At the end of 2021, Disney’s Magical Express will be discontinued and will conclude its service to and from Orlando International Airport. As of this writing, Disney has yet to announce their own replacement program that will shuttle guests from the airport to their resort hotel, but Mears, the company that operated Magical Express, has announced what they will provide.
Mears Connect will launch right after Magical Express is discontinued, so it’s important to get the rundown on what exactly this new service is, how it’s similar to Magical Express, and how it’s different!
Let’s remember why Mears Connect is here in the first place!
Mears Connect isn’t just a new service for guests looking to travel to Disney World from Orlando International Airport — as of January 1st, 2022, for many guests it will be one of the ONLY ways you can travel between Disney World and the airport (without having to rent a car or hunt down a rideshare or taxi), since Disney’s Magical Express is suspending its service.
Did you know in Florida it’s legal for a child to ride on a bus without using a car seat/booster seat? For many families, this was an appealing aspect of Magical Express that will be lost when the service goes away. Renting a car or using a rideshare means potentially struggling with bringing or renting car seats or finding a rideshare that can accommodate you to make sure you can properly restrain your child. Mears Connect could possibly be a more stress-free solution for families with younger children.
Shortly after it was announced that Disney’s Magical Express would be discontinued, Mears, who was the operator of Magical Express, announced that they would continue to provide transportation to and from Orlando International Airport.
So, what exactly is Mears Connect, and what is it NOT? Let’s dive into the important details so you know exactly how your Disney World vacations may change in 2022 and beyond!
Click here to read more about Disney’s Magical Express being discontinued.
So, what exactly IS Mears Connect?
Debuting on January 1st, 2022, Mears Connect is the official Mears-operated replacement service for Disney’s Magical Express.
And guess what? You can book Mears Connect NOW if you have a 2022 trip! However, before you book, let’s take a detailed look at the similarities and differences to Magical Express.
How is it SIMILAR to Magical Express?
Mears Connect will provide the same essential service as Disney’s Magical Express: ground transportation to get you to and from Orlando International Airport during your Disney World vacation. No matter which Disney World owned-and operated-hotel you’re staying in, Mears Connect will get you there!
The timing of Mears Connect will be similar to Magical Express for your return trip to the airport as well. Standard service will pick you up from your hotel for a trip to the airport up to three (3) hours prior to your flight departure time for domestic flights, and up to four (4) hours prior for international flights.
So, the basics are definitely the same between these two bus services, but the similarities kind of end there! This won’t look or feel exactly like what Magical Express was, not to mention that you’ll have to BUDGET for ground transportation from now on if you’re planning on using Mears Connect (more on that in a sec!).
Traveling to Disney World in 2022? Click here to find out how to make a Mears Connect reservation!
How is it DIFFERENT from Magical Express?
One of the big differences guests may notice right away is what will likely be a lack of “Disney” theming aboard Mears Connect. While the website does state that there will be “entertainment for you and your party while you ride,” we wouldn’t expect those iconic Magical Express buses and the perfectly times in-transit videos to be around anymore.
There are additional hotels being serviced by Mears Connect! In addition to the Disney owned-and operated-hotels, guests can use Mears Connect to travel to the Disney Springs area hotels, the Four Seasons, the Gaylord Palms, Bonnet Creek, Shades of Green, and more!
We reached out to Mears Connect regarding baggage retrieval, and we were told that “you will retrieve your luggage from baggage claim and bring it to our reception area to board your vehicle to your resort. We are looking into other options, more to come!” So, it sounds like your luggage may no longer “magically” appear in your hotel room upon arrival; you may have to retrieve it yourself from baggage claim. Mears Connect’s website does note, however, that they are “exploring luggage service and will send an update to all interested and already reserved guests if and when it’s available.”
If you’re familiar with Magical Express (pre-COVID), guests would receive yellow tags in the mail shortly before their trip. You’d stick these tags on any bags you want Disney to take care of and, after getting off your plane at MCO, would simply head straight to the Magical Express — no need to get your luggage from baggage claim. You’d be reunited with your bags in your hotel room later. This was a perk of Magical Express many will be sad to lose.
There are also TWO options for Mears Connect: Standard and Premium. Note: Premium is now being referred to as “Express” service.
Standard will feature shared transportation aboard a motorcoach bus and will feature monitored wait times. Premium will offer direct service with limited wait times. The final, and perhaps the biggest difference, is that Mears Connect will not be complimentary like Magical Express.
Click here to read about the current status of the OTHER replacement ground transportation option in the works at Disney World!
Will Mears Connect cost anything?
Yes! The other major difference between Magical Express and Mears Connect is that Mears is NOT offering a complimentary service. There are two price levels travelers can choose from: Standard and Premium.
Standard service will cost $32 per adult and $27 per child (ages 3-9) for round trip service. A one-way standard service trip right now costs $16 per adult and $13.50 per child. So let’s take a family of four, which includes two adults and two kids. A round trip service using the standard option with Mears Connect would cost this family $118, while a one-way standard service trip would cost this family $59.
