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A Look Ahead at Walt Disney World Resort

Avery Maehrer

by , Manager of Communications, Walt Disney World Resort

For nearly 50 years, Walt Disney World Resort has continued to evolve the guest experience to best suit the changing times. As we plan for the future, we are looking at how needs and preferences are changing across the travel industry, particularly in the way people want to get places faster, at their convenience. 

Vacationers have more options to choose from than ever for transportation, including ride-share services that save time and offer more flexibility to go where they want, when they want. In light of this shift, when Disney Resort hotel bookings open for stays in 2022, we will no longer offer Disney’s Magical Express service for airport transportation, starting with arrivals Jan. 1, 2022. We will continue to operate the service for new and existing reservations made at Disney Resort hotels for arrivals throughout 2021. Additionally, complimentary transportation options – such as buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner – will continue to be available within Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Resort hotel guests, including to and from all four theme parks.

While we are retiring this option, we’re introducing some new ways for guests to enjoy their visits, while reimagining others:

NOW AVAILABLE

  • Return of the Park Hopper Option: We kicked off a new year with the exciting milestone of bringing back the Park Hopper option, with some new updates as part of our ongoing focus on health and safety. With the return of this option, guests can enjoy more Disney magic in our theme parks, including the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts happening now through Feb. 22, 2021 and the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival springing to life beginning March 3.
  • Special Vacation Offer: For those of you ready to start planning your next vacation, we just released a special new offer! Get two extra days added to your ticket when you buy a 4-night/3-day room and ticket package at select Disney Resort hotels for arrivals most nights Jan. 8 through Sept. 25, 2021. Also, visit DisneyWorld.com/Offers to learn more about other great offers we recently launched for visits to Walt Disney World Resort.

COMING SOON

  • Early Theme Park Entry: We know how much guests enjoy extra park time, so coming later this year as part of our 50th anniversary celebration, Disney Resort hotel guests and guests of other select hotels will be able to enjoy more fun with 30-minute early entry to ANY theme park, EVERY day. It’ll be a great way to get a jump start on your Disney day, no matter the day! As a reminder, the Extra Magic Hours benefit was suspended when Walt Disney World Resort reopened last summer, and as we continue to manage attendance with health and safety top of mind, Extra Magic Hours will not return. The new early theme park entry benefit helps us better spread visitation across all four theme parks, while providing added flexibility by giving guests extra early park time on each day of their vacation and in the park of their choosing. Please note that guests need valid admission and a park reservation made via the Disney Park Pass system to enter a theme park.

As with every other change we’ve made in our history, we will help guests navigate through these next steps and will continue to deliver on what’s expected from a Disney experience. We remain focused on exploring new ways for guests to spend more time with their friends and families and creating memories to last a lifetime.

Comments

  • Ending Magical Express is a horrible idea. So disappointed in Disney.

  • Well that’s terrible news. So disappointed in this decision.

  • Likely the worst idea. Visitors, especially the elderly, rely on the Magical Express to get them safely to Disneyworld. They do not use the option of ride share which this article prominently highlights.

  • PLEASE reconsider Magical Express! We continue our vacations a few times a year to WDW based on many factors. Magical Express is one of the reasons we have continued to stay on property every time. The convenience of it all kick starts and ends our magical vacation in a perfect way. 13 years we have been using it! This is a huge loss to all of your guests. I’m very disappointed in this and hope Disney decides to keep it!

  • The magical express was a foundation of our Disney trips and something we looked forward to every time we visited. It was like a switch was like some magical vacation switch was flipped when the video started, immediately transporting us to a better place. It even softened the blow of leaving each time and we’d often start planning our next trip on our ride to the airport. This is extremely disappointing. I’d rather you charge for the transfer but still offer the service than removing it altogether.

  • That’s really unfortunate. As a mom who has utilized the magical express on trips when my husband wasn’t able to go this was a lifesaver. I guess this next trip will be it for awhile. I really hope you reconsider this service. I’m sure most people would be willing to pay extra for it, I know I would.

  • This is terribly disappointing news. My family trying to travel with 5 people and luggage will be so difficult. It nearly impossible for us to use any ride sharing services as is. Guess we will have to go back to driving 8+ hours if we wamt to visit.

