Mears Connect is Disney’s Magical Express Replacement

When Disney announced in January 2021 that it would be retiring the much loved Magical Express service, many guests were left to wonder if there would be a replacement service (For more details on what the service is – visit my blog What is Disney’s Magical Express)

Mears (who operated Magical Express for Disney for 16 years) has announced they will be filling this void with Mears Connect beginning in January 2022 to coincide with the Magical Express shut down.  

According to Mears website:

Same reliable, safe service guests have been using for decades to Disney area hotels. Service starts January 1, 2022.

And since Mears have been running it all these years, it really is the same service – only now it’s an additional cost and not included in the price of your Disney resort stay.

Reservations for this new service are available on the website and initial pricing is as follows:

Introductory Rates – Standard Service 

Adults – $16.00 one way ($32 round trip)

Children – $13.50 one way ($27 round trip)

I did play around with different Disney resorts and this is the pricing that came up, but it is an “introductory rate”.  This suggests the pricing could change at a later time.

There is the option for a premium service as well.  This serivce boasts “limited wait time and direct service” for $200 round trip (up to 4 passengers).  Each additional passenger is $55 right now.

Check out the FAQs on the site as well – quoting that you will be on your way within 20 minutes of check in and that they will have “Enhanced technology to offer you real time information regarding your transportation.”  This could infact be an upgrade to the Magical Express.

How do you feel about this new service?

Mears Connect aims to fill Magical Express void

Disney announced in January 2021 that it would be retiring the much loved Magical Express service.  Many guests and fans were disappointed after relying on this transportation from the Orlando International Airport to their Disney Resort for years.  (For more details on what the service is – visit my blog What is Disney’s Magical Express)

Mears (who operated Magical Express for Disney for 16 years) has announced they will be launching Mears Connect in January 2022 to coincide with the Magical Express shut down.  Reservations for the new service are said to be available to book starting in May 2021.

In a news release, Mears said “Guests can expect scheduled service, luggage handling, convenient airport terminal staging, and return trips to the airport,” *

Mears spokesperson Roger Chapin said in a statement*:

“We plan to offer the same level of experience, service and convenience we’ve provided for the last 16 years, on behalf of our longtime partner, as returning guests and first-time visitors can expect nothing less,” 

Pricing for these services are expected to be released later this year.

More to come – but I can’t wait to try out this new service!

Were you a fan of the Magical Express?


Disney’s Magical Express Not Offered In 2022

Disney Magical Express
Disney’s Magical Express was launched back in 2005 and quickly became a popular option for guests of the Walt Disney World Resorts for getting to and from the Orlando International Airport.  Given the service was complimentary to resort guests, it could save hundreds on your vacation by avoiding car rentals, shuttles or taxis.  There were many benefits to using the service and I had outlined them in my blog “What is Disney’s Magical Express

On January 11th, 2021 Disney Parks released a blog talking about “A Look Ahead at Walt Disney World Resort“.  In the article they announced changes including the end of the Magical Express service.

Vacationers have more options to choose from than ever for transportation, including ride-share services that save time and offer more flexibility to go where they want, when they want. In light of this shift, when Disney Resort hotel bookings open for stays in 2022, we will no longer offer Disney’s Magical Express service for airport transportation, starting with arrivals Jan. 1, 2022. We will continue to operate the service for new and existing reservations made at Disney Resort hotels for arrivals throughout 2021. Additionally, complimentary transportation options – such as buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner – will continue to be available within Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Resort hotel guests, including to and from all four theme parks.

Many Disney fans took to social media to share their disappointment of the announcements.  Some were actually quite funny and comical:

Disney’s Magical Express will continue to operate throughout 2021.

Mears (who operated Magical Express) has announced a replacement service called “Mears Connect”.  You can read about that here and our full review here

Brightline announced in November 2020 that they had reached an agreement with Walt Disney World Resort to open a new train station at Disney Springs.  With this new train service it will connect Walt Disney World with Orlando International Airport.  The train is scheduled to open sometime in 2022.

How do you feel about the changes?  Will you be excited for the train option?

How Do You Use Disney’s Magical Express?

Disneys Magical Express Bus

UPDATE JANUARY 11, 2021:  Disney’s Magical Express will no longer be offered beginning January 2022.  See updates here


Disney’s Magical Express is a complimentary transportation to and from Orlando International Airport (MCO) for guests staying at a select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.  I’ve got a full post on What IS Disney’s Magical Express, but here you’re going to learn:

How do you use Disney’s Magical Express?

