Everything that you need to know about the Disney Magical Express, including information about resort airline check-in.
If you are planning a vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort, you’ve probably heard about Disney’s Magical Express. The Disney Magical Express is Disney’s complimentary motorcoach service to and from Orlando’s International Airport.
If you aren’t planning to rent a car, the Disney Magical Express is a convenient and free way to get from the airport to your resort, assuming you are staying at a Disney resort.
It can be a little confusing to figure out exactly how it works, so we’ve put together this guide with everything that you need to know about the Disney World Magical Express.
Disclosure: I’ve been on some complimentary trips to Walt Disney World, some through Disney Social Media Moms, and some at my own expense. This post may contain affiliate links (including links from Amazon) – when one of these links is clicked and/or a purchase is made from it, we may make a small commission. In the past, I was a member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel, but all opinions are my own.
Everything You Need To Know About Disney’s Magical Express
How Much is Disney’s Magical Express?
It’s completely free! Disney’s Magical Express is a complimentary service for those guests staying on property, so you won’t have to pay extra. It can be a great way to save money on your Walt Disney World vacation because you don’t have to rent a car if you are staying at an on-site hotel.
Motorcoach drivers are permitted to accept gratuities, so I always like to have some small bills on hand to tip them. We always take Disney’s Magical Express and never rent a car when we visit Walt Disney World. It’s nice not to have to drive while we are on vacation, and helps us save money.
You Must be Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel
In order to be able to book Disney’s Magical Express, you must have a valid hotel reservation at a Walt Disney World resort hotel. The Dolphin and Swan resorts are not included, so if you are staying in one of those resorts, you’ll need to make alternative plans to get to and from the airport.
Other hotels in the area, like the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, are also not included. If you are staying at one of those resorts, you may consider taking a taxi or Uber/Lyft if you don’t have a rental car.
There are also independent shuttle services that you can book. Contact your hotel directly to see if they have specific recommendations. Some airport hotels may offer complimentary transportation to the hotel, but then you’ll be a little further from the theme parks.
Does Disney’s Magical Express to go SFB (Orlando Sanford International Airport)?
Disney’s Magical Express only goes to and from MCO (Orlando International Airport). If you are flying into Orlando Sanford International Airport or any other airport in the area, you won’t be able to take the Disney Magical Express Service. Instead, you’ll need to rent a car, take a paid shuttle, or get a taxi or rideshare service to your resort.
You’ll Need to Make a Disney Magical Express Reservation
Even though the Magical Express is free, you’ll need to contact them to book your trip and provide them with your flight information. This is how they will know that you are taking the Magical Express, rather than a different service.
Prior to your trip, you’ll receive yellow luggage tags to place on your checked baggage, as well as a letter with information about the Magical Express.
If for some reason you don’t receive the tags in time, you can still take the Disney Magical Express. Just proceed to the check-in counter at the airport where they can assist you.
Make sure you keep your Magicbands in your carry-on bags because you’ll need to scan them at the Magical Express welcome center to gain access to the motorcoaches. If you pack them in your checked bags, you won’t have access to them to check in to the Magical Express, or to the hotel.
You should also know that you are only able to take the Magical Express to and from your own resort. You can’t take it to Disney Springs, to a theme park, or to a different resort. If you are flying out later in the day and need to check out of your hotel, you can have bell services hold your luggage.
Again, you won’t be able to get the Magical Express from a different location, even if you use the airline check-in service. So, you’ll want to make sure that you have enough time to get back to your hotel in time for your shuttle
Disney’s Magical Express Coaches Make Multiple Stops
While Disney’s Magical Express is definitely convenient, be prepared to be patient. You will likely need to wait a little while before the bus leaves the airport. They almost always wait for the bus to be full or nearly full before departing the airport.
After you disembark your flight, you’ll go on the AGT (automated guideway transit) to the main terminal. The Magical Express can be found on level 1 of Terminal B. If you arrive on Jetblue, Southwest, or Frontier, you’ll need to cross over from Terminal A to Terminal B.
Once you arrive at the Magical Express, you’ll scan your MagicBands with the cast members, and let them know how much checked baggage you have. Then, you’ll be directed to the correct line for your resort.
