Most guests flying into Walt Disney World arrive through the Orlando International Airport (MCO). This centrally located airport is extremely convenient and offers a hotel, shops, and restaurants for travelers to enjoy before or after their flight.
The trip from MCO to Walt Disney World can take anywhere from twenty-five minutes to over an hour, depending on traffic and the time of day. Those can be some of the longest minutes ever, however, when you are eager to start your vacation. It’s no surprise that most families want to maximize their time and get to the parks in the most efficient yet cost-effective way possible.
In past years, Walt Disney World offered the Magical Express. This complimentary transportation option was offered for all guests staying at a Walt Disney World hotel and flying through MCO. Guests liked it because it felt like their vacation started right when they boarded. However, at the end of 2021, this service was unfortunately discontinued.
Luckily, there are still plenty of transportation options from Orlando Airport to Walt Disney World. While none of them are included free with a stay at Walt Disney World, they are affordable for families. Here are some of the options available to you.
Did we miss a transportation option that you have tried? Leave us a comment below!
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Note that this post is specific to the Orlando International Airport. Some guests may choose to fly to other airports, including Orlando Sanford International Airport. Some of these options are only offered at MCO.
Transportation From Orlando Airport to Disney World: The Best Options Available
Mears Connect (the original operator of the Magical Express)
Mears Transportation, a Central Florida-based company, has operated the Magical Express in the past. Their newest service, Mears Connect, has two types of shuttles – Standard Service, and Express Service. They offer a popular way to get to Walt Disney World from Orlando International Airport.
To access the Mears Connect shuttle, you’ll go to the same area of the airport where the Magical Express service was located (Terminal B, level 1). There, you’ll board your shuttle to your resort.
After your vacation, you’ll be picked up at your resort hotel. For the standard service, it will be at least three hours in advance of your flight time (for domestic flights), while it will be 2.5-3 hours in advance for the Express Service. While this may seem like a long time, Orlando International Airport has notorious long lines for security.
A boarding pass with a QR code will be sent to you the day before you depart. That will provide you with the exact pickup time so you can plan ahead.
The Standard Service goes from the airport to Walt Disney World but will make stops at multiple resorts. Therefore, you may have a longer wait depending on the specific route the bus takes. Sometimes even one or two stops can seem to take forever when you are getting ready for your vacation, however.
The Express Service isn’t a private transfer service – it’s a shared ride. However, they do guarantee that your resort will be the first stop at Walt Disney World, so it’s a direct service from the airport to the resort door.
Bringing a car seat with you? Kids aren’t required to use them on Mears Connect, but they can be used if you prefer.
At this time, luggage handling service isn’t offered. So, you’ll need to stop at the baggage claim area to get your bags before you get in line for the airport shuttle bus.
Round trip prices for the service vary from $27-$32 (per person) for the Standard Service and $250 (for up to four people) for the Express Service. Gratuities are not included and are at your discretion.
When you are ready to return to the airport, check with the resort staff to find out where the bus stop is located at your specific hotel.
Save Time With Rental Car Companies
I don’t particularly love driving, so it’s always nice when I get a break during vacation. Luckily, the transportation in the Disney World theme parks is complimentary and easy to use. You don’t need to have a rental car once you get on property – you can easily take park transportation to get around to the different areas of Walt Disney World.
However, there are definitely some people who enjoy the freedom of driving themselves around and find a rental car to be a convenient way to get around. If you want to do a car rental, it’s best to rent it right there at the airport. That way, you will have the car from the minute you land until you are at the airport for your return flight. Use this link to compare rental car prices.
The rental car desks at the Orlando International Airport are located on the first floor of the airport, on both the A-side and the B-side, as well as in the new Terminal C. There are some additional car rental companies that are offsite. These companies offer shuttle service from the airport to their individual locations – check with them directly to get the details.
Be sure to reserve your rental car well in advance. I’ve seen times when guests walk up to the desk hoping for a car rental, but they are often fully booked well in advance. This is especially important during the busy season – particularly during school vacations.
If you are traveling with young children, keep in mind that you’ll need to deal with car seats if you rent a car. It’s also a good idea to budget some extra time on your return to the airport because you’ll need to return the car to the company before heading into the airport terminal.
It’s important to know that there are some additional costs with this option – beyond the standard rental car fee. You’ll also have to pay for gas and tolls. Parking at the theme parks is complimentary for resort guests, as is parking at your resort hotel (a recent change).
In addition to the freedom you get to go to the parks on your schedule, you’ll also be able to leave the Walt Disney World property during your stay. I’d recommend doing a grocery stop on the way to the hotel so that you have snacks, water, sunscreen, and more before your vacation begins. That can be a great way to save money, and can actually offset some of the expenses from the rental car.
Sunshine Flyer – A Fun New Option
The newest addition to the transportation options from Orlando Airport to Disney World is the Sunshine Flyer. If you have kids who travel trains, the Sunshine Flyer sounds like a really fun option.
The Sunshine Flyer is a bus service with train cars decorated either as 1920s old-fashioned passenger cars or locomotives. In addition, the staff is dressed in costume as engineers or conductors. This can help start the magic early,
The Sunshine Flyer departs from Terminal B, level 1 at the Orlando International Airport. Guests are told they will not wait for more than 20 minutes after checking in at the desk. You do have to visit baggage claim and pick up your bags before checking in.
Guests can choose to book both one-way rides and round-trip rides. Rates for round trips range from $22-$39 depending on the age of the guest (children are from age 3-8). Car seats are allowed on the bus or can be stored.
The shuttles do make multiple stops at resorts but there is also a separate, direct service. If you book the direct service, you’ll get a direct, private ride. Your driver will meet you right at baggage claim, and can help you with your bags. The type and size of the vehicle vary by party size.
Right now, they are just going to Disney Resorts (including the Swan and Dolphin), but plan to include other Orlando area resorts in the future.
On the day before you depart, you’ll receive an email with your departure time. It’s expected to be around 3 hours in advance for a domestic flight, and 4 hours in advance for an international flight.
If you are looking for a private ride to and from Orlando International Airport to the Disney resorts, rideshare services may be the best option. Once you retrieve your luggage, you can request a ride through the apps (either Uber or Lyft).
Rideshare drivers can currently pick up at all three terminals – A, B, and C. Wait time varies based on current availability and demand. I’ve had great experiences during my trips, and have found rideshare to be a great option.
When you are ready to return to the airport from the Walt Disney World Resort, you can again request a ride. These apps may also allow you to schedule a ride in advance, which is especially helpful for your return trip. Like car rentals, car seats and/or boosters will be required based on local laws.
There are various options available for private transfers that can take you from the airport to the theme parks. When booking, it may be worth looking at those transfers that include meet and greet service. That way, your driver will be waiting for you at the baggage claim. Some private transfers also allow you to make a grocery and/or pharmacy stop for essentials.
Disney has started offering an add-on service including private transfers. This could be a great option if you aren’t sure what specifically to book.
Some benefits of private transfers are the peace of mind of knowing that you have transportation booked in advance. Many also offer luggage assistance, which can be helpful when you are traveling with children and strollers.
In addition to these transportation options, there are other choices. These include the taxi line at the airport, private shuttles, and limo services. These can also be good options, depending on your comfort and budget.