Disney’s Magical Express
Disney has offered their free “Disney’s Magical Express” (DME – I’ll use a lot of acronyms here, I’ll explain each first before using it again) for quite some time now. DME is basically a free bus ride from the Orlando airport to Walt Disney World (WDW) – it’s not yet available in California. You don’t really have to do anything special to get it other than tell the Disney agent that you want it added to your reservation. [NOTE: Disney has announced the end of DME coming on January 1, 2022.]
Depending on your airline, you probably received bag tags to put on your bags before you left your house. If so, you simply walk yourselves from your plane to the DME bus stop (as I said above, you can’t miss the Cast Members (CM’s) with Mickey Hands on directing you where to go). Get on the bus and your luggage will be retrieved for you and will meet up with you by 11pm that night. So if you use DME, make sure you have whatever you’ll want that first full day with you in your carry-on bags. Most people bring medications, snacks and a bathing suit. But of course, it’s up to you.
While I trust DME to get my bags, my issue is timing. I don’t want to wait until 11pm to receive my bags, especially with a toddler (they’ll loudly knock and then attempt to let themselves in). Instead, I don’t use the DME bag tags at all. Upon arrival at MCO, I simply go and retrieve my bags from baggage claim (the “A” side of the airport). Then, I drag them across the airport over to the “B” side. At the bus, the bus driver puts them in the luggage compartment and drives them with us.
As of now, your MagicBand also serves as your ticket to get on the DME bus. Don’t forget to keep your MagicBands in your carryon – put them on your wrist as you’re landing and you won’t have to take them off again until you come back to the airport after your trip is over.
DME will also take you back to the airport after your vacation is over… and again, with some airlines, you drop your bags at the resort and you don’t see them again until you get to your home airport. Just depends upon the resort and the airline, otherwise, you simply load your bags onto the bus. Either way, the bus ride is free and it’s a great way to start getting into the Disney mood (they play a short video with the various characters in it to get the kids (and parents) excited).
Rental Cars from nearly a dozen agencies are available from the Orlando International Airport (MCO). Rates are fairly consistent, with differences primarily found for those of which you hold a frequent-buyer membership. They are available from both the A&B sides of the terminal building. In addition, National and Alamo have a rental desk at the AAA Car Care Center on Walt Disney World property. Rates for renting AT Disney are a little higher than from the airport – but do not have the additional airport fees. So, it pays to investigate the two expenses.
Limousines, TownCars and Taxi’s are likewise available from MCO and/or your hotel, mostly operated by the Mears Transportation Company. Bear in mind that these are NOT Disney transportation (even if Mears, to me, is suspiciously code for “Mouse Ears”). Any difficulties you have with these forms of transportation can’t necessarily be solved by Disney.
Both ride-share services are available from MCO to WDW. Contrary to rumor, Disney does not stop either service from making the rounds on property.