Of all the changes made to the Walt Disney World Resort over the past few decades, my favorite might just be Disney’s Magical Express. I know, that’s a pretty big statement considering the amount of change we have seen at Disney World. Hear me out, though! If you haven’t stayed on the Disney property before, you are missing out on a majorly satisfying experience. Here comes a primer on what it is and how to use it.
In 2008, my wife and I were on our honeymoon. It was my first time staying on Disney property and I was amazed when I received word that a bus would take us right to the Grand Floridian. Imagine the convenience of not hailing a cab or renting a car!
Flash forward a few years when we were staying at the Wilderness Lodge. This time, we were informed that not only would a bus take us to the resort, but they would pick up our bags for us! All we had to do was attach these extra, yellow tags to our bags and Disney would handle the rest. Perfect.
Disney’s Magical Express is a great service. The savings on the ride to the Resort alone makes it worthwhile, but the baggage handling makes it an amazing value. Having made the trip to Disney World multiple times, I know I can rely on this service without fail. Any time there was an issue, it was usually the fault of the airline. Even so, Disney engaged their magic to fix the problems and get us on our way.
Setting it Up
When you book your vacation, your friendly ConciEAR will ask for flight info. This can be added later but give it a few weeks if you want Disney to handle your luggage. Changes can often be made at the last minute if necessary. A few weeks before your trip, you will get a letter in the mail with instructions and your luggage tags. Hold on to that letter, if you can! The info is handy, and the letter can be your backup to get on the bus.
The day arrives and your family is on the monorail to the main terminal. You have all the time in the world to get through the next steps. I know the temptation to rush to the magic but take it easy! You don’t have to meet a specific deadline for the bus. Make your way to Terminal B and head down two levels. You will walk down an enormous and long hallway, past all the car rental agencies. When you make it to the end, present your Magic Band and you will be directed to the appropriate line for your resort’s bus. What’s that? You packed your Magic Bands in your bag? It happens, believe me. If you held on to that Magical Express letter, your confirmation number will make it easier for the cast member to find your reservation.
If you arrive before 5 am or after 10 pm, you will have to acquire your own bags. This can be a bit confusing, especially if you fly Southwest, JetBlue, or Frontier. In those cases, you must head to the Terminal A baggage claim first. Once you get your bags, you can cross to Terminal B for Magical Express. If you fly any other airline, you just need to gather your bags and head down one more level.
Take heed of Disney’s warnings! If they are picking up your bags, it will be several hours before they reach your room. Make sure you pack a change of clothes in your carry-on bags, especially if you are leaving a colder place to enjoy the Florida sunshine. When you arrive at your resort, your family will want to head to the Parks ASAP, right? If you don’t pack extra clothes, you might be stuck walking around the Magic Kingdom wearing Uggs and a flannel shirt!
Your vacation is winding down and it’s time to rejoin the regular world. On the last full day of your trip, you will receive another letter confirming your departure time. This might be somewhat earlier than you normally leave for the airport, but Disney wants to make sure everybody gets to their flights on time. If your flight is through one of six airlines, Alaska, American, JetBlue, United, Delta, or Southwest, you can check your bags at the hotel. This requires a bit of prep, as you must have your bags ready to go three hours before your flight. Take the time to get packed up early. Keep that Disney magic going for a few hours longer! Live like a celebrity and let somebody else take care of your heavy bags.
The drive both to and from the Resorts is a pretty smooth one. The Magical Express motor coaches are spacious, comfortable, and air-conditioned. Multiple TVs give recommendations on Park offerings and entertain with trivia, cartoons, and Disney Parks Blog videos. The newest addition to the fleet of busses is a USB charging port for every seat. If your flight drained your phone or your Nintendo Switch, plug it in and you’re good to go!
The drive can take up to an hour, depending on your resort’s location and the bus schedule. It’s a great time to review dining reservations and Fast Passes. Get the kids even more excited as they anticipate driving through the Disney World gates! The drive back is a great time to review photos and download anything taken by Disney photographers. It’s also a great time to contact your ConciEAR and start planning the next trip!
One point that some might not consider is tipping. The coach drivers work for Mears, the bus line, and not Disney. They do not make a big deal out of suggesting tips, but they definitely appreciate it. Keep a few bucks in your pocket and thank them for their hard work. Most of the bus drivers are quite entertaining on their own!
It happens. Things go wrong. Bags disappear, flights change, and pickup times are missed. Disney shines when its cast members get to solve problems for their guests, but don’t forget to give your travel planner a call. They’re here to help, too!
In cases where bags don’t make it on the right plane, Disney will usually give you a call and let you know. They will work with your airline to find your bags and get them delivered to your room as soon as they can. Those yellow tags are pretty robust like most airline tags, but I have had them fall off. In one case, my wife noticed one of our bags coming off the plane. She said the yellow tag was gone. Thankfully, we were able to stop by and grab it. If we hadn’t noticed, I have no doubt Disney would have been on the case.
Is that hurricane getting a little too close for comfort? If your flight changes, you can still get set up for a ride on Magical Express. If you contact your travel planner 24 hours in advance, they will be able to get you booked on another bus. If things are a little more last-minute, stop by the front desk at your resort. Same goes if you miss your bus. There may be space on another bus, but you might also have to find another way to get to the airport.
I hope this little review prepared you for your next stay on Disney property. Disney’s Magical Express has always been one of the highlights of the trip for my family. It’s a simple procedure that always delights. If you can’t wait to try out the service for yourself, let one of our travel planners know. Our ConciEARS will get you and your family booked up for your next Disney adventure!