Here’s step by step what you need to know to enjoy this fantastic COMPLIMENTARY service!

Make your reservation

If you’ve booked your Walt Disney World resort package with a good Disney Travel Agent, they will make the reservation for you.  If you booked yourself, you would need to submit the request for transportation with Disney direct or online here.

When you request Disney’s Magical Express you need to provide:

  • Resort Name
  • Resort Reservation Number
  • Number of Guests (they must be on the reservation to use the Magical Express)
  • Airline
  • Flight Number
  • Mailing address for the luggage tags

Recieve your information package:

UPDATE – Beginning July 2020 – Luggage transfers will not be provided.  You must pick up your luggage at the carousel and take it with you to the bus.  It’s unclear if this will revert back at a later time.

Your luggage tags will arrive in advance of your trip if you have provided enough time for them to send them – usually 2 or 3 weeks is sufficient but the more time the better!

Disney Magical Express Luggage Tags

The luggage tags will have all of the information that Disney needs to retrieve your luggage from the carousel and deliver it to your ROOM at your Walt Disney World Resort IF you put the tags on your luggage before you check them at your departure airport.  This service of luggage delivery is NOT available if your flight lands between 10PM and 5AM.

Some things to keep in mind if you choose to have Disney bring your luggage:

  • Your luggage may not arrive until 3 hours after you do
  • Keep medications and important documents with you
  • If you plan activities for as soon as you arrive at the resort – make sure you have the necessary things with you (like your bathing suit!)
  • If you have your Magic Band already – keep it with you and don’t pack it in your luggage

If you did NOT get your luggage tags in advance, not to worry!  You can still have Disney pick up your luggage for you – just head to the Magical Express Service location and give the representative your claim tickets from the airline!

You can also choose to NOT put the tags on and pick your luggage up yourself and take it to the motorcoach with you.  If you decide that you are going to retrieve your own luggage – do NOT put the tags on. 

Get on the plane in your home town – you’re going to WALT DISNEY WORLD!

Make sure you’re prepared for ALL of the things that go with flying… here’s a list of some simple (but often forgot) things you should plan for

Arrival at Orlando International Airport

When you land (YAY!) it’s so exciting, you just can’t WAIT to get to Walt Disney World.  Now – you need to find the Magical Express!

Orlando Airport (MCO) is probably one of the best signed airports I’ve been to, they have signs everywhere.

MCO Shuttle


Jump on the first ‘ride’ of the trip – the train from your arrival gate to the main terminal

Upon arrival in the main terminal, follow the signs

Either pick up your bags at the carousels here


Keep following the signs to the Ground Transportation Area in Terminal B on level 1

MCO Ground Transportation


When you get off the plane, enter the US Immigration Checkpoint

After you get your luggage – proceed to the Customs Checkpoint

After completing the customs and immigrations process, decide if you’re taking your luggage with you or if you want Disney to transfer it.  If you would like Disney to transfer it, put it BACK on the carousel.

NOW YOU get to experience the first ‘ride’ of the trip – the train from your arrival gate to the main terminal

Upon arrival in the main terminal, follow the signs to the Ground Transportation Area in Terminal B on level 1

Arrive at the Magical Express Counter in Terminal B Level 1

Magical Express Arrival Counter

As you pass all of the car rental companies etc – you’ll see the Magical Express counter.  Here is where you will present either your Magic Bands OR your resort reservation confirmation.  Don’t worry if you don’t have your Magic Bands in advance, Disney can only ship to some countries.  If they can’t be shipped – they will be waiting at your resort for you.

When you check in with your Magic Bands or Resort confirmation, the cast member will validate the members of your party are all there and then direct you to a ‘lane’ – the bus line for your resort.  Resorts in the same area share buses, so there could be 3 or 4 stops on the bus route, but it’s generally pretty quick.  People on the bus don’t dilly-dally because they are anxious to start their vacation!

Magical Express Lines

Get on that bus!

When your bus arrives the cast member will direct you to the bus in the bay.  Here’s where the driver will load your luggage in to the base of the bus if you’ve brought it with you.  If you didn’t bring it – it will be coming separately and NOT on this bus.  Take your seat on the bus – remember that the first couple of rows are reserved for guests with mobility issues and they will be marked as such.

