Wheels Down At MCO: Three Tips For Faster Magic

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So you’ve just landed at MCO, and you’re eager to walk through those turnstiles at your favorite park. Here are a few obvious but fun tips in the spirit of the latest WDW Today episode.

1. Deplane Quicker

This one is pretty simple: a) don’t check a bag and b) sit towards the front of the plane. Personally, I’ve sworn off checked-bags for expediency’s sake (I hope to get away with this for at least a few more years). And now that most airlines give you a financial incentive to do this, it’s doubly rewarding. Only caveat when when bringing a roller bag on board is: try to board as soon as possible. Those overhead spaces fill up!

2. Speedier Rentals

First, it goes without saying that you should be using Mary Waring’s MouseSavers when you’re booking a rental car (I’ve personally saved hundreds of dollars this year alone using their codes). Mary also provides good tips for getting the car quicker–namely a) using an onsite agency and b) registering online with the rental agency (most of which are free). You have to trust them with your Driver’s License & Credit Card, but being able to use their kiosks and preferred queues in the airport can save easily 15-20 minutes. I used Alamo for my last trip in August and found a healthy line at the desk but was able to storm through the kiosk rental within 2 minutes and was off to the garage.

3. Use Disney’s Online Check-in

Disney recently introduced an Online Check-in system for its resort hotels. Basically, you can “check-in” online 10-days out, and upon arrival at the hotel, you use a different queue that typically has an expedited process. Further, if your room isn’t ready yet, you can have them text your cell phone with your room number once available (this worked fine for me). I’ve heard that some people have actually found longer waits at the hotel with this online check-in process–it worked brilliantly for me at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Eager to hear how’s it worked for other people (could be a hotel-specific thing).

OK–that’s it! Three tips to make it to the Parks faster! In August, my dad and I made it to Epcot in an hour and twenty minutes after our flight landed; we were holding fastpasses for Soarin’ and eating at Sunshine Seasons (a fave) after 90 minutes!

What are your tips for making it to WDW faster? Anyone have any good Magical Express tips or Online Check-in stories?

Thanks to Liquid Lucidity for the image

Henry Work

Henry is the developer at TouringPlans.com, joining to work on the website and build Lines, among other things! Before joining the Unofficial Guide team, Henry was the lead developer at TechCrunch, one of the world's leading technology blogs. Though he would live at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort if he could, he's become a huge Disneyland fan since moving to the bay area. You find Henry on the TouringPlans Twitter account or contact him at henry@touringplans.com.

10 thoughts on “Wheels Down At MCO: Three Tips For Faster Magic

  • October 29, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    I have a few tips for Magical Express.
    1) Contrary to Harry’s recommendation, I prefer to check in everything but the bare essentials so I don’t have to lug excess bags with me for the MCO to WDW “sprint”.
    2) Designate a runner to head to the ME cow-maze. In my family of four, that’s me. My wife and I will usually share a carry-on bag and I grab the ME booklet and charge through the terminal like OJ (the earlier version, not the white Bronco version)
    3) Make sure you’ve got your ME booklet with you and make sure you’ve reviewed it recently and noted where the ME check in station is and also any changes to your flights. The CM will ask you about your outbound flights and correct them for you in the system. Pretty simple and quick to do as long as you have that info with you.
    4) The cow-maze helps you aclimate to waiting in line at WDW. It usually moves pretty quickly but there is no Fast Pass option. Only one part member goes through the cow-maze at a time, which helps with line speed.
    5) Matching up with the rest of your party after you get through the cow-maze and ME check in requires that your party is paying attention. While there’s no reason for the rest of the party to try to que up early at the bus maze, it helps if they pay attention to when the runner finishes and move quickly to the start of the queue. I’ve watched other folk’s vacations become derailed when Anxious Runner finds Slumbering Party lounging in the nearby couches and chairs. A good chance to see early fireworks.
    5) Enjoy the bus ride. For Boardwalk, we have to make one stop at Carribean Beach (I think?) and it is must be the longest 8 minutes of the trip. Relax. There’s nothing you can do to speed this part up. I’d say after checking in and buying tickets, we’re usually in a park within two hours of landing. I’m sure we could get there faster by renting a car but I do enjoy not having to rent one.

    • October 29, 2009 at 4:30 pm

      Ha, great response, TTurner! Thanks for the tips for ME! I’ve only done it once, but didn’t check my bags then either.

  • October 29, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    We recently used the on-line check-in service at Port Orleans Riverside and were thrilled with it. I waiting in line for about a minute and walked away with my key in my hand about 3 minutes later. The regular check-in line was about 12 families long. The on-line check-in sure did feel like having a Fast Pass! (and this was with a 11am check-in)

    • October 29, 2009 at 5:17 pm

      That’s awesome! They should totally call it that–Resort Check-in Fastpass!

      Thanks for sharing, Michelle

  • October 30, 2009 at 2:11 am

    I would also suggest arriving at off-peak times. Touching down in MCO at midnight meant we had zero wait for the Magical Express, and, in fact, the bus for our hotel left as soon as we boarded! Definitely the way to go!

  • October 30, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Good advice Henry. The codes at Mousesavers have saved my family alot of money as well. keep up the good work!!

  • November 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Commando Style, solo trip:
    1) front of plane, carry on
    2) car rental–emerald aisle (national)
    Depending on when my plane lands:
    3a) very late dinner (i.e., I caught a flight after work.)
    – or –
    3b) straight to park (having an annual pass means no parking fee or ticket to pick up. That’s the magic my way! 😉 )
    4) check into hotel

  • November 2, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Fwiw, I used online checkin at Coronado Springs back in late September. The online checkin line when we arrived was much longer than the regular checkin line (which was nearly empty). Plus, they had only two CMs working the online line, but several assigned to regular check-in. I was not impressed, and probably wouldn’t check in online again. I just didn’t see any benefit.

  • December 6, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Just letting you know about our online check-in experience.
    We used online check-in at POFQ…so did almost everyone else on our Magical Express bus!! The online check-in line was at least 4x that of the regular check-in lines. Also there was one online check-in line and several of the regular lines. This made my son very anxious, he kept wanting to move to another line!! I assured him that mom had made a great choice and I told him to pick someone in one of the other lines and we’d race that guy. Our line moved much quicker than the others and we barely beat that guy we had been racing. (so I’d say we would have reached a cm at about the same time online check-in or not) However, my own check-in process seemed much quicker than past experiences. The cm had my packet ready, my room was even ready at 10:30am! However, the cm told me I had a balance due and could she just put that on the card which I had attached to my room. I was under the assumption that I had authorized the final balance charge during my online check-in process. She assured me that my card had not yet been charged the balance and she was right, when I got home I did only see the one final room charge she had made and then the room charges at check-out! Also, I did not need to hand her my card, only my ID.

  • January 4, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Have you heard any issues with parties that had requested adjacent rooms during the reservation process? We are bringing the grandparents along for our trip in 3 weeks. Curious if the online registration accounts for special requests such as the adjacent rooms or refrigerators and if people have found those requests satisfied when they got there.

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