MousePlanet Mailbag for May 26, 2005
We asked for you to submit your experiences with the Disney's Magical
Express service that shuttles on-property guests from Orlando International
to Walt Disney World resort hotels and back free of charge, and you certainly
have! It seems that the experience of travelers somewhat depended on the
time of their arrival and their level of communication and confirmation
with Disney beforehand. Also, along the lines of you can't please
everybody, it appears that some people were very happy about things
that others had problems with (such as the videos shown aboard the buses).
It also seems that some were dissatisfied with their experiences with
the Mears staff members involved in this service. We hope that these comments
from those who have already experienced Disney's Magical Express will
help you prepare for your own upcoming trips.
While those writing to us from the cast member side have asked us not
to reprint their notes, here is a sampling of the experience that folks
have had with this new service from the guests' side.
Sarah T. writes:
Having just recently traveled to WDW at the start of the Magical Express
program and reading of the difficulties, I thought I would pass on our
experience. Our trip was from May 6 through May 15 and I admit I was
a bit nervous about being a part of working the bugs out
of the system.
We received the luggage tags (about one week in advance of the trip),
but the flight info was not in the booklet. I called and provided the
information without any difficulty. When we arrived in the airport on
the morning of the 6th, once into the main area of the airport, there
were cast members every hundred feet or so directing travelers toward
the check in. My wait in line was about 10 minutes and cast members
were trying to expedite the process. After about two minutes at the
counter, we were directed to the bus line. There was a fiveminute
wait for the bus and we were on our way. I am not exactly sure how long
it took the luggage to get to the room, as we checked in, had lunch
and went to Epcot. It was there waiting at 7 p.m. when we returned.
Frankly, I was amazed at how smoothly the process worked. I guess we
After reading about cast members quitting and unhappy guests, I just
wanted to say our experience was pleasant and hopefully those kinks
will work themselves out.
Kathleen Lynch writes:
We had, on May 9, a short (15 minute) wait to get our voucher stamped,
walked right onto a Riverside bus, and our luggage was in our room in
four hours. I SHOULD note that I had made numerous calls to give flight
info ahead of time, but
Disney Express Mailed my yellow tags and
voucher book, so I was tagged and ready for departure from New York
Return to New York too early for express checkin, but our bus
was on time and took us right near the American Airlines checkin
at Orlando International.
Not bad, I thought!
We used the service on May 7, 2005. It was my wife and three kids (5,
3, and 6monthold). The only problem we had either way at
the start. We are DVC members staying our first night at the cabins
in Ft. Wilderness. Stood in the line for the Ft. Wilderness, Wilderness
Lodge, and Contemporary Resort. Got to the bus and was asked what resort
(Ft. Wilderness) and then told we were in the wrong line. Mears employee
was not helpful, but a Disney employee came around and all was sorted
out. It took an hour to get on the bus, but overall was happy with the
I think Disney is going to have to distance itself with Mears. The
driver we had talked about how his tips stopped because everyone was
now taking Disney's service. We gave him a tip, just less than we would
I think it will get better as the service matures, but I think Disney
will have to take over the bus portion to make things more 'Disney.'
My mother and I went to Disney World last week and stayed in the Boardwalk
Villas. We arrived at the airport and went to the Mears counter to get
a bus to our resort. There they informed us about Disney's Magical Express
and told us where to find the counter. We walked right up to the counter
with no wait at all (it was around 4:00 in the afternoon) and explained
our situation. We had no checked bagsjust two carryon items
each. The cast member got our information, including our return flight
information, and sent us over to the line to wait for the bus. We waited
less than 10 minutes for the bus to arrive, but it took a little loner
for it to actually leave. We probably waited about 15 more minutes on
the bus before it left. We had no problem getting the bus to return
to the airport (although we did have to wait about 2 hours at the airport
because we got there so early).
Overall, it was a very enjoyable experienceespecially because
it was free and we hadn't signed up for it in advance.
Bob Hendrix writes:
We arrived at Orlando on May 14 and had a wonderful experience with
Disney's Magical Express. We had received our luggage tags five days
before leaving, so we able to have them on our luggage. We landed at
Orlando at 8:30 a.m. and with the Magical Express we were checked in
and in our room at Pop Century by 9:45 a.m. Our bags were in our room
when we returned to our room at 2:00 p.m.
Our return on May 20 went as smooth if not better. Our experience with
Magical Express was indeed magical!
A. Wade writes:
Magical Express really isn't that bad. I took it on May 11 and 19.
When I approached the counter and saw what seemed like a huge line,
I was prepared for the worst. As the line progressed, I began to realize
much of the problem was with guests not listening to the cast member
at the end of the line, who was telling people to send ONE member of
their party in the line. I guess a lot of guests didn't get this, as
entire families with strollers, luggage, and kids hanging off of them
were getting into line together totally ignoring the cast member. I
would understand if it was a single adult with children who couldn't
be left alone, but apparently these multiadult families were too
special to be separated for 10 minutes.
