If you are flying into Orlando International Airport and are staying at one of 20+ selected Walt Disney World Resort hotels then you can take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express service which offers a complimentary round trip shuttle service and baggage delivery service.
Note that a few of hotels are excluded from the Magical Express service (see below).
Disney launched their deluxe air-conditioned motor coach Magical Express service in May 2005 during Disney’s “Happiest Celebration on Earth” year and it looked set to continue as a complimentary service to most Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the knock-on safety procedures, Disney’s Magical Express stopped delivering or collecting baggage on behalf of guests who now need to take their own baggage to/from the bus nor are they currently offering the in-Resort airline check-in service.
In January 2021, Disney announced that the Magical Express service would shut down on December 31, 2021. The reasons given by Disney were that guests now have more options to choose from for transportation including ride-share services which offer more flexibility to go where they want when they want.
Mears who currently operate Disney’s Magical Express bus service promptly announced that they would be starting their own Mears Connect service on January 1, 2022 but it will not be free.
A lot of Walt Disney World Resort guests are disappointed by Disney’s action as the Magical Express service is free and was a very convenient way to get from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World and potentially saved them several hundred dollars, especially for larger groups.
It seems more likely the decision was based upon cost as Disney have recently cut back on a number of complimentary services like free magic bands for resort guests and replacing Extra Magic Hours by an extra 30 minutes in the park in the morning.
It is reckoned that Disney’s Magical Express handled nearly 2 million passengers in its first year and its popularity has had an effect on other shuttle bus operators and rental car companies as people make use of the service.
If you are staying in Orlando and do not want to rent a car in Florida then it is another good reason to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort but this benefit will end when Disney’s Magic Express stops running.
You must make a reservation to use Disney’s Magical Express at least 30 days prior to arrival either through your travel agent or through Disney themselves; you cannot simply turn up when you land in Orlando. You will then be sent a Magical Express Service information packet containing your vouchers and luggage tags.
Note that the service operates with all airlines flying into Orlando International Airport but it does not run from the nearby Sanford airport.
The Brightline rail service between Orlando International Airport and Disney Springs opens in 2023.
Orlando International Airport Arrivals
If you are arriving on a domestic flight into Orlando, then you do not need to worry about reclaiming your bags, simply make your way to the Disney Welcome Center which is in the Main Terminal Building B side on Level 1.
The Magical Express bus will take you straight to your hotel and your baggage will be collected and delivered to your room within 3 hours of your arrival. You do not need to be there to receive it.
Travel time between the airport and the Walt Disney World Resort is around 45–75 minutes and the coaches may make up to three stops as they drop guests off at the various hotels.
If you are arriving on an international flight then you still have to claim your baggage in the International terminal, take them through U.S. Customs and Border Protection control and then hand them back to the airport officials. You can then make your way to the Magical Express bus and your baggage is then delivered direct to your room.
Orlando International Airport Departures
With most domestic flights you can check-in your baggage at the Resort Airline Check-in Desk at your hotel on the day of your departure and receive your boarding card. If you have a flight late in the day, you are then free to spend the rest of the day baggage free and no more queuing when you reach the airport.
Participating domestic airlines currently are American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines/Song, JetBlue, Northwest Airlines and United Airlines/Ted.
Note that international travellers can take Disney’s Magical Express but you still have to check-in at Orlando airport.
Pick-up time is approximately three hours before departure time for domestic flights and four hours for international flights.
Starting in February 2018, guests staying at Club-level at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts or Disney’s Boardwalk Resort can book a Disney Minnie Van back to the airport for a flat $150 fee.
Disney’s Magical Express - Excluded hotels
Guests staying at the following Walt Disney World Resort hotels cannot use Disney’s Magical Express service: the Walt Disney World Swan, Walt Disney World Dolphin, Shades of Green and the seven Disney® Springs Resort area hotels. The service is also not available for guests staying at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort or Disney’s Hilton Head Resort which are not located at Walt Disney World.