Inside Disneys Magical Express

Each seat is comfy and you get a great view of the overhead TVs that will show you some fun things you need to know before you start your vacation.  It’s the perfect way to get you excited for what’s to come!

Individual lighting and vents are above the seat for comfort and there is a restroom at the back of almost all of the buses.

No car seats required, the little ones can sit on their own seat or your lap.

Sit back, enjoy the show on the TV – you’ll be at the resort in no time!

The driver will call out the name of the resorts as they pull in – make sure you’re getting off at YOUR resort!  Gratuities are appreciated by these drivers.

Now you’ve arrived – go check in and start your vacation!!  Remember if you didn’t bring your luggage it will arrive up to 3 hours later.


Have FUN!  UNTIL…….

IT’S time to go home

The wonderful people at Disney’s Magical Express will drop by your resort room the day before you are set to check out and hang the ‘eviction’ notice on your door.

Inside the envelope will be all of the information you need for a smooth ride to the airport.

Magical Express Check Out Letter

HOLD ON TO THIS PAPER – this is your confirmation and “ticket” to get on the bus.

Make note of the pick up time – and be there EXTRA early!

Disney does NOT want to be responsible for people missing flights, so they keep a very tight schedule.  If the bus says it’s leaving at 7:50 – its leaving at 7:50.  Don’t be late.

The morning of departure

Arrive EARLY to the bus stop at your resort with your luggage.  It will be transported with you on the bus to Orlando International Airport

Magical Express Departure Bus Stop

Have your paperwork with you – make sure you have that letter they left you the night before!  It confirms your seats and time on Disney’s Magical Express

When the bus arrives, the driver will load your luggage and you can take a seat on what is now known as “Disney’s Tragical Express“.  You know – it’s tragic ’cause the vacation is over right??

Sit back in your seat and watch the cartoons… they try to cheer you up and make you laugh!

Upon arrival at the airport the driver will unload your luggage and be appreciative of any gratuities.

Take your luggaage, wave goodbye to the Mickey bus and find your check in counter for your airline.

*For select resorts and guests, there is a Resort Airline Check In service available so that you can check in for your flight at your resort.   If you plan to use this service, make sure you allow plenty of time for it before your scheduled departure.

Enjoy Orlando International Airport

Even though the vacation is over, there is still plenty of shopping and fun things to see in the airport!  On your train ride back to the terminal, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will thank you for coming.  It’s funny, I’m always happy to hear is voice on the train when I arrive and when I leave… it’s like the two bookends of the trip!

Have you used Disney’s Magical Express?

What is Disney’s Magical Express?

Disney Magical Express

UPDATE JANUARY 11, 2021:  Disney’s Magical Express will no longer be offered beginning January 2022.  See updates here

Disney’s Magical Express is round trip complimentary transportation between Orlando International Airport and your Walt Disney World resort in Florida.

Yes, you read that right, it’s complimentary (FREE) for all guests staying at a Disney Resort hotel in Walt Disney World for the dates of their resort reservations.  

There are many benefits to Disney’s Magical Express:

Cost Savings

Save money because you don’t need to rent a car, Uber or taxi to and from the airport to your resort.  

Of course if you want luxury travel to/from the airport I would recommend a Minnie Van!  But…they’re not free 🙂


Car Seats – Transportation is provided via motor coach and child safety seats are not recommended.  Children can sit on their own seat, or on the lap of an adult.  This saves you bringing and or renting a car seat!

Wheelchairs – the motor coach will accommodate wheelchairs too!  Just make sure you indicate that on your Magical Express reservation or let your Travel Agent know.

Service Animals – Service animals can join their owners on Disney Transportation motorcoaches


No need to worry about directions on how to get there or fuss with a rental car, let Disney do the driving for you.

Select Disney Resort hotels offer airline check in before boarding the Magical Express.  Full details are here

Disney Magic

You’ve finally arrived in Orlando and you’re ready to start your vacation!  What better way to start than with a bus ride with videos all about what you can expect on your vacation!  This is when the excitement really kicks it up a notch!  When you’re returning to the airport – there are some great cartoons you can watch! 

On your next vacation to Walt Disney World will YOU use this service?

For details on HOW to use Disney’s Magical Express – click here.

Check out our Tee Public Store Here

Pixie Dust Fan's Tee Public Store

Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store

How much does a Minnie Van Cost in Walt Disney World?

How much does a Minnie Van cost?  Well, like most transportation services – it depends on where you’re going and how busy it is.