Premium service, meanwhile, costs a bit more. Premium service costs $200 round trip for up to four (4) people. Additional guests cost another $55 each. For the extra costs, premium service includes a limited wait time as well as direct service to your hotel. Mears’ graphic also implies that Premium service may be offered in a smaller vehicle like a van or private car, but that hasn’t been officially announced at this time. Premium is only being offered for round trip service at this time.
UPDATE: Premium service is now being referred to as “Express Service.” Additionally the price for this service has increased from $200 round trip to $250 round trip for up to 4 passengers. Each additional passenger is still $55.
Keep in mind that these are introductory rates, which may change as we get closer to the service launching in January. Prices may also vary based on date, the number of people in your party, and the location to which you are traveling.
Click here to read more about Mears Connect pricing.
It’s clear that there are some major changes coming your way if your Disney World vacations always included a trip aboard Magical Express! Here are some of the key takeaways to keep in mind:
- If you are staying at Disney owned- and operated-hotel, ground transportation to and from the airport will no longer be included by Disney in your vacation. You will need to plan to book and pay for Mears Connect separately. Or consider other options, like renting a car, using a rideshare, a taxi service, or perhaps even booking a limo ride.
- You will be responsible for collecting your own luggage, so add that time into your arrival plan and coordinate that with your travel party and your vacation itinerary.
- With Mears Connect also providing service to other hotels and resorts in the Disney area, your travel time to your hotel may get a bit longer, unless you pay extra for the Premium service. So you’ll need to take that into account if you have any dining reservations or immediate plans on your arrival day. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time between when your flight touches down and when you can realistically arrive for your dining reservation.
While bus transportation will still be an option to bring you to and from the airport, it will now come with a fee and may have a little less “Disney” in its theming. If Magical Express was something that your family relied on, just be aware that you’ll now need to budget for ground transportation! We’ll keep an eye on the rollout of Mears Connect this January, as well as any alternate transportation options in the works!
There are even more BIG changes on the way to Disney World in the coming months! Click here to learn more.
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Will you pay to use Mears Connect on your next Disney World vacation? Let us know in the comments!
Thais O'Reilly says
Do you know if the child turns 3 during the trip, they will charge round trip for her?
There’s nothing “new” or “magical” about paying for something that was once complimentary.
Todd Green says
A Mears taxi van from the airport to a resort is only $50. Why would you do anything else? The van driver and rideshare drivers said no car seat required in Taxi and rideshare, don’t know if that’s true.
DFB Sarah says
Thais O’Reilly, the rule of thumb for Disney is if you’ve started your trip when the child is two, and the child turns three during the trip, they’re still considered under three for the duration. I don’t know if Mears has the same policy or not. I think your best bet is to give them a call to ask.
Before Magical Express appeared on the scene, we would often take a towncar from MCO to our resort (assuming we didn’t rent a car for the duration of the trip). The towncar would even make a grocery stop if you wanted for up to 30 minutes at no extra charge. Sadly after Magical Express dominated MCO-Disney transport (you can’t beat free) most of the towncar services cut back significantly or just disappeared. I do hope that we will see those options again, although they will face the same issue as car rental companies–getting new vehicles when the supply of vehicles has been greatly cut by a shortage of semiconductors.
Can Disney continue to pick up our luggage from the airport and take the luggage to our hotel. At the end of our vacation can Disney pick up our luggage from our hotel and bring it to the airport?
Next thing you know, Disney will put a Debit card reader on the Resort room Bathroom doors and charge you everytime you flush the toilet.
I am still confused how my luggage will get from the airport to my Disney hotel and from my Disney hotel back to the airport. Will this all be done on the Mears Bus? We always come to Disney with a large family and have a lot of luggage. Please let me know.
Kelsey Stanek says
Would it be better for two adults to use the bus transportation or should we just get an Uber or a Lift ride?
DFB Sarah says
Kelsey, you’ll probably want to compare pricing and consider your comfort level with either option. If you don’t mind a bus ride, and if Mears is priced well for you, it would be a reliable form of transit. If you prefer to limit your time in crowds or mass transit, you may be more comfortable with a rideshare.
DFB Sarah says
Blanca, Disney hasn’t said they’ll offer that service.
I think this is just one more way that the new CEO of Disney is changing the ambience of the Disney experience. 😡. I have spoken to people that have said that this guy doesn’t really care about the old feeling of Disney. All his changes are just adding more money to a family trip. No, myself and others are going to still keep going because we love Disney.
Have a trip in June probably getting a town car would like to know if there’s lift cars from park to park older person the younger generation don’t let older people a seat to busy on there phone
DFB Sarah says
Sandy, if you’re thinking about using Lyft, the rideshare service, they can pick up and drop off at the Parks, so you can use them to go from Park to Park.
Blanca, Disney no longer touches your luggage. You must pick up your luggage at baggage claim and take it to the Magical Express. When returning to the airport you bring your luggage with you and take it to the airline counter. I assume that it will be the same policy with the new Mears service.
