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Mears Connect Review

A Review of the Disney Magical Express Replacement

Until January 1, 2022, Guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort and staying in a Disney Resort hotel were eligible to use the free shuttle service from (and to) Orlando International Airport, Disney’s Magical Express. This complimentary shuttle service offered to Disney Resort Guests is just one of the benefits that are no longer available to Guests during their Disney vacation. It’s safe to say that it has caused some upset amongst Guests, who now have to find alternative ways to travel between Orlando International Airport and Lake Buena Vista.

disneys-magical-express

Credit: Disney Tips

While in operation, Disney’s Magical Express was actually operated by a travel company called Mears Transportation Group, which was always located on the same level of Orlando International Airport as the Disney shuttle service. Following the Walt Disney Company announcing that Disney’s Magical Express would cease to operate from 2022, news followed that Mears Connect would replace the service.

We recently used the Mears Connect service to transport us from Orlando International Airport to Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. As such, we wanted to give you a full review of the service now available to Guests traveling to the Walt Disney World Resort, as well as other hotels on Disney property. 

Booking Online

While the service wasn’t complimentary and instead required payment upon booking, making a reservation with Mears Connect was an easy process. We made our booking the day before traveling using the Mears Connect website. After selecting the Standard Service, we were asked to enter our Ride Details. These included selecting whether a round trip or one-way trip was required, as well as:

  • drop-off location
  • Guests in party
  • number of bags
  • airline details, including flight number, arrival date, and time
mears-connect-booking

Credit: Disney Tips

While we were only making a reservation for a one-way trip from the airport, the same easy process was used in making a round-trip or to the airport reservation.

Once we had entered all of our details, we proceeded to complete the reservation by entering our payment details. Shortly after completing the booking process, we received a confirmation email and our Mears Connect Boarding Pass.

When making a reservation, Guests can also select the Express Service. At the cost of $250 for up to 4 passengers, round-trip service is offered with a guaranteed first stop at your Resort hotel, in addition to limited or no wait times.

Arriving at the Mears Connect Check-In

The Mears Connect bus service is located where Disney’s Magical Express was previously located; in Terminal B, on level 1, which is the ground transportation level. Upon arrival at the check-in desk, we were asked to present our Mears Connect Boarding Pass, which contained a QR code. Once scanned, we were directed to the line for the Disney Resort that we were staying at; in this case, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside. 

mears-connect-lines

Credit: Disney Tips

Within 5 minutes, we were called forward to present our luggage for loading onto the Mears Connect bus, followed by being all cleared to climb aboard. We shortly departed the airport and were on our way to Walt Disney World. Our bus stopped at Disney’s Old Key West and Saratoga Springs Resorts before arriving at Port Orleans Riverside.

New Bus Design

While the Disney Magical Express bus design is no longer seen around Lake Buena Vista, the Mears Connect buses are bright and colorful. Each bus is decorated with the company logo and a wildlife creature known to occupy Floridian waters, including dolphins, turtles, and manatees. The buses were clean and cool; just what you want for a pleasant ride to your Disney Resort hotel and a great way to begin your vacation that will be full of Disney fun. 

mears-connect-bus

Credit: Disney Tips

New In-Bus Entertainment

Remember the Disney quizzes, safety video, and Walt Disney World introduction video? Unfortunately, they are no longer shown, sigh! However, a similar entertainment set is shown on the screens throughout the Mears Connect shuttle service. The quizzes include multiple choice questions that relate to all of the Orlando theme parks, including Universal Orlando, Islands of Adventure, and SeaWorld. They were fun to participate in throughout the journey, particularly before approaching the highly anticipated Walt Disney World sign. 

mears-connect-trivia

Credit: Disney Tips

Great Service from the Mears Connect Employees

All of the interactions we had with the Mears Connect employees were positive. The instructions we received from the lady who scanned our Boarding Pass were clear and given with a smile. Likewise, for the employee who called us forward and directed us to the coach we would be boarding. Our driver was pleasant and helpful. He treated our bags with care and generally provided safe and excellent service throughout our ride. He was grateful for the gratuity we gave to him upon our arrival at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside. 

mears-connect-to-disney-world

Credit: Disney Tips

Overall Service

While we were unsure what to expect from the Mears Connect service, we were really happy and wouldn’t question using it for future transportation between Orlando Airport and the Walt Disney World Resort. Of course, we’ll definitely miss the instant Disney experience we received using Disney’s Magical Express; however, we appreciate that things change and move on.

Unfortunately, we are yet to experience a return journey to Orlando International Airport from Walt Disney World with Mears Connect. That being said, we would definitely consider the service during future Disney vacations, ahead of a flight out of Orlando. 

The only criticism that we have for the service is the cost. It’s a shame that a previously complimentary service now involves a charge. Generally, the price is fair and could be a lot higher; however, at $16 per adult and $13.50 per child, per one-way ticket, it’s just another cost that needs to be factored into an already expensive family vacation. Of course, this cost will increase if you choose to use the Mears Connect Express Service.

Have you traveled with Mears Connect yet? Whether you have or not, we hope that your past or future experiences will match the positive ones that we had.

About Victoria Mills

Victoria is a Disney-loving, tea-drinking, Math teacher from Liverpool, England. Her motto is 'work hard, Disney harder'! Having taken part in the Disney College Program back in 2010, Victoria's love and appreciation for Walt Disney World only grew, and it's the place where she feels most herself - it's home!