In 2005, Disney’s Magical Express (DME) service began operations. You might be asking, what’s Disney’s Magical Express? Good Question.
DME is the bus (sorry, that’s Luxury Coach) service that takes Disney World resort guests. and their luggage, from the airport to their Disney Resort and back to the airport. You must be a guest in a Disney Resort (Disney Hotel) to be eligible,
Disney Magical Express Bus at the Contemporary Resort
Photo by Jeff_B.
HOW IT WORKS
Just sit back and let Disney do all the work. No more cheap cab rides… No more quirky limo drivers… No more waiting in line for rental cars… Leave the Disney World vacation driving to Mr. Disney.
DME is so thoughtful that you can drop your luggage off with the skycap at your home airport, check-in to your hotel, rush off to the park, and when you come back, magically you bags will be in your room. It’s amazing.
And the best part is…
IT’S TOTALLY FREE!!!! *
I’m sorry, Disney calls it complimentary. Don’t you just love Uncle Walt?
*Totally free is a relative term
This year some airlines implemented a charge for checked bags. Disney (the Scrooge’s) decided not to pay the extra charge.
So now, depending on the policy of the airline you’re flying home, you might have to pay some luggage fees (in advance) if you want to check bags through DME. This only applies to the flight home.
(there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch)
About Disney’s Magical Express
Here are some of the nuts and bolts of the Magical Express service.
The Motor Coaches
The state-of-the art, spiffy, shiny, almost new, not-Disney owned… blah, blah, blah, blah
The busses (call them what they are) are state-of-the-art (if one can say a bus is state-of-the-art). They are equipped with 50+ nice captains chairs that are arranged 2 on each side of the isle. There are numerous TV screens throughout the cabin. A Disney movie plays for your enjoyment during your trip. There’s even one of “them there, all gussied up, port a-potties” built right in.
These aren’t the same busses you get when you ride around the property. They are nicer, more plush, more suitable for longer trips. DME uses the same busses for the Disney Cruise Lines transportation.
All guests who stay in one of the 20 (soon to be 21) Disney World resorts are eligible for Magical Express. Let me say that again… (Dad yells through bullhorn) YOU MUST BE STAYING AT A DISNEY RESORT!!! to qualify.
- The Swan and Dolphin are not Disney Resorts
- The Shades of Green is not included
- The Disney Springs Hotels are not Disney Resorts.
- (Check Dad’s Hotels page for a list of Disney Resorts.)
There is some more legal mumbo jumbo like guests must be over 16 or accompanied by and adult. You know lawyer stuff. How boring.
If you want to use DME’s service on your trip to Orlando, you must reserve your seat, officially, at least 10 days in advance (I’d highly suggest at least 5 to 6 weeks in advance.)
How to reserve your seat…
- Call (407) W-DISNEY (Catchy number isn’t it. But even after all these years, it’s still not toll free.)
- Or use Disney’s Magical Express link from Disney (if you make your Disney World vacation reservations there.)
- Or, the way Dad prefers, have your Disney Vacation Planner from Destinations to Travel do it for you
Things Disney will need to know
- Your name (duh)
- Maybe your hotel reservation number (sometimes they also use your telephone number)
- Your flight number (both arriving and departing)
- The time of your flight (both arriving and departing)
- How many bags you will check
- Your mothers maiden name
- The name of your first pet
I just threw those last two in to see if you’re paying attention. Good!
If you have done things correctly, you will receive a set of luggage tags about 3 weeks prior to departure.
Luggage Tags look like this
When you use these magical tags your bags will be whisked away from your flying coach and magically will appear in your room within 3 hours of you setting your feet on the sacred and hallowed grounds.
You don’t even have to be in the room. The bell service will leave them for you. (No, sorry, they don’t unpack them.)
The magical day has arrived. You’ve almost had a good nights sleep. You’re going to Disney World. You’ve decided to let Disney do the driving. The reservations were correctly made, you’re packed, the tags are on the bag and you’re ready to go. Where are the kid… (never mind)
You get to the airport, pull up to the little outside stand, drop off our luggage with the kindly gentlemen, and
off we go into the wild blue yonder…
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eye… (Oops, sorry a little Karen Carpenter music in the background, distracted me a little.)