Anyway, once I got through the artificially inflated line, I felt very
bad for those people who didn't get their tags in the mail and didn't
know enough just to go get your own bags first. They were spending 5,
10, or more minutes with a cast member and a laminated sheet of luggage
pictures (like you see airport security using) trying to describe each
and every bag. In the time it took all these people to describe their
luggage (sounds like searching in a needle in a really big haystack
to me) they could have already been on their way.
Working with the cast member was easy, and he was very relieved
I didn't have to sit there and describe my bags to him. I got my tickets
and was again on my way in about 60 seconds. Total time in line was
about 15 minutes. We boarded a bus immediately, which took off within
five minutes. When we got to the resort we already had our luggage so
we checked in, and voila
My advice for dealing with Magical Express is really simpleit's
a great service, but if you want control of your luggage (or didn't
get your tags) just get your own, like normal, and THEN check into the
Magical Express counter. There isn't much they can say if you show up
with your luggageand it just saves them time. Don't listen to
the cast members on the phone who tell you to give them your baggage
ticket, etc. (especially since some airlines don't issue claim tickets
these days)just get your own luggage. There is plenty of room
under the bus and it was very nice to arrive in my room with my luggage
and be able to start our trip without worrying about it.
I think next time, even if I do get the luggage tags in time, I still
will get my own luggagethe free ride with a magical video to watch
was enough for me. It was just so much easier this way.
Jayde Corwin writes:
We arrived on May 5 at Orlando airport. We had emailed our request
for Magical Express but it was not 21 days in advance so our luggage
tags had not arrived.
When we arrived at 11:00 a.m. the line to the counter was over two
hours long and the bus line looked to be at least 500 deep. We opted
to get our luggage and wait for the rest of our party to arrive and
hitched a ride with them in a rental car instead of enduring the long
wait. Our experience with Hertz took almost two hours to get a rental
car after they sent us all over their parking lot to find a van with
Our return trip on the Magical Express was wonderful. We checked our
luggage at the Grand Floridian with no lines in about four minutes and
boarded a bus immediately. There were no other stops and only one other
couple on the bus. The driver was very nice and gave us a lot of unnecessary
but friendly info about Orlando on our way to the airport.
We arrived at the airport in plenty of time to shop at the Disney store
and have lunch before leaving. Our tickets and seat assignments were
perfect and we got right on our American Airlines flight. Our luggage
was at the terminal ready for us moments after we got off the plane
back in Dallas. How wonderful not having to lug it to the airport. The
service was great and the price was wonderful for the return. Just caution
your readers to request using email at least 21 days in advance so they
can send you the luggage tags before you depart.
This was our first WDW trip and the info from your site helped us get
the most out of our vacation. Thanks. More info for people of size at
the parks would be great.
This was my experience on May 7 (Sunday) at 8 a.m.
We entered the Wilderness Lodge lineup, waited for about 30 minutes.
We were asked probably five or six times what hotel we were going to,
when the sign only read Wilderness Lodge. Yes.
The Mears employees are horrible. They appear so
Getting to the resort, we were forced to watch an educational
video on Disney World.
The buses are really nice, though. Inside and out. We only stopped
at Port Orleans.
Coming back was fine, but the DVD player wasn't on. Instead, the screensaver
was on the whole time. Very annoying and disappointing they didn't show
at least a movie or something.
We stopped at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts. Next time
we will take a cab or something.
Anyway, the employees were disappointing. It's the first thing you
see once getting off the plane and hearing them yell at each other and
to each other was not fun. It is very awkward sitting on a quiet bus
for 15 minutes waiting for it to go when all you can hear is what the
Mears employees are saying to each other. Yay. Magical.
I wish there was a monorail!
No problems with luggage because I only travel with carryons.
Although it was chaos once we arrived at the airport
for himself at the luggage thing! The bus driver did not do a good job
informing us what to do or organizing us at all. Very stupid.
Well, it was a good try Disney, but not quite. If you want something
done right, do it yourself. There was a reason I never took Mears in
the first place.
Jonas Swe, of Oslo, Norway writes:
Hi, I am a big fan of MousePlanet.
I visit the site several times per day and your WDW planning section
is just outstanding. To help me plan the upcoming trip I also visit
WDW message boards, MousePad, Intercot, LaughingPlace and DISboards
to name a few.
After reading the article about Disney's Tragical Express I have been
wondering how Disney could fail on such an excellent concept. And what
strikes me when I search on the subject and discuss it with others,
is that people in general seem to be too impatient.
There are two common scenarios:
1) You have the guests rethinking their strategy, and decide to drop
the Disney's Magical Express and arrange for their own transportation.
But they forget to notify Disney, who are left waiting for luggage that
never shows up at baggage claim
2) And you have the guests that instead of waiting for their turn,
they claim their luggage, bypass the Disney's Magical Express service
and head off to the parks on their own.
No wonder Disney fails here, when they are left behind struggling to
get back on track, when every other bag is missing?
Can you blame them for having a hard time keeping up and delivering
the luggage on time?
In my opinion, not really.
Just a thought, thanks for your great articles!
