Disney’s Magical Express is a free motorcoach/bus service that transports guests and their luggage from Orlando International Airport to all Walt Disney World Resorts, including Disney Vacation Club properties in Orlando. The bus ride signals the start of your exciting vacation, and if you fly into Orlando and are staying at one of the Disney resorts, you can use this convenient service!
Even though all DVC guests are eligible for Magical Express, enrollment in this service is not automatic. You need to call DVC Member Services at least three weeks before your scheduled arrival to reserve a space on the Magical Express motorcoach. Non-DVC guests must call Magical Express itself, but DVC members will be redirected to the DVC menu after responding to several automated questions if they call Magical Express directly. When you call, be sure to have your flight numbers and dates; if your flights change, then you must call again to update this information. You should also request your desired number of luggage tags at this time. Magical Express usually provides one checked luggage tag for each individual, so be sure to request additional luggage tags if you need more. Even though I requested additional tags for my most recent vacation, I still only received one per person and had to re-order and wait an additional week to receive them. Once you make your Magical Express reservation, you should expect your boarding information and luggage tags to arrive within fifteen days.
Check your mail for a clearly marked Magical Express envelope. Inside, you will find your bright yellow luggage tags (hopefully all of them), directions through the airport, and a letter with your party’s flight information. Make sure everything is correct as soon as it arrives in order to quickly fix any changes before you depart.
Before you go to the airport, affix the yellow luggage tags to the handles of your checked bags. Your carry-on bags do not need them because they will stay with you for the entire journey. Keep any important paperwork, including your Magical Express letter and your Magic Bands, as well as your medication or other necessities in your carry-on bags. Check your bags with your airline as usual, and enjoy your flight!
Once you arrive in Orlando International Airport, you will have a surprisingly long walk to reach the Magical Express departure area. If you need to go to the toilet, go. If you need food, eat. If you need a stroller, make sure you gate-check it with the airline so it will (hopefully) be waiting for you when you depart. Be patient in the airport, especially with little ones. Be sure to refer to your Magical Express map that you received in the mail, and bypass the luggage carousel and head toward Side B of the arrivals area. Take the elevator down to the first level, and go all the way to the end of the corridor.
At the entrance to the Magical Express boarding area, you will be greeted by a host who will ask for your Magical Express letter and/or your Magic Bands, so have them ready. You will then be directed to a turnstile for your specific resort. Note that many resorts share busses, so you may have one bus that stops at both Saratoga Springs and Old Key West, for example. The wait time to board the bus and for the bus to depart can vary drastically, and I have had to wait anywhere from forty-five minutes to three hours to reach my resort, so try to schedule your dining and FastPass+ selections accordingly.
Note that if you arrive late at night or early in the morning, you will likely have to collect your own luggage from the carousel. If you are unsure about this, just ask the host when you check in with Magical Express.
As you board the bus, an attendant will take your carry-on suitcases and place them in a hold underneath the motorcoach. On the bus itself, you are not supposed to eat or drink, but you may bring purses and backpacks. It is also likely that large parties may not be able to sit together, and some parties may even ride separate busses. The bus has televisions that show informative programming about the parks, but it is often best to avoid watching the television to reduce the likelihood of motion sickness. Children especially are prone to this, and the switch from an airplane to a motorcoach can be jarring for little tummies, so it is a good idea to have a plastic bag on hand in case of a sudden code V.
When you arrive at your resort, be sure to take your carry-on bags from underneath the bus; an attendant will help you unload them. You can check all of your carry-on bags, purses, and/or backpacks with Luggage Services if your room is not yet ready. Your checked bags will be delivered to your room (yes, inside your room) approximately three hours after your arrival or three hours after your room is ready, so don’t pack your swimsuits in your checked bags if you plan on swimming when you arrive.
On the night before you check out from your resort, you will receive another envelope with new Magical Express information attached to your room door. This will explain when you must board the departing bus and whether or not your bags can be checked at the hotel (many airlines provide this service). You can again check your carry-on bags with your resort’s Luggage Services and enjoy the parks. Your Magical Express bus will most likely leave your resort around three hours prior to your flight’s departure, and you will need ninety minutes to reach your resort from any of the parks, so give yourself plenty of time to get from one place to the next. We often leave the park early to spend our last hours relaxing at our resort’s Community Hall.
The bus ride back to Orlando International Airport is quick but often sad, so just remember that Mickey will see you real soon when you return to your DVC home!