Disney World is ending the Magical Express Bus and Extra Magic Hours
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
It’s hard to beat the uninterrupted magic when you stay at a Disney-owned resort hotel.
And there are also serious, tangible perks: Complimentary Magical Express bus transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) and the ability to leverage Extra Magic Hours to enter the parks before (or stay later than) non-resort guests.
But both those perks, we’ve learned, are ending — though it’s not all bad news.
Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.
It’s the end of the line for the Magical Express bus
As it works today, the Magical Express bus takes you — and your luggage — from the Orlando airport to a true Disney resort hotel (not nearby partner hotels) to start your trip without hassle. Then, at the end of your stay, you’re assigned a time to board the bus at your Disney hotel and are brought back to reality with a final complimentary ride from Disney.
Related: Guide to visiting Walt Disney World
If you didn’t plan to leave Disney property, this made renting a car an unnecessary effort and expense. It also meant you didn’t need to shell out a minimum of $30 to $40 per direction for an Uber X from the airport to Disney property. An Uber Black car or SUV could cost closer to $100 each way.
But beginning on Jan. 1, 2022, the Magical Express bus is no more.
“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,” said the official Disney Parks blog.
The Magical Express bus wasn’t always perfect, of course, and sometimes took more time than the savings were worth.
You sometimes had to wait for the bus to arrive, and you could draw the short straw if your resort was the final drop-off stop. And for your return to the airport, you couldn’t control the pick-up slot, which often left you with excess time to burn at the airport. But the price was impossible to beat.
Travelers who will be the most negatively affected by this change are likely those who require car seats or who have more complicated logistics with wheelchairs or other accessibility needs that were relatively streamlined with Disney-provided transportation. (Pro tip: While availability is never 100% guaranteed, do remember that there are Ubers with car seats available in the Orlando area.)
Also, remember that the Brightline train extension from the Orlando airport’s South Terminal to Disney Springs is expected to come online in the coming years, providing an additional transportation method for travelers heading to the Most Magical Place on Earth once that construction is complete.
Extra Magic Hours will be replaced with a 30-minute head start
Before the pandemic changed much of how Disney World operates, Disney resort guests enjoyed Extra Magic Hours at rotating parks every day. You could potentially get in early or stay later than non-resort guests at the designated park of the day. This perk hasn’t actually returned since Disney World reopened in July of 2020, and we now know that it’s not coming back.
Instead, we learned that later this year, Disney resort guests (and guests of other select properties) will get a 30-minute head start for all four Disney World theme parks every day.
I’d argue this is actually better than traditional Extra Magic Hours, as that benefit had the unintended consequence of causing the park of the day to become more crowded — a disadvantage even for guests leveraging Extra Magic Hours.
Additionally, the introduction of Park Pass reservations, where you have to identify the first park you’ll visit each day in advance, will be better aligned with this new structure.
“As consumer needs and preferences change, we will no longer offer Disney’s Magical Express service starting with arrivals in 2022,” a Walt Disney World Resort spokesperson told TPG on the phone. “At the same time, we’re also introducing new ways for guests to enjoy their visits, including early theme park entry for Disney resort hotel guests.”
As it stands right now, the loss of the Magical Express beginning in 2022 is probably more significant than the end of Extra Magic Hours, as those have effectively been gone since last March anyway.
Without the complimentary bus rides, Disney resort hotel guests may need to budget at least $100 more, on average, to the total cost of a Disney World trip for families who historically used the service.
The elimination of the Magical Express bus, plus the already terminated Disney Magic Bands perk for Disney resort guests, may tip the scales for people when deciding whether to stay on- or off-site during a trip to Disney World.
Featured image by author
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees