Friday, April 12, 2013

Favorites on Friday: Disney's Magical Express

Todays' Favorite on Friday is one of my favorite Disney services:  
Disney's Magical Express.

Disney's Magical Express is a complimentary bus service that shuttles guests between Orlando International Airport and their Disney Resort. When you use Magical Express, your checked luggage can also be delivered to your room, directly from the airport- no need for you to retrieve it yourself from the baggage area! A few weeks in advance of your departure, you'll receive a Magical Express envelope in the mail. You'll get a booklet with airport and baggage information, and a yellow Magical Express tag to put on your luggage. The tag has your name, as well as the resort name and resort area code. You'll say goodbye to your checked bags at your home airport, and the next time you see them, you'll be in your resort room! (You may also opt to retrieve and transport your luggage with you on the bus, if you prefer.)

Booklet and luggage tag. "EC" indicates that this bag is going to an Epcot area resort- specifically, Boardwalk.

Once you touch down in Orlando, simply follow the signs down two levels and head for the Magical Express Welcome Center. Cast members at podiums will scan your booklet and direct you to the proper line. Each line serves several resorts.

Depending on the time of day and the day of the week you arrive, you may have a short wait until it's time to board a bus. Which bus you get will vary- sometimes it will be branded with the Magical Express name, and sometimes you'll get a Disney Cruise Line bus. (During busier times, you may actually end up with a third party bus. Hopefully that won't happen- it's a little less...magical.)

Even though I'm usually in a hurry to arrive at my destination, I like when we make stops along the way- it gives me a chance to catch a glimpse of other resorts! Ride times vary, but you can usually count on about an hour between the time you arrive in Orlando and the time you check in to your resort. Once the bus is on the highway- a short ride out from the airport- the welcome video starts to play! Favorite characters greet you and give an entertaining rundown on what you're about to experience. Classic Disney animated shorts then play for the remainder of the trip, until you arrive at your resort destination.

I was surprised when I learned that some people don't like to use the Magical Express service. They prefer to have a car with them at Walt Disney World. They don't like waiting around for buses or boats, they want to be able to easily go offsite, they want the freedom of coming & going as they please. I'm definitely not one of these people! I love not having to drive, not having to park, not having to navigate traffic, not having to worry about having a few adult beverages as I stroll the parks and resorts. Not having to deal with airport rental counters? Also great. I'd rather leave all aspects of the driving to someone else.

Yes, the Magical Express to Walt Disney World is one of my favorite things. Do you know what's NOT one of my favorite things? Do you know what's actually one of the worst things ever?

There you are, going about about your vacation, having the best experience ever, and happens. One morning you wake up, and slipped under your door you find...this:

The dreaded return envelope. This is the harsh smack back to reality: vacation is ending. The paperwork inside tells you what time you need to meet the bus the following day. It's always way earlier than you think it should be. The Magical Express schedules you for bus departure approximately three hours before your flight time, to make absolutely sure you'll be to the airport and through security with plenty of time to spare. If you're flying with a participating airline, you can even check your bags and get your boarding pass right at your resort- extremely convenient.

The return trip to the airport when vacation is over is one of the saddest trips you'll ever take. Many a tear has been shed on these return buses. Sadly, this is where the Magical Express becomes known as the Tragical Express. I have no idea who first thought of that play on words, but it was no doubt someone who was headed back to the airport after an amazing Disney vacation...

Have you used Disney's Magical Express? What do you think of the service? Or, are you one of those people who prefers to drive yourself when you're on vacation? Tell us about your experience in the comment section!


  1. Oh how I love that Welcome Video! It's cheesy, forced, and awkward, but it means I'm THERE! And it makes me happy every time.

  2. AHhh, the Magical Express. Such a simple thing - a bus from the airport - but like all things Disney it becomes part of the experience. so full of potential. Wish I was on it right now!!!!

  3. I'm the same as you: I don't want to drive when I'm on vacation! Too stressful!