When it comes to Walt Disney World, they have the act of getting guests from one point to another down to a science. Whether it’s getting from the airport to your on-property hotel or getting from your hotel to the theme parks, water parks or other attractions, it is possible to do it all without having to rent a car. This post is part one in our two-part series on Walt Disney World transportation (which is part of our overall series on Walt Disney World for Disneylanders). Our next post in this series will cover getting from your on-property hotels to the theme and water parks.
Transportation from the airport to on-property hotel resorts
If you have every flown in to LAX or John Wayne airport to go to the Disneyland, you know very well that there isn’t one great way to get to the Disneyland Resort from either airport. Disney doesn’t offer an official service and there a variety of options ranging from shuttles to buses to rental cars. Many families spend a lot of time stressing out on how they will get from the airport to the resort.
When traveling to Walt Disney World, however, this is definitely not the case. If you will be flying in to MCO (Orlando International Airport), Disney provides a free service to guests staying on-property called Disney’s Magical Express. This bus services runs around the clock and takes guests directly from the airport to their hotel. All you have to do is go toward the Disney’s Magical Express section of the airport (it isn’t difficult to find and everyone who works there knows exactly where it is) and you will be whisked off to your hotel. Here are a couple of things you need to know about Disney’s Magical Express:
- You need to arrange for it ahead of time. If you book through a (good) Disney-authorized travel agency, they should arrange for this for you. If you book through a large company like Costco or AAA, they likely will not arrange this for you. You will need to contact Disney on your own.
- Magical Express is ONLY for guests staying on-property at Walt Disney World. If you will be staying at a hotel off-property, you will need to contact your hotel to make your travel arrangements.
- Let’s say there are five people in your family and have booked a room that only accommodates four people as you are going to squeeze your three small children (over the age of three) into the room (one bed) so that you don’t have to book (and pay for) a larger room. If you do that, that one child you don’t tell the hotel about will NOT have a Magical Express ticket. You have to be honest about the people in your room in order to get those Magical Express tickets to and from the airport.
The best part of Magical Express is how you can have your checked luggage “magically” appear at your room upon arrival at the Resort. Here’s how it works:
- When you receive your Magical Express tickets in the mail, you will also receive special luggage tag stickers. Simply apply the tags to the luggage you will be checking in with the airline as recommended, and your luggage will magically appear in your room two to three hours after you arrive in Orlando. That means you don’t have to worry about getting your luggage once you get off the plane in Orlando; you simply get on the Magical Express bus and you are on your way to your hotel. (You will still have your carry-on luggage, which should contain the most important things your family will need upon arrival like medications, Magic Bands, etc.) If you will be arriving in Orlando after 10p.m., you may want to skip having Disney transport your luggage so that your bags are not arriving late at night once you are asleep.
When it is time to go home, your hotel will provide you with information on when you need to be ready to be picked up for your bus trip back to the airport and any other important information. Disney partners with a variety of popular airlines so that you can check your luggage AT YOUR HOTEL and not have to waste time doing so at the airport. They also provide a scale at the baggage check area at each hotel so that you can make sure your suitcase isn’t too heavy with all of the souvenirs you’ve purchased. (The scale is available to you even if Disney does not partner with your airline.)
Bell Services will hold on to any bags and such so that you can enjoy the parks and resorts until it is time for you to board your Magical Express bus back to the airport.
Car rentals and taxis
There are some people who prefer to rent a car at the airport so that they have their own transportation to and from the airport and while at Walt Disney World. Having your own car means you are not reliant on Walt Disney World buses and that you can leave Walt Disney World to visit some of Florida’s other wonderful attractions.
During one of our family trips, my parents had their own car. It was really nice to have because one night we were easily able to leave one of the miniature golf courses and then drive over to Epcot without having to deal with the bus system–which can often take a long time when going from one place to another. That being said, my dad found it difficult to navigate the large amount of roads in Walt Disney World while driving here and there (remember: it’s as big as a city) and his car’s navigation system was of very little help.
Unlike Disneyland, parking is included if you are an on-property guest, so if you have your own car, you can park anywhere you like for free (for the most part).
Taxis are available and can be ordered to the resort as well. I have never used one and can only image a taxi trip from Walt Disney World to somewhere like Universal would be pretty expensive.
(The Mickey image featured in this post is courtesy of Walt Disney World Media Relations.)