Once upon a time we drove to Walt Disney World. There are of course, a number of pros and cons to doing this, but one of the pros, in my opinion, was having a car while we were visiting the parks. It allowed us the freedom to come and go when and how we wanted, no waiting for a bus, no standing, just get in your car and go. For the planner/control freak that I tend to be, it was perfect. 🙂
Then we started flying….but still unwilling to give up my car freedom, we also rented a car for our time in Florida. You know, to have “just in case”. Just in case of what, I am not certain, but we had the car anyway, Just In Case.
However the cost of airfare PLUS the cost of renting a car starts to add up….and if there is anything I want to do more than be in control, it’s save money. So we ditched the car rental about 5 Disney vacations ago.
That’s when I fell in love with Disney’s Magical Express….and learned how to let go and leave the driving to Disney. And I gotta tell ya, it really works! 🙂
If you are staying in a Walt Disney World resort, and have never used Magical Express before, let me share with you just how easy and convenient it is.
To start, once you have your flight information, you will need to contact Disney (407-WDW-MAGIC or 407-939-6244) and provide them with the information (or have your friendly travel agent do this for you). It is recommended that you do this at least 6 weeks prior to your trip. Several weeks before you leave, you will receive Magical Express luggage tags for each person that will be traveling, along with a booklet that has information for when you arrive, as well as a voucher for boarding the bus when you arrive at Orlando airport. (Note that you will receive only 1 tag per person, which assumes you will not be checking more than one bag per person. If you need more, contact DME to request additional tags.)
Place the tag on your luggage at home, and then check it as usual at your home airport. When you arrive at Orlando Airport, there is no need to go to baggage claim: Disney does that for you. 🙂 You will instead go to the DME boarding area (there are signs, and a map in your booklet), and you will be directed to the correct line. Note that there is not a separate DME bus for each resort, so you will “share” your bus with guests of several nearby resorts. With this in mind, you should allow for up to an hour from the time you are boarding your bus, until you arrive at your resort. But the time goes so fast on the bus: they show a video to, you know, get people excited about arriving at Disney World…which works pretty well. 🙂
And this is the best part. Once you get to your resort, check in (and if you did online check in before you arrived, this will take only a few minutes), and then you are on your way to the parks. Meanwhile, Disney’s Magical Express is handling your bags, and when you arrive in your room later on, they will be there waiting for you.
Really, truly, they will be!
I know that this may seem silly to many of you, but you fellow control freaks out there will understand what a HUGE leap of faith it is to just hand over your luggage and trust that it will somehow magically appear in your hotel room at Walt Disney World later that day. It’s hard enough to trust that your airline will do it right (and let’s face, they often don’t), let alone add another layer of people to potentially mess with your stuff…
Seriously. But it does work.
Now I will be honest. It doesn’t always work flawlessly, and I have to share that on one trip we returned to our room in the evening, to find not the two suitcases that should have been there…but one. My husband’s. Yup, MY suitcase, the control-freak’s, was the suitcase that was AWOL.
But it turns out, the fault was with our airline that apparently felt my luggage should not go to Walt Disney World, but to some other destination. To the credit of DME, they handled it all: found out when it was supposed to arrive at MCO, when it did in fact arrive at MCO, when it got on the truck, and then they let me know when it arrived. I was a wreck…but they couldn’t have been nicer. And I learned a BIG lesson, especially if you will be arriving in the evening, since DME tells you that it can take up to 4 hours for your luggage to actually arrive in your room: ALWAYS pack what you need for overnight in your carry on. You know. Just In Case. 🙂
In any event, while no system like this is perfect, it is still a pretty great way to start a vacation. On most of our trips we board our flight here in Maryland by 7 a.m. (yes I know….). By 9:30 we are landed, and by 11:30 we are walking through the turnstiles of the Magic Kingdom. Ya gotta love it. And when we get back to our room that afternoon, our 3 suitcases are there, waiting for us, all safe and sound. 🙂
The one exception to this process is if you are arriving after 10 p.m.: in this case Magical Express will not deliver your bags to your room. Instead, you will not put your DME luggage tags on at home, check them at the airport, and you will pull your bags at bag check as usual, and simply bring them on the bus with you.
Either way, it saves time AND saves money. What’s not to love?
Tomorrow, I’ll share how it all works going home. 🙂