by Josh Mitchell, Vacation Planner at Wish Upon a Star with Us
Whether you are visiting Walt Disney World for the first time or you’ve visited 50 times before, 2022 is an exciting year to visit Walt Disney World! With the 50th anniversary celebration officially underway, many families can’t wait to return to the magic or experience the magic for the first time. While 2022 brings a lot of exciting new changes like new rides and dining venues, one classic Walt Disney World experience is coming to an end – Disney’s Magical Express.
The beloved shuttle service was a complimentary transportation perk all Walt Disney World Resort Guests could take advantage of when flying in or out of Orlando International Airport (MCO). With the news of Disney’s end to Magical Express, many guests were left wondering what transportations options they will have going forward. While we hope this blog post is helpful in giving you a quick answer, the best resource is to talk to one of our expert Vacation Planners at Wish Upon a Star with Us Travel to decide which option is best for you and your vacation. Our Vacation Planners don’t just talk about Disney, they are constantly immersed in the “Disney Know”. When you don’t find them working behind their computers tirelessly for their clients, you can be sure to find them traveling to Disney destinations around the World!
When will Magical Express end?
Disney’s Magical Express service will officially end December 31st, 2021. Any Guests that checks in to their Disney Resort hotel before the end of the year will still receive Magical Express complimentary transportation back to the airport, even if it’s after December 31. Magical Express will no longer be available for Guests with arrivals on or after January 31.
Why is Disney ending the Magical Express service?
Disney attributed the decision to the rise of other transportation options like ride-shares (Uber and Lyft). “Vacationers have more options to choose from than ever for transportation, including ride-share services that save time and offer more flexibility to go where they want, when they want.”
What are my transportation options now that Magical Express is gone?
Even without Magical Express, there are a variety of transportation options to choose from to easily get from the airport to your Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Here are a few of the most popular options:
- Private transfers
- Shared shuttle
Our Vacation Planners can help you arrange your transportation through a trusted private transportation company, or set up transportation for you on a shared shuttle service such as Mears Connect, a new service launching in 2022. If you prefer, you can also plan to use Uber/Lyft or take a taxi when you arrive at the airport.
What is Mears Connect?
Mears Transportation (the company that currently operates Disney’s Magical Express service in partnership with Disney) is not going anywhere. The same day that Disney announced the end of Magical Express, Mears announced their new Walt Disney World Resort shuttle service – Mears Connect. Mears Connect will begin service on January 1st, 2022 and is already taking reservations. While this service is no longer complimentary, the shuttle service is expected to run very similar to how Magical Express has been operating. The other key difference is the shuttle service will no longer be run or booked through Disney.
With Mears Connect looking to be one of the new most popular options for getting to Walt Disney World, we wanted to help share what this new service will look like. Mears Connect will have 2 paid service options: Standard Service or Express Service.
Mears Connect Standard Service: This is a shared transport service whose operation remains very similar to that of Magical Express. It serves all the hotels of the Walt Disney World Resort as well as other area hotels. It will make a limited number of stops and will have you on your way to your resort within 20 minutes of your check-in to the Mears Connect reception area. The cost for this option is $16 per adult and $13.50 per child (ages 3-9) each way.
Mears Connect Express Service: The Express Service option offers direct service to your resort and back to the airport (guaranteed first stop), with limited to no wait time. The Express Service may be provided in a bus, van or a small vehicle, and is only available for roundtrip service. Note that Express Service is not considered private service, it may be shared service. This option starts at $250 roundtrip for a party of 4, plus $55 for each additional passenger.
Which transportation option is best for me?
Deciding which transportation method to take to your Walt Disney World Resort hotel might feel stressful now, but we’re here to help you arrange the best option for your vacation. Deciding between the forms of transportation is really going to come down to your family’s preference. Talk to your Wish Upon a Star with Us Vacation Planner and see what they personally recommend for your family and getting to your Walt Disney World Resort hotel!