Is Disney World’s Magical Express Replacement Actually Worth It?

They say if you love something you should let it go, and if it comes back — it’s yours. But apparently, “they” have never heard of Disney’s Magical Express. Okay, maybe we just haven’t fully let it go yet.

Magical Express

This once-free transportation perk brought people to and from the Orlando Airport and Disney World hotels, but it ended in January 2022. Now that we’ve had time to get to know the new, paid replacement, we have some thoughts on whether or not it’s worth it.

After the Magical Express went away, two new replacements made their way into the fold — Mears Connect and Sunshine Flyer — that provided similar services with one caveat. These were paid options instead of the free, Disney-operated Magical Express. We compared the two options when they first debuted, but then, something changed.

Mears Connect bus

The two companies merged and became Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine! They announced the news and shared that they were teaming up “into one combined entity to provide exceptional guest transportation from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to Walt Disney World Resorts.”

©The Sunshine Flyer

But, is the service really worth it? We have some thoughts!

©Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine

First, we just need to get over the fact that there’s no free way to get to Disney World from the airport anymore unless you have a really nice friend or family member who is picking you up and not asking for gas money. As sad as we are that the Magical Express is gone, we need to soldier on and accept our new reality — which really isn’t that bad.

Orlando Airport

Reactions to Mears Connect have been largely positive, both among our readers and members of our team. It’s important to note that this is the same company that ran the Magical Express, so the level of service you’re getting hasn’t really changed, you’re just paying for it now.

Mears Connect Bus

When it comes to convenience, Mears Connect definitely wins out over other options like Uber and Lyft for multiple reasons. First, it’s far more user-friendly to walk down the stairs and wait for a bus rather than calling a Lyft and standing around looking for the right car.

And, since you can book your trip well in advance, it’s just another thing to cross off your list. Rideshare cars are abundant in Orlando, but knowing you’ve got a confirmed ride to Disney World once you land offers that much more peace of mind.

Wilderness Lodge

In our experience, the wait for Mears Connect is often much shorter than waiting for an Uber or Lyft, plus you don’t have to worry about finding the right car and schlepping your own luggage around.

Not only that, but more than once, one of our team members has managed to luck out and be the only person heading to Disney World at that particular time — thus resulting in a totally private van ride to her hotel.

Disney’s Riviera Resort

Pricing for Mears Connect is pretty reasonable, but of course, it’s another thing you need to budget for. The good thing is that you’ll know exactly what you’ll be paying ahead of time! The cost is typically around $32 roundtrip for adults and $26 for kids. You can also book Express Service if you want.

©Mears Connect

Ultimately, only you can decide what’s best for you and your travel group, but if you’re looking for peace of mind and convenience, Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine just might be worth it.

We’ll continue to bring you the latest Disney World news, planning tips, and more, so stay tuned to AllEars for more!

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3 Replies to “Is Disney World’s Magical Express Replacement Actually Worth It?”

  1. We prefer to use Uber. We have not had long wait times to get one, and they take you directly to your resort (unlike the bus which often stops at multiple resorts). I miss the free Magical Express, but if I have to pay, I want the fastest ride possible.

    The ride home is also faster, no more leaving four hours early for you flight.

  2. Both times, in February and September, we had bad experiences. February, the driver went out of his way to pick up passengers that missed their bus. We got to our gate 5 minutes before the door closed, running all the way. In September it took us almost 2 hours to get to our resort because we went to resorts way out of the way…7 stops in all!!!!!!! We cancelled our return, took a Lyft, and got to spend an extra 2 hours at the parks.

  3. I used to use Mears but the service was on a constant downward spiral. At first it was very similar to Magical Express. Wait times at MCO continued to rise. The worst was over 2 hours to get to the hotel between airport wait time, sitting on the bus wait and the tour of WDW.
    Return trips weren’t much better. Two pick ups were missed. At least Mears then sent a taxi. The last attempt to use Mears resulted in a pick up time over 3 3/4 hours before the outgoing flight.
    Mears is less expensive than the alternative, but I’ll spend the money to avoid the poor service.