What is Replacing Disney’s Magical Express and When?

What is Replacing Disney’s Magical Express and When?

With Walt Disney World canceling its Disney’s Magical Express service at the end of 2021, Disney vacationers will be faced with making other arrangements to get to and from Orlando International Airport! The most asked question so far is what is Replacing Disney’s Magical Express? How much will it cost? Will it actually be replaced at all? If you’re planning a Disney Vacation in 2022 here’s what you need to know about Disney Transportation before you go. 

disney magical express is retiring

Disney’s Magical Express is Retiring

Once upon a time, there was this amazing COMPLIMENTARY Disney Transportation service called Disney’s Magical Express. This seemingly inconsequential bus service would take Disney Vacationers to Walt Disney World from Orlando International Airport. But this service was so much more than just an easy way to get to your Disney Resort. It meant that you could check your luggage at your home airport, and know that it would safely arrive in your Disney Resort Room.  Without you touching it again- at all!

This service also allowed you the opportunity to enter the Disney Bubble SOONER! With a single step onto Disney’s Magical Express, you were transported into the world of Disney. Your vacation had started. Even if it meant 40 minutes on a bus shuttle! You got to watch Disney Cartoons, see behind-the-scenes footage of restaurants, rides, and even new attractions! All without fighting with luggage, Orlando traffic, or figuring out directions.  

When is the last day to use Disney’s Magical Express?

The last day for Disney’s Magical Express transportation is December 31, 2021. If you’re traveling this year, you can use Disney’s Magical Express as usual. 

Why are they Replacing Disney’s Magical Express?

With rising costs of just about everything, there are tons of reasons to cancel this complimentary service. Many employees, including bus drivers, were laid off as a result of the pandemic and less staff means less flexibility. Of course, Disney is also facing the rising uncertainties of fuel costs and shared public transportation. So, with the Mears contract ( who manages the Magical Express) expiring at the end of 2021, cutting the service couldn’t have come at a better time! With the chance to revamp how they transport Disney guests from Orlando International Airport to Disney Parks, Disney took the opportunity to make the change. And with Disney’s newfound focus on E-Commerce and Disney Plus, the pullback in the Disney Parks during slow vacation years due to the pandemic is not surprising.  

How Will I Get to Walt Disney World Without Disney’s Magical Express?

As far as we know SO FAR….Starting January 1, 2022, Disney Vacationers will be on their own to get to and from the Orlando International Airport. At least temporarily.

UPDATE: Beginning January 2022, Mears Connect is a new service being offered by Mears Transportation, for a fee, that will provide Disney vacationers a way to get from Orlando International Airport to the Walt Disney World Resort Area. Stay tuned here for details. We will be updating this post as they release information about this new offering. 

With Brightline anticipating a 2026 completion date (previously a 2023 target date) for the Disney Springs Train Station, vacationers can plan on utilizing various methods of transportation until then. Uber, Lyft, and Mears are all currently available at a cost. And while we’d hope that Disney would do something to offset this new cost of transportation, or offer an interim transportation option, they are by no means obligated to. That said, it may also be more beneficial now to consider Staying off-property at Walt Disney World with hotels that do have shuttle services. Even renting a car to make your travel to and from the airport more seamless may be a viable option for you.

How Will This Affect My Disney Vacation?

Allow us to be a little biased here. As Magical Express devotees, we’d like to get emotional, and say this change will affect your vacation A LOT! As two girls working day jobs, plus running this travel blog and shop we are usually so desperate for a vacation by the time a vacation arrives we need it to start as soon as possible. Mustering up the tolerance for car rentals, Orlando traffic, or waiting for luggage somewhere in the Orlando airport sounds downright dreadful. BUT, we’ll try to be professional here and break it down for you. 

