How to Choose the BEST Disney’s Magical Express Replacement

As anyone who’s tried to arrange a ride from the Orlando airport to Disney World lately can attest, There have been a lot of changes with Disney World transportation this year. The discontinuation of Disney’s Magical Express has definitely tossed a wrench in many guests’ travel plans!

Disney’s Magical Express is officially retired

But as one door closes, another one opens. Or rather, multiple doors open, as several replacement options have jump up!

After Magical Express ceased operations, we provided an overview of its replacements. Namely, there are two main replacement services: Mears Connect other The Sunshine Flyer.

Mears Connect Express

Coupled with other options, like Uber, Lyft, and the forthcoming Brightline high-speed train, it’s time to make some decisions and determine which Magical Express replacement is right for you!

Mears Connect

The most prominent replacement for Magical Express, Mears Connect is an airport-to-Disney Resort service operated by the same folks who ran Magical Express for 16 years, so naturally it seems like the most logical replacement option for many. But there are some differences — and some key pros and cons.

Mears Connect station at Orlando Airport

One of the biggest differences is that, unlike Magical Express, you’ll need to book your ride in advance. It’s easy to do once you know which Disney World hotel you’ll be staying at, though the other big change is that Mears Connect costs a small fee — $16 for adults and $13.50 for children one way.

Mears Connect bus

Once you land at Orlando International Airport, you’ll need to snag your own luggage (unlike Magical Express, Mears Connect does not offer luggage support), follow the signs to shuttle service and ground transport, and then potentially wait a little bit for standard bus pick-up (Not terribly long, usually no more than 20 minutes). From there, shuttles make a “Limited number” of stops at Disney resorts.

Mears Connect

So there it is express service (ie direct service to your hotel), but that’s unsurprisingly quite a bit more expensive — $250 for four passengers, and $55 for each additional passenger (round trip). Whether standard or express, both services offer onboard entertainment, “arrival souvenirs,” friendly drivers, wheelchair accessibility, no surge pricing, and real-time updates using enhanced technology.

Mears Connect bus

It all sounds relatively seamless, but clearly it’s not without flaws, as evidenced by the poor ratings average from All Ears readerswho give Mears Connect a 4.96 out of 10 (yikes).

Mears Connect Bus

while Mears Connect gets points for being the most similar to Magical Express, and thus the most familiar, its “cons” are easier to spot for those same reasons. Whereas Magical Express was free, and provided luggage support, this service does not, which may make you feel ripped off a bit.

Click Here to Find Out More About Mears Connect Airport Service

The Sunshine Flyer

A new Magical Express replacement option joined the party in February: The Sunshine Flyer.

©The Sunshine Flyer

Unlike Mears Connect, this one only offers shared-ride shuttle services (ie no private, express options are provided), with the same departure area in the airport, the same quoted wait time to Disney World, and the same amount of stops at various resorts.

©The Sunshine Flyer

In terms of cost, it’s comparable to Mears Connect at $17 per adult and $12.50 per child for one-way trips.

© Sunshine Flyer

Although welcome souvenirs are not carried out on board, these vehicles are sleek, offering themed 1920s service (how fun!), rides that are guaranteed to be under an hour (something that Mears does not guarantee), onboard entertainment, and clean, spacious buses. Unlike Mears, The Sunshine Flyer’s website says they’re working to add luggage handling services by this summer.

©The Sunshine Flyer

Both Mears and Sunshine pick guests back up from their resorts to take them to the airport three hours before domestic flights and four hours before international flights.

©The Sunshine Flyer

According to All Ears readers, The Sunshine Flyer is already outpacing Mears Connect in the ratings, with a 6.60 rating out of 10.

Click Here to Read About the Sunshine Flyer’s Latest Expansion!

Above

While Mears Connect and The Sunshine Flyer are the two airport transportation options that look most like the retired Magical Express service, there are of course other transportation alternatives to get to your hotel.

Orlando International Airport

Uber and other rideshare programs essentially offer the same thing as Mears Connect express servicein that you won’t need to wait a long period of time for pick-up at the airport, and you’ll be able to be taken directly to your hotel, with no other stops along the way.

Rideshare Drop Off at Disney World

But Uber’s many options can make a big difference. The cheapest bets are UberX — which can accommodate up to three passengers — and UberXL, which can carry up to five. while pricing varies — and is hard to predict because of surge pricing during busy times — we’ve found that the average round trip price for an UberX from the Orlando Airport to Disney World is about $61, while an UberXL average about $83 for the same round trip.

Rideshare signs at Disney World

Some key factors to consider, though, are that Uber does not offer onboard amenities (usually), and can’t guarantee the same things that Disney can (ie spacious and clean buses, entertainment, souvenirs, etc.), and surge pricing can occur at randomjacking the price up dramatically.

Rideshare drop off at Disney World

But if everything goes smoothly, essentially getting an express service equivalent for $61, compared to Mears’ $250is a huge difference.

Orlando International Airport

In related news, we can’t wait for the return of Lyft-operated Minnie Vans this summer!

Minnie Vans Are Returning to Disney World Soon — Click Here for More Info!

Brightline Train

Still to come, the most anticipated new transportation service is the Brightline high speed traincurrently under construction, with plans to provide a speedy link between the airport and Disney World (to a station near Disney Springs, to be precise).

©Brightline

While they won’t provide direct service to any resorts, it will surely be the quickest option from the airport to Disney World (not having to contend with car traffic and all that) once it begins service in…a few years. So TBD on this one.

Click Here to See Where the Brightline High-Speed ​​Train Could Drop Off at Disney Springs

Which Magical Express Replacement Should You Choose?

As you can see, the two main Magical Express replacements have a lot of similaritiesso it really boils down to a few small nuts and bolts. Do you want something that mimics Magical Express most closely? Then Mears Connect is for you.

Mears Connect

Is it important to guarantee your ride to your resort is under an hour? Try The Sunshine Flyer.

Airport shuttle sign

If money is no object and you just want a direct route to your hotelthen the Mears express option provides that alternative.

Mears sign

Don’t feel like booking anything in advance, and just want to wing it? Uber is always there for you. Just cross your fingers for no surge.

Welcome to Orlando

Do you want a ride with the most amenities? Mears has it all, plus a welcome gift! Plus, it’s technically the cheapest option at $16 for a one-way adult trip.

Mears Connect shuttle

So it really depends where your priorities lie, and what’s the most important factor from the list above. At the end of the day, no matter which way you get there, you’re going to Disney World. And that’s a good day no matter what!

What Do YOU ​​Think of Disney’s Magical Express Replacement Shuttles?

Which Magical Express alternative would YOU choose, and why? Let us know in the comments!

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