Remember how I like to stay inside the bubble of Disney when I head to Walt Disney World? Well, if you missed it, I do! I like not having to think about much of anything, including how I am going to get to and from the Orlando International Airport. Once I land in Florida, it’s good-bye to all responsibilities and cares.
Just kidding, I have two kids, so that last part doesn’t happen. I am, however, happy to land in Orlando and say good-bye to personally driving any type of vehicle for the duration of my Walt Disney World vacation.
The beginning of releasing my driving responsibilities starts with using Disney’s Magical Express from the airport. If you’re a first timer, or a first time flier to Walt Disney World, you might be wondering exactly how Disney’s Magical Express works. Let’s walk through the basics to help clarify any questions you may have.
Before Your Trip
Before you leave for your trip, be sure to sign up for Disney’s Magical Express after you book your stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. You’ll be prompted to link your flight information so Disney knows exactly when to expect you and when you plan to depart from your Disney resort. If for some reason you have trouble linking your information on the website, give Walt Disney World a direct call. They are happy to help you and link your information.
Plus, if for some reason you can’t remember if you linked your flight info to your myDisney experience, don’t worry. You are able to give Disney a call and they will help you out. This may, or may not, have happened to me two days before a recent trip.
A little before your trip, about 2-3 weeks out, Walt Disney World will be shipping your Magic Express luggage tags to your home. They will arrive in the mail and are currently yellow in color. Affix them, along with your normal luggage identifiers, to the luggage you plan to check on your airline.
If you have a flight arriving in Orlando between 5:00 am and 10:00pm, once you check your luggage at your respected airport, Disney will do the rest. The luggage will be ‘magically’ delivered to hotel room. (Because everything in Disney is magical…) You won’t have to go to the baggage claim area at the Orlando International airport. Instead Disney will claim it for you and ship it off to your hotel. If you have a flight arriving between 10:00pm and 5:00am, you’re going to have to pick-up your luggage yourself.
Luggage can take a little bit of time to arrive to your room, sometimes up to three hours, per Disney. So, be sure to pack anything you might need in that time frame in your regular luggage. Also be sure to include important items such as medicine, glasses, and so forth are kept in your carry-on luggage as well. I like to keep a bathing suit with me as well, that way nothing holds me back from going swimming.
Person Arrival to Airport
Now that we have the details regarding your luggage all squared away, let’s look more at what YOU specifically need to do once arriving at the Orlando International Airport. As mentioned above, you won’t need to go to the baggage claim area if your flight arrives between the hours of 5:00am and 10:00pm. Instead, head straight to the Ground Transportation Area in Terminal B on Level 1. Disney’s Magical Express is located on this level and is the place you want to head!
Be sure to keep your MagicBand in your carry-on luggage, or even better, keep it on your person. Slap it right on your wrist. You’re heading to Disney and will need to wear it for most everything, so might as well get a head start! The MagicBand is going to be your ticket onto the Magical Express. Your Magical Express reservations are accessed by having your Mickey head on your Magic Band touch the Mickey on the Magical Express check-in kiosk. If for some reason you do pack your MagicBand a cast member will help you. However, you can save yourself the trouble and keep the MagicBand with you! Besides, it completes your Disney ensemble.
Line-Up at the Airport
Once you’re checked in, a cast member will direct you towards a cue designated for your resort. You’ll head in that direction and then…wait. Sometimes you won’t have to wait very long, but often you have to wait for a little while before boarding your Magical Express. Just a heads up that it’s not instantaneous transportation.
Disney does a decent job at distracting you with Disney clips and trivia playing on tv screens over head. The time will move by quickly and you’ll be boarding your bus shortly. However, be sure to make a bathroom stop after your flight to alleviate any potty emergencies while standing in line. If you do get stuck, the Magical Express does have a bathroom on board.
Often, each Magical Express bus will have passengers for more than one Walt Disney World Resort. This results in multiple stops and a longer bus ride. Some rides can be as long as 45 minutes in length. This all depends on which bus stop you are and how far away your resort is from the airport.
While the ride can take up to 45 minutes in length, I have never felt like the ride takes very long. Maybe it’s the excitement of Disney? Maybe it’s watching Gus go over the safety guidelines or the short Mickey Mouse clips. Whatever it is, the ride won’t feel like it drags on forever, so don’t worry. If you do get bored, you can use the time to catch a quick nap so you can be ready to go once you arrive at your resort.
The day you leave your Walt Disney World resort is probably the saddest day ever. I guess all good things must come to an end eventually! Never fear however, you have one last ride in store for you. The Magical Express back to the airport!
The day before your scheduled check out, Disney will issue you a Magical Express notice. We’ve usually come back from a day at the parks to see it hanging on our hotel door. Cue the sad face.
Your flight information will already be in the Disney system on account of your use of the Magical Express on the way to your resort. The information has been in place since you signed up for the magical express. The transportation notice will have the exact time you need to depart your resort. Once you note the time, be sure to scope out the Magical Express departure location. If you can’t find it, just stop by the front desk or bell services and they will be able to point you in the right direction.
Disney gives you ample time to arrive at the airport, make it through security and catch your flight. The time listed for your resort departure is often three hours or more ahead of your flight. I have often thought this is too much time, but in the end, it really isn’t. It’s enough time to drive over to the airport and take care of every other detail required before boarding the airplane.
Once at the Magical Express departure location, be sure to hold onto the transportation notice that was issued to you the day before your departure. This is your ticket for boarding Disney’s Magical Express at your resort. You won’t be able to use your MagicBand for check-in like you did at departure. Don’t worry, if you’ve crammed the notice in your pocket and it’s super wrinkled, your Magical Express driver will still take it.
Once on board, get comfy and maybe start planning your return trip back to Disney. That’s the best possible way to end your vacation…
There ya go! The details regarding Disney’s Magical Express and how it is going to help you get to and from the Orlando International Airport. Transportation isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but Disney makes it enjoyable and relaxing. Enjoy your ride!