Disney announced some big changes coming to Walt Disney World this week. The biggest – and I venture to guess least popular – is the news that Disney’s Magical Express is going away.
Actually, least popular is sugar-coating the fact that Disney lovers are downright mad about this decision.
No more Magical Express – Big changes coming to Walt Disney World
My family and I are Disney Vacation Club members. Essentially, that’s Mickey’s time share and we own a little piece of Disney. Because of that, we go to Disney about every year, although we didn’t go in 2020. We try to stay on top of the latest Disney scoop since being up-to-date helps us plan better.
Disney’s free transportation, which includes Disney’s Magical Express, is one of the best values Disney offers, and it is one of the things I like to talk up when I’m talking to people about Disney trip planning, particularly people who haven’t been before. Today’s news about the Magical Express going away is a pretty big bummer. Not even gonna lie.
What is the Magical Express?
I’m going to assume that you know what Disney’s Magical Express is if you’ve read this far, but just in case, I’ll give a super short explanation.
Disney’s Magical Express is complimentary bus service from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World Resort Hotels. This service is free for those staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel AKA “on property.”
Not only is this a free ride but Disney handles your baggage for you, allowing you to bypass the baggage claim, board the bus and get to the parks. Your luggage will magically appear in your room later. It is a huge perk and a huge incentive to stay a Disney hotel versus at another hotel that probably costs less.
Change is inevitable – and usually a positive
I mean…think about it. Why would we book the same vacation year after year after year if Disney didn’t change things up?
I have always praised the way Disney handled changes in such a magical way. Changes to hotels, resorts, rides, events, and whatnot have always been exciting and positive.
Until they change something I really like. I guess that’s the way it goes.
No more Magical Express? Sigh. OK. Tell me the details
Disney released a summary of upcoming changes and included in that was the announcement that there would be no more Magical Express effective January 1 2022. If you have a trip booked this year or are planning a 2021 trip, you’re good.
While the Magical Express is still operating in 2021 there is no luggage delivery service. You get transportation to and from the resort but no magical bag tags that result in your luggage being whisked off the baggage carousel by Disney and deposited in your hotel room. You have to go to the baggage claim and take your bags to your resort hotel, just like you would with any hotel.
I’ll give that a second to sink in.
Very unmagical, right?
That’s all we know right now.
There was no hints as to the Magical Express being replaced with something else. The advice was basically “You can take an Uber” although it wasn’t put quite like that.
You’ll have the normal options to get where you’re going from an airport – ride shares like Uber or Lyft, cabs or shuttle services. Mears Shuttle Service is a popular Orlando based shuttle service that my family has used several times when we weren’t staying on the Walt Disney World property. It will typically cost a family of four $45-$60 each way to get to Disney from the airport.
It’s not just the money
$100 (roughly) is $100. While it might be a drop in the bucket when you’re looking at the total cost of your Disney Vacation, it’s an additional thing families must budget for.
It’s really not the money. It’s the fun way our family vacations have been kicked off over the last few years. Boarding the bus is total elation. The drivers are Disney Cast Members – they’re fun and they’re excited about your trip, too. Plus, there are screens with Disney cartoons and Disney trivia.
And, although we travel carry-on only most of the time, skipping the baggage claim and not having to schlep your bags into your hotel room is a pretty big deal for families who travel.
I think this is an especially big deal for families who aren’t used to frequent travel, navigating airports, and families with young children and all the gear young children travel with.
Related Reading – The Ultimate Disney Park Packing List
Other changes announced
No more free Magic Bands
Disney announced earlier this year they’d be discontinuing free Magic Bands. That one was also a bummer, although not as much of a bummer as the Magical Express announcement. I have a custom Magic Band but part of the fun of gearing up for a Disney World vacation is getting those Magic Bands in the mail.
Return of the Park Hopper
The Park Hopper ticket is retuning, although this isn’t really super newsworthy. This is pretty awesome news but I don’t think anyone expected it wouldn’t return. When Disney World re-opened after COVID, they stopped doing Park Hopper tickets and I think everyone assumed that was a temporary change.
A Park Hopper ticket is a category of ticket that lets you bounce from park to park (there are four parks at Walt Disney World) as much as you want. You can spend the morning at Magic Kingdom, the afternoon at Hollywood Studios and go back to Magic Kingdom on a whim to end your night.
We usually buy the single-day tickets because they’re substantially cheaper and I like to plan everything but the Park Hopper offers lots of convenient options and flexibility so I know people are excited to see it come back.
No more Extra Magic Hours – Early Entry instead (whatever exactly that is)
Disney also announced “Early Entry” coming soon. They’ve suspended Extra Magic Hours due to the pandemic and it looks like they’re replacing that with Early Entry. No word or even a hint on whether this is included at certain Walt Disney World Resort Hotels or if they’re an upcharge. I’m guessing the latter but I’m really hoping I’m wrong.
So there you have it. We have a trip planned in June that I’m really excited about. We’ve talked about sneaking another trip in in 2021 but everything about travel planning is so uncertain right now, so I’ll brace myself for this next ride on Disney’s Magical Express to be my finale.