This year saw a lot of huge changes at Disney World, thanks to updates to health and safety policies, the 50th anniversary celebration, the launch of Disney Genie, new restaurant openings, and new rides debuting.
And 2022 looks like it will bring its share of changes, the biggest being the suspension of Disney’s Magical Express, the free transportation option that allowed Disney World guests to get to and from the Orlando International Airport and their Disney World hotels. However, there will be TWO paid replacements services: Mears Connect and The Sunshine Flyer.
Although Disney World guests will still have rideshare and car rental options at the airport, both Mears Connect and the Sunshine Flyer will offer services similar to Magical Express. So here’s what you need to know about both!
What Mears Connect Offers
Mears Connect offers two services: standard and express. Standard service is a shared ride (meaning a bus full of other guests) that has an “economical” fare that will include all tolls and surcharges. This service will make a limited number of stops on the way to your resort. Mears also promises that a standard Mears bus will have Disney World guests on their way within 20 minutes of checking into the Mears Connect reception area at Orlando Airport.
On the other hand, Express service will take guests directly to their resort, as well as back to the airport, with shorter wait times. It’s pricier (we’ll get to that in a bit), but that price also includes all tolls and surcharges.
However, note that Express still may be a shared service and you may still share a vehicle with other guests going to the same hotel as you. Note that the Mears Connect service begins on January 1st, 2022.
How much does Mears Connect Cost?
For standard service, Mears Connect costs $16 per adult and $13.50 per child for a one-way trip. A Round Trip costs $32 per adult and $27 per child. Express service is $250, which is for up to four passengers. Additional passengers are $55 each.
Please note that the rate for children only applies to kids ages 3 to 9. Children under 3 ride for free.
How Will Mears Connect Work?
You will need to book your Mears Connect service prior to your arrival on the Mears Connect website. You’ll choose whether you want to book standard or express service, and from there, you’ll fill out all information, including your drop-off location, flight number, arrival date and time, and how many are in your party. Fill in your payment details, and you’re all set — you’ll receive an email confirmation of your reservation.
When you arrive at Orlando Airport, you will need to go pick up your luggage. Once you have your bags in hand, you’ll want to find the Mears Connect reception area, located on Level 1, Ground Transportation Level, in Terminal B. You should see signs to navigate you there.
From your hotel, you can ask front desk personnel where to pick up your bus — your return time will already be on your emailed ticket/receipt. And just like Magical Express, that pick-up time is three hours before your flight departs. So be at your pick-up spot on time so you can catch your flight.
What Hotels Does Mears Connect Service?
Mears Connect services a wide variety of hotels in the Disney World area, including ALL Disney-owned properties. However, it also services the following hotels:
- Shades of Green
- Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista at Disney Springs
- JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando
- Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
- Walt Disney World Swan Reserve
- Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando
- Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace at Disney Springs
- Holiday Inn Orlando at Disney Springs
- Orlando World Center Marriott
- Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs
For all other hotels, you can book a Mears Luxe private black car or a Mears taxi. You also have rideshare and car rental options.
What The Sunshine Flyer Offers
The Sunshine Flyer only offers one shared option from getting to and from Orlando Airport and Disney World hotels, which is similar to that of Mears Connect. However The Sunshine Flyer will feature buses themed as old-fashioned passenger cars and train locomotives (because we all know how much Walt Disney loved trains). The Sunshine Flyer website states that guests will not have to wait more than 20 minutes before boarding a buss at the airport, and although the motorcoach may have multiple stops, the last stop will not take more than 65 minutes.
What makes this service even more unique is that no two vehicle designs are the same, meaning that guests who use the service more than once get a different experience every time. Note that The Sunshine Flyer service begins on February 1st, 2022.
How Much Does The Sunshine Flyer Cost
The Sunshine Flyer’s cost is $17 per adult and $12.50 per child for one-way service, and $34 per adult and $25 per child for round trip service.
However, the difference is that Mears Connect’s prices are listed as introductory rates, while The Sunshine Flyer’s is not, so it may be the cheaper option if Mears Connect raises their rates in the future.
How Will The Sunshine Flyer Work
Guests can make their reservations for The Sunshine Flyer online, offering up much of the same information as they would for Mears Connect. When arriving at Orlando Airport, guests will then pick up their luggage and travel to the Main Terminal Building on Terminal B, Level 1, in the Ground Transportation area. After guests check in here, they will be directed to their motorcoach.
The day before guests check out of their Disney World hotel, they’ll receive an email with the departure time of their motorcoach, which will be approximately three hours before the scheduled departure time for domestic flights and four hours before scheduled departures for international flights.
What Hotels Does The Sunshine Flyer Service?
Currently, The Sunshine Flyer only has Disney World-owned resorts listed as the hotels that it currently services.
Other hotels in the area, including the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, are not currently listed as part of The Sunshine Flyer’s service area.
So that’s everything you need to know about Mears Connect and The Sunshine Flyer. We’ll be riding both ourselves and sharing our experiences, tips, and tricks on the best ways to get to and from the airport and Disney World, so check back with us soon!
Will you be using Mears Connect or The Sunshine Flyer when visiting Disney World in 2022? Let us know in the comments!
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