Jan 162006
 

By Carol Garcia

You have spent hours pouring over your resort choices and even more time finding that great deal on air fare. Now you realize one very important thing: you need to get you, your family and all of that luggage from the airport to your hotel. Not to worry, there are quite a few choices for doing just this. We will focus on the choices from Orlando International Airport (MCO). There is another airport in the area, Sanford, that offers some of the same choices. Just be sure you compare the choices for the correct airport.

There are several methods of getting around.

  • Rental Car
  • Town Car
  • Taxi
  • Bus
  • Shuttle
  • Magical Express – Disney’s free transportation system

Rental Car
Renting a car offers the most flexibility for your travels. It may also be more than you really need, depending on your travel plans. If you are staying on Disney property, there may be no need for a rental car. Disney transportation on property can get you from your hotel to the parks each morning. You can also get to other resorts, but it can be time consuming.

If you are staying offsite or have offsite plans, a rental car will be very convenient. Although many offsite hotels offer transportation to Disney, it may not run on a schedule convenient for you.

If you do choose to rent a car, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, National and L&M all offer in-terminal rental agencies. All others are off site and will require you taking a shuttle. There are also locations for Alamo/National onsite at Walt Disney World, both at the Dolphin and at Disney’s Car Care Center. These may be good options for those needing a car for a short time. For example, if you want to spend a day at the beach in Florida or spend some time outlet shopping, having a car even for one day might be a good option.

MouseforLess members can get a Budget discount, as well as that free membership to the National Car Rental Emerald Club.

Town Car
There are many different town car companies serving the airports. With this option, you will be met by a driver as you exit the escalators on the way to baggage claim. The driver will help you retrieve your luggage from the carrousel and take you to the car. Depending on the company and the number in your party, you may have a town car, limo, or large luxury SUV. From there you may have a grocery stop (which should be pre-arranged when making your reservations). Usually a free service, the driver will bring you to a local store and you will have about 30 minutes to pick up the essentials for your room. In these cases, it pays to have a list ready.

The price of a town car generally costs around $90. Since it is difficult to compare services without actually trying them, I have used SunRay Transportation and recommend them highly. Sunray has consistently provided prompt and professional service to not only my family but others who have used them. They constantly monitor your flights, so even when you are delayed in Chicago because of snow, your driver in Orlando will know to pick you up three hours later than originally planned.

For more information, including a discount, visit TheMouseforLess website.

Taxi
This is a seldom used method to get from the airport. It is possible. The advantage to a taxi, though, is not from the airport as an option while you are onsite. You may be able to combine the savings of airport transportation with the use of a taxi once to get to a special dinner at a resort and still come out ahead.

Bus
Another not so popular method, a city bus is available from the airport to the Ticket and Transportation Center. This might be a good option for a single traveler with very little luggage. It takes about 1 ½ hours from the airport. Then you will have to use Disney transportation to get to your hotel.

More people have used this same bus service to get to SeaWorld for a day. Still not very quick, but very cost efficient.

For more information, visit: http://www.golynx.com/

Mears Shuttle
For years this was the way to go to Disney. With the advent of Magical Express, this option isn’t as popular as it once was. It is still an option, though, for those staying offsite. The round trip adult price is $30 per adult and $22 per child. As you can see, if you are traveling with a group, the cost of a town car could easily become more attractive.

Magical Express
With the start of the Happiest Celebration on Earth came a new service available to Walt Disney World resort guests. Magical Express is a free shuttle service from Orlando International Airport. The unique part of this service is that you and your luggage don’t have to travel together, yet your bags “magically” end up meeting you again in your room. This is a shared service, so you may make up to four stops on the shuttle. It is also only available to Disney resort guests and not guests of the Swan, Dolphin, Downtown Disney hotels or Shades of Green. This service can be used for one way transfers, but can’t be used for just your luggage. It’s a package — you go with your luggage on whatever transportation suites your needs.

Disney’s Magical Express service must be booked in advance. It is best to book the service as far in advance as possible to ensure smooth transfer of luggage. You will get a booklet and yellow luggage tags in the mail. Make sure to check the accuracy of your paperwork as soon as you receive it. The luggage tags should be placed on all of your checked luggage before you leave home. If you wish to retrieve your own luggage and take it on the coach with you, that is possible, too, but don’t use the tags. There are no grocery stops available with this service.

When you arrive in Orlando, you are able to completely bypass the baggage claim and go directly to the Welcome Center located in Terminal A (this applies to domestic flights only—international passengers will have to retrieve their luggage to clear customs). This is where you check in and find the bus. The motor coach will take you to your hotel (with the possibility of a few stops along the way). Disney Magical Express cast members will retrieve your luggage and bring it directly to your hotel room. That’s it. You don’t have to do anything else! You may not get your luggage immediately upon arrival, so make sure that anything you will need when you arrive you have will you in your carry on luggage.

On the way back, you will be picked up at your hotel about 2 hours and 45 minutes prior to your departure and brought to the airport. If you are flying on select airlines (American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Song, United Airlines and Ted), you can also check in and check your bags. This would mean that the only line at the airport would be the security line. Passengers with tickets on other airlines still receive a free ride back to the airport, although the will have to deal with luggage themselves upon arrival at the terminal.

Although gratuities are covered on the inbound luggage (hence the luggage is delivered directly to your room), they are not on the departure flight. So if you utilize the airline check in service for your bags bear this in mind.

There were quite a few bugs when this service was first introduced, as you might expect from an undertaking of this size. Of late, though, things seem to have been running better.

Sally, a MouseforLess member, offered this review of her experience:

We liked it. Thought it ran smooth. After you go to the Welcome Center and get your coupons checked, you go across the aisle to be boarded. We waited there about 10 minutes for our bus. It was maybe a half hour to the hotel. We checked in, went to the room to get [my daughter] in her dress for Dinner with Cinderella. On our way to catch the buses, we passed bell services with our luggage. We thought it went very smooth.

As stated in the beginning, this is a part of the Happiest Celebration on Earth. It is scheduled to continue through the end of the year. After that, there are no guarantees, although it would be surprising to eliminate the service entirely. Will it remain free? That will have to be seen.

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