Disney ending Magical Express airport bus service, Extra Magic Hours being replaced with early entry

Posted Monday, January 11, 2021 3:22 PM | Contributed by bigboy

Walt Disney World will discontinue Disney’s Magical Express bus service and end its Extra Magic Hours benefit for hotel guests in 2021, the company announced Monday. Later this year, resort guests will begin getting 30-minute head starts in all four theme parks every day, Disney says.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, January 11, 2021 4:09 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

I'm surprised by the discontinuation of the busses. I am on board with the early entry as I am always too tired and over it to take advantage of the "magic" hours.


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Monday, January 11, 2021 4:25 PM
TheMillenniumRider's avatar

I almost always did the nighttime magic hours. Many people were gone by then since they cooked to death in the heat. I always went into the parks in the morning and left from 12-4 while the sun was roasting.

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Monday, January 11, 2021 4:43 PM
99er's avatar

Haven't read the article but I wonder if the ending Magical Express has anything to do with the parks contract with Mears. Maybe they couldn't come to an agreement?


-Chris

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Monday, January 11, 2021 4:44 PM
Jeff's avatar

I called them "extra tragic hours" because all they seemed to do is concentrate resort guests for long lines. Blanket early entry makes way more sense, consistent with passholder protocol at the regional parks. I'd like to see them do more VIP assholder events in the future. I think we've only had three or four that I was able to make in the seven years we had passes, but they were all amazing.

The bus thing surprises me, if only because it was such an efficient way to get butts on the property as fast as possible and spending money. It made it obvious to stay on-property, as a Pop Century or All-Star resort was just as adequate as anything off-site, and not far on cost. I wonder if it was becoming underutilized, or they just calculated that the ROI wasn't adequate. Bad news for Mears, certainly.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, January 11, 2021 4:45 PM
Jeff's avatar

Oh, and I'm not sure the new train, as mentioned in the article, is necessarily an impacting condition. Does anyone really believe it will be done in 2022 at all? I don't.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, January 11, 2021 5:06 PM

90% of the time, an Uber/Lyft ride from MCO to WDW is less than $40, oftentimes even cheaper and a way better experience.

It's great that DME is "free" (not really), but the whole DME experience was always painfully slow and my resort always seemed to be the last stop in my experiences.

Plus, on my trip home, I have no desire to get to the airport 3 hours before my flight which DME is notorious for. There are only so many Nathans hot dogs you can eat before your flight....

I haven't taken DME in years since rideshares have been picking up at MCO; it's worth the $40 bucks for a direct and more comfortable ride and at a fraction of the travel time.

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Monday, January 11, 2021 6:18 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I always assumed DME was break even at best but probably a loss leader for Disney. It basically incentivizes people from leaving the bubble for whatever reason and it means Disney doesn't have to rely on other transportation services and whatever policies, delays, or hiccups they might incur.
In spite of all the annoyances around scheduling, for a once-every-few-years visitor, it's pretty magical to check your bag in CA and then it's in your room when you arrive at WDW.

And the one time we took it back to the airport, we needed about 2:30 of that 3:00. It was a few days before Xmas and the security line took over an hour.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Monday, January 11, 2021 7:12 PM

Jeff said:

Oh, and I'm not sure the new train, as mentioned in the article, is necessarily an impacting condition. Does anyone really believe it will be done in 2022 at all? I don't.

They've been talking about that train for a long time. And I remember the years of talks and delays over SunRail, only to have it be an incredibly inefficient and inadequate way to get anywhere around here unless your origin and destination are in the same straight line as the track, and you don't have to get there in a hurry.

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Monday, January 11, 2021 7:14 PM

Hanging n' Banging said:

There are only so many Nathans hot dogs you can eat before your flight....

In my early 20s I learned that number was five. Now in my mid 30s, I get nauseous at the memory of that day.

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Monday, January 11, 2021 7:38 PM
TheMillenniumRider's avatar

I always figured one of the driving forces behind the bus was to keep people from renting a car and thus making it easier to venture offsite, but I guess with charging parking at the resorts the threat remains low.

