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5 Alternatives To The Discontinued Disney’s Magical Express

December 2, 2021

Disney’s Magical Express was my favorite transportation option in Orlando. It was an important part of the Disney experience. And crazy as it sounds, it really was something I looked forward to.

It set the tone for the adventure I was about to have. And because it was free, aside from flights, our travel costs were ZERO. NO transportation costs in Orlando. NO overnight Parking costs. Nada.

But, now that Disney’s Magical Express is no longer an option, we all have to find a new way to travel to the Most Magical Place On Earth.

Disney’s Magical Express is discontinued starting January 1, 2022.

Uber / Lyft

Rideshares have been gaining popularity over the years. And it’s easy to see why. You don’t have to worry about navigating roads or fighting traffic in an unfamiliar city.

But, it doesn’t work for everyone.

Benefits to Using A Rideshare

The greatest benefit to using a rideshare is that there are no additional costs. No parking fees. No rental car costs or gas to put in the car.

But, what makes this a great transportation option in Orlando is that you won’t have any additional delays. Disney’s Magical Express carried Guests from 2 – 3 Resorts at a time. So, if your Resort was the last one on the bus route, it took awhile to get to your final destination.

Why It May Not Work For You

Rideshares are difficult if you have a large family, traveling with children, or you’re bringing many large items with you. Larger items like strollers, carseats, pack and plays, and wheelchairs may not fit.

Don’t plan on traveling with these items? Well, unfortunately, if your child still needs a car seat and one may not be available.

man inside vehicle

Rental Car

There are plenty of sites that offer rental cars. But, personally, I’ve found the best deals on Hotwire. I’m still gloating about the time we rented a minivan for 7 full days, with unlimited miles, for just about $300.

Of course, renting in Buffalo is much different than renting in Orlando. You’re likely not going to find as great of a deal in Orlando. But, it still pays to do your homework.

Undercover Tourist is also a great option. If you’re already buying your discounted tickets through them, you’ll likely get additional savings for bundling your tickets with a rental car.

Benefits to Renting A Car

Of course, the biggest benefit is the ability to go anywhere you want. During our last trip, we picked up food and gallons of water at the grocery store because it was cheaper than buying these things in the Theme Parks. This enabled us to limit how much Theme Park food we were eating (and buying!)

And since Disney got rid of overnight parking fees (as of 2023), Guests staying at a Disney Resort will have no additional parking fees.

Why It May Not Work For You

The biggest con is the cost of having a rental car. It’s not the cheapest option. And if you’re staying on Disney or Universal property for your entire trip, you may not even use it as much as you think you will. Since Disney provides so many free transportation options, it could be money wasted.

And although Disney no longer charges overnight parking fees, Universal Studios does. And if you’re doing a combined Disney and Universal Studios trip, you’ll have to pay to park your car at least one of their Theme Parks.

person in a vehicle with legs stretched on the dashboard

Drive Your Own Car

Depending on how far you live from the magic, driving yourself has some definite advantages. But, if you live too far, there are equal disadvantages

Benefits to Driving Your Own Car

Driving yourself will usually be the cheapest option. Costs are typically limited to the price of gas, tolls, and and quick meals. And even if you live so far away that you’ll need an overnight stay in a hotel/motel, for many, it’s still less than the cost of a flight.

Having your own car is also perfect for families looking to venture outside of the “Disney Bubble”. Need to do some shopping? Want to visit the beach, Universal Studios Orlando, Legoland, etc? Getting there is a breeze.

Not sure how much to budget for your road trip? TollGuru can help you calculate those costs based on where you’re coming from, what car you’re driving, and if you have any toll tags on your car.

Why It May Not Work For You

Having done the 14 hour drive from my home, the biggest disadvantage was the lost time at Walt Disney World. We drove all night to get to Walt Disney world as soon as we could on check in day. We did get there about 11am, but we were exhausted.

And in order to get back home at a fairly decent hour, we had to leave well before our required 11am check out time. We lost a full day of our vacation by choosing to drive.

That 14 hour drive is just a 2 1/2 hour direct flight back to Houston. So, not only do we get to stay in Orlando almost a whole day longer, we also gain an hour on the way back. That means, even if we take off around 7pm, we’re landing around 8 30pm. We still get to have plenty of time for activities on checkout day and we’re back home before 10pm.

Although I don’t mind a good road trip, I love my Disney time more.

Tram at Orlando International Airport (MCO), on the way to the Magical Express
Tram at the Orlando International Airport

Mears Connect Driven By Sunshine

Mears is the company that has been driving Disney’s Magical Express since 2005.

Unfortunately, we may never know what led to the demise of Disney’s Magical Express. But, we do know that Mears has continued to provide a safe and reliable shuttle from the Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World.

And now that Mears Connect and Sunshine Flyer have merged into one company, there’s only one company to consider.

Benefits to Booking Mears Connect Driven By Sunshine

The biggest benefit to choosing Mears Connect is familiarity. We know what it is and how it works.

You have quick access to the shuttles upon landing. And because shuttles are pulling in all the time, you don’t wait long before you’re on your way to your Resort.

Why It May Not Work For You

If you’re someone who never used Disney’s Magical Express, then Mears Connect Driven By Sunshine will likely not be your first choice. You’re not able to go where you want. It will only take you from the airport to your Resort, and vice versa.

And like Disney’s Magical Express, Mears Connect Driven By Sunshine only services the Orlando International Airport. So, you’re limited to what airport you can fly into.

And because this formerly free option now has a price tag attached to it, it’s another reminder than your Disney vacations now cost more than they used to.

lighted taxi signage


You may be surprised to know that Mears also has a Taxi Service. A Taxi may not be the first transportation option that comes to mind, especially in Orlando. But, it could be your best option.

Benefits to Taking A Taxi

There are 2 main benefits to taking a Mears Taxi – more options and possibly pricing.

Orlando has 2 airports, the Orlando International Airport and Orlando Sanford International Airport. Mears Taxis provides transportation to both Airports. So, you have more options when choosing your flights.

And unlike other Taxi Services, Mears charges a flat rate, which varies by location. So, you can breathe a sigh of relief that the price won’t keep climbing when you inevitably get stuck in traffic on I4.

While the overall prices may be more than taking an Uber or Lyft, Mears Taxis can hold a larger number of people. So, if you’re traveling with a larger group, it may be worth it to take a Mears Taxi.

A Luxury Van can hold 8 passengers. The flat rate cost for a one way trip from MCO to Art of Animation is $118. That means a group of 8 people would end up paying $29.50 per person for a round trip ride. In this case, a Taxi is cheaper than booking Mears Connect.

Why It May Not Work For You

Because Mears Taxis charge a flat rate, it’s pretty expensive for small groups, such as a solo traveler.

A one way trip in a Luxury Sedan from MCO to Art of Animation is $98. Even for a group of 3, that’s quite a bit of money for a quick ride to your Resort.

Got questions? Feeling a bit anxious? Not sure where to begin? We help families, just like yours.

Planning an entire vacation can be overwhelming. But, here’s the good news: we have the answers to the questions that have been stopping you from pulling the plug on your next vacation.

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