This is one of our favorite perks to staying at a Walt Disney World resort. The free ride to and from the airport is nice, but I really enjoy not having to deal with the luggage! In this guide, we’ll look at everything you need to know about using the Disney Magical Express.
What is Disney Magical Express?
Magical Express (aka Magic Express or “the sad bus” as my son calls it when we take it back to the airport) is the airport shuttle service operated by Walt Disney World in partnership with Mears Transportation. It provides motorcoach transportation from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to all Disney World resort hotels and back again. It is important to note, it runs ONLY between MCO and Walt Disney World. Although Sanford is considered an Orlando area airport, the Magical Express does not serve that airport.
The buses are very nice coach buses with fabric seats and TV entertainment. The TVs show new Mickey Shorts cartoons, some Disney Trivia, and information about the resorts. They run continuously from the airport to all resorts owned and operated by Disney.
Is Disney Magical Express Free?
Yes! Magical Express is complimentary for guests staying at any Walt Disney World resort hotel.
What Hotels Does Disney Magical Express Go To?
Here is a list of the participating hotels:
- Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
There are a few hotels on the Walt Disney World property that do not offer the service; for example the Swan and Dolphin hotels as well as the Disney Springs area hotels.
How Does Disney Magical Express Luggage Transfer Work?
Not only does Magic Express get you to your resort, but it will also get your luggage there. Of course, they do it in typical Disney style too. You don’t have to worry about stopping by Bell Services at some point, your luggage will be delivered directly to your room! Even if you’re not there. I probably enjoy this aspect more than I should openly admit. There is just something about arriving, hitting the park, and returning to my room to find my luggage waiting for me there.
What Time Does Disney Magical Express Run?
The option is there if you’d prefer to swing by the carousel on your way to the bus and take your luggage with you. In fact, this is necessary if you’re arriving anytime between 10 pm and 5 am. Although the busses are available anytime, the luggage service is restricted between those hours (5 am-10 pm).
How Will They Know MY Bags?
Once everything is booked and registered (more on that later), Disney will mail luggage tags to your prior to your departure. These will be yellow tags that go on your checked luggage. This allows the Disney cast members to identify and collect your bags at the airport to have them sent directly to your hotel. This means you do NOT have to go to the baggage carousels and collect your bags!
Your bags will be delivered directly to your room at your resort later that day.
Delivery usually takes about 3 hours. I’ve heard stories of it taking up to 6 hours, but I have personally never experienced that. At least not that I’m aware of. As I said, we like to arrive and then head out, if not to a park – at least Disney Springs.
I cannot stress this enough; Pack anything you’ll need immediately in your carry-on bag!
Medications, diapers, MagicBands, sunscreen, swimsuits, possibly a change of clothes (we travel from PA in the winter; what we wear to the airport is not what we usually want to be wearing in the parks), etc.
I know I just said immediately, you may want to consider the first 24 hours though. While rare, luggage does get misplaced and could take some time to get to you. Better to have those meds with you than to be left scrambling to figure out a replacement.
How To Make A Magical Express Reservation
This part is really easy. So long as you’re using our services, we take care of it for you. However, if you’re not, there are a few different ways to add a Disney Magical Express reservation:
- Have your travel advisor add it for you. We’ll ask for your flight information and then supply that to Disney on your behalf.
- If you made your reservation online directly with Disney and already have your flight information, you can enter it during the booking process. Just select “Add Ground” and fill out their form.
- You may always call the Disney Reservations line too. The Guest Services agent will be happy to assist you. This option might take some time.
What Terminal Is Disney Magical Express?
Disney’s Magical Express is located on Level 1 of the B Side at the Orlando International Airport. It is very well signed and you can generally follow the crowd of people also wearing Disney apparel. Or, if you want slightly more specific instructions:
- After you depart your plane, follow signs to Ground Transportation. You will take a short train ride to the main terminal from your gate.
- Once in the main terminal, find the B Side.
- Take the elevator, stairs, or escalators down to Level 1.
- Follow the signs to Magical Express at the far end of Level 1.
Remember our packing tips? The first thing they’re going to ask will be to scan your Magic Band (each person in your party needs their band). In case you’re picking your MagicBands up at the resort, or you forgot and packed them or left them at home, they can also pull your information by your Disney confirmation number. If you left them at home, you still don’t need to worry. Guest Services at your resort will be able to assist with replacements. Once you’re all checked-in, they will direct you to the correct bus for your resort.
