Disney's Magical Express comes to an end tomorrow - what you need to know

Dec 30, 2021 in "Disney Magical Express"

Disney Magical Express new look for 2018
Posted: Thursday December 30, 2021 10:48am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

After more than 15 years of transporting guests from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World, Magical Express comes to an end for arrivals beginning January 1 2022.

Disney will continue to operate the service for arrivals through the remainder of 2021, and departure transportation will be available through January 10 2022 for eligible Disney Resort hotel Guests with an arrival date on or before December 31, 2021.

Magical Express was launched in 2005 and quickly became a popular option for guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels, often saving hundreds of dollars on transportation costs. The service was operated by a third-party vendor Mears Transportation.

The closure was announced in January 2021, and in a statement, Disney said: "Vacationers have more options to choose from than ever for transportation, including ride-share services that save time and offer more flexibility to go where they want, when they want. In light of this shift, when Disney Resort hotel bookings open for stays in 2022, we will no longer offer Disney's Magical Express service for airport transportation, starting with arrivals January 1, 2022. We will continue to operate the service for new and existing reservations made at Disney Resort hotels for arrivals throughout 2021. Additionally, complimentary transportation options – such as buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner – will continue to be available within Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Resort hotel guests, including to and from all four theme parks."

Officially, Disney is suggesting alternative forms of transportation, including using official Disney transportation partners - Lyft ride share and Enterprise rental cars.

There are also other third party options that have opened up to meet the needs of Disney guests.

Magical Express operator Mears is offering its Mears Connect service. Mears Connect serves Orlando International Airport and the Disney resort area with two service levels - Standard and Premium. Standard is a shared service on bus or van, making a limited number of stops on the way to your destination. Premium is a direct service with limited to no wait time.

Introductory rates for the standard round trip service are $32 per adult and $27 per child. Premium rates are $200 for up to 4 passengers and $55 per additional passenger.

Another Magic Express alternative is Transportation Management Services Sunshine Flyer, a themed motorcoach bus experience.

The Sunshine Flyer's buses are late model, premium motorcoaches with themes that center around old-fashioned passenger cars and train engines from the 1920's.

Tickets for The Sunshine Flyer must be booked at least four days ahead of arrival. Tickets are $17.00 per adult, $12.50 per child each way. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.sunshineflyer.com.

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bcoachableJul 21, 2023

Frankly- that type of service that was a “pain” for the CM’s? It was the “Disney Difference” that hooked me in the first place…. (Sorry about rude guests BTw)

stuartJul 20, 2023

Having my usual post-holiday tidy, and came across this. Interestingly enough from 2004, the summer before DME was brought in.

bjlc57Jul 20, 2023


DisneyDreamerxyzJul 20, 2023

the thing about Magical Express is that Disney never operated it, it was operated by Mears but marketed as “Disney@ and Disney castmembers had to take the blame for any and everything that wrong. We spent so much time at the front desk scheduling and rescheduling their buses which a lot of guests were rude about and felt untitled to even though it was a free service! castmembers used to print and hand deliver thousands of DME notices to guest rooms everyday and all that time and energy and resources are being used now in better ways. Now front desk cast members are in no way responsible if someone oversleeps and misses their bus or is running late for their flight. Everyone is responsible for their own arrangements and we make it clear Mears Connect is a third party service.

larryzJul 20, 2023

Except the Disney philosophy is "Charge it -- they'll pay it. If they don't, then throw 'em a discount bone and make the money back with a sneaky upcharge."

dreday3Jul 20, 2023

Yes, that's why my post emphasized that it works for us because there is just two of us and that I understand it wouldn't work for families, etc. as well as ME did.

Fido ChuckwagonJul 20, 2023

Ubers also don't fit a standard family of 4 with young kids and luggage/stroller. Even an Uber XL doesn't.

Mousebucks6Jul 20, 2023

Uber for 2 is a great thing. When it's 8, it becomes much more complicated (and costly). That's where DME was great for our party. Simple to plan and just roll with the start to the trip.

dreday3Jul 19, 2023

While I liked the DME because it was free and it was the "start" of vacation - honestly Uber was so much better this last trip for the two of us. We were off the plane, grabbed our bags and at hotel in less than an hour from landing! No stops, it was nice. Even if DME came back, I don't think we'd use it again. I know it's different for families, those traveling with a lot of luggage or people with physical limitations though. DME was a big benefit loss for them. And I do miss airline check-in at the resorts immensely.

TrainsOfDisneyJul 19, 2023

I’m sure all of Disney’s partners want to maximize profits and Disney continues to work with them.

MR.DisJul 19, 2023

I loved the DME as much as anyone. The ease of getting off a plane, strolling to the bus to my resort, and having my luggage appear. Even bigger, having the ability to check our luggage at the resort upon leaving and not have to get it checked at MCO which we all know is a nightmare. The truth is DME is not coming back. Mears had all the numbers and knew the number of people who used it. They already had the expertise. So they could monetize this to maximum their profit. There is no way Mears will agree to be Disney's carrier again unless they will increase their profits (and we all know Disney is not in the habit of over paying their vendors). There is really no bad guy here, Disney did not want to overpay and Mears wants to maximize profits.

IncomudroJul 19, 2023

Add to that, the current negative and stress of getting on your phone before 7AM and working like a maniac on Genie+ to try to secure Lightning Lanes.

JD80Jul 19, 2023

I talk about this all the time. For repeat guests there was a cadence to a WDW vacation that got you excited and prepped for everything. 180 Days - Booked ADRs which got you thinking about your trip 60 Days - Booked FP which got you excited - trip is 2 months away! 30 Days - Magic Bands arrived in a cool package. Trips is almost here! Got my luggage tags etc. It was almost like a ritual and there was a certain cadence behind it. Now it's just pay, book some dining and then seeya when you get here. When everything was in place you were reminded that you have a trip coming up and it felt different than any other vacation.

IncomudroJul 19, 2023

100% It was all part of the excitement of the trip - particularly with kids involved. One of those many things that made Disney - "Disney" that have been eroded away.