How Magical Express works
(Article last updated: March 20, 2016)
So, you've made your resort reservations and booked your flights. Now, how will you get from the airport to your resort?
Thankfully, Disney has thought about that and offers their own transportation called Magical Express.
Here's how it works...
What it is
Magical Express is a service that operates 24/7 and provides free bus transportation between Orlando International Airport and Disney World resorts (not including the Swan, Dolphin or Shades of Green). The service will also transport your luggage so you don't have to (but you can choose to transport your own luggage if you'd like).
How it works
Before your trip
- Sign up for Magical Express service. When you book your trip, you can specify that you want to use Magical Express and input your flight info if you have it. If you don't specify this info when you book, you can go to DisneyMagicalExpress.com to sign up, at least 10 days before your trip begins (preferably much earlier - weeks in advance if you can).
- Get luggage tags and vouchers by mail. If you live in the U.S. or Canada*, you will receive Magical Express vouchers and luggage tags a couple of weeks before your trip that will need to go on each piece of luggage that you want Magical Express to retrieve from the baggage carousel and take to your resort (you'll receive 1 tag per person but if you need more than that, contact Magical Express to let them know and they'll send more - 866-599-0951). If you want to get your own bags and carry them to the bus, you won't need to use the luggage tags. People who arrive after 10 p.m. must retrieve their own luggage and will not be able to use the luggage delivery service.
* People outside of the U.S. and Canada will not receive vouchers and luggage tags in the mail but can still use Magical Express. These people will find it easier to retrieve their own bags at baggage claim at the airport after clearing customs but you can talk to the employees at the Magical Express desk if you'd like your luggage picked up and they will get it.
Anybody who encounters any issues with Magical Express, including lost bags, should call them at (866) 599-0951. I always recommend that people spread items from each member of the travel group among all of the bags. That way if a bag is lost, 1 person isn't at a total loss. That applies any time you fly, but with the added step of being handled by Magical Express, it's even more important.
The vouchers that come in the mail with your luggage tags function as your tickets to board a Magical Express bus, but if you don't have your vouchers when you arrive at the airport, you can go to the Magical Express desk and they'll help you out. You can also use your MagicBand to board Magical Express at the airport but you'll need your vouchers to board on the ride back to the airport.
- Find the Magical Express area at the airport. Once you arrive at Orlando International Airport, you will navigate to level 1 of Terminal B to get on a Magical Express bus (stop by your baggage claim first if you want to retrieve your own bags). Before going down any escalators, check to see which side you are on. Once you're on the B side of the terminal, then you can go down the escalators. Look at the graphic below to see which airlines arrive on the A side and which are on the B side.
- Get in your resort's line. You will need your MagicBands or Magical Express vouchers to check in at the Magical Express area. You will then be directed to the Magical Express line that corresponds to your resort and you'll board your bus when instructed. You will likely wait at least a little bit before the bus departs (up to 20 or 40 minutes), which will include both some time waiting in line and time waiting on the bus.
- Take a bus ride. Once the bus departs, a video will play on the screens with Disney World info (this video annoys some people but I like it). After about 25-35 minutes or so, your bus will arrive at Disney World. Each bus stops at a few resorts so you could end up stopping a couple of times before arriving at your resort. When using Magical Express you should plan on budgeting 90-120 minutes from the moment you enter the line to the time you are dropped off at your resort.
- Unload and tip. If you brought your bags on the bus, they'll be unloaded from the storage compartment. Tips are appropriate for anybody who has helped to handle your bags at the rate of $1/bag. Magical Express employees will not ask for tips but there is a sign on each bus saying that tips are accepted.
- Wait for checked bags to arrive. If you used the Magical Express luggage tags for your checked bags, those bags will be picked up and delivered to your resort room but this process could take up to 4 hours or so. Be sure you have things with you that you'll need while you wait for your luggage to arrive. Tipping is not required or even really possible with the people handling your checked bags because you will likely never see or interact with them.
At the end of your trip
- Find out pick-up time. The day before you're scheduled to depart, you'll receive a note in your room telling you what time you'll be picked up to go back to the airport. The pick-up time is usually about 3 hours before your flight departs for domestic flights and 4 hours for international flights. DO NOT MISS YOUR BUS. You may not be able to use Magical Express if you miss the one you were supposed to take.