Also, VIP assholder, I might be interested in that perk, never saw it listed on the Disney site.

Last edited by TheMillenniumRider, Monday, January 11, 2021 7:38 PM
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Monday, January 11, 2021 9:18 PM
Jeff's avatar

SunRail is amazing if you live near the route, and work downtown. I worked literally next to it off Church St., and the company paid for parking or a SunRail pass for everyone. Probably 1/4 of our peeps took the rail option.

The Brightline rail is already being built, it's not a question of "if" anymore. The question is about when it will be finished.

I did not share the anti-enthusiasm of Magical Express. I used it four or five times before moving here and I loved it. I didn't have long to wait at MCO for pickup (one time I literally walked on to the bus and it was underway in ten minutes). Then the return trip was at a convenient time, and my travelmates scored food at the airport, which isn't terrible, though not great, depending on the terminal. The rideshares weren't a thing then, but spending an extra $40 each way I'm not sure would have been that valuable to me.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, January 11, 2021 9:31 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Just saw that Mears will continue the service at $40/head round trip. I'm not sure how much the luggage delivery will interface with the resorts, if at all. If I can take an Uber for $40/family, I can't imagine many people taking Mears up. Especially since, less people on the bus means more stops which is less efficient.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Monday, January 11, 2021 9:51 PM

Any time I’ve used Magical Express, and at each of the different resorts, I’ve noticed what an operation the luggage room is. And usually with a fair amount of staff to operate it.
So there’s a savings...

Last edited by RCMAC, Monday, January 11, 2021 9:52 PM
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Tuesday, January 12, 2021 12:39 AM

Maybe I'm in the minority, but when I travel, I try to not separate from my luggage any more than needed. I try to carry on whenever possible and avoid checking bags whenever possible.

So the DME luggage service never was a selling point for me. I never used (or trusted) it.

My main luggage bag is a roller board and it really isn't that big of a deal lugging it around. I'd rather just hand check it on the DME bus so I have peace of mind that my luggage is with me and will enter my room with me when I walk in the door.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021 2:15 AM

I’ve learned to relax about things like that. It’s just stuff, and if it’s that valuable I reckon I shouldn’t be bringing it.
Any time I’ve used the airline’s convenient bag check or the ultra-convenient Disney’s Magical Express I follow sensible advise and carry on a small bag. In it goes a set of underwear, a few sample-sized necessary toiletries, my keys, a charger, a couple snacks, and my pills- all things I might need in an emergency or during an unexpected delay.
I can honestly say that I’ve never had to call on it. The few times my luggage was “lost” it was on the way home and was at my door by the next morning anyway.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021 5:53 AM
99er's avatar

Jeff said:

The Brightline rail is already being built, it's not a question of "if" anymore. The question is about when it will be finished.

It's moving along way faster than I thought it would. Driving out to the coast on the Beach Line you can see the progress along side. In some places you can even see the railroad ties being installed. Construction at the airpot has been underway for awhile now where the line will come through the airport and under the runways to connect to the already built station at the new terminal. I'm stoked for this new service.


-Chris

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021 10:21 AM

We used Magical Express on our last 3 trips and, especially flying Southwest, checking luggage at home and not dealing with it until we hit our room that night made it a no brainer. We did early flights for all 3 trips and the process was seamless: walked straight onto the bus, the bus departed immediately, and our resort was the first stop. On the first two trips, our room as ready while we were on the bus. With all 3 trips, we were in Magic Kingdom 90 minutes after our flight landed.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2021 11:26 AM
Jeff's avatar

That's something I vividly remember... being in the parks seemingly right after I got off the plane. I really liked that feeling.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021 12:59 PM

Last time I went, our resort was last. But as I was on the bus, I realized that since the bags were on their own, and the room was sent to us via text, we didn't have to bother going to the resort. We got off the first stop and caught the bus straight to a park. It was pretty awesome.


Dave Dragon, go Dave Dragon, and the Star Force Five!

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