I don’t know about you, but from the time my flight touches down at Orlando International Airport until the time I take off again, I want to be completely enchanted by what my husband and I fondly refer to as “the Disney bubble.”
That means that the Disney experience starts even before we step into the lobby of our resort, and extends beyond that last Mickey-shaped snack we scarf down before leaving the most magical place on earth.
For us, no trip to Disney World would feel the same without arriving (and departing) in Disney style with Disney’s Magical Express.
What’s the Deal with Magical Express?
If you’re a Walt Disney Resort Hotel guest and you’re flying into MCO, you’re really missing out if you don’t use this perk!
It’s one of the biggest value benefits to guests because it transports you between the airport and your hotel for FREE. That rental car or Uber money tastes a lot sweeter as a few more rounds of Dole Whip, let me tell you!
It’s comfy, it’s safe, and it’s got a sprinkle of magic to get your trip off on the right foot (and take some of the sting out of heading home).
Basically, Disney’s Magical Express is a shuttle bus service operated by Mears on behalf of Disney using “luxury motor coaches” with cushy seats, personalized air and light controls, charging ports, and even an on-board bathroom.
They’re wrapped in colorful Disney designs and have a special entertainment loop for heading to WDW and going back to the airport at the end of your trip which combines useful information, behind-the-scenes content on how magic is made in the theme parks, and funny classic cartoons. I never get tired of it!
Here’s what you need to know:
- Disney’s Magical Express is only available to guests staying at official Walt Disney World Resort Hotels (non-Disney owned and operated hotels on-site like the Swan & Dolphin don’t count!)
- Service is only to and from MCO, Orlando International Airport
- You need to sign up in advance by asking your travel agent to book the service, or reserving it on your own
- It’s totally free (but you’re welcome to tip the driver for excellent service)
- It takes about 30-60 minutes to arrive at your hotel, and your pickup on the return will be scheduled 3-4 hours before your flight departure time
How Do I Use It?
It’s SO EASY! Let’s talk about how Disney’s Magical Express usually works, and below I’ll share some temporary changes in service that are in place because of health and safety restrictions due to COVID-19.
At home, you’ll need to register for the service when you book your trip or when you confirm your flight details.
A few weeks before your trip, you’ll get an envelope in the mail with yellow luggage tags and details on what to do when you arrive at MCO and what’s going to happen with your luggage.
If you’re doing carry-on only, want to pick up your checked bags from the luggage carrousel, or are arriving late at night you can leave those yellow luggage tags at home. If you want Disney to magically whisk your luggage to your room, you can attach them to your bags.
At MCO, you’ll get off the plane and follow the plentiful signage directing you to Magical Express. You’ll scan your MagicBand or the letter you were sent in the mail, line up in a queue, and board a bus before long!
At your resort, the day before your departure you’ll get an envelope in your room with details on your pickup time and what to do with your bags.
If you want a step-by-step walkthrough, we have one on our Instagram stories!
Magical Express in the COVID Era
Right now, things with Magical Express are a little different.
The biggest change is that Disney won’t magically transport your luggage to your resort—you’ll need to pick it up at the carrousel and take it with you to board the bus. That means no yellow luggage tags and tiny bit more work for you, but you’ll still get that magic Disney service to start and end your trip!
I never, ever go to WDW without using Magical Express, and it’s one part of the airport experience that I miss when traveling anywhere else. It’s free, easy, fast, and keeps that great Disney bubble feeling going for as long as possible. What could be better than that?