Chris Barry writes:
Our only problem was we never received the luggage tags and information
in time for our trip. That led us to claim our own baggage and bring
it to the Magical Express checkin. This was really no problem
Upon checkin, which went very smooth, there was a bus waiting
for us, which we sat on for about five minutes before pulling out. There
was no one in line for the busses. We arrived around 7:30 p.m. on a
Thursday. There were lots of cast members on hand. Ever friendly as
usual. The ride was pleasant with one stop before our resort.
Checking out was just as easy. I was given a time the day before checkout.
We showed up and put our bags on the bus ourselves. We were flying Southwest,
which is not participating in the resort boarding pass checkin.
We were then on our way with one stop before the airport.
Here's my bottom line. They took me from the airport and back for free
on a nice bus with a video for my daughter to enjoy. I saved close to
$100 on taxis, so I'm happy. That $100 paid for a nice dinner at the
Coral Reef for the three of us.
Amy Kowalsky writes:
The Magical Express bus did not pick us up as scheduled to return to
the airport. We were scheduled to be picked up at 4:55 p.m. on Friday,
May 13 for a 7:40 p.m. flight. We arrived 15 minutes early at the bus
stop as requested by guest services. After sitting at the bus stop for
an hour and 45 minutes our bus final arrived at the resort to pick us
up. We were dropped off at the airport at 6:58 p.m. 2 minutes before
the last possible checkin before our flight. Thankfully the people
in line at the checkin counter let us in front of them or we would
have missed our flight. The reason we were given for the extremely late
service was apparently someone forgot to do the pick up at the resort.
T.C. Heller writes:
We leave for WDW in two weeks and are still waiting for info on the
Magical Express service. When I contacted the concierge at Grand Floridian
they told me to call 8665990951. I had to chuckle at the
message you get when you call: The cast member who recorded the message
sounds tired, overworked and even makes a small sigh during the message.
In short, they're asking people to be patient.
And as you've said on your Web page, it's free! (Although
I would argue that nothing in Disney is free. They still
end up getting your money one way or another!
Thanks for a great Web site!
Debbie Auger writes:
Hi Mark. We used Magic Express on May 10 along with others family members
from Maine and Massachusetts. We didn't receive our luggage tags until
a few days before departure, but that was the worst of it. All went
very smoothly for all three families. We checked in and boarded the
bus with little delay. It was great and we would recommend this service
to everyone. Our bags were in our room after checkin when it was
ready. We checked into the Boardwalk Villas around noon and the rooms
weren't ready yet. When we got in our rooms around 1:30, our bags were
waiting for us. Checkout went just as easy and one member was
able to flight check at the hotel as they were flying American Airlines
and had no problem. We left on May 17. I think we avoided a lot of the
crowds by traveling Tuesday to Tuesday.
We had a great vacation and can't wait to go back. We would use this
Roy Gallagher writes:
We had a good experience on DME. We recieved our DME ticket and luggage
tags about a week before we left. We arrived and departed at unusal
times, so that probably had a big effect on our experience. We arrived
from DFW at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18. We went straight to the
DME desk at MCO and were but on a bus that left in 10 minutes. Thaey
place on a Disney Cruise Line bus that was in less than good condition.
We were the first stop, Boardwalk Inn. It may have taken 40 minutes
from the time we landed until we were in our hotel room. We had no problem
getting our bags delivered. Returning home was little more complicated.
Our flight from MCO depparted at 6:14 a.m. on Monday, May 23. At that
time of day they is no way to check in or have your bags handled by
DME. We had to check our bags at the airport. DME scheduled us for a
3:20 a.m. pickup and we have to be there by 3:05 a.m.. The 3:20 a.m.
bus was a no show, the phone numbers they print in the DME packet are
only anwered during business hours (85?). The Boardwalk Inn desk
clerk helped me find a nighttime number for DME. The offered to call
a cab or have me wait for a 3:50 a.m. bus. Since it was 3:45 a.m. by
the time I reached them, I chose to wait for the 3:50 a.m.a.m. bus.
It was a brand new, very clean bus. They showed a little video on what
to expect at the aiport. Overall a positive experience for free, if
the start charging I would probably use a towncar service. Most of my
issues were created by the flight times I chose.
Just wanted to add my two cents about Disney's Magical Express service.
We used it on May 10 and had absolutely no problems! We arrived at the
airport shortly after noon on the 10th. We were directed to the check
in counter by the many white gloved cast members. Once at the counter
I had no wait at all, walked right up to the agent. Unfortunately, I
did not receive my luggage tags in the mail before my trip but it was
no problem. The CM pulled out a sheet of paper with pictures of all
different types of luggage and asked me to point out what my luggage
looked like. He also asked me for my claim checks for the bags. (He
did return them) The CM printed my vouchers and directed me to the line
for Pop Century. 10 minutes later, I was on the bus headed to my hotel.
The luggage arrived unharmed a few hours later.
The return went just as smooth. The only issue we had was they did
not have the return time for our flight. There was an envelope on our
door the night before departure with a number to call and schedule our
pick up time.
Overall, I give Disney's Magical Express a big thumbs up
since it's free!
(Now if only they could do something about the snooty towncar driver
that paraded in front of the DME lines waving his sign saying There's
no wait with towncar service.)
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