To my astonishment, Detroit and Disneyland have more in common than just starting with the letter “D”.
My visit was a simple stop between flights landing at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. A two hour layover on our cross country college visiting tour was taking us from Syracuse to Phoenix. It has been said if you die in the south, and want to go to heaven, you have to change in Atlanta. As the second busiest hub for Delta, if you want to go somewhere in the northeast chances are good you are going to be making a connection in Detroit.
So we get off the plane in Detroit, expecting…well, not much. Instead, we walk through a light display tunnel (one that puts Chicago’s O’Hare to shame) into a terminal of the future. My son and I looked up and saw what reminded us of the monorail at Disneyland or Disney World, although this train has the not-so-exciting name of “The Express Tram”. It rides 21 feet above the main floor, and has two cable driven trams that travel on an air-cushion like a hovercraft. Each of the tram cars can hold more than 200 passengers at a time, and the track is around three-quarters of a mile long, with three stations along the concourse. (If you have to switch concourses, don’t worry: you don’t have to shuffle your feet much, there are moving sidewalks.)
The Disneyland-like feel is also evident at gate level. The fountains can transfix any bored traveler eating up their time between flights. How do I describe them? Good question. It’s like watching a fish jump out of a pond and back into it, but instead of fish it’s all done with water.
Shopping is plentiful and the rest rooms are…let’s just say: clean. (Who really wants a review of airport rest rooms?)
The McNamara Terminal Concourse A is the world’s second largest airport terminal building (Beijing’s is the largest), And who, you might ask yourself, is McNamara? He was a former Wayne County Executive who not surprisingly oversaw expansion of the airport. I found Detroit’s impressive, and I guess I’m not the only who liked it. J.D. Power and Associates named it the highest-rated in customer satisfaction in 2010.
Overall, thumbs up for this airport- it was a pleasant surprise.