Earlier this year it was announced that Walt Disney World's Magical Express, the incredibly convenient transportation option to get guests from Orlando International Airport to the theme park resort would be going away at the end of 2021. It was at least a somewhat shocking decision for a number of reasons, but it was mostly just disappointing for those who happily used the free bus service as an easy way to get to their vacation destination. At the same time, one would not expect a void like this to be left empty for too long, and now Mears, the transportation company that operated the Disney Magical Express has announced they will replace it with their own remarkably similar service. The one big difference being, it won't be free.
Disney's Magical Express gave guests booking vacations to Walt Disney World the ability to go right from their place to the bus taking them to their hotel, without even requiring them to pick up their bags. The good news for fans of that service is that Mears Connect, which will begin service on January 1, 2022, the day after the Disney Magical Express ends, will still provide many of those services, including luggage handling. However, the one big difference is that while the Magical Express was a free service, according to The Points Guy, Means Connect will not be, although, exactly what it will cost has not yet been announced.
It was made clear when the Magical Express termination was announced that Mears was not the one behind the decision, so seeing them try to fill the void isn't shocking. There clearly was a desire for the service, and while Mears Connect likely won't be a carbon copy of Magical Express, as it likely doesn't have the same level of Disney cooperation, if it's close enough many people will likely take advantage of it. The fact that the service will have a price attached likely won't be too much of an issue considering every other way of getting from the airport to Disney World will also have a price attached.
In addition to the Magical Express being simple for guests, it was also a great way for Disney World to keep guests from renting a car, and thus potentially keeping them on Walt Disney World for their entire vacation. This makes the fact that the service is ending a bit surprising. One can only assuming that, however successful the service was, it was no longer worth what it cost, which may have simply been due to the reduced number of visitors Walt Disney World has seen in the last year.
The end of the Magical Express follows on the end of Minnie Vans, Lyft-based ride share options that were specifically available on Walt Disney World grounds. That program didn't last nearly as long as the Magical Express, and it may simply be that Disney is having difficulty finding ways to be successful when it comes to transportation. With so many competitors out there, there just may be too many options. And there will be even more in the future as a train line between the airport and Disney Springs is currently planned that could become the go-to method for getting to the hotels.
I used the Magical Express while on a trip to Walt Disney World earlier this year, and while I had to sit on hold for over an hour to book it, likely because calling Walt Disney World to make reservations of any kind is isn't as easy as it use to be, I still found the service itself incredibly easy to use. It can certainly take time, you may have to wait for a bus or wait for it to leave or wait until the bus drops off at three other resorts before yours, so if you're in a hurry, it's not the best option, but if you want a no-stress solution and time isn't an issue, knowing that the bus will be there and get you where you need to go is one less thing to worry about while on your vacation.
Disney's Magical Express will continue through the end of 2021, but the luggage handling option has already ended, so guests will need to schlep their own bags to the bus.