Traveling to Disney World for vacation?! How EXCITING! But before you hit up your favorite rides and feast on your favorite snacks, there’s the teensy matter of getting from the airport to your hotel.
In a perfect world, we would just roll right off the plane and into our Disney World hotel beds. But things aren’t QUITE so perfect, so let’s break it waaaaay down with a handy guide for how to get to Disney World from the Orlando Airport!
Let’s face it, between the ongoing pandemic, the Omicron variant changing the travel game YET AGAIN, and the fact that Disney is keeping us on our toes with updates to its bus transportation and upcoming train line, getting to Disney World can be a tad confusing nowadays! (OK, mega, ultra, way more than it needs to be confusing is may be more like it for many!)
Lately, we’ve been keeping you posted about the discontinuation of Magical Express, the start of the new Mears Connect bus service, and the upcoming start of the new The Sunshine Flyer service. And you KNOW we’ve been watching Brightline train news like a hawk!
So let’s take a look at a step-by-step guide for EXACTLY how to get to Disney World from the airport right now.
It all starts off at home! The easiest part of the whole trip is simply booking your airfare and confirming your travel dates with a few easy clicks! You’ll also want to book that hotel reservation, so you’ll know what hotel you’ll be staying at.
We’re constantly looking to see just how much airfare to Disney World from select airports will cost, so be on the lookout for our updates on that! (Yep, we know we look like Captain Obvious over here with this first step, but we like to be thorough! )
Before you put your computer away, there’s one MORE thing you’ll need to book in advance nowadays! Now that the Magical Express has officially been discontinued, you’ll need to figure out just how you want to get from the airport to Disney World. The key differences here are that you’ll need to book your ride in advance.
There are a few options here, so now it’s decision-making & booking time! We’ve got an ENTIRE post discussing the different options you can use when getting from the airport to Disney World.
You can click here to see that and get ALL of the details about the best ways to get to Disney World now that the Magical Express is gone.
For the purposes of this post we won’t go into HUGE detail, but we’ll outline some of the common options you might be looking into and some quick pros and cons:
- Rideshare: These can be fairly simple and quick and don’t really require a lot of advanced planning, but you’ll want to look carefully at price and any other needs you might have
- Renting a Car: This can give you a lot of freedom during your trip, but can be expensive and will result in parking fees at your hotel
- Getting a Taxi: This can be a fast option when there, but can be expensive and you’ll need to consider your needs like car seats
- Shuttle Bus or Shuttle Van: You may find a variety of different options here depending on what hotel you’re traveling to (we’ll be highlighting 2 specific ones in a minute!)
- Other Private Car Service: Can be really convenient and give you amenities you might need, but you’ll want to be mindful of the cost
- Mears Connect: Mears Connect is essentially a Magical Express replacement service. It is run by Mears, the same folks that ran Magical Express for Disney. The service has two options — one that is a standard, shared service and another that is meant to be more “express,” though it is not private. Cost is $16 per adult and $13.50 per child 1-way; $32 per adult and $27 per child round trip for standard service. If you select the express service the cost is $250 for up to 4 passengers, round-trip. Each additional passenger is $55. Click here to learn all about Mears Connect.
- The Sunshine Flyer: The Sunshine Flyer is another Magical Express replacement service. This features buses themed to trains, employees in themed costumes, and more. Cost is $17 per adult and $12.50 per child round-trip; or $34 per adult and $25 per child round-trip. The Sunshine Flyer doesn’t have an express option. This service doesn’t start until February 1st. Click here to learn more about The Sunshine Flyer.
What service will be best for you will depend on your needs, how many people are in your group, how much luggage you have, whether you need a car seat or not, cost, and a number of other factors.
Click here to see how Mears Connect and The Sunshine Flyer compare to one another!
In the past, Minnie Vans also had an airport route available to take guests to/from their Disney World hotel and the airport. Minnie Vans are not currently available.
In the future, the Brightline train might be an option you can consider looking into. This train will feature a connection between the airport and Disney Springs.
Once you’ve decided which option is best, you can then book it, fill out any required information, and make whatever payments are needed. Be sure to look for a QR code or other confirmation that you can then show when you arrive at the airport and check-in for whatever service you’ve selected.
