Uber or Magical Express?

by | Oct 9, 2018 | No Budget No Problem, Our Favorites, Walt Disney World | 6 comments

Getting to your hotel: Uber or Magical Express

If you’re flying into the Orlando International Airport (MCO) and are staying at a Disney World Resort hotel, you have a choice when it comes to how you get to your hotel. Do you take the Disney World Magical Express or do you take an Uber or Lyft? Here we will discuss what the Disney Magic Express is and some pros and cons between it and taking an alternative means of transportation to your hotel.

What is Disney’s Magical Express?

Disney’s Magical Express is a FREE motorcoach service that Disney World provides to all guests staying at a Disney World resort hotel. The motorcoach will pick you up at the Florida International airport and will take you to your hotel.

On the day that you check out from the Disney resort, you may also take the motorcoach back to the airport. For domestic flights, you depart approximately 3 hours prior to your flight time.

Guests should reserve Disney’s Magical Express prior to arrival. The easiest way to do this is to call Disney and have a Disney agent add it to your trip. The link with the contact information for this is provided at the end of our post. When calling, make sure to have your flight information ready.

What are the pros to taking Disney’s Magical Express?

The main benefit of the Magical Express is that it is free. Disney World trips are expensive, so saving the cost of transportation to and from the hotel can help.

The other major benefit is if you check bags when flying, Disney World will magically let you skip baggage claim and instead have your bags show up in your hotel room later that day. This saves some time and stress with waiting for your bags and carrying them around the airport. If you want to use this service, you have to sign-up ahead of time. Disney will then mail you tags to put on your check bags. These tags allow Disney World to identify and keep track of each bag.

Disney also has many participating airlines that allow you to check in and check your bags at the Disney Resort hotel on the day of your departure. Disney will print your boarding pass and take care of your bags. This allows guests to bypass the airport check-in process, which can also alleviate some stress for travelers.

The motorcoach is very nice and they will have an awesome video playing, which helps keep you distracted throughout the trip to Disney World. The ride is usually about 40 minutes from the airport to Disney World property.

What are the cons to taking Disney’s Magical Express?

You may get lucky and when you get to the Disney Magic Express. The bus may be there and ready to depart. But this is often not the case. Each Disney Magical Express bus often serves multiple hotels. Also, Disney will have it timed so that they can get as many guests as possible on the bus. What this means, is with the Magical Express, you often get to practice waiting in line prior to being on Disney World property.

There is a queue which holds people while waiting for a bus to arrive. Once you board the bus, you may have to wait for a few other guests to arrive and get on the bus. Then, once the bus is on its way, it will make multiple hotel stops. If your hotel is the first stop, then it may not seem like that long of a process. If you are the last hotel stop, then taking the Magical Express may add a fair amount of time onto your arrival time.

The timing is a similar consideration for departures. The Magical Express will often have you leaving Disney World earlier than necessary. This can happen for two reasons. One, if you are the first resort pick-up, then they will pick you up earlier than needed. Also, if you travel frequently, you will notice that the Magical Express will often get you to the airport too early.

While having Disney World take care of your checked backs upon arrival is a benefit, be aware that the bags will not show up instantly in your room. If you have items you need in your checked bag, it may be several hours until you can access them. We also have family members that have used this service and had delayed flights that arrive late at night. They then needed to stay awake at the hotel in order to get their bags delivered to their hotel room, when really they just wanted to go to sleep. Luckily this has never happened to us.

What do we normally do?

Uber or Magical Express

We normally take an Uber. We often stay at the Swan and Dolphin which is not a Disney World resort hotel and not covered by the Magical Express.

Even if we are staying on property, we will often take an Uber because we want to get to the parks. For us, the additional cost of the Uber is well worth it because we know we are going directly to our hotel. Several times we have taken the Magical Express and have had bad luck. In those cases it ended up taking us about double the time the Uber would have and we regretted our choice.

We would particularly recommend an Uber or Lyft if you have quick Disney World trip (two nights or less) where the additional time at the park is really important.


Additional information about Disney’s Magical Express can be found here:



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  1. Lin K

    What is an average uber price or expected price range?

    • admin

      Hi Lin K- thank you so much for the comment and for checking out our website post! An Uber-X from MCO to the Swan and Dolphin hotel (on Disney property) is usually $30-$40. Thank you again for the comment and please let us know if you have any other questions.

  2. Tmac

    Can you still sign up for the magical express and check bag service but then decide to take an Uber to the resort instead of the bus? And will our bags still be delivered to our resort room even if you took an Uber instead?

    • admin

      Hi Tmac! Thank you for checking out our post and for the comment! We have been told by Disney cast members that if you use the Magical Express to check your luggage and then do not ride on the Magical Express, Disney is not liable if your bags do not show up. If you plan on using the Magical Express to check your bags, we would recommend taking the Magical Express bus to ensure everything goes smoothly.

      If you are not sure if you want to take the Magical Express, you can always check your bags, pick them up at the baggage carousel (like you would normally), and then proceed to either Magical Express or Uber/Lyft.

  3. GQbed

    The waiting for the ME is longer in the evening than earlier in the day. When you get to the ME check in you can tell them you have “lunch reservations” with friends at one of the hotels closest to the park you want to go to. They will allow you to ride that bus. Pick the Contempo for MK, Boardwalk for Epcot and AKL for AK. Then you can walk over to the park. Sorry, no close hotels for HS

    • admin

      Hi! Thank you so much for the post and for the comment. We have never tried the lunch reservation to get to the parks faster, but that is good to know. If you ever want to walk to Hollywood Studios, we recommend the Boardwalk Hotel. There is a path direct to the park and it is an easy walk (technically you can walk from any of the Boardwalk area hotels, but that one is closest). Rivera is also an easy and quick ride on the Skyliner to Hollywood. Thank you again for the comment and for checking out our post – we really appreciate it!


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