At first, I felt a little silly referring to a 76-passenger motor coach as anything remotely “magical.” I knew it eliminated one part of the thing I hate most about travel – waiting at baggage claim. Honestly, there’s nothing worse than standing around for what feels like an eternity, whilst watching every bag that is not yours go by and realizing you still aren’t on vacation. Now imagine you’re standing there with an extremely excited 6-year-old and an already impatient 40ish-year-old.
One of the benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort is the ability to take Disney’s Magical Express, which, yes, is a big bus.
It’s more than that, though.
When you opt in to ride the Magical Express, you are also given the option of having them collect your bags AS THEY COME OFF THE PLANE and deliver them to your Disney Resort hotel room. LIKE MAGIC.
I can’t lie, that was one of the most convenient experiences of our trip. I would book a Disney World Resort again in a heartbeat just so I can do it again.
So how does it work?
Once you book your Disney World Resort hotel and your airfare, you can either reserve Disney’s Magical Express with the booking agent for your Walt Disney World hotel reservation or when you make your Disney Resort hotel reservation online or over the phone. We booked our hotel first and then a couple months later got our airfare, so we called the number on the Magical Express page on the Disney web site. All we needed was our Disney confirmation number and our flight information and in less than 10 minutes, we were signed up for arrival and departure.
Around 30-days prior to our departure date and about a week before we got our magic bands, we got our Magical Express information. It includes confirmation of your flight information, instructions and a map showing how to get to the Magical Express check in area. On the back it details how your luggage will be handled, depending on when you arrive, information on Resort Arline Check-Inservice, and a heads up on what to expect on departure day.
There was also one yellow bag tag for each person in our party to put on checked baggage. Instructions are on the back of each tag. If you need more, call the number in the mailing and they’ll send you more. Try to do that as soon as you can to allow time for them to mail it to you before you depart.
Now, one thing about magic is that sometimes it takes a moment or two. In this case, luggage delivery can take a few hours after you arrive. We knew we had an hour or two before our dinner reservation and weren’t planning on going to a park on arrival day, so we packed Miss O’s bag with our bathing suits, a change of clothes for each of us and a few must have items.
When your flight arrives in Orlando, go to the inter-terminal shuttle, or as I like to call it, the baby monorail, and then head down to ground transportation on the Terminal B side. I know that airport pretty well, but I still brought the mailing with map, just in case. There is so much signage, you’ll be fine. Just pay attention and follow everyone else wearing Disney shirts and you’ll find it in no time. I do recommend a bathroom stop before checking in, though. With a potential brief wait for a shuttle and a 45-75 minute shuttle ride ahead of you, it’s worth it.
You’ll see the check in area and get your first chance to scan your Magic bands, so DO NOT PACK THEM IN YOUR CHECKED BAGS. Also, have them easily accessible. You only need one person in your party to scan a band, but seriously, have your band accessible when you get to the check in or move your party to the side while you dig it out. We watched as a family dug through their stroller bags looking for them, but never moved out of the line so others could get on their way.
We got in the queue for the Art of Animation Resort, which sometimes shares a route with Pop Century, since their properties are right next door and connected by a bridge from main pool to main pool. We waited less than five minutes before we boarded the bus and had no problem finding seats. The driver was very kind about putting our small bag under the bus while we chose to hold on to our smaller backpacks.
Art of Animation was the first stop and the trip took about 45 minutes. It was lovely. Miss O and Mr. A enjoyed the short video bits playing on the TV, mostly about Magical Express safety and Disney Springs, which helped distract from the “boring” highway outside.
We were dropped off just outside the main lobby and didn’t have to wait long for our bag to come out from under the bus. Don’t forget to tip your driver. We did a couple of dollars, one for the bag and one for the drive.
We didn’t make it to the pool because we were having too much fun exploring the Art of Animation’s Cars, Finding Nemo and Lion King areas. We ran out of time to get to the Little Mermaid section before we needed to get our first shuttle to Disney Springs for dinner at The Rainforest Cafe. Our bags were waiting for us when we came back to the room after dinner and it was perfect.
On the way home, it was just as easy. On our last night, we received our Magical Express departure information in an envelope hanging on our door handle. Read this information carefully when you get it! It tells you when to bring your bags to the Magical Express stop. You’ll need to give that paper to the driver, so have it someplace you can get to it easily.
I wish I could say the ride to the airport is as magical as the ride to the hotel, but it’s never as magical leaving the happiest place on earth as it is going, is it?