One of the benefits of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort is Disney’s Magical Express, a complimentary motorcoach service which runs from Orlando International Airport to almost every resort on Walt Disney World property and is exclusive to guests of Walt Disney World. In many ways, your vacation begins the moment you step aboard the Magical Express.
Before we lived in Florida, we traveled several times a year from Connecticut to Walt Disney World. For many, seeing the Disney Store in Orlando Airport gets them excited for their vacation, for our family- it was the Magical Express. As I’ve gotten more into the blogging and social media world of all things Disney, I was surprised to find out that many families don’t know about the Magical Express, let alone utilize this complimentary mode of transportation. This article will provide you with everything you need to know about the happiest motorcoach on Earth!
HOW DO I GET MAGICAL EXPRESS?
The Magical Express is available only to those staying at Walt Disney World. However, guests staying at the Swan or Dolphin, Disney Springs Hotels and Good Neighbor Hotels, are not eligible for Magical Express.
If your resort reservation qualifies you for the service, it’s completely free. You will not be asked to pay a dime, or even tip the driver.
HOW DO I RESERVE THE MAGICAL EXPRESS?
Reserving your spot on the Magical Express begins the moment you have a resort confirmation number. I strongly suggest reserving your spot on the motorcoach as soon as possible. It’s one thing to cross off your Disney checklist and something you don’t want to miss out on.
If you’re working with a travel agent, they will be able to book this service for you. If you’re not working with an agent, the process is a little longer, but you can schedule it yourself on the Disney Resort website. You can also call (407)939-1936, and schedule it over the phone. It’s been my experience that working with a travel agent is the easiest way to go about making your Magical Express reservation.
WHAT ABOUT MY LUGGAGE?
As if a complimentary motorcoach to your Disney Resort wasn’t the best thing since Mickey waffles, it gets better!
Want to avoid baggage claim? A few weeks before your check-in, you’ll receive bright yellow Magical Express luggage tags. All you have to do is make sure you put the stickers on our luggage, check your bag and once it arrives at Orlando Airport, it will be sorted into the Magical Express bins. From there, they are loaded onto the corresponding Magical Express Motorcoach that your party will eventually be on. The only time this service is not provided is if you are arriving between 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM. If that’s the case, you will have to retrieve your bags at the baggage claim.
In many ways, the Magical Express is also a luggage delivery service. Using the yellow luggage tags, Disney not only loads it onto the Magical Express, but it will also deliver it to your room for you. Disney does request you allow 3-4 hours after you arrive at your resort, for your bags to be delivered to your room.
Disney Mom Tip: I’ve used both services for luggage with the Magical Express. I’ve checked my bags and had it delivered to our rooms, and in some cases where we had no checked bags, I handed my luggage off to the driver before I boarded. They are happy to load your bag on for you and retrieve it for you as soon as you’re at your resort and exit off the motorcoach.
If you’re planning on using their luggage delivery service, you can’t assume it will be there right away. Disney is very honest when they say it takes 3-4 hours. It’s still a great service to take advantage of, my only suggestion is to make sure you have some sort of carry on bag with anything you might need during the time you’re waiting for your luggage. I absolutely suggest having swimsuits and some SPF in your carry on and ready for when you check-in. Going to the resort pool is a great way to wait to kill some time before your luggage arrives. If you’re a mom, it goes without saying that you’ll have a carry on bag full of items you’ll need for your kids (And in some cases, our husbands. Am I right?).
OK, IM BOOKED ON THE MAGICAL EXPRESS. NOW, WHAT?
Once you arrive and make your way off your plane, you’ll notice tons of signs pointing you in the direction of Magical Express pickup. Orlando Airport has an A and B side. The Mag1ical Express is on the “B” side of the airport, and on the 1st floor (the floor beneath baggage claim).
You will check-in with Magical Express Cast Members and be asked to verify your Magical Express confirmation number and/or resort reservation. They may also scan your magic band, if you booked in advance, your Magical Express reservation will be linked to your band. From there, the Cast Member will tell you which lane to go in that leads to your resort specific Magical Express motorcoach.
Not all Disney trips are booked in advance. I’ve arranged Disney vacations at the last minute, leaving no turn around time for Magic Bands or anything regarding Magical Express. But of course, this is Disney and they’ve got you covered. Repeat after me, “Hakuna Matata!” If you have not received your MagicBand, be prepared to present your Disney’s Magical Express documents. If you have a Disney’s Magical Express reservation, but do not have documents, be ready to present government-issued photo identification and a Cast Member will assist you.
