Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Ins and Outs of Disney Magical Express



Have you ever used Disney's Magical Express?  I have and I LOVE it!

But what is Disney's Magical Express?  Guess what?  I'm about the explain to you all about how this great service works!

Ok...so you've got a vacation coming up, you're staying on property and you don't want to have the added expense of renting a car...what are you going to do?

Well in 2005, Disney rolled out a fabulous way to allow for guests to get to the resorts without much hassle at all.

Disney's Magical Express is a transportation service that Disney provides out of Orlando International Airport (otherwise known as MCO) using motor coaches to transfer guests and their luggage to the Walt Disney World Resort...all for FREE! 

So how does it work?  Well, you'll need to be signed up for it at least 10 days prior to your trip.  You can call 866-599-0951. You can also add flight information to your itinerary by visiting your My Disney Experience account, or through your travel agent.  You will need to know your arriving and departing times and flight numbers.  While you can register for this up to 10 days prior, it is recommended that you do so at least 6 weeks in advance.  You see, if done 6 weeks in advance, Disney will send you a packet of information, which has some very valuable items included.  More on that in a moment.  Packets will only be mailed to guests visiting from the United States or Canada...guests visiting from other countries will receive information once you check in at the Disney's Magical Express Welcome Center.

So, this packet I was talking about?  What's in it?  Well first is an informational booklet letting you know additional and important advice.  Second are these yellow luggage tags.  These are important!  Make sure to put them on your luggage before you leave your home airport.  Why?  That will be explained soon.  Disney will only mail guests 1 tag per person, but don't fret.  If you have more than one piece of luggage call 866-599-0951.  

When you pack your bags at home, make sure to pack any essentials you may need during those first 3 hours or so in your carry on bag.  This would include medicines, clothes to change into, swim gear, etc.  

So, now it's time for your flight.  Take off, just like you normally would.  Once you land at the airport, that's when the Disney magic takes place.  Don't head to baggage claim (unless it is after 10pm, then you will need to claim your luggage first)...instead, head to the Disney's Magical Express Welcome Center.  This is located on the B side of the airport on Level 1.  Once there, if you have your booklet that was mailed to you in the packet of information, the Disney Cast Member will escort you to the Red Carpet.  If you do not have the booklet or you had additional luggage that wasn't tagged with the yellow Disney Magical Express Tag, then you will need to proceed to the counters first.  

Once you've gotten to the podium at the Red Carpet, the Cast Member will direct you to a line that corresponds with a bus.  That will be the motor coach you take to your resort.  Soon, you will be escorted to the correct vehicle.  More often than not, your vehicle will include people who are staying at other resorts besides the one you are staying at, so be prepared to make a few stops along the way.  From there, relax, let Disney do the driving, and enjoy the video that's played.  You'll be on Walt Disney World property typically in around 30-45 minutes.  

Now I know you're asking yourself...what about my luggage?  We forgot about my luggage?  Nope!  As long as those yellow tags are on your luggage before you leave home, it will be magically transported to your room.  It may take up to 3 hours after you arrives for it to appear at your resort, which is why I suggested making sure to have essential items with you in your carry-on, but it's really cool to be able to go straight to the parks, come home and see your luggage sitting right there in your room when you get back.

Ok...you've had a fabulous trip...but now...it's almost time to leave.  So what happens then?  Well, Disney has that under control too.

The day before you leave, Disney will hang an envelope on your doorknob.  The Envelope of Sadness!  They try to make it more fun by putting Mickey on the front...but alas...it doesn't work.  You know it means you're going home.

In this letter, Disney will inform you of the time you will be picked up from the resort (it's usually 3 hours before your scheduled flight time, though it's 4 hours early if you are an international traveler).  Keep in mind, when you board the bus, you must have the vouchers with you that were included in the booklet that Disney mailed to you before your trip.  (If you've not received the vouchers in the mail, they will be given to you at the Welcome Center in the airport.)

Disney does also allow for Resort Airline Check in Service, which works similar to the service where they dropped off your luggage, in the fact that once you drop off your luggage at the Check In counter, you won't have to mess with it until you land.  Keep in mind that only certain airlines participate and that any baggage fees must be paid in advance, otherwise Disney will not allow you to participate.  Also, something to keep in mind is that your luggage MUST be checked in no later than 3 hours prior to your scheduled flight time.  If you are even a few minutes late, they will not accept it.  (I know this from experience).  The resort check in area is not open all day, so make sure to check your luggage before they close, otherwise you'll have to take your luggage with you on the bus back to the airport.

Once your luggage is checked, do what you want to do for the day.  You can still use the motor coach if your airline does not participate in the Resort Check In Process or if you are late with checking in, you'll just need to carry your luggage with you to the bus and you'll need to check it at the airport.

When your scheduled time approaches, you'll need to head to the Disney Magical Express loading area out in the front of your hotel.  (Symbolized by the Magical Express logo).  Hand over the vouchers we talked about earlier to the bus driver, board the bus, and he'll take you back on the sad drive back to the airport.

So, that's Disney's Magical Express in a nutshell.  Personally, I love it and use it any time I am staying on Disney property.  I like that it is just one added expense that I don't have to have.  Plus, for some reason, using Disney's Magical Express really is one of those signs that I'm in Florida and I'm about to start a wonderful Disney vacation.

Have you used it before?  Do you like it?  Does the idea of allowing Disney to take your luggage for you make you leery?  Let me know your experiences in the comments section!

3 comments:

Rhonda said...

Love Disney Magical Express, this is the only way to go. I got to Disney World 3-4times a year. They were so clever thinking of this way to get to tour hotel. It's the only way to travel. Now Disney World néeds there own airline and we would be set :) Love Disney :)

V said...

The Envelope of Sadness! That is the absolute perfect name for it. Love!

Samie said...

The video they play on Magical Express en route to WDW is the BEST! One of my favorite ways to get the trip started.

PS- the "envelope of sadness" is so true!