Click here to see more about the best ways to get to Disney World now that the Magical Express is gone.
It’s time to take flight! The next step is simply to not miss your flight, so you can actually fly to Disney World. (Hey, sometimes easier said than done, guys.)
These days, it’s especially important to be mindful of cancellations and delays, both in terms of those caused by weather issues and in terms of ones related to the challenges posed by the Omicron variant and how it is impacting staffing.
Now the fun can ALMOST begin! Arrive at the Orlando Airport, take the transportation shuttle (it’s basically the mini “I’m at the Disney airport” monorail!) to the main terminal…
…make your way to baggage claim, and pick up your luggage!
Unlike the olden times (yes, with covered wagons and steam-powered locomotives. We old. ) with Disney’s Magical Express, Mears Connect and The Sunshine Flyer don’t offer luggage services at the moment. Both have said they’re exploring options in this area, so that’s something to be on the lookout for.
You’ll also need to pick up your luggage if you’re taking a taxi, using a rideshare service, renting a car, or generally using any of the other services to get to the hotel. Unless you’ve confirmed that the service you’ll be using offers luggage service, make sure you snag those bags yourself.
Next, you’ll need to follow the airport signs to get to the appropriate place. According to the Orlando International Airport website, curbside pick-up by private cars and ride sharing services will be available at the Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level (Level 2). Rental cars, economy (satellite) parking shuttles, taxis, shuttle vans, resort transportation, and buses are on the Ground Transportation Level (Level 1).
Both Mears Connect and The Sunshine Flyer are located on Level 1 in Terminal B. Mears Connect is in the previous Disney’s Magical Express place. If you’ve made the schlep through the airport to Magical Express before, you will probably have no issues here!
The Sunshine Flyer notes the following about where they’ll be located: “Sunshine Flyer is in the Main Terminal Building in Terminal B, Level 1 in the Ground Transportation area. Take the train from your aircraft gate and you will arrive on Level 3 of the Main Terminal Building. Proceed to Terminal B and take the elevator or escalator down to Level 1. Baggage claim is located on Level 2.”
Look for the signs pointing to the transportation you’re looking for!
Finally, it’s time to board! Your process in boarding the shuttle, taxi, rental car, rideshare, Mears Connect, etc. will all depend. You might have to wait a bit to find an available taxi or wait for the driver from the rideshare service to arrive. For rental cars, you’ll likely need to wait in a line (which could be short or rather lengthy) to set up all of the proper arrangements and get your rental car.
For Mears Connect, you’ll head to the reception area, show them the QR code (which serves as your boarding pass), and provide any other required information. You may need to wait a little bit for the standard Mears Connect service pick-up.. Their website notes that they’ll have you on your way to the resort within 20 minutes of your check-in. Though some did feel like things took longer than Magical Express did.
Mears Connect’s express service is another option, albeit more expensive. The express service is direct service to your resort and is meant to have limited to no wait time. Some of our readers who used this service said it was flawless and fast.
For The Sunshine Flyer, the website notes that once a guest enters the “staging area” at the airport, they won’t have to wait more than 20 minutes before they board a bus. They are also set to provide guests with a QR code to scan when they arrive at the airport.
Once you’ve checked in and boarded your mode of transportation, it’s just about getting to Disney World. Keep in mind that if you’re using any kind of shared service, it could take a little while before the transportation service reaches your stop. The Sunshine Flyer says that the ride is scheduled so that the last stop won’t take more than 65 minutes.
Some of our readers expressed that using Mears Connect felt exactly the same as using the Magical Express. Others, however, said that they experienced a bit longer of a trip than they had hoped for — about 90 minutes from getting in line to arriving at their hotel.
Click here to read about our readers’ experiences with Mears Connect!
Hooray! You made it to Disney World!
Your final step is to arrive at your hotel, grab your luggage, and have a MAGICAL time!
So there you have it! With this handy guide, you’ll be on your way to a Disney World vacation in no time at all! As always, we’ll continue to keep you updated with the latest changes and news about airport transport for Disney World, so keep it here!
Comparing The 2 Disney World Magical Express Replacement Services
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What are your tips for getting to Disney World easily and efficiently? Let us know in the comments!
The post Step-by-Step Guide: How to Get to Disney World From the Orlando Airport first appeared on the disney food blog.