  1. You will be responsible for your own luggage. This includes from the home airport, through any connecting airports if needed, and at the Orlando Airport. We do not know if Disney Airline check-in/check-out service will still be offered come 2022. 
  2. You will be responsible for getting to your Disney Resort. Whether it be by train, bus, or automobile. Your journey from the Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World is your own. Choose your transportation method wisely.  
  3. You will be responsible for getting back to the airport. Consider this the equivalent of trying to make that early morning church service with the kids. No one wants to leave Disney. No one is fully packed. Everyone needs snacks. The last thing you want to do at the end of your Disney Vacation is deal with the Uber driver who is 6 minutes away. 
  4. You will have to pay for something new. Whether it will be the Disney Resort parking fees because you brought your own car or a rental. Fees for Uber or Lyft. Or the new Brightline Train Ticket from the airport to Walt Disney World. All will come at a cost and will need to be added to your Disney Budget.
Disney Brightline Train in Orlando Replacing Magical Express
©Brightline

Disney Transportation Options

What is Replacing Disney’s Magical Express Bus Service?

The current forerunner in the “replacing Disney’s Magical Express” category is a train. The new kid on the block in the Orlando Transportation lineup is the Brightline Train railway company. This high-speed train already travels the east coast of Florida to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. New rails will soon connect Orlando International Airport to the line, allowing for expansion to Disney Springs and Tampa. While this is great news, the Disney Springs station isn’t slated to complete until sometime in 2026 ( previously 2024), which means transportation in the interim may be rocky. 

Also, while not a one-to-one replacement, The Brightline Train will most likely not have Disney cartoons, or automatic luggage retrieval and delivery. This train to Disney Springs will allow you to load your luggage, have a fancy seat to sit in, and not have to deal with Orlando traffic all on your own. So that’s a godsend. And since the train is dropping you at Disney Springs, you can tentatively start your Disney Arrival Day there. IF you can figure out the luggage situation. 

brightline train rails in florida to orlando disney
©Brightline

When will the Brightline Train Station in Orlando Complete?

The Brightline Train Orlando Station was set to complete at the end of 2022, but may now be pushed back. The new rail will Officially connect the Orlando International Airport to the east Florida coast rail line. 

When will the Brightline Train Station to Disney Springs Complete?

The Brightline Station connecting Disney Springs and the Orlando International Airport was originally set to complete sometime in 2024. Now delayed until 2026. 

Brightline Railway Orlando Florida Disney World
©Brightline

How To Get from Disney Springs Station to Your Disney Resort

The biggest question so far has been How do you get from Disney’s Brightline Train Station to your Disney Resort? Thankfully, with this project still in the works, we’re hoping Disney can figure out a vacation-friendly option! While Disney Resort Buses do run from Disney Springs, there’s a hard and fast rule that No Luggage is Allowed on Disney Buses! So, if you’ve brought luggage, which is likely, you may just have to rent a car to carry yourselves and the luggage to your Disney resort. 

How Much will the Ride on the Brightline Train to Walt Disney World Cost?

Another area that we hope Disney can maneuver is lowering the cost of the Brightline Railway Train Ticket. We imagine this would be done through a partnership, or even an add-on when booking a Disney Vacation Package.

The estimated Disney Train Cost right now from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World could potentially be about $7 dollars a ticket. This is based on the current estimate that for other stops on the line Brightline charges about $28 dollars for a 75-mile trip. And since Disney Springs is about 18 miles from Orlando International Airport it’s what we can guess so far. Keep in mind this rate would potentially be PER PERSON in your travel party. In which case, a rideshare on Uber or Lift at 30-60 dollars depending on the size of vehicle/ time of year, may actually come out cheaper depending on your travel party size. 

Disney Replacing Magical Express Best Case Scenario

Since we cannot stop Disney from Replacing Disney’s Magical Express Service our hope here is that Disney is able to come to a partnership agreement with Brightline. Perhaps a discounted rate, package deal, or special Resort Shuttle to transfer guests from the Train Station to respective Disney Resorts. 

Thankfully other Disney Transportation Options are all still in play. Walt Disney World will still continue to offer complimentary in-park transportation; monorails, Skyliner gondolas, buses, and ferries. Disney announced that Minnie Vans are temporarily paused, but may also be permanently retired. 

We’ll continue to update this post as Disney’s and Brightline Railway Company relationship develops so we can stay up to date on what the new Transportation service looks like. 

Disney's Magic Express is Retiring in 2021 leaving Disney guests other options to get to and from Orlando International Airport. Check out the details! #polkadotpixies #disneytrain


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