Flying to Walt Disney World – What You Should Know

Disney plane

While some people live close enough to the Magic to drive (lucky!), most people have to choose between flying to Walt Disney World or spending long hours/days in the car. If you are flying to Walt Disney World, there are a few things you should know before you leave:

  1. It is usually best to book your airfare separately from your package. It’s almost always more economical to book directly with the airline rather than an add-on through Disney. Plus, Disney doesn’t sell all airlines, so if you fly Southwest or a few others, you can only book them directly through the airline.
  2. Start pricing out airfare when you book your vacation to give you an idea of budget. Buy it as soon as it gets to a price you can live with – NEVER check the price after you have bought it. It will make you nuts. Please note however that some airlines (Southwest in particular) will rebook your fare to a lower rate if the price drops, without any fees. They won’t refund the money, but you will get a credit that you can use on a future flight. Depending on who you booked with, it may pay to check every once and a while, but most of the time, it just drives you crazy.
  3. Book your tickets into MCO. That is Orlando International. There are a few airlines that fly into Sanford Airport, located about 45 miles north of Orlando, but they just refer to it is Orlando. The Magical Express only leaves from MCO, if you fly into Sanford, you are going to be on your own getting to Disney, and it can get quite pricey because of the distance.
  4. Walt Disney World offers free transportation from the airport to all Walt Disney World resorts. The Magical Express runs 24/7, and you will rarely have to wait more than 10 – 15 minutes for your bus to leave, regardless of when you arrive. Please note, you must book your Magical Express in advance. This is typically done by your Mouseketrips agent. Disney doesn’t like you to just show up
  5. The Magical Express desk is located on level 1 on the B side of the terminal. This is where all the car rental counters are located, just keep walking, you will get there. There are plenty of signs, and often, there will be a Magical Express employee standing just outside of security wearing Mickey Hands that will direct you. If you are lost, just ask, everyone that works in the airport knows exactly where it is.
  6. If you using the Magical Express and want them to collect your luggage for you, be sure to land by 7 PM. Luggage can take 3 hours to get to your room and there is nothing magical about waiting until 2am for your suitcases to arrive. Recently, Disney stopped picking up luggage for any flights that arrive after 10 PM, so if you arrive later than that, you have to get your luggage no matter what. If you arrive earlier in the day, you still have the option to go fetch your luggage and take it on the shuttle with you, just make sure not to use the yellow luggage tags when you check in at your airport, hold onto them until after you get to the Magical Express desk.
  7. When choosing your departing flight from Orlando and using Magical Express, remember that your pickup time will be 3 hours prior to your flight time. For example, if you plane takes off at 8 AM, your Magical Express pick up time will be around 5am. I had a flight leave at 6:30 AM once, and my pick up time was 3:30 AM, I didn’t get much sleep.
  8. Your luggage will travel with you on the Magical Express as you return to the airport, so make sure you take it with you to the bus, and remember to get it as you get off. No luggage tags are needed, so don’t freak out if you didn’t get any, no one does.

magical express airport map

Disney takes most of the hassle out of flying when you choose to fly to Walt Disney World. Enjoy the planning!

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