I agree, I don't think that you can beat the real optical prints. Shame to see it go away.
But b&w was always a lot more economical for people to set up their own darkroom, only knew a few who did colour, and that was some time ago, long since gone.
So I guess we are stuck with scanning, which has proved to be a bit of a learning curve in itself. Most local labs I have come across vary from ok ish, to downright poor for print quality, and with some you risk death almost with the way they handle negatives!
The fuji machines produce prints that are pretty poor IMHO, frankly I wouldn't even bother with them. I only get the standard ones, just as a guide, the machines just cannot handles contrasy shots, and do some kind of terrible "auto tone" fix, often leading to wiped out highlights. When you go to the neg, it's there, just a sign of bash it out poor quality from some labs.
I have thought about the idea of setting up a b&w darkroom with a friend who also has an interest, might do that next year. For b&w film fans it is worthwhile, more so if 2 or more people are interested.
The situation with slide is probably even worse, send away and wait for some time to get it back. At least with colour neg, you can get the results quick ish, even if you are stuck with scanning.