the future…if I ever get around to writing new stories again.

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