What to Know About the Costly Replacement For Disney’s Magical Express

in Walt Disney World

mears magical express disney

Another piece of Disney magic is being lost soon, and Disney Guests are still in shock at the retirement of this transportation service.

Disney’s Magical Express takes Disney Resort Guests from Orlando International Airport to their Disney Hotel and offers an all-inclusive feeling to their Walt Disney World experience. The service is completely complimentary for those staying at a hotel owned and operated by Disney, and with Disney music, trivia, and games, the Magical Express often feels like Guests’ first “ride” of the their vacation.

magical express
Credit: Disney

The current stress-free experience of arriving at Orlando International Airport — which, pre-pandemic, also offered the benefit of luggage delivery for Guests’ checked bags — will be disappearing in 2022. With the 50th anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World starting months after Disney announced that Magical Express services would be ending, the news came as a shock to many Disney fans.

Here, we have the complete lowdown of what’s happening, along with information on its third-party replacement.

magical express empty
Credit: Inside the Magic Kelly C.

When is the Magical Express ending?

Disney’s Magical Express will end operations on January 1, 2022. On this date, the free Disney-run shuttle will not be offered any longer to Guests of Disney Resort hotels:

Disney’s Magical Express service will no longer be offered starting with arrivals January 1, 2022. The service will continue to operate for new and existing reservations made at Disney Resort hotels for arrivals throughout 2021.

Without this complimentary airport transportation, heartbroken Guests are sharing their opinion that there won’t be enough benefits to staying on Disney property. The announcement of the end of Disney’s Magical Express came a year after Disneyland Resort announced that they would be ending their airport shuttle service, as well.

Magical express
Credit: ITM Kelly C.

Will Disney’s Magical Express ever return?

Sadly, it seems the decision has been made to end the complimentary airport transportation service, and no further updates have been released regarding the return of Disney’s Magical Express. Guests, however, are trying get Disney to push that date back and have created a petition on Change.org to save Disney’s Magical Express. The petition now has almost 10,000 signatures and went viral on Twitter.

The petition “Save the Magical Express” reads:

On Jan.1 2022 Disney has announced the end of The Magical Express.

We think this is a massive mistake. We love The Magical Express and consider it an integral part of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort that needs to continue.

Save The Magical Express – Sign the Petition today.

magical express
Credit: ITM

The Magical Express, though a Disney service, is actually operated by Mears. There are still a couple of months to go before the end of the service in which Disney theoretically could announce an alternative to the Magical Express, especially with Biden recently announcing the return of international visitors. But at this time, Disney has not shared any updates.

What is the replacement and how much will it cost?

Mears, the company that currently operates Magical Express, revealed that it will be running a new shuttle service beginning January 1, 2022. Note that this is not a service operated by Disney, and instead, if you want to reserve your spot on this shuttle service, you will have to do so through this third party. (Of course, you can also rent a car or use a ride share service.)

Mears Connect, as it will be called, will offer a paid-for service with reservations available now. The shuttle service provides Standard or Express transportation options.

mears connect
Credit: Screenshot via Mears

The Standard service is a shared-ride service on a bus, van, or small vehicle, similar to the current Magical Express. The Express service is a direct service to your Disney Resort and back to the airport with limited to no wait time.

Round trips will cost adults $32.00 each and children $27.00. One way travel will cost adults $16.00 and kids $13.50. If you want premium direct service, you will have to pay $200.00 for four Guests and an additional $55.00 per extra Guest.

Just input where you are going, your flight information, and details about your party size on their booking page. According to the Mears website, an “arrival souvenir” and “entertainment” are also provided.

mears connect
Credit: Screenshot via Mears

You will board Mears Connect on level 1, ground transportation level, in terminal B, at Orlando International Airport. On your return trip, you will board Mears Connect at your Disney Resort.

What are alternative modes of transportation?

At this time, starting in January 2022, there will be no complimentary way of getting to your Walt Disney World hotel (although complimentary transportation to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, among other locations on property, will still be available for Resort Guests once they are at their hotel and traveling throughout Disney World) but it seems Uber may be the cheapest option.

Uber

An Uber from the airport to Disney World (not during a busy time of the day) typically costs around $30.00, which would mean around $60.00 for a round trip. If you are a family of four (two adults, two kids), that total cost for a standard round trip is $118.00 on Mears Connect, and you still may be making multiple stops, unlike an Uber.

cinderella castle at Walt Disney World
Credit: Disney

Taxi

When we looked online, one website stated that a taxi service would cost approximately $66.51. Again, keep in mind that this would only be for one way, meaning once you are ready to return to Orlando International Airport, you would need to request another taxi.

Rental Car

Renting a car is also an option for your next Disney vacation. After a quick Expedia search, it appears a 1-week car rental in early January 2021 totals around $300.00 for a regular-sized car, picking up and dropping off at MCO. Keep in mind that parking fees and gas will need to be factored into this rental car cost, but that convenience and freedom to explore Walt Disney World at your pace may outweigh that.

rental cars
Credit: The Truth About Cars

Train

Although not ready yet, MCO will have a high-speed train option in 2023 that Guests can use to get to Disney property. The Brightline train will travel from MCO to Disney Springs, at which time Guests can go to the Disney Resort bus area and hop on their bus to their Disney Resort.

Stay tuned for any further updates on the retirement of Disney’s Magical Express, and the launch of Mears Connect in January.

What do you think of Magical Express ending soon? Are you sad to see it go? Do you plan to book Mears Connect for your 2022 vacation? 

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