Mears Connect is the paid successor to Walt Disney World’s free Magical Express airport transportation.
Updated 14 July 2023 – Mears Connect and the Sunshine Flyer have merged. They are now operating as Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine. The Sunshine Flyer website is still active but the content has switched over to match the Mears site
For many years Disney provided free transportation from the Orlando International Airport to their Florida Resorts via the Magical Express.
For most of this time period luggage transfer direct to your room was included. You checked your bags at your departure airport, and the next time that you saw them was in your room!
But in 2021, Disney announced that they would be ending this free service that many had come to depend on at the end of the year.
Many guests were unaware that Mears Destination Services Inc was the third party contractor that operated Disney’s Magical Express since it’s inception. Mears provided both drivers and the buses with Disney’s paint scheme. Disney had a second, third party contractor handling the luggage transfer from the airport to your resort hotel prior to 2020 and this service never came back after the shutdown.
Transition to Mears Connect
A short while after Disney’s announcement, Mears made one of their own. They announced that they would be continuing the same service for a fee.
Mears Connect the division of Mears that serves the Disney World Area Resorts started service on 1 January 2022. (while still operating return trips as the Magical Express for those who had arrived prior to 1 January and traveled to their Resort on the Magical Express.
Mears Connect Service
What’s the same
As far as the physical service, nothing has changed.
After arriving on your flight in Orlando, you’ll proceed to Baggage Claim and get your bags, then head to the Mears Connect Check in area. This is the same location as the Magical Express check in.
You’ll wait a bit (they advertise 20 min or less) for your bus, then head to your resort. Your bus may be heading to several resorts and yours might not be first. These are the same or similar buses as the Magical Express but without Disney characters on the side. There are still USB charging ports that may or may not work, and a bathroom if needed.
While on the bus there will be video “entertainment” as there was on the Magical Express, but instead of Disney World videos and cartoons, there is the now seemingly required info about how they protect your health, Orlando area info, Disney and Orlando theme park trivia, and info about non-profit service organizations that Mears supports. This video only lasts 15 minutes, so you’ll see it a couple times on your drive.
Mears uses several paint schemes on their vehicles. The buses cone in the yellow and white Mears color scheme, all white, white with a Florida wildlife image towards the rear, all light blue, the white side-light blue bottom that are the Magical Express buses with the characters removed some of these also have a Florida wildlife image towards the rear. The also have a fleet of smaller vehicles (vans, limos, and town cars) in Mears colors, black, and white.
First and foremost, there is a fee:
- Standard Service pricing is: $16 each way ($32 round trip) for adults, $13.50 each way ($27 round trip) for children
- Express Service pricing is $200 round-trip for up to four passengers; each additional passenger is $55
There are 2 levels of service,
- Standard Service, which is the bus service just like the Magical Express
- Express Service, which is a dedicated vehicle for just your party, offering direct service to your destination Resort Hotel, with “limited to no wait time” before your departure from the airport
Purchase is through the Mears Connect website or your travel agent.
The old Magical Express waiting area with queues divided bu stanchions and tapes is still used, except the length of the longest queues from before has bee shortened!
You may choose from several pickup times prior to your flight’s departure on your departure day. Unlike having no choice with the Magical Express.
For check in at the airport check in area and prior to boarding at your Resort, you’ll use a QR code that is emailed to you the day prior, and you’ll receive a text shortly prior to your bus time with a link to your code. On the Magical Express you used your Magic Band or Disney Resort reservation number.
My First Ride On Mears Connect
I used Mears Connect for the first time in late January 2022. I was pleased, everything was smooth and pleasant with no issues on this trip.
Everything was just as described in the info above and on my more detailed Mears Connect Page, except:
- I arrived at 11 am and walked right up to the check in counter with no wait in line
- I was the first person in my queue, no one was waiting ahead of me
- I waited no more than 5 or 10 minutes to sent to my ride
- I and 3 other couples were put into a Mears Express van rather than a big bus, we were all bound for the 2 Port Orleans Resorts
- On my return day I’d selected a 4:15 p.m. pickup for my 6:50 flight, but they changed my time to 3:40
- Pickup was with a regular big bus
That’s it for my review. If you have any questions please ask them in the comments section below!
And please share your Mears Connect experiences as well.
See my Mears Connect Page for much more detail!
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
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