  • So sad about magical express! It made getting to WDW with toddlers and babies a breeze! Now we will need to bring car seats.

  • WOW! This is absolutely huge and awful news for the future of transportation of getting to WDW from MCO and back to MCO after your vacation. This forces the guests hand to now use ride share options, or rent a car which they will have to pay a fee for parking each day. I guess there’s always Minnie Vans but those costs are a premium. It was such a nice convenient way to get to the resort and to the airport. Wow wow wow…just AWFUL news for future guests.

  • This is upsetting, magical express has been instrumental in making it POSSIBLE for my disabled sister to visit without incurring another added expense (handicapped accessable transportation is rarely cheap, or enjoyable too). Things keep getting less and less magical every year.

  • You are taking away one of the most convenient and best perks offered and providing no solution to it’s removal. How does this play into the resort parking fees that were recently rolled out? Such a disappointment.

  • Really disappointed to see the Magical Express service discontinued. More than once my family has opted to stay on property because of the convenience of this service instead of staying off site or at Universal. That plus the elimination of EMH may change where we stay for future visits. I know it is a tough time out there but these are really not guest focused decisions.

  • This is a terrible decision. We loved flying into Orlando cause of the free shuttle. I’m sure Disney will feel an impact from this. I might even consider selling our DVC contracts now.

  • This is a HUGE mistake! I cannot believe Disney would take away such an important thing for families. Not only is it the exciting start to a magical Disney vacation, it’s now going to be extremely inconvenient for families to get to their Disney property! Even regular hotels have complimentary shuttles from the airport to their hotels, and one of the biggest companies in the world can’t offer it for their guests who are paying a great deal of money to stay at their properties?! I’m so disappointed in the staff at Disney who made such a bad decision.

  • Nothing free lasts forever. People got to Disney World on their own for years before the Magic Express. Rent a car, use ride share, use a town car service. We know the budget is tight due to the pandemic. I’d rather them put money into the parks than a free ride from the airport.

  • This is a terrible decision, I am a parent of 2 younger kids and having to lug car seats, stroller, the kids, and multiple bags to have to rent a car and navigate through the airport/ Orlando is not ideal. We stay on Disney property because of the convenience, I would be will to pay for the service as an option but I think getting rid of it completely is a terrible terrible idea. We have been to Disney probably 15+ times in the last 5 years and this may be a deal breaker for us, think about your guests not your pocket book!

  • Oh no! You can’t end the Magical Express…. that was one of the best parts of the trip. I loved not having to worry about my luggage after getting off the plane. I could just go right to vacation mode and enjoy myself. I am very sad to see this service go.

  • Nothing free lasts forever. Rent a car, use a rideshare, use a town car service.

  • My family chooses WDW Resorts as the place to vacation because we rely on the Magical Express to get transportation to and from the airport. We have a daughter in a wheelchair and the cost to rent wheelchair vans is horrendous! We are saddened by this decision and wish you reconsider.

  • So–now we both have to pay for parking at the hotels if we drive, and pay for our own transportation from the airport if we fly. The perks that really added up to an overall “Disney” experience are disappearing. I understand that you’re hurting after this year but your customers are hurting, too. You’re making it more difficult for people to swallow the hefty price tag that comes along with a Disney vacation. It’s disappointing, to be sure.

  • Ending the Magical Express is absolutely one of the worst decisions right now! Having transportation to and from the airport already set up is one of the main reasons we choose to stay on property… We are a military family and plan our trips with a budget! Our kids have so many memories of riding the magical express to and from our resort… Please reconsider this! Extra Magic Hours I understand. But not Magical Express…

  • For my visits from the UK the Magical Express is a godsend, removing it is a very bad move. Come on Disney!

  • Ending the Magical Express is AWFUL!!!! My clients love this option added to their trips to Disney. With most of them flying in…. Little by little, we are losing all of the perks of staying on property! Please reconsider this decision…. Making magic for families is getting harder and harder!

  • I really think Disney needs to reconsider getting rid of magical express, that is one of the biggest draws for our family to stay on property, we have 2 small children and not having to bring car seats for them to get to the hotel is HUGE, there is no part of me that wants to keep track of 5 people, a stroller, 2 car seats, 5-10 bags/ suitcases and then have to rent a car, navigate the airport (which is confusing as can be) and then navigate said rental car to the hotel and then have to pay to keep it in the hotel parking lot? I don’t think so. We have been to Disney probably 15+ times in the last 5 years or so and I will 100% reconsider my vacation destinations if this is not available. I would be totally ok with paying something for the service (ex. $20 per person or $50 per family) please think of your “guests” and not about your pocket book, people really like this feature and I feel like many more people are going to start staying off property if this isn’t available in some capacity.

