A while back, I told you all about the various means of transportation on WDW property, but today, as I prepare for my upcoming trip to the World, I wanted to touch on one in particular – Disney’s Magical Express. Often called the happiest bus on earth (and at times the saddest bus on earth), it’s one of the easiest add-on’s to a WDW vacation package, and as a result, it is also the source of most pre-trip questions I hear from my clients.
Did you know, when you book a package, or for that matter, even a room only reservation, at an onsite Disney Resort, Disney includes your transportation to and from the airport for you. But this wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t too long ago where you didn’t have this option and either needed to rent a car or pay for an outside car service to get you from the airport to your hotel.
Beginning in May of 2005, Disney partnered with Mears transportation and began offering a more affordable way for its guests to get to property from the airport. And being Disney, they even amped it up a notch – by including baggage handling service for you too! No more wasting time by waiting at baggage claim for your suitcase to hit the carousel – just hop on a bus and start the fun! With a little pixie dust, your bags appear in your room a few hours later.
So how does it work? It’s easy, really. When you book your vacation, either with your travel agent or with Disney directly, let them know you will be flying (if you haven’t purchased your air fare as part of the package) and that you will be needing transportation from the airport to the resort. If you book your air fare on your own, you will need to supply your airline & flight numbers to Disney so they can add this service to your reservation. About 3-4 weeks before your trip, when your travel documents arrive, you will receive something that looks similar to this:
These are important tools needed to use Magical Express. The yellow tag will have your name (or if in a group, also the lead guest’s name) and the resort you are staying at printed on it. The Mickey Head with the letters inside allow the baggage handlers to know which resort area to deliver before they are sorted by reservation. You will place this tag on the handle of your checked luggage (similar to how the airport tags your bag preflight). Keep in mind, this is only for your checked bags and you will not see your luggage again until it arrives at your resort about 3 hours after landing.
You will also receive the above booklet that details the instructions as to where you need to go once you arrive at Orlando International Airport (MCO). Inside you will find a map that details where the shuttle picks up (lower level, terminal B) where you will check in at the counter and be directed to the appropriate bus. It also gives many tips as to packing and last minute details. The booklet does include your transportation voucher, so don’t forget to bring it along or pack it in your checked luggage!
A few points to note – Disney’s Magical Express luggage service operates from 5 am to 10 pm, so if you arrive outside those time frames, you will not use the yellow tags and will need to stop at baggage claim to pick up your bags. You will just bring them to the bus and the driver will be store them under the bus during travel. (You can also do this if you prefer to not have Disney get your bags – just remember to NOT put the yellow tags on your bags or they will not make it to the baggage carousel). Also, this service is ONLY AVAILABLE AT ORLANDO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. It is NOT available at Orlando Sanford, which is located about an hour north of Orlando proper.
During your ride from the airport, Disney provides some fun entertainment. There is a cute little video that will show you high points you may want to see during your trip. Featuring Mickey and the gang, you won’t want to miss it! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the 30+ minute ride to your resort.
If you are using the Magical Express service to return to the airport, the morning prior to your departure, you will receive an envelope on your resort room door. Inside you will find a letter describing when and where you will pick up the shuttle bus. Typically, it is right outside your resort lobby and about 3 hours prior to your flight departure time. It is important that you are on time as the bus leaves on a schedule and if you are not there, it will not wait. If you miss the bus, it could result in you arriving at the airport late.
If your airline participates in resort check in, you can even check in for your flight at bell services and Disney will make sure your bags get to the airport. You won’t see them again until you land at home. You will receive your boarding pass on your door the morning of departure and you will need to take your bags to bell services by 1 pm – even if you have a late flight. If your flight departs before 8 am, you won’t be able to use resort check in, but Magical Express will still get you to the airport. Airline that participate in resort check in are: Air Tran, Alaskan Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Jet Blue, Southwest, United, and US Airways.
So, on your next WDW vacation, be sure to inquire about this great, FREE service. It makes traveling back & forth to the airport hassle free!
Sending pixie dust wishes & magical dreams your way – until next time…