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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

  • This is a really bad decision and I hope you reconsider. Finding rideshare options for families with kids that need car seats is really difficult. Then if you have 2 kids who need car seats, you are stuck. And the private shuttle buses are extremely expensive. This will make getting to and from Disney extremely challenging for a demographic you are trying to cater to.

  • This is very disappointing. The Magical Express was an extremely convenient mode of transportation to WDW. Personally, for the price of a WDW vacation it was a great way to get to property without having to rent a car or hire a taxi / uber and incur that added expense. I really hope the new train can fill that void and there is convenient bus transportation from Disney Springs stop to the resorts with all our luggage in tow. I’m sure it will also limit the amount of time people can be in the park on travel days knowing it will take longer to take a bus / train. May even reduce the amount of ticket purchases based on travel time.

  • First splash mountain and now magical express?
    Do you even want our business any more?

  • So incredibly sad that Extra Magic Hours are being shortened to 30 minutes before park opening-that time will easily be lost in transportation snafus, from buses, to sky liner lines to challenges at the gate. Universal allows their guests an hour early entry as well as a free Express Pass-I see many more folks choosing to stay off property in the future. With the loss of Magical Express as well-the value and advantage of staying on property, as well as some of the Magic, is being lost. My heart is sad –

  • Worst news. This was one of the huge reasons to stay on site. Might reconsider that in the future.

  • Magical express?!? This is a major reason we decided to buy into DVC! So disappointed!!

  • The value of our vacation club membership seems to diminish each year. Ending the ME and extra magic hours is just the latest example.

  • I don’t view Magical Express going away as a very great loss. Without the benefit of baggage transfer, it really wasn’t worth the wait at MCO or the 3-4 hour early pick-up time at the resort. I would happily wave goodbye to the bus in return for having my luggage taken care of again.

    As for the early park hours, I just don’t understand Disney’s thinking: “Let’s see, we can give them extra time at night, thereby making park hopping viable and increasing ticket revenue, or we can give them an extra 30 useless minutes in the morning that nobody cares about and will rarely use. Hmmm, what to do…”

  • Magic Bands gone, EMH first cut significantly then removed, parking fees at the hotels, no FastPasses at the moment, now Magical Express gone too? All while hotel rates continue to rise and theming gets more and ore generic. What’s even the point of staying at a Disney hotel anymore? With every trip I booked, this was something I factored in to the cost. The Value WDW hotels would come out more expensive than one of the Disney Springs resorts, but by the time we added in almost $100 round trip in Uber/Lyft and $15/person for Magic Bands plus the early FP booking window we’d choose to go with Pop or an All Star. Now I see no reason not to just book the Holiday Inn.

  • Getting rid of magical express is a bad decision. As a family with young kids it is great to not have to bring car seats with us. I’m also not installing car seats in a ride share. Looks like we will go back to renting a car and staying off property to save money so we can pay for parking at the parks

  • We are a large party of 8, with 3 kids in car seats and one in a wheelchair. This option made it possible for us to leave the car seats at home, which was the #1 reason for us to stay in a Disney resort. I truly hope they are planning to offer a comparable option. If not, then this change will likely keep us from visiting again any time soon, as trying to wrangle a large group, including car seats now, AND possibly have to manage luggage now too is next to impossible.

  • I’m incredibly disappointed in the discontinuation of Magical Express. Rolling off the plane and going straight to the themed transportation was so convenient. The best part was not having to worry about the luggage. Now we’ll have to wait around at baggage claim and lug around a bunch of bags to an Uber? This was such a great differentiator nobody else had. Not to mention if our party is coming in at different times we’ll have to spend money on multiple Ubers. I also can’t imagine being a family with small children in car seats and dealing with that. Overall I can’t emphasize enough how much of a letdown this is.

  • So disappointed. We looked forward to the bus ride from Magical Express and the convenience of not needing to carry our luggage around the airport. Was hoping to visit in 2022 but with this change we may opt out. Not a fan of having to pay the nightly resort fee for parking so probably will not stay on property ever again. I know the past year has been hard on the business but this is one decision that is moving in the wrong direction. Not everyone uses technology 24/7 and doing away with Magic Bands is also not the way to keep people coming to the parks. Disney needs to rethink some of their decisions or people will not continue to visit.