  • I don’t think the rail project will open by the end of this year either.

  • Getting rid of DME will drastically decrease the number of trips to WDW I take a year. I rely on its reliability and availability to make quick trips possible. This is incredibly disappointing to hear as a DVC member.

  • What sad news! The Magic Express bus always made us feel like the vacation was really beginning, and was a relief after the stress of airline travel. I hope you’ll reconsider.

  • I have to agree politely please consider keeping ME. I would even pay a fee. All the ride share places are going g to charge an arm and a leg now

  • This is extraordinarily disappointing. At least keep magical express and charge $25 to add to a reservation rather than disposing of this vital service.

  • ME always starts our Trip. With this not being offered , I don’t see any reason to stay On Site anymore.

  • Extremely disappointed that you are discontinuing Magical Express. That it as huge perk to staying on property and now to have to find another way to get there is going to be a pain. I also am disappointed that Magic Hours are not returning. My family is a not a “rope dropper” so getting in early is not a perk to staying on property. Where is the perk for families that prefer to stay later. If you are managing attendance and have set aside reservations for resort guests, then you should also be able to offer later night hours to those same resort guests. Once day guests and annual passholders leave, your attendance will have dropped way below your capacity limits for that theme park on that day. I really hope you reconsider these decisions. Many of the decisions that you have made recently are not the benefit of your paying guests.

  • I love you Disney. However, the Magical Express is an integral part of our Disney Vacation experience. To demonstrate how much, you should know about the imaginary play my youngest child and I took part in yesterday. She gets her stuffed animals together, puts masks on them, Mickey ears and loads up her WDW backpack as we set off on her imaginary vacation to WDW (from the comfort of our couch). The part we spent 20 minutes on alone yesterday? Pretending to ride Disney’s Magical Express! We all look forward to this part of the vacation. It puts guests in a Disney frame of mind. It serves as both the launch and the anchor to our WDW vacations. It allows families time to decompress, decreases the amount of throughout traffic from both MCO to WDW and helps to build wonderful Disney memories. Again, I respectfully ask that you reconsider this move. Thank you.

  • Unless you have a replacement that is BETTER, this is a terrible decision. Magical Express made it SO EASY for countless families to be in the Disney bubble upon stepping outside of the airport. Additionally, it was a deciding factor on whether to stay on property or off for us many times. I realize rideshare has changed the look of transportation, but the ME lines are still long, and people still want this service. These small decisions ( no more EMH, no ME, no magic bands, forcing people to use their phones- I DONT WANT TO BE ON MY PHONE WHEN ON VACATION< I WANT TO ENJOY the sights and sounds around me) have most certainly chipped away at the foundation of what made Disney great and separated Disney from other travel destinations.

  • Really sad to hear about the Magical Express, was the main reason we never looked at staying at hotels or accommodations off the Walt Disney world property.

  • Really disappointed to hear Magical Express will be discontinued next year. It was a major reason we stayed on-property – incredibly convenient and safe transportation, especially for families with young kids (like ours). I am not a fan of rideshares so looks like we will go the rental car route on our visits – an added expense that will likely be made up for with less spending in the parks.

  • Great. Thanks for making an already part time job of planning a WDW trip that much more difficult, and expensive. Congrats to leadership for saving a buck. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  • Disappointed in the discontinuation of the Magical Express Service. There really does not seem to be any added benefits to staying on property or for that matter, buying into DVC. Much happier staying off property at resorts that give perks to other area theme parks for staying there.

  • Even the inexpensive $100 a night motels offer free transportation from the airport. Keep taking away all the perks of staying on site and no one will. Dropping Magical Express is a bad plan Disney!

