Everything you need to know about the Mears Connect Disney World shuttle service:
One of the biggest questions when planning a Disney trip is how to get to and from the airport, especially if you don’t plan to rent a car. Disney used to offer a free service called Magical Express, but that was discontinued at the beginning of 2022. There are a number of choices you can consider, but I’m going to take a look at the Mears Connect Disney shuttle for today.
It’s important to be aware that Disney is not as close to the Orlando airport as you might think – it’s about a 25-30 minute drive without traffic. That means the cost of an Uber or Lyft can add up, and you might want to consider other options. Let’s take a look at exactly what the Mears Connect Disney transportation options are, answer your questions, and then share some of my personal experiences with them.
What is Mears Connect?
If you are familiar with Mears Connect, it is similar to how Magical Express used to work. This is not surprising, since Mears is the company that was contracted with Disney to operate Magical Express. It’s more or less the same thing, except without the Disney themeing and you have to pay money for it. They actually offer 2 options: Mears Connect and Mears Connect Express.
Mears Connect shuttle
These are large buses that leave the Orlando International airport (MCO) approximately every 20-30 minutes and head to Disney World. It’s a shared ride as their buses can hold up to about 50 people. They may stop at multiple nearby resorts – for example, if you’re staying at the Grand Floridian you may also drop off passengers at the Contemporary and Polynesian on your bus.
Mears Connect Express
This is a faster option to get to your resort sooner, as the Express will not stop at any other Disney resorts other than the one where you are staying. They are typically smaller vehicles (picture a van or small bus). Depending on the timing of your flight you may be paired with another party staying at the same resort, so it’s not considered private transportation. It will definitely get you to your destination faster as you only have one stop and you don’t have to wait for a whole bus to fill up.
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How does Mears Connect work?
We’ll walk through the process of how Mears Connects works, from how to book and what that looks like, to your arrival at the airport, and then finally your return trip back from your Disney resort.
Booking Mears Connect
Mears Connect reservations
If you want to book your trip on Mears Connect, the process of pretty simple. You can book directly online with Mears Connect through their website (or by calling). If you are using a travel agent, just give them your flight info and they can set it up and take care of everything for you.
You will need to provide your flight information at the time of booking, which includes the airline, flight number, and date. This way if anything changes or your flight is delayed, they will be aware of it. Please note that if you are doing a “split stay” (staying at different Disney resorts during your trip so that you would be dropped off at a different resort than you’d be picked up from), you need to book two “one way” trips rather than a round trip. The cost for this doesn’t change.
Mears Connect pricing
- $32 round trip/$16 one way per adult (ages 10+)
- $27 round trip/$13.50 one way per child (ages 3-9
- Under 3 are free
How to cancel Mears Connect
If you need to cancel or change your booking on Mears Connect, you can do so by pulling up your reservation online or calling. You will receive a full refund if you need to cancel up until 24 hours before your trip.
Arrival at airport
How to find Mears Connect at MCO
If you used Magical Express in the past, you may already know where you’re going – the Mears Connect Disney shuttle is in the same location where you previously would go to use Magical Express. When you arrive at the Orlando International Airport you’ll head to the B side terminal. From there, go down to the first level and follow signs all the way to the end (don’t forget to grab your luggage from baggage claim if you need to do that!).
Once you reach the Mears Connect area there will be host stands where you can check in. You will receive a “boarding pass” with a code ahead of time that they can scan, or you can just give them your reservation information. From there they will direct you to the correct line for your resort. You may wait there for a short time, and then finally another Mears Connect employee will escort you to your bus/shuttle.
When will Mears Connect leave?
Mears aims to have their buses leave every 20-30 minutes. Depending on your arrival time and how full the bus is, it could leave sooner. I’ve also heard stories of them waiting longer as well, but I personally have not experienced that yet.
How long does it take to get from MCO to Disney World?
This can vary depending on traffic and what time your bus is on the roads, but typically the ride is about half an hour from the airport to the gates of Disney World. From there, it may be additional time depending on which resort you’re staying at.
Departure from Disney resort
When will Mears Connect pick me up?
At the time of booking you will select a pick-up time for departure. This time is usually 3-4 hours before your flight departure time. If your scheduled flight changes and it’s more than 24 hours before your trip they will email you an update – however, if it is delayed day-of Mears Connect will not adjust your pick-up time.
Where do I leave from?
The Mears Connect shuttles will be outside the main lobby area of your resort for pick-up. If you’re not sure, ask a Disney cast member and they can point you in the right direction. Just like when you arrive, the shuttles may stop at multiple resorts in the area.
Mears Connect Disney reviews
I used Mears Connect several times, and I’ve found the service to be easy and convenient – I find it pretty much the same as what Magical Express was, or sometimes better. The first time I used Mears Connect in January 2022, upon arrival we checked in and were directed to a lane to stand in. We were the only ones in line for the Grand Floridian. We were immediately escorted onto a small shuttle (probably seats about 8 people) and they said since no one else was arriving around that time for the Grand it would just be us. So we basically got private service with zero wait. This won’t always happen, but I appreciated that we didn’t just sit around for half an hour waiting for more people.
Other experiences were more like what I expected from Magical Express. In April 2022 we arrived at the Mears Connect area around 11am and were escorted onto a bus by 11:05am. We were one of the first ones there so we waited until 11:30am and then the bus left the airport. We were at the first drop off spot (Coronado Springs) by 12:00pm, and at our own resort (Animal Kingdom Lodge) by 12:15pm.
On the return trip in January we had a full-sized bus pick us up from the Boardwalk. It showed up pretty close to on time (about 5 minutes late) and we got on, made two other stops (Port Orleans Riverside and Old Key West) and then were on our way to the airport. Our return trip in April was almost identical. Mears came at 5:30pm to pick us up (a few minutes early this time), we stopped at two other resorts, and then were on our way to the airport and off the shuttle by 6:30pm.
All in all everything was easy, straightforward, and honestly more efficient than Magical Express was.
FAQs about Mears Connect Disney service
Will Mears Connect handle my luggage?
If you used Magical Express in the past, they will not do what Disney used to do – there is no longer any service which will get your bags directly from the airport for you (this was actually a totally separate company that Disney hired to do this). You will have to go to baggage claim.
Once you have your bags from baggage claim, you bring them down to the Mears Connect area with you. From there they will help you store your bags during the bus for the trip.
Is tip included in Mears Connect?
No, and tips are appreciated by the drivers for good service.
How far in advance should I book Mears Connect?
I recommend that you book it as soon as you have flights booked, just so it’s taken care of and you don’t forget. However, there has typically been no problem booking even just a few days before the trip.
Should I take Mears Connect instead of an uber/lyft?
This is a very subjective issue and depends on a number of factors, especially how many people are traveling. I’ve used Mears Connect plenty of times and I’ve used Uber or Lyft plenty of times. I’ll say that I’m more likely to use Mears because I’ve found ride shares unpredictable with pricing. Surge pricing has gotten pretty bad, and I like to have an idea of my budget and what I’ll be paying.
Is Mears owned by Disney?
No, Mears does not have any association with Disney at this point. Mears is an outside transportation company that Disney had previously hired to run their Magical Express service.
Why did Disney get rid of Magical Express?
It’s hard to say definitively but it almost certainly sounds like it came down to contract issues and money between Disney and Mears to continue running that service. When their contract was up they couldn’t reach an agreement on a new one and so they parted ways.
What is the Mears Connect phone number?
If you’d rather reach them by phone as opposed to the website, you can call at (407) 423-5566.
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Have you tried using the Mears Connect Disney World shuttle service? What’s your favored way to get to and from the airport?