  • Please reconsider canceling Magical Express. For those of us traveling with young children, ride share is not an option. The extra expenses in renting a car and car seats will result in families having to cut costs elsewhere like shorter visits and staying at properties offsite.

  • Please charge for express if you must but please don’t eliminate it.

  • The introduction of Magical Express was a game changer to how we started, then enjoyed our vacations. As a multiple-times-a-year guest (pre-COVID, at least), it was one less thing to have to worry about our bags and getting to the resort once we arrived at MCO. Taking away the service completely feels like it’ll fundamentally change how we view the arrivals process now (and how we’ll be forced in to another line while we wait for a taxi/uber/lyft after a flight). I think I’d feel a little stung if there was a fee attached, but nowhere near as burnt and uncared for as I do right now. Having it as a paid ‘premium’ option would have been significantly better than not having it at all. I do hope that Walt Disney World have some kind of replacement in the works, because it’s going to be a pretty sucky arrivals process otherwise…

  • As a Cast Member Alum who was involved with DME – I wrote the original Disney’s Magical Express reservation for DVC – this feels bad. It feels like a great convenience is being removed. Even with ride-share and other options, the great thing about DME was luggage management.

    As an observer I wonder if this approach is not short-sighted? Yes we need to make cuts because of a prolonged period of financial loss due to covid, But I am thinking that while maintaining services might be costly, in the long run the coffers will fill again, and with Guest Satisfaction high, more people will come and that will happen much faster.

    Just a thought.

  • Worst Decision Ever! Now you are adding even more stress on to families. Especially ones with little kids. The greatest part of it was that you could immediately start your vacation without the worries of getting your luggage and getting to the resort. Now we have to stand in line for a rental car. Spend even more money and pay for parking. I hope Disney comes up with a better solution then just telling customers to find their own way to the parks.

  • Losing ME is TERRIBLE!!!! That is what starts so many Disney vacations and saves people so much money by not having to rent a car! We used ride sharing, and it was called “The Magical Express.” If I’m going to pay for transportation, let me pay for use of ME on a reservation system. As if adding insult to injury, you’re doing this during an anniversary celebration, which you know is already in high demand, and in general, car rental & ride share prices will skyrocket. And those services will not be able to meet the demand that’s coming. I get moving forward and having to revamp with budget cuts, but I think not having this transportation option will cause many families, especially those that are budget conscious, to seriously rethink their trip. That’s sad and disappointing, and not very magical.

  • Disappointing decision, but not really that surprising. In the last 5 years, more of the “Disney Magic” that set them apart from other vacation options, have been taken away. All while steadily pricing many vacationers out of believing that Walt Disney World is even a viable option.

  • What a disappointment. Maybe the train will be available by January And included with the Disney resort stay. If not I just don’t see the point in staying on site anymore. With two kids in car seats having to pay extra to make sure I have transportation that can hold two car seats I’d rather stay offsite and save at least our resort fees.

  • The magical express was such a great option. Flying with a car seat is terrible. Not having to worry about that with a bus was wonderful. I’ve always wanted to check out the rest of Orlando. Thanks for giving me a reason too!

  • Discontinuing Magical Express is a horrible customer service decision !
    I agree that most people would be willing to pay for the service .
    I’d rather you charge for the service rather than discontinuing it .
    It is part of the Disney magic , please reconsider !

    Also , please bring back new annual passes, as DVC members who visit 3 times per year with resort reservations, it is way to expensive to purchase park tickets individually for each trip.

  • Why are you trying to make things you’ve taken away that most people enjoyed, sound like a good thing? You are virtually removing any incentive whatsoever to stay on property considering the exorbitant cost. I’d like to think you’ll bring magic hours back at some point, but I won’t hold my breath. And newsflash for you, not every guest wants their “extra” time to be first thing in the morning, or competing with the many offsite resort hotels that you have extended these offerings to.

