Wednesday, April 24, 2013

4/18/13 Disney's Magical Express

 I was a foot-dragger on the Magical Express. The service came on board in 2005, but we got the insane notion to drive to Florida for our 2006 trip (never, ever, ever, ever, ever again!)

In 2008, I considered it, and then decided to go with what we knew, which was a towncar service that picked us up at the airport in baggage claim and took us directly to our hotel. Didn't hurt that they ended up sending us this instead:

So we did the same in 2010 and reasoned this was because we were stopping at a grocery store on the way and you can't do that on the Disney bus. 

Then we went to Disneyland in 2012 (no service there), and it wasn't until planning the 2013 conference trip that I came back to look at Magical Express again.

I'm always in such a hurry to get to the parks, I'd told myself it wasn't worth riding on a bus, which might take forever and hours to actually get me to my hotel. This time, since I was determined to relax more (ha! see camera/taxi/hotel drama conspiring against me here) I decided we should give it a try. If it took longer, then so be it. It's a free service. Why am I paying a towncar round trip and tip without even seeing how it works?

We called two weeks before the trip with our reservation number and the packet arrived by mail four days later. Inside were bar coded luggage tags to put on our checked bags, which we handed over at the airport. From there, Disney picks up the bags (no waiting at baggage claim!!) and takes them to your hotel room a few hours after your arrival. They also send a voucher book that has bar codes inside that the driver will scan to check you in as you get on the bus (and again on your return trip). He will also stow any carry-ons under the bus for you and take them out at your hotel.

 Our driver. Figures.

Our bus shared service with the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian. We walked from the gate to the Express area, and were on the bus within ten minutes and out of the airport ten after that. From the gate to the first hotel was under an hour. We usually waste half an hour just standing at baggage claim. They play a Welcome to Disney movie and cartoons as you approach the property (about twenty minutes in).

The stops at the other two hotels before ours (Contemporary is the last of the stops and first to pick up on the way back) were very short, under two minutes at each place. We got off the bus, were greeted in the valet area, and escorted to the front desk (where we got the bad news that we'd been lied to about our room, but I'm getting over it... slowly.)

After that and the insane Sam's trip that took 90 minutes of my life I'll never get back, we returned to our room to find our bags waiting for us. 

The day before we departed, there was an envelope on our door from Magical Express with instructions and our boarding passes printed out for us! That was a nice surprise. Since we were flying Southwest, we could leave our checked bags at the front of the hotel with services on the morning of our departure and not have to think about them until we were back in Denver. 

The letter said we should be at the stop at 10:20 that morning (for a 1:10 flight) and, sure enough, we got there at 10:15 and the bus rolled in three minutes after that. We were first on the bus and picked up the other two hotels before returning to MCO. The letter also included the return trip bar codes needed, in case you'd lost your original voucher booklet by then.

On the way back, you get another little movie, basically aimed right at the soft spot of all these travelers who don't want to go home, about how great it will be to come back. Smart.

They drop you directly at your airport's door, no lines except security to wait in. 

And did I mention, this is all free?

Yep, I'm a Magical Express convert.


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