Happy New Year! Welcome to 2022: you now have one less way to get to Disney World. In a season of new resolutions and new beginnings, Disney World resort guests will need to seek a new way to get from the airport to WDW. Disney’s Magical Express stopped service on December 31, 2021. If you’re arriving at MCO, you’ll now need to figure out a different way to get to your Disney World hotel.

In this guide, we’ll give you all the options on how to get from the airport to your Disney World vacation.

What was Disney Magical Express?

Disney Magical Express was a great free perk for out of state visitors that ran from 2005 – 2021. If you were staying at an official Walt Disney World Resort, you could choose to ride on the Magical Express to get from the airport to your hotel. One of the most magical aspects (besides the price) was the fact that Disney would take care of retrieving your checked luggage and bring it to your room. There was even a fun video that got you in the mood for your vacation to start.

Pretty much every Disney World fan wishes that Disney would bring it back. It was a great way to kick off arriving at Disney World by removing some of the stress of getting out of the airport. It also incentivized WDW guests to forgo other modes of transportation and only stay on Disney World property.

Magical Express Replacements and Alternatives

There’s nothing that will fully replace Magical Express. Every option in this list is going to cost you money, and you will have to handle retrieving your checked bags.

Mears Connect

Mears Connect OptionsMears was actually the company that operated the buses for Magical Express, so there’s a chance that you might actually ride on a bus that used to say Magical Express on the side. Not that your bus’ history is that important. What is important is that Mears Connect can give you round trip service from MCO to a selection of Disney World hotels, including some non-Disney options as well such as the B Resort near Disney Springs.

Mears Connect has two options: Standard and Express. Standard is a shared ride service, with “a limited number of stops.” You will be able to board the Mears Connect within 20 minutes of checking in with your Standard reservation.

The rates for Mears Connect Standard:

One Way: $16 per adult, $13.50 per child (ages 3-9)

Round Trip: $32 per adult, $27 per child (ages 3-9)

Children under 3 ride for free.

Mears Connect Express service is a direct service to your resort and back to the airport, with a guaranteed first stop and limited to no wait time once you check in at the airport. Express is not a private service, and you may share your vehicle with other parties.

Mears Connect Express rates: $250 round trip for a party of 4. $55 for each additional passenger.

Sunshine Flyer

Sunshine Flyer - Grand Floridian - Disney World TransportationLaunching February 1, 2022, Sunshine Flyer is a shared ride service similar to Mears Connect, but with a bit more whimsy and magic that you might be looking for while visiting Orlando. Each bus is themed to a 1920s trains and locomotives. “From the bus designs to drivers and staff dressed as 1920’s rail conductors and engineers, the Sunshine Flyer experience starts shortly after you step off the plane.”

Like Mears Connect Standard, guests are promised to board their vehicle within 20 minutes of checking in, and bus rides are supposed to be no longer than 65 minutes. Rates are slightly higher for adults and slightly cheaper for children. Sunshine Flyer will service all Walt Disney World destinations at launch, and more Orlando destinations will be added throughout 2022. Sunshine Flyer seems like a great option for families with young kids or the young at heart who want to recapture some of that magic from the Magical Express.

Sunshine Flyer Conductor - Disney World Transportation

Images via Sunshine Flyer

Rates for Sunshine Flyer:

One Way: $17 per adult, $12.50 per child (ages 3-8)

Round Trip: $34 per adult, $25 per child (ages 3-8)

Children under 3 ride for free.

Uber and Lyft

Uber and Lyft are actually great ways to get around Disney World, and they are a viable option to get from the Orlando Airport to your hotel. The advantages are that you will have a private vehicle that will take you directly to your destination, and it may be cheaper than one of the shared shuttle services.

However, there are a few disadvantages:

  • Price Variance: Rideshare services can be a cheaper option, with the price being as low as $40-$50 to get from the airport to your hotel. Depending on when you arrive, you may have to deal with surge pricing. One leg of your trip could easily cost between $60-$100 on busier days.
  • Vehicle Size: If you are a family with lots of luggage, you will have to opt for an SUV or van, which costs more with Uber and Lyft.
  • Wait time at the airport: Once again, you may get lucky and not have to wait long at all for your vehicle. But if you arrive at a peak hour, get ready to wait. Try to check the Uber or Lyft app after you land to see what wait times and prices are.

For smaller parties with less luggage, Uber and Lyft are great options, especially if you packed lightly and are arriving during less busy hours. However, it’s luck of the draw if you will save money or time by using ride share.

Taxis

If you want to travel old school and don’t want to mess with an app, you can just follow the taxi signs in the airport. Most of the taxis are run by Mears, and will run you around $70 to get from MCO to the Walt Disney World area, so they can be pricier than Uber/Lyft depending on the time of day. The benefit is that taxis are readily available all over MCO, and you don’t necessarily need to book one ahead of time.

Private Cars

Private cars can be a great option for large groups with lots of luggage who want a minimal wait at the airport, but don’t want to rent a car. This will cost more than the other options listed here, except for possibly Mears Connect Express, depending on the size of your group. Here are a few options we’ve seen highly recommended:

Happy Limousine

Quicksilver Tours & Transportation

Rental Cars

If you want the most amount of flexibility during your Disney World vacation, and you don’t mind spending extra, a rental car can be a great option. This will allow you to head straight to your hotel without worrying about waiting for a rideshare vehicle or shared bus or van. However, you will pay much more for it, as well as paying for gas and parking fees. Both Disney World hotels and theme parks charge for parking (ranging from $15-$25 per day for the hotels and $25 per day for the parks), so factor that when you make a budget.

Disney World Money-Saving Tip: Annual Passholders get free parking at the theme parks. Depending on the length of your stay, it might make sense to upgrade at least one of your tickets to an Annual Pass, as between the free parking and discounts on food and merchandise, you might end up saving money over buying a multi-day parkhopper pass.

Disney World Transportation Tip: You can rent a car for part of your vacation, even just for the day, since there are several rental car options on WDW property. Here are the rental car locations on Disney property:

  • Walt Disney World Car Care Center (located near Magic Kingdom) – Featuring Alamo and National
  • Shades of Green Resort (for military) – Hertz
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel (located near Epcot) – Featuring Alamo and National
  • Disney Springs Good Neighbor Hotels – Most of these are walking distance from Disney Springs
    • B Hotel – Enterprise
    • Buena Vista Palace – National
    • Doubletree – Budget
    • Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – Avis
    • Wyndham Lake – Dollar

Whether you go with a shuttle, a private car, or a rental car, we recommend arranging your transportation plans before you arrive to Orlando. Taxis and ride shares are good options for guests who don’t want to plan ahead.

Once you get to Disney World, how do you get around? Be sure to check out the rest of our Guide 2 Disney World Transportation to learn how to get around WDW.

What option of getting from the airport to WDW would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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James

James is a lifelong Disney Parks fan. While at the parks, he loves finding new details, learning more about Disney World history, and taking pictures. His favorite WDW attractions include Spaceship Earth, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.
James is a filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles.

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