  • I have been to Disney pre and during COVID. I appreciate the safety measures and feel very safe while in the park. That being said, Disney is quickly becoming a bad investment as a vacation spot. Extending the hours back to normal operating hours doesn’t make it less safe. Bringing back Fast passes doesn’t make it less safe. It does however allow people to enjoy their vacation and gives them peace of mind their not wasting their money. Also I’ve never used magic express because we always drove but we planned on using it this trip and that is unfortunate it will not be available in the future as it makes for our quick getaway trips impossible. We won’t waste more money on renting a car or ubering.

  • Removing DME makes the vacation more difficult for parents with children in carseats. Now we have to rent a car to get to our hotel, and pay for parking at the hotel. Will Minnie van’s continue to be available? This is still not an ideal form of transportation as it is more costly and cannot accommodate large parties. This is extremely disappointing.

  • Terrible decision that will increase the expense of an already expensive vacation. We have been visiting Disney every year for the past 7 years. We enjoyed it because everything was so easy especially with young kids. No extra magic hours, park hours that are already limited, no luggage service, limited dining, and now this. We will start looking at other places to spend our family vacations.

  • Taking away the transportation is a huge disappointment! All other options put more money on us. Not to mention lugging around kids and luggage. And the train that is being built won’t help. Carrying luggage to a train, off the train at disney springs and then to a bus and off the bus just makes a long trip longer. Rather than getting off the bus and immediately being swept up with the Disney Magic. So now it’s either have a huge hassle or pay even more. We are huge disney world fans and have trips planned this year (thankfully) but this decision is a bad one.

  • Please reconsider the magical express cancellation. I love Disney so much. I truly believe they are the most magical place to visit, but you are removing so many perks it is getting hard to justify the cost. We are headed to Disney World in February and there are very few benefits left to staying onsite. It doesn’t sound like the magic hours will return in time for our trip either.

  • Like many have expressed, the discounting of Magical Express is a disappointment. I don’t mind renting a car for my trips to Disney, but you now charge a parking fee at the resorts. it would be nice if Disney offered Annual Passholders staying the resorts free parking at the resorts. Not all AP holders live in Orlando. Renting a car, paying for parking, taking an Uber, all of those things take money away from money I would otherwise spend in the parks.

    As a resort guest, I like that we soon have early entry every morning into every park but only 30 mins? I do hope this will evolve into an hour earlier!

    As a family of night owls, we will sorely miss the evening Extra Magic Hours. It was sad then they went from 3 hrs to 2 hrs, as you barely got the non-resorts guests out of the parks and EMH was done for the night. Since pools are no longer 24hrs, there is a not much to do after 9pm at WDW but go to Disney Springs with everyone else.

  • Ending the Magical Express is a horrible idea – one that takes Disney backward, not forward in progress. Families larger than 4 will have difficulty finding taxis or ride shares to accommodate, and families with small children will need to worry about safely transporting their little ones without proper car seats. Those with accessibility needs are left out as well. The “Disney Experience” means less and less the more that is taken away. If Disney wants people to return in a pandemic and post-pandemic world, this is not the way to handle things. Incredibly disappointing!

  • This news makes me incredibly sad. The Magical Express was one of the main reasons we justified the expense of staying onsite — once we had checked our luggage at our home airport, we were “on vacation” and could just sit back and relax knowing Disney was taking care of everything! The loss of Extra Magic hours, free magic bands, and now this make me question whether we will ever stay onsite again. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am and I hope you will reconsider this decision. I know difficult decisions have to be made during difficult times but even as a very loyal Disney family, this makes me question our future vacation options.

  • Bad form Disney. Kindly reconsider and have Magical Express as an option for your guests. And, really, 30 minutes at the start of the day for resort guests? Who did you survey that thought that was a good idea?

  • So no magic bands, no dining plan, now no magical express and no extra magic hours. Do you mean extra magic hours are NEVER returning? All these changes are making Disney a far less magical vacation! Very disappointed in what the company has become!

  • Extremely upset by this news, I feel this is a terrible decision by Disney!!!!

  • This is a very bad decision! Who wants to Uber or Lyft from the airport?! So no dining plan, no free magic bands, no magical express and you say no extra magic hours will not be returning?! Does this mean forever? Who cares about an extra half hour! We like to be in the parks later. Very disappointed in what Disney has become!