Minnie Van Car 40

When Disney launched this service as a pilot in 2017 it was $20 USD for a trip anywhere on Disney property.  I was a big fan of the Minnie Vans and have used them on multiple trips.  The service is so easy to use and has become a permanent fixture on property.  As the program has evolved over time, so has the pricing.  What started out as a flat rate has now changed to a different pricing structure and a lot more expensive.

There is no specific calculations for pricing that I can offer to give you the total cost. What I can do is share the screen shots from within the Lyft app when comparing a Minnie Van to the other types of Lyft options.  I have shared them through this article.  They are at different times of the day (peak times and not) going to/from different locations.  What is clear is the DIFFERENCE in the total price between a Minnie Van and a regular Lyft ride.

Minnie Van to Coronado Springs

My love of the Minnie Van service had me ordering them for years, even if it was more money than the ride-sharing services.  In my mind the benefits of using Minnie Van over the others were worth the price difference, but that was when it was a flat fee or the average cost was comparable.  Now that there is such a big difference in the price that I struggle to justify it to myself vs ordering a standard Lyft.  Especially with the “wait and save” option from Lyft.

Minnie Van vs Wait And Save Lyft

I was willing to wait a little bit – look at what I saved!

With all of the transportation options offered around Walt Disney World property (Monorail, Disney buses, Skyliner, boats etc) – why would you need any of these services?  Sometimes it comes down to convenience as Disney transportation does not always have a route for where you want to go (say from hotel to hotel).

For each person the benefits of Disney’s Minnie Van service will have a different value to consider.  Minnie Vans include complimentary car seats for the kids, something that is not required by other services.  It’s important to note that you also have an option for an accessible Minnie Van if you require one.

Minnie Van Car Seats

Minnie Van Car Seats

The Minnie Van benefit of dropping you in more convenient locations around Walt Disney World and at the parks can give you a little extra time in your day.  For example – Minnie Van drivers can drop you right in the bus stalls at the Magic Kingdom, other ride services must drop you at the ticket and transportation center.  Being so close to the park entrance is a bonus when you start your day but even bigger bonus when the day ends!  The pick-up location requires a lot less walking at the end of a long day in only SOME of the parks.  Make sure you note where the pickup location is before determining if the Minnie Van is going to save you steps.

Pick up Coronado Springs Minnie Van

So do I use Minnie Vans like I used to?  No – but would I use them again?  Yes.  For me it depends on so many different things but it all comes down to convenience.  The ability for a Minnie Van to pick me up closer to where I am and avoid extra walking on a hot or rainy day can be worth it.  If I just need a lift from Disney Springs (because I don’t want to walk back to the bus stops) then Lyft or Uber work fine since the pick up is in the same location, the extra cost isn’t justified for me.

Beach Club Minnie Van to Old Key West

After a long day at Epcot I walked to the Beach Club to get a ride to Old Key West after the fireworks

I used to think that having a friendly cast member to chat with was such a huge plus, but I feel like I would be doing a disservice to the fantastic Lyft drivers I have had during my stays.  I tend to use Lyft more than Uber while I’m on my Walt Disney World vacation and I have had some of the most interesting and fun conversations with the drivers.  Many of them prefer to stay on property and drive between the resort hotels and parks, but they have been just as lovely when taking me to the Orlando International Airport.  Given I’m Canadian, the Mears service picks me up EXTRA early for my flight departures home so I rarely use it going back.  I have used Lyft to take me to Universal Studios from my Disney resort as well.

At the end of this I feel like I’ve written an article on why you should use Lyft instead of the pricing of the Minnie Vans, but I had to give my honest opinions.

What do you think?  Would you use a Minnie Van vs the rideshare services?  Let me know in the comments.

I do have a post on 5 reasons I love Minnie Vans too!

5 Reasons To Use Disney’s Minnie Van Service

Minnie Van Grand Floridian Car 32Minnie Vans are a private transportation option at Walt Disney World. They operate similar to Lyft and Uber, but use a different pricing model to take you anywhere on Disney property.

Here are the top 5 reasons you should try the Minnie Van service the next time you’re in Walt Disney World

1.  It’s a Disney Service – Safety First

There are car seats for the little ones and each driver goes through a rigorous 8 hour training class on how to install them.  There are vans that are equipped to transfer guests with wheelchairs and ECVs.  The Cast Members driving know exactly where they’re going without looking at the GPS on their phones.  Safety first – and it shows.