Once you get to the Orlando Airport (make sure you say that with reverence), here’s what you do…
|What do do when you get to Orlando International Airport||from flights originating in the U.S. and most Canadian airports.||from flights originating outside the U.S. and Canada|
|If you carried on your bags…||…run* to the Disney’s Magical Express counter, check-in and you will be direct to your state-of-the-art motor coach.||…check in with customs then run* to the Disney’s Magical Express counter, check-in and you will be direct to your state-of-the-art motor coach.|
|If you checked bags and used the DME tags…||…run* to the Disney’s Magical Express counter, check-in and you will be direct to your state-of-the-art motor coach.||…check in with customs with your bags, then run* to the Disney’s Magical Express counter, check-in and you will be direct to your state-of-the-art motor coach.|
|If you checked bags and did not use the DME tags…||…pick up your bags at baggage claim then run* to the Disney’s Magical Express counter, check-in and you will be direct to your state-of-the-art motor coach.||check in with customs, with your bags then run* to the Disney’s Magical Express counter, check-in and you will be direct to your state-of-the-art motor coach.|
*While Dad says run, what he really means is “take small children by the hand and proceed orderly to the counter.)
Disney’s Magical Express (DME) Counter
The Magical Express check-in counter is located in Terminal B on level 1. It’s easy to find. Get in the elevator or on an escalator and go down. When you get to the bottom, you’ll be there.
How long will it take to get to the hotel?
Once you get on the bus (state-of-the-art motor coach) it’s about a 40 minute drive from the airport to the Disney resorts. Your bus may stop at 3 other resorts before it gets to yours. It could take as long as 2 hours (very uncommon) to get to your resort after you board the bus.
What happens to the bags
By some magical process, that Disney doesn’t reveal to anyone (but it’s rumored to involve a lot of pixie dust), your bags are magically transported to your hotel why you take an enchanting ride on the state-of-the-art motor coach (bus). You check in to the hotel, check out your room, then dash off to the parks.
Sometime during the next 2-3 hours a nice young man (could be a woman, I guess) delivers our bags to our room. There have been (dubious) reports that sometimes the bags are waiting after guests check in.
Now’s the time to say goodbye… (seems like I’ve heard that somewhere before)
When your ready to go home there are 2 separate services that you might want to use. The first is Disney’s Magical Express service back to the airport, but there’s also Resort Airline Check-in Service (See Below).
The state-of-the-art motor coaches (bus) will take you back to the airport.
- You are asked to report 3 hours prior to departure time.
- Go to the Resort Airline Check-in Service counter at your hotel for service.
- Service runs between 5:00am and 11:00pm.
- You can use Disney’s Magical Express for transportation to any airline that departs the Orlando Airport
- Resort check-in service is limited to participating airlines
Resort Airline Check-in Service
What is Resort Airline Check-in Service? Disney has contracted with several companies to bring real convenience to their Resort guests. You can check in for your flight and even check your bags at your Resort, and not have to worry about them at the airport (subject to restrictions). You can also pre-pay your excess baggage fees if you are checking your bags at the Resort. Here’s how it works.
Each resort has a check in desk (this is a service contracted to TSA and other entities). At this desk all resort guests (you don’t have to be using Disney’s Magical Express) can check in for any flight just like at the airport, with the following restrictions..
- Must be a domestic flight (including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands)
- You must have a valid photo ID.
- You must check in at least 3 hours prior to departure. (Hours are 5:00am until 1:00pm, no flights before 8:00am are eligible)
- Guests under 16 must be accompanied by a parent.
With participating airlines you can check your luggage at the Resort subject to current fee schedules.
Here’s a great link with the current information about Resort Airline Check-in Service and all of the restrictions.
Dad’s Bottom Line
Disney’s Magical Express service is an outstanding addition to the services Disney offers their guests. No longer do you have to spend any vacation money on the trip to and from the Orlando Airport. Just sit back, relax and let Disney do the driving.