  • Wow. I’m extremely disappointed. The Magical Express was always a no brainer and is one of many ways that Disney stands out compared to other central Florida offerings. As a new parent who is eager to travel to Disney with our son and growing family things like car seats, rental cars, paid parking, etc. are going to have to be considered. Sadly, staying off property makes so much more sense because of this loss. I really hope Disney Parks reconsider. I’m sure there is great reason and thinking behind this pivot, but this sure does change the outlets of where I spend money and how “convenient” a Disney vacation looks for a family in the future.

  • Wow Disney way to slowly remove any incentive to pay the extra prices for staying on property. You pay more to do that but hey includes the amazing things that make up for it. I wonder if by next October (which is when we are planning a trip) it will be better to stay elsewhere and just go in for the parks. Evening extra magic hours are wonderful to us non morning people and with a couple of hours you could get so much done. I guess that will return with the extra ticket events and not as a lovely perk of staying there.

  • This is a bad choice. We solely chose Disney for our next vacation because we don’t have t lug car seats around for our 4 kids. Please reconsider.

  • Your article ends by saying you will continue to deliver what is expected from a Disney experience immediately after telling us you are cutting yet more services while continuing to increase cost of tickets, rooms, and food.

    As one of your characters Tony Stark said, “Not a great plan”

  • I am extremely disappointed in this decision. Disney please re-consider. Ride share options are NOT and option for those traveling with small children or a party of 6-10, which is what my party usually consists of. Magical Express is one of the biggest perks of staying on property. I would even be ok if you took away the luggage convenience. The transportation is huge stress relief. It is even more or a kicker having to rent a car, pay the tolls, and then have to pay for parking, which is now required for hotel guests. I am more the disappointed in this decision.

  • PLEASE don’t take away Magical Express! It’s a quintessential part of my family’s Disney vacations. Skipping baggage claim (and the stress of getting a taxi) meant that the Disney magic started as soon as we landed in Florida. Our worries just melted away! And when the trip ended, we relished in being able to utilize the airline check-in at our hotel so we could end the trip on a relaxed note. Now the beginning and ending of every trip will be so much more of a hassle. I understand that these services had to be suspended because of the pandemic, but I truly hope you reconsider canceling them permanently. At the least, please continue to offer some sort of luggage delivery service and airline check-in so we don’t have to worry about those stressful airport lines.

  • Highlighting that multiple transportation options are available while announcing you are eliminating a popular one is an odd choice. Particularly when the eliminated option is the only one offered by WDW.

    Rideshare capacity isn’t meant to handle the amount of people that Magical Express is.

    People with large parties and people with disabilities are going to have trouble utilizing rideshares.

    Having my ride to and from the airport included in my hotel stay was always a major selling point for me when choosing to stay on site.

    And announcing that you’re eliminating EMH while offering a shorter amount of time and only in the mornings and trying to pass it off as a positive is also an odd choice.

    These are very disappointing decisions.
    I really want to come back to WDW once I feel safe traveling again. But that want lessens with all the cuts. I understand that things happen for financial reasons, especially given that we’re in an ongoing pandemic. Still, prices continue to go up while benefits continue to decrease. And that’s very disappointing, to say the least.

  • Also, I agree with the other commenters who are saying that they’d be willing to pay an extra fee for Magical Express! The convenience is well worth a potential cost.

  • This makes it so much harder for families that need a car seat or two car seats or use wheelchairs – that much harder to rationalize a Disney World vacation. Even Universal offers a shuttle.

  • I think that it is a really bad move to stop the Disney Magic Express. I do not want to use a ride share to get from the airport to Disney. The prices just keep going up but cutting all the extras. Please reconsider this move.

  • This is the worst news ever! Travelling from the UK we enjoyed this perk very much and saved money on car rentals or ubers for us to reach Disney! I cannot believe you are stripping this off, feels like magic is being removed bit by bit since the reopening. There is an economic meltdown throughout the world how ever you can still provide this service to your hotel and resort guests! I would never stay in Disney property then so will most of your guests. We can pay a fraction of price and stay off site and rent a car instead. Awful and I am going to pull out of my DVC contract while I still have time. Feels like everything is being taken away.

  • The loss of Extra Magic Hours is devastating to my family. An extra 30 minutes in the morning is a poor substitution! That time could easily be lost through challenging transportation issues- waiting for buses, tie ups at the entry gate. The additional loss of Magical Express is hard – for families with many children, mobility issues the Magical Express was a gift. I see more and more people staying off property going forward as the advantages to staying on property are minimized.