This has been a very busy start to 2018 for all of you Disney-goers and there are a lot of exciting vacations on the horizon! If there’s one aspect of booking a Walt Disney World vacation that I’m getting asked about a lot as of late its concerning using Disney’s Magical Express to get to and from the airports. I’ve taken all of your questions and used them to compile this list of 8 helpful things to know about Disney’s Magical Express service to get you up to speed on this terrific onsite perk.
1. Magical Express is absolutely FREE- If you’ve cruised with Disney before or have taken the shuttle to and from the airports when visiting Disneyland, you’ll typically encounter a fee for these services. But when it comes to Walt Disney World, consider yourself spoiled. Not only are all Walt Disney World resort guests offered free transportation from your resort to the theme parks but you can also get to and from the airport at no extra cost.
2. Convenient location – This complimentary motorcoach service operates from Orlando International Airport to your Walt Disney World resort (there is currently no shuttle service offered out of Sanford) 24hrs a day. When you arrive into Orlando make your way to the main concourse and look for the B-side baggage claim signs. Go down to the ground floor via the escalator or elevators along the back hall and head to the end of the terminal where you will find the Magical Express check-in service. With just a scan of your MagicBands (so don’t pack these in your checked luggage) you’ll line up in the bus queue for your resort and will shortly embark on your Walt Disney World vacation. On your return trip back to the airport, you’ll leave directly from your Walt Disney World Resort- it couldn’t be easier.
3. Easy to book – Once you’ve booked the flights for your holiday, you are ready to make your Magical Express reservation. You can do this online , by calling 404-939-1936 or by getting in touch with your travel agent. If there’s any changes or delays to your flight, don’t worry Magical Express will accommodate you.
4. No lugging your luggage – In my mind, the absolute best perk about using Disney’s Magical Express is the fact that you don’t need to go to baggage claim when you touch down in Orlando. If you’re flying domestic or in Canada, you’ll receive special Magical Express luggage tags that you’ll need to affix to your bags before checking them in at your departure airport. This allows your bags to be separated out and be picked up for you by Disney when you arrive in MCO. They’ll magically show up in resort rooms a few hours later. Its a pretty no-fuss way to get too and from the airports. When you’re juggling kids, stuffed animals, pillows, purses and a myriad of other things its nice to know you aren’t dragging a week’s worth of clothes for your whole family behind you. International guests sorry! Since your bags need to clear customs you’ll need to pick them up at baggage claim regardless.
5. After-hours service- As mentioned above, Magical Express runs 24 hours a day making it perfect for those flying with early or late night arrivals. Guests with early morning flights (before 5 am) or late evening flights (arriving after 10 pm) should note that the baggage service will not be available and guests are responsible for picking up their own luggage.
6. Walk-ups can still use the service – Let’s say you decide at the last-minute that you want to use the service or you forgot to book, in most cases Magical Express will accommodate you provided that you have your reservation details handy.
7. In 90 minutes you’ll be at Disney – I get asked a lot by clients wanting to maximize their time at the parks, how long it takes to hop on Magical Express, arrive at your hotel, check-in and then head to the theme parks. As a pretty safe rule of thumb, I tell clients to plan on the complete journey taking between 90 minutes – 2 hrs. In some cases you won’t be able to hop on your bus straight away (the longest I’ve ever waiting was 30 minutes) and there’s also the unpredictable Orlando traffic. Guests should remember that the journey is roughly 30 miles. So if making ADR’s or Fastpass reservations on arrival day, give yourself at least a 2 hour window if not more. That being said, it is magical to be able to get off of your plane, hop on a bus, and if the roads are clear be at your resort in 30-45 minutes!
8. All the documents you need to use Magical Express come right to your door. About 3 weeks before you are due to leave for your Walt Disney World Vacation, you will receive in the mail your Magical Express luggage tag as well as a leaflet explaining the service, and directions on where to find the Express buses in the terminal. Guests should note that these NO LONGER come in the same shipment as your MagicBands and are sent separately.
On the return trip. Disney will deposit a letter under the door of your resort room letting you know what time they’ll be returning you to the airport. This is usually 3 hours before your plane is due to depart providing you with plenty of time to get there, check in and unwind from your vacation before hopping that return flight home.
9. Onboard entertainment – As if you’re not excited enough about heading to Walt Disney World, each of the Magical Express buses uses GPS technology to program your en-route entertainment. All the buses are equipped with television monitors where you can watch fun snippets about the theme parks, cartoons and even have your Disney knowledge tested with trivia questions. This is a highlight for my family as it gives us that sense that we’ve truly arrived and gets us excited for the days ahead. The GPS can also detect when you’re leaving the airport and also when you are close to your resort and will change the content accordingly. The same with the return journey home, you’ll have different onboard offerings for visitors about to say goodbye to the Mouse.
So if you’re planning on staying on property at Walt Disney World and you’re flying into Orlando International Airport, give Disney’s Magical Express a try. The comfort and ease of the service coupled with the onsite Disney transportation should make even the most die-hard car rental users have a re-think.
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