Orlando airport introduces new 3D technology to ease travel experience

Google maps shows worst, best time to travel around Thanksgiving

ORLANDO, Fla. – A record-breaking number of passengers are expected through the holiday weekend and officials at Orlando International Airport are introducing a new piece of technology designed to improve the travel experience.

"Annie the Astronaut" was unveiled Wednesday by airport officials who said the 3D character will appear on video display walls to entertain and assist.

"Throughout the facility you'll see her give information, whether it be what level you're on, which direction you're in or walking you into a different area," information technology director Joe Furnari said.

More than 50 million Americans are expected to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, which a 3.3 percent increase from last year, according to AAA. In Florida, that translates to 2.4 million drivers, despite an increase in gas prices.

"People could be spending about six dollars more for a tank of gas, but in the grand scheme of things, that's really not enough to prevent people from taking a trip," AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said.  More than likely, they might just cut back in other areas."

To accommodate the holiday rush, a new tram and six-story parking garage has been put in place at MCO.

"There are about 1,600 additional parking spots in the south," director of customer service Brian Engle said. "As we start to see our parking garages fill up to the north, we'll see that expand to the south."

For those still making travel plans, Google Maps recently released a study that showed the best day to leave is on Thanksgiving at 6 a.m. and the worst time is the day before at 4 p.m.

Florida's top search during the Thanksgiving weekend is "airport shuttle service," according to Google Trends.

According to the study, the best day for returning home is Sunday at 6 a.m. and the busiest day is the day after Thanksgiving at 3 p.m.

The most popular Google search, Thanksgiving weekend, in Florida is “airport shuttle service,” according to Google Trends, a website that tracks internet searches.

About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.