NOTE: Disney’s Magical Express Service was discontinued in January 2022.
Disney’s Magical Express is one of the few things at Walt Disney World that are actually free! This complimentary transportation service takes guests and their luggage to and from the Orlando International Airport and Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Disney guests have enjoyed this perk for years; and for many, it’s part of that Disney World Vacation experience.
But like everything these days, Magical Express has had to adapt to our current global situation; and if you’re looking to use this complimentary service for the first time, or if you’re a regular user, there are some things you need to know.
There is No Luggage Delivery
Since Walt Disney World reopened in July and for the foreseeable future, Magical Express will not be providing luggage delivery for those arriving to and departing from Orlando International Airport. This means guests need to claim their luggage before heading to Disney’s Magical Express service located at the Ground Transportation Area in Terminal B, Level 1.
However, Magical Express bus drivers will load and unload all of your luggage on and off of the Magical Express motorcoach; and your Disney Resort will still store your luggage if you’re not headed directly to your room upon arrival. Disney Resorts will also still provide luggage delivery to your room as well.
There are New Line Procedures
When guests arrive at Magical Express service at the Orlando International Airport, Cast Members scan their MagicBands or check guests’ resort confirmation numbers before directing them to a line exclusive to their resort.
But just like the queues for park attractions these days, the lines for this process look much longer than they are for the sake of social distancing and due to social distancing markers placed on the ground.
In addition, I personally encountered a revised boarding process during my last experience with Magical Express. Once I was in my resort’s hotel queue and a bus had arrived for my resort, a Cast Member directed the family that was first in line to the bus before moving to the next resort’s queue. It wasn’t until a few moments later that the Cast Member then moved back to my line and directed the next family ahead of me. While the process seems puzzling and even a little frustrating (especially when you can’t wait to get there!), it appears the goal is to prevent guests from clustering when boarding the motorcoach.
Boarding Back to Front
For safety purposes, bus drivers are asking guests to board from back to front. This means if you’re one of the first to board a Magical Express motorcoach, you’re probably going to be seated towards the rear.
Seat Assignments & Staggered Rows
Since Walt Disney World’s reopening, Disney bus drivers have been assigning guests a numbered seat or numbered section on board to help with social distancing. This particular procedure is also being utilized for Disney’s Magical Express.
After the bus driver has loaded your luggage and confirmed your resort’s destination, they will assign you and your group a numbered row of seats. Those numbers, however, are posted under the bus windows so they may be hard to spot.
Also, during my most recent trip, the bus drivers appeared to be filling every other row on the bus similar to what some airlines were doing earlier this year. This means the buses are operating at a lower capacity, which is something to be aware of.
New On-Ride Video
Guests who take advantage of Magical Express on the regular are probably familiar with Magical Express’s on-ride video. For quite some time, it’s consisted of both classic and current cartoon shorts and behind-the-scenes segments showcasing the Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy parade, Happily Ever After fireworks, and Festival of the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom.
The problem? Festival of the Fantasy, Happily Ever After, and Festival of the Lion King are not currently operating, and many of the park’s other experiences have been altered. So for this unique time, a new on-ride video is being used. While many of the segments are now dedicated to promoting Disney+, it also includes a segment featuring Disney’s The Incredibles campaign educating guests about wearing masks and social distancing. It’s definitely something to have your kids check out so they’re prepared for what Disney is enforcing at the parks and resorts during this time.
Have you ever used Disney’s Magical Express? Are you planning on using it for a future trip?