Disney's Magical Express alternatives Sunshine Flyer and Mears Connect to merge

Jul 14, 2023 in "Disney Magical Express"

Posted: Friday July 14, 2023 9:08am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Sunshine Flyer and Mears Connect have announced they will merge into one combined entity, 'Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine, ' launching August 1 2023.

Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine is the only 24-hour shuttle servicing both A/B and C Terminals for both arrivals and departures at Orlando International Airport.

"While we have been competitors in the past, we have always shared the same goals to provide guests with safe, reliable, cost effective, stress-free travel between the airport and Walt Disney World resorts", said Rebecca K. Horton, Chief Operating Officer of Mears Transportation. "By merging operations, sharing ideas, expanding services, collaborating on what's best for the guest, we believe we can provide an even better guest experience given the challenges and opportunities in today's travel market."

Mears Connect and Sunshine Flyer emerged in early 2022 as Disney discontinued its free Magical Express transportation service from Orlando International to the Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

"As partners, we will be able to bring even more features and benefits to our guests," said Mark Sherman, General Manager of the Sunshine Flyer. "Whether it is 24/7 service, express options, or a private trip to ease guests' minds the minute they step off the plane, together, Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine is delivering more to our guests. We are confident that our collaborative efforts will promote a creative atmosphere and will allow us to focus on the customer experience and kick off the magic of a Walt Disney World® vacation the moment they touch down in Orlando."

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TrainsOfDisneyOct 09, 2023

Gotcha. I don’t care about a receipt but the issue is that you buy your ticket on the iPad, and then the workers ask for a receipt but you don’t have one. And then they act like you’re stupid. Haha.

NeverEnufDisneyOct 09, 2023

No I was only saying that if a receipt is a priority that is a way within their system. Do what you want.

TrainsOfDisneyOct 08, 2023

so it’s my fault for wanting to buy my ticket at the gate like I’ve done previously?

NeverEnufDisneyOct 08, 2023

Buy your ticket on the web site and you will get an email receipt.

TrainsOfDisneyOct 05, 2023

My recent experience with Mears was definitely a step down from previous. They now have some sort of automated check in at the airport where you have to buy your ticket on an iPad that doesn’t give you a receipt. The Mears workers in the terminal were extremely rude to both me and another family who were trying to buy tickets. The driver was nice and the service was good but they need to improve the guest experience- it’s a far cry from having WDW Cast Members welcome you!

gerararOct 05, 2023

I booked a Mears Connect from my hotel (Disney's All Star Sports Resort) to MCO yesterday (10/5). Was given a 12:05pm pickup time (flight was at 3:30pm), bus came at 11:58am. There was a SMS/email reminder given ~30 mins before arrival with live tracking info, picture of the bus, license plate, driver name, etc. My resort was the first stop. We then continued to All Star Music and then Animal Kingdom Lodge. We left WDW around 12:20pm and got to MCO airport around 1pm. Overall the service was pretty good. Our chauffeur was very friendly and accommodating. He kept giving us updates on our flights and current TSA security wait times throughout the trip, which was very appreciated. For $16, it was a pretty sweet deal compared to if I booked an Uber, which was fluctuating around $40 at the time (excluding tip). I wished Magical Express was still a thing since I never got to experience that, but oh well..

DisoneSep 30, 2023

They only thing left of the sunshine flyer....

DisoneAug 27, 2023

They basically bought it and shut it down. The themed costumes are gone and so are the buses that had the trains on them. The only reference left, is on the Mears connect buses they've added a "driven by Sunshine". It is small and most will assume it's a reference to Florida sunshine and not the previous sunshine flyers. It has no actual tie into the sunshine flyers. Most definitely this was a case of purchased the competition and shut it down.

osianAug 27, 2023

Does anyone know the exact nature of the merger, e.g. did Sunshine staff transfer to Mears, is Mears now covering places that only Sunshine did before, or did Mears basically buy it and shut it down?

DisoneAug 08, 2023

Mears connect driven by Sunshine they said. All I've seen today is Mears connect buses. Those beautiful steam train themed buses seem to be...... Fading away

Coaster LoverJul 25, 2023

The "free" service (especially when factoring in the luggage delivery aspect) was one of the perks that set Disney apart. It meant that the magic started the moment you got off the airplane. It just made a Disney vacation feel "different" (in a good way).

SirwalterraleighJul 19, 2023

Oh no doubt…one way ticket into the bubble Really dumb to kill it. Capital D

CaptainAmericaJul 19, 2023

The problem is, Uber and Lyft made "piercing the bubble" sufficiently frictionless than even guests who were staying on property without a rental car weren't actually captive anymore.

PhonedaveJul 19, 2023

It was also a way to get people to WDW without a rental car. You could always taxi or black car, but with DME it was a lot easier to use the "free" service. I know the first few times I went as a family (pre-DME) we rented a car. That allowed us to leave the property and do other things (i.e. spend money elsewhere). A free service that removes that forces a guest to spend money on property was a genius idea.