Disney Mom Tip: Magic Bands are extremely important! Remember before, I mentioned having a carry on bag with you at all times full of everything you’ll need? Magic Bands need to be in your carry on. Don’t put them in your checked bags. It seems easy to remember, but I’ve seen so many families at Magical Express check-in that have their bands in their checked bags. You won’t have access to those bags until hours after your arrival, neither will Cast Members.
WHAT’S THE MAGICAL EXPRESS RIDE LIKE?
Magical, the ride is extremely magical. Once you’ve boarded the motorcoach, be prepared to wait. I’ve waited anywhere from 5-20 minutes before the motorcoach is full and ready to leave the airport. Once you depart, the travel time to your resort can be anywhere from 30-45 minutes. It varies depending on traffic and if your resort is one of the last stops on that specific bus. There are usually 2 or 3 Resort stops per Magical Express.
The Magical Express motorcoaches are extremely comfortable and luxurious. Leave it to Disney, to actually make a motorcoach magical. First of all, I’ve never been on a dirty or messy Magical Express. They always seem to be clean and in pristine condition. Directly below the seat in front of you, you’ll find the perfect footrest for you (it’s so perfect, you wonder why the airlines don’t take a page from Disney’s book) and you can recline your seat if you’re looking to rest those eyes. The Magical Express has TV’s that play a Disne promotional video and Disney cartoons. The newer motorcoaches even have outlets for you to plug in your phone and charge it!
Once you arrive at your resort, you’ll exit off the motorcoach. If you have any bags on the Magical Express, this is when the driver will happily retrieve them for you. If you used the yellow tags and checked your bags, remember, they will arrive 3-4 hours after check-in.
WILL THE MAGICAL EXPRESS BRING ME BACK TO THE AIRPORT?
The day before you check out, a Magical Express transportation notice will be delivered to your Disney Resort hotel room. The departure time and place for your motorcoach ride back to Orlando International Airport will be on this notice. The time Disney assigns to you is based on your flight information either yourself or Travel Agent provided when booking the reservation.
To ensure that you do not miss your flight, motorcoach departure times are scheduled to allow time to travel to Orlando International Airport, make it through security checkpoints and proceed to your gate. I know that when you see your Magical Express pick up time and it’s 3 hours before your flight, don’t stress. Somehow I always think that’s a huge window of time and then I’m always stricken with anxiety as I’m waiting in the security checkpoint line. I’m happy to report, we’ve never missed a flight, but I have to give credit to the Magical Express for that.
Be sure to have your transportation notice ready when it’s time for your Disney’s Magical Express departure. Your motorcoach driver will collect the notice before you board. Your Magic Band can’t be used when returning to the airport.
MAGICAL EXPRESS QUICK Q&A
Q: Are service animals or pet dogs allowed on the Magical Express?
A: Yes. Service animals may travel on Disney’s Magical Express in the passenger cabin with their owners. Pet dogs may travel on Disney’s Magical Express if their owners are staying at one of the 4 pet-friendly resorts. Dogs must ride in the motorcoach’s passenger cabin, in an owner-provided pet carrier that fits safely in a seat.
Q: What are the hours of operation for Magical Express?
A: The Magical Express runs 24 hours. Although not all services, like luggage delivery, are available at all hours. However, no matter how late or early your flight, you’ll still have access to the Magical Express.
Q: Will I be able to bring a car seat on the motorcoach?
A: Child safety seats are not recommended for use on the motorcoach. Not all motorcoaches have seat belts and the seat belts that may be present may not properly secure the child safety seat. Your children can sit on your lap and your car seat can be stored with the other luggage.
Q: Can I take Magical Express to my resort, but another mode of transportation to the airport?
A: Yes. You can ride the Magical Express both ways, or just one way (either to your resort or from your resort to the airport).
DISNEY MOM TAKEAWAY
Overall, I highly recommend using Magical Express. I love that it’s complimentary and something Disney offers exclusively to resort guests. If you elect not to take the Magical Express, you’re looking at a $35-$50 Uber or Lyft ride. A Mears shuttle can be the same price, but they will charge you that per person.
The Magical Express is a wonderful and stress-free way to begin your Walt Disney World vacation. I have to confess, it’s not quite as magical when you’re returning to the airport, as PDD (Post Disney Depression) sinks in, but magical nonetheless! If you have any questions regarding Magical Express, contact your Academy Travel Agent and they’ll be more than happy to assist you.
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