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bevgray
05-16-2005, 08:46 PM
Just returned from Disney World. I received my luggage tags and was able to check the bag in at my home airport. I arrived at Orlando International around 1100; with a mass of other arriving aircraft.

Upon exiting the shuttle from the gates to the Main Terminal, I encountered plenty of Cast Members, as promised, to direct me to the DME welcome center. I was in line for about ten minutes for the check in portion. Then, had to move to a second line for boarding a bus.

There were 7 or 8 of these lines, all set up by the different resorts. Due to the large volume of passengers, I ended up standing in the bus line for about 45-50 minutes. Longer than I had anticipated but not surprising due to the sheer number. Certainly, it was no longer or worse than waiting around for my luggage and then waiting on Mears or a rental car. The Magical Express busses were coming in frequently so there was very little wait between the loads. I suspect the bus line still needs a bit of fine tuning, however, as the line I was in (Animal Kingdom Lodge and Caribbean Beach) did not move at all while the other lines kept emptying. Finally, a Cast Member just pulled my line and put us on a bus with Pop Century passengers. Another guest in line with me was speaking with a member of her party who came in on a flight 45 minutes after and that person was on a bus ten minutes after we were. So, there will probably be bottle necks in the process from time to time. Just be warned that there could be a wait depending on time of day and arrivals.

The bus ride itself was very comfortably. The driver took the back way (417), thus avoiding I-4 and the Bee Line traffic. Showed a very nice video. The bus stopped at Caribbean first, then Pop and then Animal Kingdom Lodge. Check in at the resort went very fast as it looked like they had plenty of front desk Cast Members to handle the slew of arrivals.

I got right into my room. Dropped off the carry on bag and headed out. When I returned to my room about three hours later, my checked bag was in the room.

The day before I left Disney World, I received a note from Magical Express with my "departure" time for the airport. My flight was scheduled for 1259 and the bus pickup was 9:45, not that much worse than Mears or using a rental car. I flew Delta so I was able to use the resort checkin. Bell services does not do the check in. There is a TSA agent who handles it. I received my boarding pass, the agent took my bag, and that was that. I went out to the bus stop and it arrived right at 9:45. On the way back to the airport, the bus stopped also at Coronado Springs and Pop Century.

The only caution I would give is to make sure that you contact Magical Express after receiving your letter to ensure that they have the correct flight time and so that they can provide sufficient bus transportation. I was talking to my driver and he was scheduled to pick up only 25 guests for all three resorts. He ended up with a full load and several people had to get off because they weren't scheduled for that bus and those who were showed up. I know I've just done "walk on's" with Mears in the past but the Magical Express seems to be a bit more formal.

Passengers were dropped off at the lower level (ground) at BOTH A and B, depending on the airline. So, it's only on the inbound trip that everyone leaves from the same point. In my case, I was able to go straight up to the Main Terminal and not have to deal with luggage, checkin, or anything of that sort. That part of the service is truely "Magical Express".

When I got home, my little suitcase came onto the carousel just fine and I didn't even have a direct flight home.

All in all, I would give Magical Express a solid B+. A for the attentiveness/courtesy of the Cast Members; B for the long wait in the bus line (which will vary and wasn't much worse than some trips I've had waiting on luggage and Mears); A for the return leg. Inbound the service was a bit stronger on the "Magical" and not so strong on the "Express". Outbound, it was definitely "Magical Express".

Overall, if you want to spend the extra money for the grocery stop and the attention of a personal driver (as part of the magic for your vacation), I'd stick with the town car. If you like the freedom to come and go as you please, definitely go the rental car route. If you're on a budget or don't want to stress about traffic or don't mind a potential wait of an hour, definitely give Magical Express a try. I can recommend it and I will use it again when I go back to Disney World.

safetymom
05-17-2005, 05:43 AM
Thanks for the report.

Alice Sr.
05-17-2005, 06:51 AM
Thanks for taking the time to post your experience.

rantnnravin
05-17-2005, 07:26 AM
Check in at the resort went very fast as it looked like they had plenty of front desk Cast Members to handle the slew of arrivals.

I wonder if they are using the buses to monitor/control front desk traffic vis-a-vis front desk staff, etc...

All in all, I would give Magical Express a solid B+. A for the attentiveness/courtesy of the Cast Members; B for the long wait in the bus line (which will vary and wasn't much worse than some trips I've had waiting on luggage and Mears); A for the return leg.
My students would get an A- with those marks
:teacher: :earsboy:

kilee
05-17-2005, 09:05 AM
It sounds like your overall expierence was pretty good. I know we've waited up to an hour at the rental car desk. Especially if we arrive in the late morning, early afternoon hours.

JudicialTyranny
05-17-2005, 09:21 AM
I suspect the bus line still needs a bit of fine tuning, however, as the line I was in (Animal Kingdom Lodge and Caribbean Beach) did not move at all while the other lines kept emptying.
You are right with that - our experience was the opposite. We were in the line for GF/Contemporary/Poly/Fort Wilderness and had to wait a little while (no more than 15 or 20 minutes though), while the Carribean Beach line had 3 or 4 people in it.

BTW, I am almost certain that when we used ME on the first day (May 5), Carribean Beach had its own line. I recall finding it odd that our line had 4 stops, but that line only had one. Perhaps they added AKL to that bus and that caused the line to expand.

Mickeefan
05-17-2005, 10:05 AM
Hi! :wave2:

I'm travelling in October with a good friend's 12-year-old daughter. I truly appreciate the positive reviews of DME. In the past, I've used a towncar service, but I'm planning to do DME in October. The savings will allow us to do 2 character meals instead of just one and probably a couple other surprises.

Thanks again for the pleasant & positive updates.

Looking forward to many more as they work out the "kinks".