Disney World’s Magical Express

Magical Express is a free bus service.  When you’re staying at an on-site Disney World resort, it includes ground transportation from the Orlando International Airport to Disney resorts (excluding Swan and Dolphin).  Magical Express will also transport your luggage from your departure airport to your Disney World resort.  Once you check your luggage in at your departure airport, you won’t see it again until a few hours after you arrive at your resort.  (Remember to pack a carry-on bag with any essentials you may need the first few hours after your arrival.)  Of course, you don’t have to have your luggage transported for you.  You have the option to bring your luggage with you on the Magical Express, but it is so convenient to not have to worry about big luggage and have it magically delivered right to your room.  It’s a service that my husband and I both love.

Waiting for our bus to leave the airport in 2014.

Waiting for our bus to leave the airport in 2014.

She's such a trooper when we're traveling.

She’s such a trooper when we’re traveling.

You may be wondering how this all works.  It’s very simple.  When you book your trip, sign up for Magical Express Service.  You will need to provide your flight information no later than 10 days prior to your trip.  I always inform them of my flight information the moment I know which flights I will be traveling on.  I personally prefer to have all my ducks in a row as far in advance as possible.

A few weeks before your trip, you will receive Magical Express vouchers and luggage tags in the mail.  You will need to put luggage tags on all the luggage you will be checking in at the airport that you wish to have transported by Magical Expess.  You will receive one tag per person in your traveling party.  If you need additional tags, they can easily be requested.  If you plan to transport your own bags, they will not need luggage tags.  Anyone arriving at the airport past 10:00 p.m. Eastern time will need to pick up their own luggage and transport it themselves.  Magical Express does not offer luggage delivery after 10 p.m.

When traveling, make sure you carry your Magical Express vouchers with you on the plane in a carry-on bag or in your purse.  The vouchers act as your tickets when checking in with Magical Express.  Although, the past two times I’ve traveled to Disney World, we’ve been able to use our Magic Bands to check in for Magical Express Service.  However, I still carry the vouchers with us just in case they need to see them.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.  If by chance you do forget your vouchers at home or pack them in a checked bag, just go up to the Magical Express desk at the Orlando International Airport and they will be able to assist you.

My daughter waiting in the Magical Express line in 2013.

My daughter waiting in the Magical Express line in 2013.

Once you arrive at the Orlando International Airport, head to the Magical Express check-in desk.  They will scan your vouchers or Magic Bands, then you will enter into the Magical Express line for your resort.  You may wait 20-30 minutes before your bus arrives to pick you up.  We have never waited more than 30 minutes.  When the bus arrives, you will be directed to your bus.  Each bus stops at several resorts.  Expect that the trip to your resort may take up to an hour, but don’t worry, the buses play little videos to help get everyone excited about their Disney World vacation.

Talking to daddy in the seat behind her in 2013.

Talking to daddy in the seat behind her in 2013.

Magical Express pulling up to our resort in 2013.

Magical Express pulling up to our resort in 2013.

When you arrive at your resort, you can pick up any luggage you transported with you.  At this time, you should tip the bus driver if he helped you with any luggage.  The typical tip is $1 per bag, per traveler.  If you had Magical Express transport your luggage for you, then you do not need to tip the driver.  Even though we use Magical Express to deliver our luggage to our room, we still usually give the driver a dollar for our family of three.  It just seems like the polite thing to do, but it’s not expected.  The drivers we’ve had are always really nice to our daughter, so we feel they’ve earned a small tip.

If you used Magical Express luggage tags to have your luggage transported for you, then you will need to wait for your luggage to arrive to your room.  Magical Express will pick your luggage up from the airport and deliver it to your resort.  It typically takes 3-4 hours for your luggage to be delivered to your resort room.  You don’t need to be present in your room when the luggage is delivered, and you don’t need to tip the delivery person.  If you aren’t in your room, the delivery person will leave your luggage inside your room.  We like to head out to dinner or to a park shortly after arrival, so we’re never in the room when our luggage is delivered.  At the end of the day, it’s nice to come back to our room and find our luggage waiting for us.

The day before you depart, a note will be delivered to your room with a Magical Express pick-up time.  This pick-up time tells you what time you will need to board your bus to head back to the airport.  Pick-up times are 3 hours before your flight, and you can’t change the time.  Please do not miss your Magical Express bus because you may not be able to ride on another one.

Another nice feature is most airlines participate in resort airline check-in.  With resort airline check-in, your boarding passes will be delivered to your room.  You can also check-in your luggage at your resort and they will transport it to the airport for you.  This is a wonderful service, but make sure you check-in your luggage at least 30 minutes or more prior to your bus pick-up time.  The line may be long to check-in your luggage, and if you can’t get them checked-in by the time you’re supposed to be on the bus, you will need to take your luggage on the bus with you.  One year, my husband and daughter were super slow about leaving our room on check-out day, and by the time we got to the resort airline check-in desk, we didn’t have enough time to wait in the long line.  We ended up having to bring all of our luggage with us, and one of the bags was 48 lbs.  It was not fun having to deal with that bag.  The next year, my husband dropped off our bags a couple hours before our bus pick-up time.  Live and learn.

You don’t need to be using Magical Express Service to use the resort airline check-in.  It is available to all Disney resort guests.  The resort airline desks are usually located in the lobby or entrance area of the resorts.

The following airlines participate in resort airline check-in:

  • AirTran Airways
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Continental Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Northwest Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Air Lines
  • US Airways

Please note that specific airline bag check fees may apply.  You will need to call Baggage Airline Guest Services to find out more information on luggage fees.  The phone number is 407-284-1231.  Luggage fees need to be paid in advance.  If your airline doesn’t have bag check fees, don’t worry about calling.

Once your luggage is checked-in, you won’t see it again until you arrive at your home airport.  You will pick it up at baggage claim.

Magical Express is just one of the many reasons why staying at a Disney resort can be worth the extra money.  This free service is a gem.  It makes traveling so much easier.  My husband is all about hassle-free traveling, and if it’s free, it’s even better.

Additional information about Magical Express:

  • The resort airline check-in desks are open from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m  If your flight is before 8:00 am, you will not be able to check-in your luggage.  You will need to transport your luggage with you on the Magical Express bus.  Unfortunately, you are not able to check-in your luggage the day before.
  • Since the check-in desks are similar to airport curb-side service, it is appropriate to tip the person handling your luggage.
  • If your airline is not listed above, you may not check-in for your flight or check-in your luggage at your resort.  You can still use Magical Express Service, but you will need to transport your luggage with you on the bus.
  • Using Magical Express one way instead of round trip is an option.
  • Magical Express only operates from the Orlando International Airport.  You can not use this service if you are flying into a different airport.
  • Car seats are not needed on Magical Express buses.  If you are traveling with a car seat for your child, it will need to be stored under the bus with the luggage.
  • There is a bathroom on the bus.
  • Big luggage will need to be stored under the bus, but smaller bags can usually be taken on the bus.
  • If you are transporting your own luggage to the airport via the bus and you have a late pick-up time, you can store your luggage with Bell Services until you are ready to head to your bus.  This is convenient if you plan to hit the parks on the morning of your departure, or you want to participate in other activities before leaving.  Just make sure you leave yourself enough time to pick up your luggage and head over to the bus pick-up location.
  • If booking your trip through a Disney Travel Agent, like me, we will take care of adding Magical Express Service to your vacation package for you.

I really do love using Magical Express on our trips.  It is convenient and easy to use, and it’s one less thing I have to worry about.  I highly recommend this service to anyone staying at an on-site resort.