You’ve picked the dates, you’ve booked the resort, you’ve booked the flights – now how do you get from the airport to your Walt Disney World resort? There are many options, so let’s discuss Walt Disney World Transportation 101!
Walt Disney World discontinued its Magical Express service at the end of 2021, and since that time, several competitors have entered the market, giving you choices when it comes to motorcoach transportation.
Mears Connect is the most similar option to the Magical Express. It’s actually the transportation company that operated Disney’s Magical Express and has since taken over the operation as a paid service under its own identity.
Mears Connect offers two types of service, the Mears Connect service, and Mears Connect Express.
Mears Connect is a shared motorcoach service that operates 24/7 from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to Walt Disney World resorts. The ride is a comfortable, large motorcoach bus that makes multiple stops to resorts in the same general vicinity. This is a good option if you have children that would typically need a child carseat in a regular vehicle, as they don’t need carseats on the bus.
Mears Connect had some growing pains getting off the ground in its first weekend of operation that I personally experienced, but has since been a reliable option for my own family and the client families that I have worked with who have chosen this option.
The standard service has one way pricing of $16/adult and $13.50/child (3-9); and round-tirp pricing of $32/adult and $27/child. Children under the age of 3 ride for free.
Mears Connect Express is an expedited service that can be reserved at the rate of $250 for up to 4 passengers. Each additional passenger is $55. There is no child discount for this service, as all passengers count toward the total number. Mears Connect Express is only offered as a round-trip service. It’s important to note that while you may be transported in a van with only your party, this is not a private service. You may be placed with other passengers who are traveling to the same resort, or your resort may be the first stop on a motorcoach.
Sunshine Flyer is a motorcoach service that operates from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World resorts with a 1920s passenger rail theme. The buses are wrapped in designs that resemble a train locomotive or passenger car and the drivers and staff dress as 1920s rail conductors and engineers.
Sunshine Flyer has set hours beginning at 4:00am, servicing flights that start at 7:30am, and the last bus departs MCO at 11:00pm. Your flight times are an important factor when considering Sunshine Flyer. An evening flight that gets delayed may cause you to miss the motorcoach transportation to your Walt Disney World resort. It’s also important to note that in this case, the missed ride will be refunded in the form of a future credit.
Sunshine Flyer now offers a direct service option starting at $120 for one way service, and round-trip service starting at $240. There are a few vehicle types available for different party sizes.
There are countless private transportation companies that operate in central Florida, but at Kingdom and Cruise Travel, we have a couple of preferred vendors that we have great relationships with because of their commitment to excellence, reliability, and customer care.
Southern Elegance Limo
Southern Elegance is a private limo service that will begin its service all the way at Baggage Claim. Prices vary depending on flight time and size of the travel party.
FSE Luxury Transportation
FSE is a favorite of Kingdom and Cruise Travel. With many different vehicle types from sedans to sprinter vans to stretch limos (and even a Tesla!), they’ve got it all. FSE also offers stroller rentals when coupled with a transportation reservation, as well as grocery pickups. Simply provide your shopping list in advance, and your groceries will be in the vehicle ready to be delivered to the resort with you. They really are your one stop shop for the ultimate in luxurious transportation and practical travel needs.
At the time of this publication, Minnie Vans powered by Lyft are an option for Walt Disney World Club Level guests for the flat rate of $199 one way. This is a fantastic way to begin the Disney magic right away on your vacation, with Disney cast members starting your trip in a Minnie Mouse themed SUV or van and Mickey Mouse cartoons playing on the screens in the vehicle. Minnie Vans come equipped with 2 child car seats.
The traditional ride share services are always an option from Orlando International to resorts all over the central Florida area and are a great option for families not requiring child car seats. There are usually vehicles available that have a car seat option but be mindful that there’s no known history of the car seats and their prior handling. Please use this option with your best judgment. Surge pricing is also a factor to take into consideration, as the price is extremely variable and may cost more than you would expect. It’s also not easy to predict the availability of these vehicles, as supply and demand dictate what you will be able to secure at any given time.
There are many rental car companies available at MCO, and you probably already have a favorite company to work with. However, with the built in transportation infrastructure of the Walt Disney World Resort (buses, monorail, ferries, FriendShip boats, Skyliner), there really isn’t a need to rent a vehicle during your Walt Disney World vacation.
With all of these options, it can feel overwhelming. The important questions to consider are:
- What is your travel party size?
- Do you have children that need carseats?
- What kind of additional services do you want?
- What hour are you landing at MCO?
When considering all of those questions with your Kingdom and Cruise Travel agent, you’re sure to find the perfect option for you and your loved ones.
Katie is a runDisney marathoner and travel agent with Kingdom and Cruise Travel. Whether you are planning to runDisney or planning a magical vacation, she'd love to help you maximize your time and budget. Click here to send me an email.