| What is Disney’s Magical Express?
If you think in terms of Disney marketing terms, Disney’s Magical Express is away for you to check your bags at your airport at the beginning of your trip and then see them magically appear in your Disney Resort room shortly after you arrive!
If you think in more practical terms, Disney’s Magical Express is a free bus ride from the Orlando International Airport to your Disney Resort room, with free luggage transfer.
The idea of free luggage transfer isn’t exactly new – many cruise ships have had this service for some time. But Disney was one of the first to apply it to a land-based resort.
From what I’ve read and from the people I’ve talked to, most Disney guests like the service. And it is hard to beat the cost – it is free. But there are some folks out there who don’t like the service and who are losing money because of it. And there are some Disney guests who should probably skip the bus and spring for a car.
Who Can Use It?
Since the primary idea behind the service is to get guests from the Orlando Airport to a Disney Hotel, the service is of course only available to people who are staying at a Disney-owned hotel. The service does not cover non-Disney hotels which are on Disney property, such as the hotels near Downtown Disney or the Swan and Dolphin which are operated by Starwood Hotels, the folks who run Westin.
What Does It Cost?
A first and important piece of information to remember is that the service is free! When you consider that a round trip taxi or rental car could easily set you back $200, this is a pretty good deal.
What you do end up paying for, however is that you are basically stranded on Disney property. This means that you are paying inflated Disney rates for everything – no running out to Burger King one night or stopping at Publix to pick up some bananas or Oreos.
But Are You Really Stranded?
No, you aren’t really stranded. You could get easily get at taxi at Disney World. And you could rent a car on Disney property if you wanted to or needed to. Alamo Rent A Car has a facility on Disney property near the Car Care Center at the parking exit of the Magic Kingdom. Renting a car could be an option if you want to take a day trip to Universal Studio, SeaWorld, or other Orlando attractions such as Discount Outlet Shopping Malls.
How Does It Work?
1 – After you’ve booked your flights call Disney Reservations. Ask for the Disney Magical Express service. They will send you an informational packet about the free service. This packet will include bar-coded travel vouchers and yellow luggage tags that identify your Disney Resort. When you leave for your trip, put the luggage tags on your checked bags and check your bags at your home airport.
2 – When you arrive at Orlando International Airport go to the Disney Magical Express counter. No need to pick up your bags, since they will be transferred automatically to your Disney Resort hotel room. Note that your luggage will ride in a different vehicle than you will, so make sure you have supplies you will need for the first hours at Disney – medications, tooth brush, etc.
3 – The nice folks at the Disney Magical Express counter will direct you to lines where you will wait for a bus to your Resort. You’ll probably have to wait a few minutes, so be patient and think about how you don’t have to fight for a taxi or haul your bags to the airport car rental center.
Who Likes It / Who Doesn’t
Most Disney Resort guests like the service. The price is right (free) and generally the service works well. But there are humans behind all these pieces, and occasionally things go wrong. If you end up waiting an especially long time – say more than 30 minutes – be sure to say something to a Disney Magical Express representative. There are a few isolated horror stories of people who stood around for hours waiting! Use your common sense - be patient and polite, but speak up if it doesn’t seem link things are going as you could reasonably expect.
If you need the freedom to escape Disney, you can’t stand the idea of being stranded, or you don’t want to wait for a bus late a night at the Orlando Airport, consider renting a car.
While most Disney guests have a good experience, it is interesting to note that Orlando taxi drivers and car rental agencies aren’t so happy since this free Disney service has substantially cut into their business.
But you could consider the bright side from an environmental perspective – the service moves people much more efficiently from a ‘carbon footprint’ perspective by pooling people in buses vs. everyone driving in their own inefficient personal car.
What It Doesn’t Do
While the Disney Magical Express service works from your home to Disney. But it isn’t a service that lets you check luggage at Disney and get your airline tickets at Disney. But there is a service that will do that called “Resort Airline Check-In Service.” This is available for the following carriers: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines. Continental. Delta, JetBlue, Northwest, United/Ted, and AirTran.
Our Take / Summary
Overall Disney’s Magical Express seems to work well for most people. The price is right too. If you can be a little patient and plan to spend all or nearly all your time on Disney property anyway, this is probably a good deal for you.
Disney’s Magical Express FAQ on the official Disney World web site:
Transportation FAQ on the official Disney World web site:
Once you arrive you will need tickets for admission to the theme parks. Learn more about Disney World Tickets.