2. MAGICAL EXPRESS (AND HOW IT’S NOT SO MAGICAL)
This Walt Disney World for beginners tip is based solely on my own experience. Take it with a grain of salt!
Magical Express is the free shuttle to and from the Orlando airport to your resort.
How it works:
A week before leaving your home, Disney will send you an envelope containing yellow luggage tags. You affix these to your suitcases at your departure airport.
There is also a piece of paper in your envelope that you need to hand over to Magical Express when you arrive. Do not be a dummy, like me, and throw the paper into recycling. It’s your ticket for the bus, so to speak.
Why the yellow luggage tags?
The idea is that you drop your bags off at your airport and don’t see them again until you are in your hotel room. You get off the airplane in Orlando, hop on your bus and arrive at your resort without having to schelp a thing.
So convenient right? Or not.
It all depends on when you arrive.
How it’s not so magical:
My husband and I debated just picking our luggage off of the carousal like normal. I thought that we could decide once we landed if we wanted to drag our cases or not.
My mistake. Once those yellow tags are on, you won’t see your bags until they arrive at your room.
THREE TO FIVE HOURS AFTER YOU HAVE CHECKED INTO YOUR HOTEL.
This is part 1 of why this service is not awesome.
On the website, it makes it sound so easy. It does actually say “may take up to three hours after you arrive at your hotel”.
So I possibly missed the ‘after you arrive at your hotel‘ part. BUT no where does it say on the website that it could take up to FIVE hours.
Which is actually the case. We did not get our suitcases until well past midnight!
How to make Magical Express magical:
It took a long time to get from Orlando airport to our hotel, the Caribbean Beach Resort.
We had to drop off all the expensive resort guests first. We watched as we passed our resort and then did a huge circle back to it.
Our flight arrived at 7PM. We did not check-in until 9PM. Our luggage didn’t arrive until 1:30 AM.
Because we have two small kids and it was bedtime, we should have just taken a taxi straight to our resort. We would have been there in a half hour.
I only learned of the 5 hour window when I called bell services and they told me to expect our luggage 3-5 hours after check-in. This was my fault for not reading the details more closely or doing better research.
I had a bad cold, my ears were plugged and all I wanted to do was sleep. My drugs had been stupidly packed in my luggage. As did the kid’s PJ’s, toothbrushes, etc.
The website and all the planning blogs advice to keep medicine and valuables in your carry-on. Yeah, I didn’t listen.
Therefore heed MY advice!
1. Use the yellow luggage tags if you have an earlier arrival time
2. Pack what you need to go to bed
3. Just carry your own suitcases.
And if your plane arrives late: just take a taxi and get those kids to bed!
GETTING FROM ORLANDO AIRPORT TO YOUR RESORT
Magical Express is incredibly easy and well signed at the airport.
GETTING TO ORLANDO AIRPORT FROM YOUR RESORT
The day before your departure, the hotel gives you a letter stating what time your express will be picking you up.
On the return journey, the Magical Express only takes guests from the resort you are staying at.
Therefore our journey to the airport was only 20 minutes.
Walt Disney World for Beginners Tip:
If you are arriving early in the day, by all means use the luggage service and make sure to have packed your carry-on with swimsuits, medication and diapers.
But if you get in later in the evening and your kids need to sleep – contemplate a quick ride to your resort over a longer bus journey.