Sunday, 17 September 2017

Walt Disney World - What's What: Magical Express

What is the Magical Express?

Magical Express is a transportation service which is effectively owned by Disney but operated by Mears, a huge transportation company in Orlando who offer various shuttle and private transfers.

Magical express are a vast fleet of coaches which can easily be recognised by the almost vintage style, blue and cream design, as well as a rather cute picture of mickey mouse in a chauffer hat. 
If you are travelling to or from Orlando International you will undoubtedly see numerous M.E coaches along the way.

ME runs continuously throughout the day between Orlando International airport and all of the Walt Disney World resorts/hotels. Please note Magical Express is not available from Sanford or Tampa airport. 

Who Can Use Magical Express

ME is available, and more importantly FREE (yes I said free) to anybody staying at a Disney resort or hotel travelling from Orlando International Airport. 

Magical Express will generally be automatically added when you book a package staying at a Disney hotel, but double check with your travel agent at the time of booking to make sure they have added it on. If you opt for car hire instead the magical express will be removed.  

A form of voucher will be included in your holiday documentation from your travel agent or from the WDW travel company if you book directly with them. This is what you will use to access ME when you arrive at Orlando International, you don't need to do anything else in between like check in online or reserve seats. 

I've made it through what?

The chances are you've just spent the last 2 hours stood in a room full of people queuing up for the biggest interrogation since you first brought your other half home to your parents, but fear not, you are almost there. 
First things first, make sure you get your luggage off the carousel. You will have most likely been staring at it for the last half an hour as it can take so long to get through US customs.

(Some posts from the US might discuss not having to collect your luggage and having it taken straight to your resort, but this service is not available to visitors from the UK.) 

So grab your bags and then make your way towards the terminal train. The first monorail of your trip. The train journey is literally only 2 minutes long and takes you directly to the main terminal. Don't worry about getting off at the wrong stop, there is only 1.

Once you arrive at the main terminal you will see signs for A and B. Magical Express is located at B side and from here on is clearly signposted. You will need to take the lift down to the 1st Floor and if you are facing out the windows ME is all the way up the concourse on your right.

When you get to the ME area there will be cast members ready to check you off their list.

You may see US travellers having their magic bands scanned but you will get yours at the hotel so have your travel documents ready. There is normally a page at the back somewhere that acts as a sort of voucher. If for any reason you haven't got this to hand they will be able to simply check your hotel reservation and name and find you.

 They will then direct you to the correct coach as there will be multiple waiting outside at any one time.

The driver will take your bags and stow them underneath the coach. Now all you need to do is find a seat, sit back and relax.

On Board the Magical Express

The coaches inside are nothing more than any coach you would find at home. There is a toilet but there isn't a drink service or anything like that so if anyone in your party is thirsty or might need a drink shortly, take a minute to grab one when you arrive on level 3 in the main terminal.

Although it only takes about 5-10 minutes (depending on how much luggage you are lugging) to get to the ME, you could be waiting anywhere up to 30 minutes for it to set off as it will wait until it is pretty much full. I will add though, that I have never waited more than about 10 minutes before we hit the road. 

The journey itself will take approximately 30 minutes but could be slightly more if it is stopping at multiple hotels and yours is the last one. 

As soon as you set off a video will begin playing on the overhead screens that will go through some fun information about both the ME and Disney World itself. Kids normally love it and its a pretty fun way to start your Disney holiday, especially if its your first time.

The video generally runs the entire length of the journey but if you are one of the last stops then you might get to watch one of the old mickey mouse shorts afterwards! 

See Ya Reel Soon

Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end, but the ME will extend your Disney experience just a little while longer. 

The day before you are due to leave for the airport you will find an envelope comes under your room door with information for your party, so that you know when and where to catch the ME back to the airport.

You will catch the coach for departure somewhere at your hotel, generally near the front desk/reception area but this may vary at bigger resorts that are more spread out. It will usually be around 4 hours before your flight time if you want to make any plans for that last morning. 

Another good thing to note is that you can store your luggage at your resort for free which means you can head to Disney Springs or back to your favourite park for one last time before heading to the airport. 

Once again a video plays for the length of your journey and shares fun info and facts about both the ME and Disney World (I'm sure its filled with subliminal messages, as I am usually pricing up my next trip whilst waiting for my flight home).

My thoughts on Magical Express

In my eyes, Magical Express is the ultimate in convenience and a fantastic way to start your holiday. You will have just flown around 9 hours and be undoubtedly tired. The last thing I would want to be doing is collecting a hire car and negotiating the I-4. 

The thought of driving on Orlando roads, or US roads in general terrifies me. They are huge, everything is the other way round and the rules are different to at home. I am on holiday so I don't want any extra hassle. Its also kind of nice to not have to be driving and ferrying people about for 2 weeks.

I understand a lot of people like hiring a car and the freedom it gives you, especially if you are staying off site, but I have 2 thoughts on this subject.

1. If you are staying offsite, parking at Disney is reallllly expensive! $20 a day to be exact. And most hotels nearby offer free shuttles or you could look into using the local Lynx bus system. (I should have more info on this after my next trip, as we will be staying offsite for the first time)

2.If you are staying onsite you can park for free I know, but then you really might as well do your bit for the environment, save petrol money and make use of the fantastic Disney transportation system. In most cases the bus will get you much closer than the parking lot and if you plan on enjoying a cocktail or drinking round the world at Epcot you can! Plus Disney transportation is really part of the experience.
If you are staying onsite but want to see more of Orlando, consider using Uber rather than hiring a car just for the sake of a trip to the outlets or I-drive. Uber's are cheap, quick to request and easy to use, plus their drivers know the Orlando roads a lot better than you do.

If you have any other questions regarding magical express or any other part of your Disney trip, do not hesitate to contact me using the form below and I will be sure to get back to you!

K x


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