To DFB SARAH when will we know what Mears is going to do about getting our luggage at airport and to our resort
DFB Sarah says
Hi, Pattie. Thanks for reaching out. I emailed Mears directly back in September, and they told me it was something they’re looking into for the future. Their site still doesn’t show baggage claim pick-up as a service, but we will keep checking and update when there are any changes.
Thank u DFB SARAH for responding back to me much appreciated sure hope that mears will handle our luggage we r willing to pay extra if that helps to get that service my husband has problems with his legs and can’t walk the airport like he use to so we have skycap take him thru and we rent a scooter at Disney which is blessing hope u have a magical day SARAH !!!!!!!
Patrick Potier says
We are traveling to Disney in Dec 2021…..from what i read, we will still have Magic Express…but will we have to pick up our own luggage before we go to the bus???????? Suzanne
DFB Sarah says
Suzanne, that’s true. Disney is not longer handling luggage pick up from baggage claim.
Frank Parker says
Will you still go to the same spot to catch the Mears bus at the airport?
Christine Bunt says
The magic used to start when you went down stairs to transportation. The excitement started building from that point on. Just a little more of the magic is lost. No matter how many times I saw the show on the TVs it was something that made me smile. 😥
DFB Sarah says
Frank, I’m not sure about this. Mears will likely send that info out to folks when they begin the service in 2022.
Tony D. says
The pleasure of going to Disney is gone. We went to Disney to celebrate our anniversaries,(25-50), because there were fine restaurants, great shows and parties and interesting tours such as the wanyama tour as well as wine tastings etc. What made the trip extra special was the fact that once you got on the plane from home you never had to be concerned with luggage or transportation until you returned home. We loved being able to enjoy a luxury resort with the opportunity to enjoy an occasional thrill ride especially Rock and Roller Coaster and Kali River Rapids our favorite. No need to go there anymore!
As a Disney fan for over 60 years, Chapek has essentially killed the magic for me. No more perks that made it so fun and exciting and “magical”. I no longer look at Disney through the same eyes. I will not return, nor will my children (5) and grandchildren (10). We’re done.
I noticed that the mears premium service may be a car or smaller than a bus vehicle. Does that mean I would need to bring a car seat if we chose this service?
DFB Sarah says
Alexa, this is what Mears Connect says on its site in the FAQs:
Florida Law provides that the child restraint [car seats] requirements do not apply to a chauffeur-driven taxi, limousine, sedan, van, bus, motor coach, or other passenger vehicle if the operator and the motor vehicle are hired and used for the transportation of persons for compensation. It is up to the parent or guardian. If a guest would like to bring a car seat, they are welcome to use it. In this instance, please book a seat for the seat occupied by the child in a car seat. Please note that Express service is not considered private car service, but it may be based on arrival time and volume at that time.
Even if my luggage didn’t magically appear in my room, I’d settle for magically appearing bus-side when we arrive…anything to not have to wait at baggage claim and then struggle through the airport with several suitcases with 2 young kids is a win.
It’s so sad that the magical express is gone and with the service of getting our luggage that was so helpful and it was great to get on the bus and start to c the adorable things on the screen with Mickey and the gang that is gone always felt that the magic began immediately and with no luggage handle by the bus it causes a huge problem my husband has some problems with balance and he can not handle luggage so it would b all on me so with out the bus service taking care of our luggage it causes a lot of problems he can walk thru the airport so we have to have sky cab push him to where we need to go to then we have figure out how our luggage is going to get to the bus and the reverse returning to the airport we would pay extra for the bus service to handle the luggage we really wish as thousands of Disney visitors that the express had not been stopped that could b the reason we never go to Disney again and it breaks our hearts we have been annual pass holders for over 35 years and we grew up on Disney
To DFB SARAH has there been talk of the mears service providing any luggage service even if it’s a fee for that to b done that would b so helpful
DFB Sarah says
Pattie, Mears Connect indicates in their FAQs that they’re looking into a luggage service, but they don’t have a date or an update on that. We will keep checking!
Lily Trevino says
Does Mears Connect to me from my resort to the Disney parks? If so, how does that work? How do I schedule this? I’ve been trying to get in contact with Mears and I can’t get in contact with anyone. I have no clue how this service works and my trip is in less than a week.
Do you happen to know if Mears has a limit on how many suitcases an adult can bring with them? I can’t find it on their website anywhere. I might need an extra one for all my 50th anniversary merch on the way back is all 😀
DFB Sarah says
Emma, I haven’t seen a limit either. You might give them a call (or drop them an email — I received a response within a couple days using email) to see if they have a limit.
DFB Sarah says
Lily, Mears Connect just offers round-trip and one-way service between Disney World and Orlando International Airport. You can still use complimentary Disney bus/boat/Monorail/Skyliner service between your Resort and the Parks and Disney Springs.
DFB SARAH thank u 4 the response back about luggage with the new service with mears service to Disney resorts that would so wonderful