**Pro-tip: Although rare, if you want to be dropped at a resort other than the one you’re staying at, now is the time to mention it. If you try to alter it while registering for Magical Express that will be the resort your luggage is sent to. That will certainly delay it’s arrival to you.
How Long The Disney Magical Express Take?
The Disney Magical Express drive itself takes only about 30 minutes to get to Disney World, depending on traffic.
However, I usually estimate 90 minutes from the time my plane lands to the resort. This allows time for getting to the Magical Express area at the airport, time waiting for your bus to depart (which can be up to 20 minutes), and the drive time itself. Your driver will ask several times about which resorts everyone is going to. Each bus will make up to four stops at different Disney World resorts. If your resort happens to be the first stop, then you can expect a slightly shorter trip. Just be sure to pay attention to where you’re stopping… While not impossible, it can be a pain to travel from one resort to another.
Does Disney Magical Express Go To Sanford?
As mentioned before, Magical Express only services Orlando International Airport (MCO). Your best option to get from Sanford Airport (SFB) is to use a ride-share (like Lyft), rent a car, or another ride service.
Do I Have To Use Magical Express?
While the Magical Express is the only free way to get from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to Disney World, you still have options.
- A one-way trip from MCO to anywhere on Disney World in an Uber or Lyft will generally cost $35 and up depending on the type of rideshare you get.
- A taxi will start at about $50. There are various other services you can use to get from MCO to Disney World, from town cars to limos.
- And of course, you can rent a car at Orlando International Airport and drive yourself.
Remember, once you get to your resort there are other ways of getting around Disney World, you can read about that in our Getting Around Disney World Guide.
How Does Magical Express Work For The Return Trip?
If you have Magical Express scheduled for your return to MCO Orlando Airport, you’ll receive the paperwork on your door the day before departure. This is always a bittersweet moment for us. While we always like returning home to friends, family, and pets. It is still sad leaving. 🙁
Sad as it may be, this paperwork is important and difficult to replace. It will list not only your resort departure time, approximately 3 hours before your plane departs, it will also act as your return ticket. The driver will collect that letter from you when you board the bus. Please be on time and have the letter. Tardiness and misplaced letters can delay other guests returning home potentially making for stressful situations.
I suggest being at the Magical Express bus stop (usually very close to the same place where you were dropped off) about 10 minutes before your pick-up time.
How Does Resort Airline Check-In At Disney Work?
As much as I love my bags being delivered to my room; this may actually be my favorite part of the service! Walt Disney World resorts offer a wonderful service called “Resort Airline Check-In”. This allows you to check-in for your flight, receive your boarding passes, and check your bags right at your hotel!
This service is available to all guests at the resort, it is not limited to those using Magical Express for their return trip. It is, however, limited to participating airlines:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines (U.S. Domestic Flights Only)
- JetBlue Airways
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
The Resort Airline Check-In desks are found in the same area as Bell Services and the Magical Express bus stop.
Here are some of the important rules for Resort Airline Check-In:
- The Resort Airline Check-In is open daily from 5:00 AM to 12:00 PM (noon).
- Guests must check-in no later than 3 hours prior to their scheduled flight departure, flight delays do not extend this time, to use this service. You may check your bag as early as you’d like.
- All guests must be present for check-in and have their ID, starting October 1, 2020, they must also be REAL ID compliant.
- If you are using Magical Express and would rather keep your bags with you, that’s not a problem either. You may take your bags with you and they will be stored under the bus. Bell Services will keep them secure for you if you don’t want to carry them throughout the day.
What Time Will Magical Express Pick You Up?
Your Magical Express pick up time will be about three hours before your scheduled flight departure. You’re probably wondering, why so early? Well, your bus may make up to three additional stops at other resorts before going to the airport. Also, MCO is a busy airport with more than 46 million annual passengers. It is the busiest airport in Florida and the 11th busiest airport in the U.S. Yes, even with all of that traffic J.D. Power ranked it “Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Mega Airports” in 2017 and 2018.
Disney’s Magical Express runs 24 hours a day. Although the buses are always running, remember the luggage service is only for arrivals between 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM. Those are actual arrival times, not scheduled. So if you land late it means you’ll be gathering your bags from the carousel yourself. Do keep track of where you are. Your carousel may not be in the same terminal that the Magical Express departs from. So you may wind up taking your luggage back through the airport to the other terminal.
Is There Magical Express At Disneyland?
Sorry, no. Disneyland doesn’t offer complimentary airport bus transfers like Walt Disney World. You may still arrange transfers through Disney, there will just be a charge to it.
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