- Flight check in at resort (if applicable). Guests flying on certain airlines have the option to get boarding passes and check their bags for their flights at their resort (more info in next section).
- Use luggage bell services. Guests who don't want to check bags at the resort can carry them on the Magical Express bus on their own. If your flight departs later in the day and you want to spend time in the parks, you can use luggage bell services in front of your resort to hold your luggage until you're ready to go. Leave yourself a bit of time to pick up your luggage before Magical Express arrives to take you to the airport.
Resort Airline Check-In
All resort guests flying on one of the following airlines (including international guests) can get boarding passes for their flight at their resort and check their bags as well. This is not limited to only people using Magical Express.
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines**
- Delta Air Lines*
- JetBlue Airways*
- Southwest Airlines
- United Air Lines***
* These airlines only allow people to check 1 bag at Disney resorts. Additional bags can be checked at the airport or guests can call Baggage Airline Guest Services at 407-284-1231 to pay airline excess luggage fees before checking in at the Resort Airline Check-In desk.
** American Airlines guests who want to check bags should either check in at the airport or call Baggage Airline Guest Services at 407-284-1231 to pay luggage fees before checking in at their resort.
*** United Airlines guests may have to pay fees for checked bags. If fees are due, call 407-284-1231 to pay luggage fees before checking in at the resort.
- The resort airline desks are usually located in the lobby or entrance area of the resorts.
- The resort airline check-in desks are open from 5 a.m. to noon only. If your flight is before 8 a.m., you will not be able to check your bags but can take your luggage with you to check at the airport. You can't check in for your flight more than 12 hours in advance.
- It is appropriate to tip the people handling your luggage here because it is similar to curbside check in at the airport.
- People who are flying on airlines that are not listed above cannot use Resort Airline Check In but can still use Magical Express. You would just need to bring your own luggage when you get on the bus and check in and check your bags once you get to the airport.
Can I take my child's car seat on a Magical Express bus?
If you have a car seat, it can be stowed under the bus with the other luggage but it can't be used on the bus seats.
What if I want to only take Magical Express 1 way and not round trip?
You can do that.
What if I only want to have my luggage picked up at the airport and delivered to my resort but I don't want to ride a Magical Express bus?
Sorry, that's not allowed. Many people would like to have their luggage transported to their resort and then head straight to the parks in a rental car or taxi. If that's your goal, I would suggest making a quick stop by car/taxi at your resort and leaving your luggage with luggage bell services right at the front of the resort and then hopping back in your car/taxi to go to the park.
What if different parts of our group are arriving/leaving at different times?
Magical Express will be able to accommodate you. Make sure each name is on the room reservation and then give Magical Express the flight information for each person.
I'm flying into an airport other than Orlando International Airport. Can I still use Magical Express?
No, you won't be able to.
What if I need to use the bathroom?
There is a bathroom on the bus.
What if I'm from another country and want my luggage picked up and delivered to the resort?
If Orlando is your first entry in the U.S., you'll need to claim your bags and clear customs. You will then give your luggage back to the airport officials where you can either pick it up at baggage claim or have Magical Express get it for you. Once you arrive at the Magical Express area, let them know you'd like them to get your bags and they will.
If Orlando is not your first entry into the U.S., you can proceed just as domestic guests do - get your bags from baggage claim and take them to Magical Express or you can just go straight to Magical Express and let them know you want them to get your bags.
Do I recommend Magical Express?
I use Magical Express on about half of my trips. There are definitely times when it makes sense and other times when it doesn't.
People who benefit the most from using Magical Express are those who:
- Are on a strict budget and don't want to add any extra costs for transportation
- Have an interest in checking their bags at their home airport and don't want to handle it again until they receive it at their resort
- Don't need a grocery stop
- Won't mind if it takes a little extra time to get to their resort
People who probably shouldn't use Magical Express are those who:
- Want to leave immediately to get to their resort
- Would prefer to have their own car while on vacation
- Want to stop for groceries
- Don't mind handling their own luggage
- Are uncomfortable riding without car seats