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credit: disneytips

How to Get to Walt Disney World Without Disney’s Magical Express

If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of Disney’s Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom theme parks, you’re the envy of Disney fans everywhere! 

The ability to head to the Parks, Disney Springs, or Disney’s BoardWalk whenever you like, without having to shell out for a Disney Resort Hotel or worry about whether you’ll use Disney’s Monorail, Skyliner, bus or boat transportation is something most of us can only dream of.

Many Guests who don’t live in Florida, or even in the United States, will start their Walt Disney World vacation with a flight into Orlando International Airport. But what happens then? What are the options for getting to WDW from there, and how much will they cost? Below, we’ll explore the various transportation methods from the airport to your Disney vacation destination.

Disney’s Magical Express

There was a time, not so long ago, when Guests arriving in Orlando destined for the most magical place on Earth or about to set sail with Disney Cruise Line had not a care in the world.  

We were greeted at Orlando International Airport by Cast Members waving Mickey Mouse gloves, directed to stand in a short line based on the Disney Resort Hotel we were staying at, and ushered on board Disney’s Magical Express. 

There, we’d relax and enjoy a Disney welcome video, anticipating the upcoming wonder of our Disney vacation while being driven in comfort to our home away from home. We didn’t even have to pick up our checked suitcases, which would oh-so-magically appear in our Resort rooms later that day.

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Credit: Disney Tips

And, most magical of all, we didn’t have to pay a dime for any of it, as long as we were Guests of a Disney Resort Hotel or Disney Cruise Line. 

Alas, much like the pre-pandemic world, those days are long gone. As of January 1, 2022, Disney’s Magical Express service ceased operations, and Guests arriving in Orlando now have a somewhat harsher transition in store from reality to the Disney Bubble.

Rent a Car

If you want access to a car during your Disney vacation, you can easily rent a car from one of the rental companies located on site at the Orlando International Airport. Depending on the size of the car you rent, you’ll need to shell out between about $35 and $55 a day for a rental. 

Keep in mind that compact cars, while cheaper, won’t have the luggage space a larger vehicle will have, and if you’re travelling with little ones, there is a cost to rent car seats, too. 

You’ll also need to consider the cost of parking at your Disney Resort and at Disney theme parks, which can get pricey – $25 for standard parking, and up to $50 for preferred parking. But that may be a small price to pay for the luxury of not having to wait in any public transportation lines during your WDW stay!

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Credit: Disney

Taxi

Hailing a cab is another way to get from the airport to your Disney Hotel, if you don’t need a car during your stay. 

You can simply snag the next taxi once you pick up your luggage at baggage claim, or book a cab online, like you would an Uber. The cost of a cab to Walt Disney World will vary from about $50 to $70, not including tip, but some taxis have room for up to 9 passengers, which ends up being a pretty good deal per person.

Limousine

It might not be for everyone, but if you’re celebrating a special event or have money to burn, you could hire a limousine to transport you from the airport to Walt Disney World like the VIP you are. Rates vary depending on the company and type of limo you book, starting at about $220 per trip and rising astronomically from there.

Rideshare

For many Guests, using a rideshare like Uber is the most cost-effective and convenient way to get from the airport to your Disney Resort Hotel. It’s simple to arrange transportation using an app on your phone, and you can even use the app to select a vehicle with car seats if you need them. 

Cost will vary depending on the vehicle, your destination and the time of day – Uber uses surge pricing, meaning prices are higher during higher-demand times – and they start at about $35 per trip. If you’re travelling with a large party, or bringing a lot of luggage, however, a rideshare may not be the best option.

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Credit: Disney Tips

Sunshine Flyer

A fun new transportation option debuted in February 2022 called the Sunshine Flyer, offering bus shuttle service from the Orlando airport to all Disney Resort Hotels. 

The shuttles are themed to look like train engines from a century ago, and staff even dress the part! A one-way ticket on the Sunshine Flyer is $17 per adult and $12.50 per child aged 3-9, and a round-trip ticket is $34 per adult and $25 per child. Be prepared to make stops at other Disney Resorts before you get to yours.

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Credit: Sunshine Flyer

Mears Connect

Another new shuttle service, Mears Connect (from the operators of Disney’s Magical Express, Mears) debuted in January 2022. 

There are two options: Standard, a shared bus service that makes multiple stops and is most similar to Disney’s Magical Express bus, and Express, which is a direct service right to your Disney Resort, without other stops and with limited to no wait time. 

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Credit: Mears Transportation Group Instagram

Standard service costs $16 per adult, $13.50 per child one way, and $32 per adult, $27 per child round-trip. Express service is only available for round-trip travel, at $250 for up to 4 passengers (extra passengers are $55, and there are no special rates for children).

Bottom Line

The 30 to 60 minutes you spend traveling from the airport to your Disney Hotel can set the tone for your entire Walt Disney World Resort vacation.

Whether you want to splurge on a luxurious limo trip, opt for a shared shuttle to save your hard-earned cash for Mickey merch, or anything in between, there’s a transportation option that’s right for your family.

About Stacy Milford

Stacy has lived in 4 countries on 3 continents, and travels whenever humanly possible. Passionate about music theatre, dessert, and adventure in the great wide somewhere, she visits Walt Disney World every year, usually during Halloween! Stacy currently divides her time between writing and teaching English as a second language to children in China, and is pretty sure growing up is over-rated.