Welcome 2022! As we were all made aware in 2021, Disney’s Magical Express would come to a close on December 31, 2021. As of January 1, 2022, Disney Guests will need to find other ways to get to the Walt Disney World Resort hotels once arriving at Orlando International Airport.
It was all so simple! So why did Disney decide to end the Magical Express service? We will never know, and quite frankly, I have no idea why. I used the service and I loved it, as did many others.
Since that announcement, there have been a few options presented to Guests that will work for anyone visiting the Walt Disney World Resort.
Let’s take a closer look, break down the details, and you can decide which option may be best for you.
Keep in mind, some of these options will require you to book ahead. Plan accordingly.
This service is the closest thing to Disney’s Magical Express that you will find. Since the Magical Express service was really contracted by Mears, their buses and drivers are the same. The main difference is you will not have that magical Disney wrap on the buses, nor will you have luggage pick-up at the airport. Each family / Guest will be responsible for gathering their own luggage at baggage claim and bringing it to the bus. Gone are the days of the bus service handling that for you and your luggage magically appearing in your hotel room (although Mears did say they are looking into this feature as a future service). Here’s to hoping!
Mears Connect serves Orlando International Airport and the Disney Resort area with two service levels – Standard and Express. You can book your reservation at any time by visiting their website.
- Standard is a shared service on a bus or van, making a limited number of stops on the way to your destination (just like we are used to with Disney’s Magical Express). Most often the bus ride from the airport to the hotel was approximately 90-120 minutes.
- Express is a direct service with limited to no wait time (this is new and could be worth the splurge if you find the rates reasonable for your family).
As of right now, the standard round trip service is $32 per adult and $27 per child. Express rates are $200 for up to 4 passengers and $55 per additional passenger. That is a bit pricier, but if time is more valuable to you, it might be worth it. Mears Connect has also suggested that this is introductory pricing, so we could see an increase down the road.
This newer bus or motorcoach option just recently hit the scene and claims to offer exceptional service from Orlando International Airport to the Walt Disney World Resort (similar to Disney’s Magical Express). Service officially begins on February 1.
These buses are themed after old-fashioned passenger cars and train locomotives and the drivers and staff are dressed as 1920s rail conductors and engineers. Sunshine Flyer is priced similar to Mears Connect, at $34 roundtrip for adults and $25 for kids.
The overall concept is really cool and the training theming is spot on. I think families and kids especially will get a kick out of this option. The one downside is because they are new, we are less familiar with their reputation and service. Only time will tell if they can’t hold their own against Mears Connect.
Nonetheless, it’s great to have another comparable option.
The other option Guests have right now is to call on an Uber or Lyft driver. This form of transportation is very quickly becoming one of the easiest ways to get to your destination. Be sure to download the Uber and Lyft apps to your phone and create accounts on each so you are ready to use them if needed.
The upside to using a ride share is they provide door to door service without any stops, so it’s a quick ride to your Disney Resort hotel. Book your ride share in advance so you don’t have to wait long for your driver at the airport.
The downside is Ubers and Lyfts are not necessarily meant for larger families and kiddies, especially if a car seat is needed in the car selected. This can definitely pose a challenge. Depending on the time of year could also depend on rates, so it could be pricey to get to your destination. A great option nonetheless, especially when in a pinch.
I recently visited Walt Disney World and upon walking to the Magical Express area (I visited in November 2021), the line / wait was so very long that I decided to grab an Uber to my hotel instead. Even though it cost me $60, it saved me several hours in time and energy. For that, it was worth it.
A quick note, there has been no mention of Minnie Vans returning to operation just yet. At a steep rate of $150 (one-way) too and from Orlando International Airport, this is probably not the first choice to get you to your hotel. However, if they return, that will be another option you can select using the Lyft app.
Another option is to simply rent a car and drive to the resort area. From Orlando International Airport, the ride should be approximately 25-30 minutes, depending on traffic. This option would fare well for those with larger families and for those who may need car seats, etc.
Keep in mind that the resort hotels do charge for parking (per night), rates vary depending on the hotel, but parking is included if you choose to drive each day to the parks. Standard theme park parking is included for registered Guests of Disney Resort hotels. These Guests can also choose to use preferred parking by paying the difference in cost between their included standard parking and preferred parking (difference is currently $20-$25 per day – pricing is seasonal and can vary based on date of visit). If you choose, you can leave your car parked at your hotel and use Disney resort transportation options instead (bus, monorail, skyliner).
Naturally, car rental pricing varies throughout the year. However, given the current situation we are living in, car rental pricing is very high right now. In my honest opinion, you are probably better off using one of the above mentioned options.
Private Limousine Services
There are also private limo services that provide a more luxury and upscale transportation option. These are generally less desirable for families because of the higher pricing (although can accommodate a large group of people), but the option is there if needed.
Any of the above options are viable to get you and your family from Orlando International Airport to the Walt Disney World Resort (and back). All options vary in pricing, so you’ll have to determine what is best for your family. Most require reservations to be made ahead of time, so please plan accordingly.