It used to be that if you flew to Orlando, you were either renting a car, grabbing a taxi, or taking a shuttle from the airport to Disney World. Obviously, this can be costly and not so magical at times. I remember a time when Disney didn’t even offer onsite transportation for its guests – but that’s another blog for another day. In May of 2005, Disney started offering Disney’s Magical Express – complimentary (yes, that means FREE) roundtrip transportation for all of its onsite guests from and back to the Orlando airport. Not only that, they will take care of your luggage for you as well. Here’s how it works.
You or your Travel Agent will have the opportunity to enter your flight information into your booking and to request Disney’s Magical Express (DME). Don’t have your flight booked yet? No problem – you can go ahead and request the DME and get back to Disney with your flight details. Once the trip is booked and paid for, the anxious waiting begins for your “Mickey Mail”. What’s Mickey Mail? You get your package information, including all of the instructions and luggage tags for DME, from Walt Disney World (or your Travel Agent) a couple of weeks before your trip. This is obviously a very exciting time because it means you are going to Disney World in a couple of weeks!
This packet is important for many reasons – 1) as mentioned, your luggage tags are included. These will allow your luggage to go from your home airport straight to your hotel room at Disney. No bothersome waiting at the crowded carousel in Orlando baggage claim! Score! 2) Your booklet will have all of the information the friendly DME Cast Members at the Orlando airport will need to get you on the right motorcoach and on your way to your Magical destination. It really is a very efficient process. Finally, 3) the packet has everything a normal Magic Your Way packet would contain, including a detailed layout of your particular package and what it includes as well as those nifty coupons in the back of the book for Magical Extras like fishing, miniature golf, and the spas at Disney World.
Going to Orlando
The day you leave for Walt Disney World, slap the luggage tags onto your checked baggage. Once you get to your home airport, check in as you normally would, and be prepared, if you have not done so already, to pay those hefty checked baggage fees (depends on your airline). The person checking your baggage will add the airline’s luggage tag, and you can be on your way! After a comfortable and quick (hopefully) trip, you will arrive in Orlando. Rather than going to baggage claim to get your bags, make your way to the shuttle to take you to the main terminal. Once you get to the main terminal, go down to Level 1 on Side B, and follow the signs until you get to the DME Welcome Center. Follow the blue Mickeys and check in with the Cast Members. Give them your booklet – they will scan the codes in it to check you in. From there, they will guide you to where you will meet your Magical Motorcoach.
Keep in mind that you will potentially be on the bus with people from other resorts, and you may not be the first stop (we were the last of 4 resorts). That’s ok – they have tvs on board to entertain you, or you can just stare longingly out the window, like I did, until you see this:
It’s also a good thing to remember, while you are waiting for others around you to be dropped off at their resorts, that you could be waiting at the baggage carousel or the rental car counter.
The return trip
There is a major drawback to the DME – you have to meet the motorcoach for your return trip back to the Orlando airport at least THREE hours before your departure time (make that FOUR hours for international flights). The upside though? You get to turn in your luggage, check in for your flight, and print your boarding passes AT YOUR RESORT on the day you leave. Our luggage tags and boarding passes were actually delivered to our room that morning. Nice! We were able to hit the parks for the morning and be back in time to catch the Express back to the airport that afternoon. Again – you may or may not have to share the coach with other resorts, which is why they ask that you board three hours prior to your departure time.
Disney transports your luggage to the airport for you. When you get home, all you have to do is head to your airport’s baggage claim and pick it up. Super easy.
Is it a perfect system? No. If you are super anxious to get to the parks when you arrive into Orlando, you may want to consider renting a car. As I said, you will share your motorcoach with other resorts. Luckily, I planned accordingly and made our dinner reservations for long after we arrived. Those of you who have tight timing, though, may want to find a quicker option. Same goes for anyone who may want their luggage right away. It can take up to 3 or 4 hours to get your luggage in your room. Best thing to do is to plan and get what you may need right away into your carry-on. My husband and I packed a change of clothes, our bathing suits, and, of course, all of our medications in our carry-on baggage. That’s a good rule even if you aren’t using the DME – luggage can get lost no matter how you get to Orlando!
If you would rather use every last second of your final day at the World enjoying the parks, you may want to skip DME as well. As mentioned before – you have to meet your coach three hours before your departure time. That means you have to leave your park and get back to your resort in time to do that, which can take a little while as well. We were fortunate and did not have to share our coach with other resorts (or they were picked up before us), but the drawback was that we had to sit at the airport for an hour and a half waiting for our flight – we got there so early. Honestly, I would rather get there early than late, but some folks like to live on the edge.
The bottom line is that although the DME does involve some waiting, it really is as efficient and painless as Disney can make it. And it’s FREE. What is vacation without relaxing and enjoying a little scenery, even if it is the highway between MCO and WDW? Try it out on your next trip!
Some things to be aware of:
International Guests flying into Orlando International Airport from another country must follow the U.S. Customs and Border Protection process and claim luggage after disembarking the plane.
Luggage delivery service provided by Disney’s Magical Express is available for flights arriving between 5:00 am and 10:00 pm daily. For airport arrivals after 10:00 pm, Guests may collect their luggage at Baggage Claim and transport it with them on the motorcoach.
Please note that you cannot reserve the luggage service exclusively. You must be present on the motorcoach to have your luggage transported to a Walt Disney World hotel.
Resort Airline Check-In Service is available for domestic flights only, will require a valid government issued ID and your hotel room key, and works with the following airline carriers:
- AirTran Airways
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- JetBlue Airways
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- US Airways
Car seats will need to be stowed below with the luggage, and children can sit in a parent’s lap or in their own seat. Service animals only, and no pets, are allowed on the motorcoach.
Baggage fees for Resort Check-In Service (on the return trip):
Guests must contact Baggage Airline Guest Services at (407) 284-1231 to pay any airline fees in advance of visiting the Resort Airline Check-In desk, which will have a record of the payment transaction. Airline luggage fees cannot be collected at the check-in desk. Fees vary by airline. Guests should inquire with their specific airline as to what fees might apply.
800-670-4312, extension 133