Posts Tagged ‘Magical Express’

Disney World Arrival Day FAQ

by on May 13, 2014

For most guests, the first day of their Disney World vacation is a partial day. You arrive mid-day and then what? Do you rest? Play? Eat? How do you plan these things? Here’s what you need to know.


Your arrival procedures will vary depending on how you get from the airport to WDW.

Your arrive procedures will vary depending on how you get from the airport to WDW.

How long will it take me to get from the airport to my hotel?

The first thing to remember is that it often takes a minimum of 30 minutes after the plane lands to get to the point where you’re ready to leave the airport. This includes a disembarking the aircraft, a restroom stop, and collecting luggage (if you’re not having Disney deliver it). Be sure to factor this into your schedule.

After that, your timing depends on whether you’re using Disney’s free Magical Express transportation service or using a rental car. In both cases, you’ll need to budget 35ish minutes to drive from Orlando International (MCO) to Disney World.

If you’re using Magical Express, you may need to add up to 20 minutes for the bus to load at MCO. Additionally, the ME bus may transport guests from the airport to three or four different hotels. So, if your hotel is the first stop, then it will take just the 35 minutes to get from the airport to the resort. If you’re the fourth stop, then it may take up to about 75 minutes once you leave the airport.

If you’re using a rental car, the drive will take the same 35 minutes as the bus. However, you must collect your checked luggage yourself at the carousel (which is not always the case if you’re taking ME), and you’ll have to wait in line to get your car from the rental counter. Most of the time, this will be a 15 minute or so process. However, I have sometimes encountered HUGE rental car queues of well over an hour, while hour-long waits for ME almost never happen.

All of that is a very long way of saying that it will probably take you about an hour and a half from the time your plane touches down until the time you’re pulling up to your hotel, give or take, no matter how you’re getting to Walt Disney World.

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Do I Need to Rent a Car at Disney World?

by on December 13, 2013

There are few things that make Walt Disney World visitors as passionate as the question of whether or not to rent a car during their vacation. Some folks claim that you absolutely MUST rent a car. Others are horrified by the thought of spending money on a rental when there is perfectly good FREE transportation at Walt Disney World. The reality is that, as with most Disney questions, the answer to “Do I Need to Rent a Car?” is a resounding “It depends.”

If you're staying on Disney property, you qualify for free transportation from the airport to your hotel.

If you’re staying on Disney property, you qualify for free transportation from the airport to your hotel.

I was 100% in the no-rental camp for many years. During my first 20 or so family WDW vacations, we only rented a car twice, and those rentals were just because my husband was attending conferences on site and his company paid for it. I secretly laughed at folks who said that a car was necessary at Disney World. And then I stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for the first time, where I learned that having a car would have saved me hours of frustration and waiting.

Staying at a different resort, one a bit further afield, made me realize that the car rental question really has many answers depending on a number of factors. Here are some things to think about to help you decide whether renting a car at Disney World makes sense for your family’s vacation.

What is my budget?

If you’re staying on Walt Disney World property, free transportation via Magical Express is included with your stay. This will get you back and forth from the airport to Disney World. Once you’re on property, there is free transportation to the theme parks, resorts, Downtown Disney, and the water parks via an extensive system of monorails, boats, and buses.

This means that if you’re on a super strict budget and don’t want to allot any money toward in-vacation transportation, then you can certainly get around Walt Disney World without renting a car. No additional expense is required.

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Get to Know MCO: Things You May Not Know About Orlando International Airport

by on August 7, 2013

As a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, I’m also a frequent visitor to Orlando International Airport (MCO for those in the know). On some trips, I’ve spent more time at the airport than I have on park attractions, or in my hotel room. Here are a few tips to make Orlando International a better place to be, whether you’re zipping through or whether you’re hunkered down for hours due to flight delays.

There's no gum at the airport.

There’s no gum at the airport.

  • You can get some last minute souvenirs at the airport. Disney has two official merchandise stores in the main MCO terminal building. SeaWorld, Universal Studios, and the Kennedy Space Center each have one. The selections are not extensive, but if you forgot to get your dog walker a thank you gift, this is a good place for a spur-of-the-moment save.
  • You can get Harry Potter treats without a wait. The wait at the shops at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter can be positively otherworldly. The airport Universal shop stocks many Harry Potter items such as tees, wands, some Honeydukes brand candies, and Zonko’s oddities, and there’s rarely any wait.
  • There’s an arcade to keep the little ones busy. Look for the King Kong arcade in the main terminal.
  • There’s free wireless throughout the public areas. The former paid Internet kiosks are now inoperable.
  • There’s no gum anywhere. While chewing gum is an ear-popping remedy for many air travelers, you won’t find gum at MCO. Similarly, you won’t find gum at the area theme parks. It’s all part of an effort to help keep the parks clean, which I appreciate, but it can be frustrating at the airport. Bring a stash from home.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Disney’s Magical Express

by on July 25, 2012

Disney’s Magical Express is a service that provides free bus transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and Disney’s resort hotels, for guests staying at those hotels. While the word “FREE” always sounds good, there may be some situations where using Magical Express does not make sense. There are also some tips and tricks that can make your Magical Express experience better if you do choose to use it. Here’s what you need to know.

Who can use Disney’s Magical Express?

The Magical Express check-in desk at MCO

Registered guests of Disney-owned hotels are eligible for Magical Express Service. These hotels are:

  • Art of Animation
  • All-Star Movies, Music, & Sports
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas, Jambo & Kidani
  • Beach Club & Villas
  • BoardWalk & Villas
  • Fort Wilderness Cabins & Campgrounds
  • Caribbean Beach
  • Contemporary & Bay Lake Tower Villas
  • Coronado Springs
  • Grand Floridian
  • Old Key West
  • Polynesian
  • Pop Century
  • Port Orleans French Quarter & Riverside
  • Saratoga Springs
  • Wilderness Lodge & Villas
  • Yacht Club

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