You’ll usually wait a little while for the bus to arrive and then will need to wait for it to fill up.
In addition, the coaches make multiple stops at different Disney resorts. This is the case both traveling to and from the airport. Therefore, your Magical Express pick up time will be at least three hours prior to your flight departure (for domestic flights) and four hours in advance (for international flights). Remember that when making your flight reservations so you won’t have to wake up too early.
You’ll receive information on your resort door prior to your check out day with your departure time. That packet will also contain a paper that you’ll need to board the bus on your way back to the airport.
In the past, when I’ve stayed at a resort hotel for only one night, I didn’t receive my packet. In that case, you can call the Magical Express to get your pickup time, and can get your letter from your resort’s front desk.
Do I Need a Carseat For Disney’s Magical Express?
Car seats aren’t required or permitted on board. They can be placed under the bus in the storage area if you are traveling with a car seat. Keep in mind that you may not need it if you aren’t going to be using a car during your vacation.
When my kids were little, we left the car seat at home and used a CARES from Kids Fly Safe for the plane.
You Don’t Have to Get Luggage From the Carousels
This is one of my favorite benefits of Disney’s Magical Express. If you’ve tagged your checked bags with the provided yellow tags, you can bypass the luggage carousel and go directly to the Magical Express welcome center.
Your bags will be delivered to your room a few hours later. I especially loved this service when I had little kids in a double stroller. It was so helpful not to have to push the stroller and our luggage through the airport.
Just keep in mind that you won’t have access to your checked bags for a few hours, so be sure to pack all essentials in your carry on. If you are headed to the parks immediately, make sure you have everything you need, like comfortable shoes and sunscreen.
During a recent trip, it took five hours for me to receive my luggage from the Magical Express, although it usually takes around three hours. So it’s really important that you pack items you’ll need in your carry on baggage.
Traveling in the winter? You may also want to pack a change of clothes so you’ll have a weather appropriate outfit once you land. I always love changing out of my long sleeves and boots when I arrive in Florida in the winter. Don’t forget the sunscreen! I always include a travel-sized tube in my checked luggage.
International guests, however, may need to retrieve their own luggage at baggage claim. If you are going through US Customs and Border Control in Orlando, you’ll be required to get your own luggage at baggage claim. You’ll be able to stow it under the Magical Express bus.
Visit the Resort Airline Check-In Desk Before You Leave
Walt Disney World offers a resort airline check-in desk at each resort. On your departure day, you can check your luggage and get your boarding pass right at your resort. These desks are typically only open in the morning, so check the hours before your last day.
You’ll also need to check your bags at least three hours before your flight departure. You’ll have to be flying on a participating airline to use this check-in service. When I was recently flying on Frontier Airlines, I was unable to use the service because they aren’t a participating airline.
Those with a later flight who are planning to visit the parks can have any of their carry-on bags held by bell services. Remember to retrieve it before your Magical Express arrives.
If you owe baggage fees, you’ll want to take care of that online before visiting the desk. I typically tip the baggage handlers so you may want to have small bills on hand for that. They are employees of the airport, not cast members at Walt Disney World.
Is Disney’s Magical Express 24 Hours?
The Magical Express runs all the time, but luggage delivery doesn’t. If your flight arrives between 5am and 10pm, you can have your luggage delivered directly to your room. Otherwise, you’ll have to retrieve it from the luggage carousel yourself, and bring it with you.
If you have a late flight, even before 10 pm, I’d recommend getting your luggage so that you don’t need to wait for it. You are able to do this at any time – you don’t have to use the luggage service.
How Long Does It Take To Get to Walt Disney World on the Magical Express?
The actual driving distance from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World is about 30-40 minutes, depending on traffic. But because the motorcoach does make multiple resort stops, it can take a while to actually get to your destination.
If you are making plans/reservations, keep that in mind. I usually won’t plan any reservations for at least 3 hours after my flight arrival time, but keep in mind that flight delays can always happen. For this reason, I usually try to be more impulsive on my arrival day and don’t make any must-do FastPass or dining reservations.
To learn more about Disney’s Magical Express, visit this website.
For your Walt Disney World vacation, I love the following resorts. Note that I have stayed in some of these resorts as part of press trips, but all opinions are my own.