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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 you avoid paying those pesky overnight Parking fees at the Walt Disney World Resorts. Not having a car on property saves you $15 to $25 per night.

But, what makes this a great transportation option in Orlando is that you won’t have any additional delays. Disney’s Magical Express carries 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 where you’re going.

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 larger items? Well, unfortunately, If your child still needs a carseat, one may not be available.

man inside vehicle

Rental Car

Overall, it’s more expensive to rent a car. But, there are definite advantages to having one.

There are plenty of sites that offer rental cars. But, personally, I’ve found the best deals on Hotwire. The last time we flew home, I 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

If you’re looking to get somewhere fast, driving yourself is usually the better option. You can get to where you’re going without stopping for other Guests. And by staying at a Disney Resort, there’s no cost to Park at the Theme Parks.

Why It May Not Work For You

Regardless of whether you stay on Disney or Universal property, there is an additional cost for parking a car at the Resort overnight.

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 likely be the cheapest option since costs are normally limited to the price of gas and possible tolls.

Live really far away? Additional costs are usually limited to food and/or an overnight stay in a hotel/motel. And while all of these costs do add up, you’ll still most likely spend less than the cost of a flight.

Having your own car is 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.

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.

But, 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 almost a full day of activities by driving.

When we fly, we don’t usually leave Disney until just before dinner time. And that’s because I can get direct 2 1/2 hour flights. And because I currently live in Houston, we gain an hour on the way back. So, 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.

And, of course, there’s also Parking fees to budget for. If you’re staying at a Hotel at a Theme Park, overnight parking fees will apply. Staying off site? You’ll need to pay to park at the Theme Parks.

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

Mears Connect

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 will continue to provide a safe and reliable shuttle from the Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World. The name may be different. But, the service should remain the same.

Benefits to Booking Mears Connect

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

If nothing changes, you should 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 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 only services the Orlando International Airport. So, you’re limited to what airport you can fly into.

And at a per person cost of $32 per adult and $27 per child, you may find cheaper transportation options in Orlando.

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.

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