  • Wow, all of this is terrible. No incentive to stay on resort property now. Bad business decision. I recommend reading “Creating Magic” by Lee Cockerell. Disney needs to go back to actually caring about the Guests.

  • Very disappointed to hear of the termination of the Disney Magical service. This was a very convenient way to transport guests to Disney Resorts that accommodate the various demands across a wide variety of families and guest. While I’m sure the decision was not made lightly I hope that the concerns raised will lead Disney to provide a replacement service that delivers quality and convenience to future guests. Additionally I would believe this service provides a net positive in the environment impact (buses filled with multiple parties providing coordinated trips versus individual car rentals or ride shares)

  • This is completely unfair for guests using wheelchairs! One of the wonderful things about disney vacation is the high level of customer service and the ability to not have to stress about things being accessible at your destination. The ability to not have to worry about how to get to my resort and start enjoying my vacation was one of the reasons I wanted to stay on Disney Property. There are small amounts of wheelchair taxis available in the United States and ride share services exclude those of us who use a wheelchair unless you live in a major metropolitan city and even then you have a limited amount of them available. I can’t lift my chair but I can walk very short distances most ride share companies don’t even have room for my chair and luggage in the trunk. How could you get rid of a service that made your resorts more valuable to it guests!

  • What!? This is the only reason we stay on property for all our meals and go to Disney parks the whole time. If there is no ME, we will rent a car. So I guess the upside is we will now go off property to eat less expensive meals and can even visit other parks like Sea World, Universal and Busch Gardens. Magical Express meant Disney got all our time and money. This change will actually hurt Disney and benefit the local restaurants, local ride share drivers and nonDisney parks!

  • I never used this service, so it’s not a huge loss. I saw it’s inconvenience from the beginning- no need to add up to 2 more hours to my travel day when I could book a private pick up. My hope is you bring back Minnie Vans. They were our go to! Is it possible they come back?

  • Not many reasons to stay onsite anymore. No Fastpass, no Extra Magic Hours, no Magical Express.May end up spending my dollars at Universal where it seems like they still value their customers.

  • As a family of 7…. 5 children all in car seats/boosters this will make us completely not able to visit Disney world. We CANNOT rideshare/Uber as they only allow for 2 car seats so even if we split into two ubers (which is expensive!!) we would not be able to fit. I hope this is being replaced with a complimentary service to and from Disney hotels for families. Covid has ruined enough and now those waiting to take vacations because of it will have to wait even longer due to new changes that complicate things. Also … again as a family of 7 (5 being children) it is impossible to lug your luggage, carry ons, and car seats! I refuse to have to bring car seats if renting a car is the only option. I am truly heartbroken.

  • Please do not sunset Magical Express! As a longtime WDW goer, I’ve watched and supported so many things change due to COVID-19 and the economy in general. Magical Express made arriving magical, and departing less stressful. We travel in a large group, a multi-generational family, and losing Magical Express seriously has me rethinking our 2022 trip.

  • Yikes on bikes Disney. This is a baaaaaad decision. I can tell you didn’t use data or poll your guests before deciding this.
    The entire reason I choose disneyworld is because I don’t have to think about anything once I’m off the plane. We went to Disneyland once and having to arrange our own transportation was so stressful and expensive. It was a huge factor.
    Taking this away means you are no longer providing that effortless Disney experience.

  • Extremely disappointed in the removal of the Magical Express. The ease of using this with young children, especially ones that are still in car seats, was a huge plus. It was the reason we stay on property each trip. If the reasoning behind this is for the high speed train into Disney Springs, some families do not want to start their trip in Disney Springs and adds more time to a sometimes already long travel day. Also, not a lot of people want to rent vehicles or use a ride sharing option. It adds hassle and expenses to an already expensive trip. I really hope this is reconsidered.

  • Very disappointing, I very much hope there will be a comprobol

  • Wow, this is really sad.

  • Very disappointing. I sure hope there is a comparable option in the pipeline. We would have to rent 2-3 vehicles to get over there, or pay hundreds more for other transportation.

  • The ending of Magical Express is horrible news. Absolutely horrible. Like previous commenters I urge Disney to keep the service and if it can’t be free then institute a fee. Please don’t discontinue it altogether though.

Comments are closed.