Minnie Van Car Seats

Minnie Van Car Seats

2.  Access to Cast Member Only Roads

Did my drive seem shorter with a Minnie Van vs a regular Lyft?  Absolutely!  Our driver was able to utilize the Cast Member Only roads in the back of Fort Wilderness to get us to our destination quickly.

 3.  Preferred Drop Points

Since this service is Disney, they obviously give preference to their drivers.  The drop off and pick up points are much more convenient to guests.  At the Magic Kingdom you will not have to go to the Ticket and Transportation Centre first, they will drop you at the bus dock right outside.  Regular Lyft drivers are not able to go to the bus stops at the Magic Kingdom so we found this a huge plus.  Less walking and much more convenient to be in a Minnie Van.

Animal Kingdom Pick Up

4.  Uninterrupted Cast Member Time

On a recent trip we took as many as 8 Minnie Van trips – all with wonderful cast members!  Having the time in the vehicle to chat with them one on one was such a treat, we even had the same cast member twice.

The Cast Members we met had such great stories about their careers with Disney, there were a few that we didn’t want the ride to end because we were enjoying the chat so much!

5.  Convenience and Comfort

Being able to see where the car was when it was on it’s way is one of the great things I love about Uber and Lyft.  Knowing the approximate arrival time is somehow comforting when you’re waiting after walking around all day.

Minnie Van Music

With Air Conditioning controls in the front and the back – we never had an uncomfortable temperature and the background Disney music was an added bonus.

Being able to go from resort to resort without transferring to a different bus made me very happy!

Minnie Vans are  available at all Walt Disney World Resorts.  If you would like to know how to use the service – click here for instructions.

Have you tried Disney’s Minnie Van service?  What did you think?

Disney’s Express Transportation Option

Disney Express Transportation

UPDATE – Disney’s Express Transportation is not available as of August 23 2017.

I am a big believer in the Park Hopper option on your Walt Disney World tickets. Having the flexibility to visit more than one park in a day can really enhance your Disney vacation. I like to park hop to catch a show or have a dining reservation without being ‘tied’ to one park for the whole day. We can enjoy the morning Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom and still be able to catch Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios at night.


For those of us who like to park hop, there is a new service designed just for us.


Here are 5 reasons I loved Disney’s Express Transportation option:

1.  Backstage Access

The bus stops in each of the 4 parks are inside of the park, backstage. Once on board the bus, you are treated to a view behind the scenes while you exit/enter the parks. No photos allowed though, but you can enjoy the view. For those of us who love all things ‘behind the scenes’ – this was a real treat.


2.  No security

With the bus dropping you off backstage at your desitnation – there is no need to go through security again! No need to get in line to have your bags searched again. Avoiding those security line-ups are a big plus for us.


3.  Time savings

Without going through security and having a bus that goes directly from one park to the other, we saved a ton of time.   We left Epcot one evening and was in the Magic Kingdom in under 30 minutes. It was a great way to maximize our time that day!


4.  No crowds

It may have been just our luck, but it really wasn’t crowded at all. I think we used the bus 6 times during our visit and the most people (in addition to our party) was 4 people. There were a few trips where we had a bus to ourselves!


5.  Good value for the price

We opted for the 7 day pass and found that it was a good value for the time savings and convenience. We did a lot of park hopping and used the service to our advantage. I’m not sure that the single day ticket at $19 USD is worth it, but the 7 day at $29 USD definitely was.


Other things to know before you buy:

You can purchase your express transportation tickets while on property – you can’t purchase in advance.

Buses depart approximately every 30 minutes.

Express Transportation is available each day from 10:00 AM until park closing. Make sure you find out when the last bus is scheduled to your destination.

Check in locations:

Animal Kingdom ExpressMagic Kingdom park – next to the exit of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Disney’s Animal Kingdom park – next to the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – the courtyard in front of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

Epcot – the east side of Spaceship Earth

For more information, see Disney’s official website here.

The only problem that we had with the Express Transportation was timing. With the last bus at ‘closing’ for the park, it made it difficult to enjoy the night time show at Hollywood Studios and catch the bus to Epcot for Illuminations. There were two nights where the last bus didn’t arrive when they said it would. Of course they were still testing the service and I expect they will work out some of these issues in time.

When we used this service outside of the last bus of the night, it worked like a charm. I will definitely be using this service again and I can’t wait to see what improvements they have made for next time.

Will you try the Express Transportation? Do you think it is worth the price?