A lot has changed when it comes to “free” Disney World perks for guests over the past year!
In 2021, we saw Disney discontinue its complimentary MagicBand program for both Disney World hotel guests and Annual Passholders, replace Extra Magic Hours with Early Theme Park Entry for all guests, and Extended Evening Hours for select guests, and replace the previously included FastPass+ service with the paid Disney Genie+. And, as of January 1st, 2022 another free perk is no longer available.
At the beginning of 2021, Disney made the HUGE announcement that Disney’s Magical Express would be discontinued on January 1st, 2022 and that date has now come and gone! So, guests no longer have a free option for getting between their Disney World Resort hotel and the Orlando International Airport (MCO).
As a quick refresher, Disney’s Magical Express was introduced back in 2005 as a complimentary transportation system for guests traveling to Disney World. It took the worry out of airline travel by giving guests the opportunity to input their flight information prior to their trip, drop off their bags at their hometown airport, and hop on a bus in Orlando that took them directly to their hotel. Plus, they didn’t have to worry about picking up their bags at MCO as Disney would deliver them directly to the room.
Disney’s Magical Express service had already changed quite a bit over the past year and a half (with luggage transportation, airline check-in at the hotel, and the mailing of confirmation paperwork prior to the trip unavailable throughout 2020 and 2021. But, now the entire transportation service is gone.
Instead, guests need to find their own transportation between MCO and Disney World, and it likely isn’t free anymore.
If you’re looking for a service that is similar to what was offered by Disney, Mears (which is the company that operated Disney’s Magical Express) has introduced a new shuttle service called Mears Connect as of January 1st, 2022.
The transportation service functions in a very similar way to Disney’s Magical Express, however, there is a cost associated with using it. Prices vary based on when you’re traveling, which Disney World Resort you’re staying at, how many people are in your party, and which level of service you choose (Standard or Express).
So, the trip between the airport and your Disney World hotel can cost as little as $16 for one adult one-way or up to $250 for a family of four using the Express Service.
Another shuttle service will soon be offered by another private company in Orlando called The Sunshine Flyer. The service is set to launch in February 2022 and will function much like Disney’s Magical Express, guaranteeing that guests arrive at their hotel within 65 minutes of leaving the airport.
Unlike Mears Connect, The Sunshine Flyer is only offering the shared-ride shuttle service but the cost is very similar. Currently, One Way service is priced at $17 per adult and $12.50 per child, and Round Trip service is priced at $34 per adult and $25 per child.
So, while The Sunshine Flyer costs $1 more per adult, the per-child rate is $1 cheaper compared to Mears Connect’s Standard Service.
Guests can also choose to use a ride-share service like Uber or Lyft. Unlike Mears Connect, you don’t have to share a ride with guests who are outside of your party and you’re able to be taken directly to your resort. But, keep in mind that you aren’t able to plan ahead and secure pricing in advance.
Depending on when you’re traveling (and what service you’re booking), using a service like Uber could end up costing you as little as $61 for your entire party one way, but with surge pricing, it could end up being much more.
Other transportation options include renting a car (though you’ll want to keep in mind that Disney World resorts and the theme parks charge for parking), reserving a private car service (we recommend using Happy Limousine), or using Disney’s Minnie Van service (when it is operating).
Additionally, the private company, Brightline, has also announced plans to build a high-speed train route running all the way from South Florida to the Orlando International Airport and onto Tampa with a stop at Disney World.
However, a recent ruling from the Central Florida Expressway Authority has indefinitely postponed a decision on the route, so it may not be completed and operational until after 2026.
Check Out More Details on All the Ways to Get To and From the Airport Without Disney’s Magical Express HERE!
So, if you’re planning a 2022 Disney World vacation (or beyond) and flying into the Orlando International Airport, you’ll need to plan ahead and budget for this new expense. And, we’ll continue to keep an eye out for more ways to get between the airport and Disney World, so be sure to stay tuned to AllEars for the latest!
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Are you planning a Disney World trip in 2022? Let us know in the comments!