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Disney's Magical Express... Not So Magical?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

 You've finally booked your Walt Disney World vacation! You spent the little bit extra to stay on Disney property. Among the perks of being a Walt Disney World resort guest is the free shuttle service to and from the airport, called Disney's Magical Express (DME). In addition to the rides to and from the airport, DME also takes care of your luggage. This means that when you de-plane at MCO, you don't have to go to baggage claim to get your luggage. It will arrive "magically" to your resort sometime that day.
If you're like me and frequent as many Disney discussion boards as you can during your lunch breaks and childrens' nap times, you've surely seen the discussions centering around whether or not to use ME. It seems strange, doesn't it? To question whether or not to get a free ride to your resort?! Why are people even considering paying a taxi or driving service to get them there?
The main gripes of Disney veterans are two-fold. Firstly, is the dependence on what Disney veterans refer to as "bus karma". This means that due to factors out of your control, you could be waiting one minute or one hour to board your DME bus at the airport. Of course these factors have to do with when the last bus left, how many people are waiting to go to the same resort that you are, etc. I can definitely understand wanting your Disney vacation to start ASAP. I can also appreciate how difficult it is to stand in the bus line for quite awhile with children who are a) over-stimulated b) over-tired or c) overly bored. This is one of the reasons why some guests will opt to find their own (supposedly quicker) ride to their resort to get the magic started.
The second main complaint is that there is no guaranteee when your luggage will arrive at your resort. Again, for reasons beyond your control, your suitcases may arrive shortly after you do, or you could be waiting hours. Depending on what you had planned for the day you arrive, not having your luggage could definitely hamper your plans. Picture not being able to take off your travel attire before your dinner reservations, or not being able to go swimming because you don't have your bathing suit. Again, I can understand why not knowing when your luggage will arrive could be stressful, leading some people to find their own way to the resort to control the fate of their suitcases.
While I understand these concerns, I think they can be alleviated by planning for each eventuality. While it's true that you can't predict how long you will be waiting in line at the airport to board your bus, if you go in knowing that, you won't be disappointed. Don't plan any big events for your arrival day so you won't risk missing any reservations. Make later lunch or dinner reservations to allow for a potential later arrival time. If you're worried about missing items from your luggage that may not arrive in time, pack essentials in your carry-on! I always remember to pack sunscreen, swimsuits, undergarments, essential toiletries, diaper change paraphenalia and items for my children's nap or bed times in my carry-on. This way, I'm fine if my luggage doesn't come for hours.
Here's my take: My Fairytale Family simply adores DME! We wouldn't imagine having any other vehicle getting us to Disney World, and here's why: Firstly, receiving our DME luggage tags in the mail is a major part of our Disney vacation countdowns! We know that when those luggage tags arrive, our trip is just around the corner! Of course, there's the obvious convenience of not having to worry about two kids, their strollers, our carry-ons PLUS the luggage, and not having to pay any additional cost to get us to our resort. But, besides the convenience of DME, it honestly plays a large part in getting our trip off to a magical start. We love boarding that bus because it means our trip is just beginning. We love interacting with the driver (Has anyone else had the pleasure of meeting "Paul... your motor coach operatoooooooor"?!). He or she will be the first friendly face we encounter on our trip. We love the video they put on for the guests to watch. It features the Disney characters demonstrating how to check in, then proceeds to follow them to the different parks. Seeing those characters and rides always gets us pumped up for what is awaiting us in the next few days. Then, it goes without saying that the ride home is bittersweet. While, again, we enjoy the convenience DME brings, we know this bus ride will not be nearly as fun as it is taking us home. Both rides serve as book-ends to our trip. They start and finish our trips and provide closure to our home away from home... until we meet again. (Photo from disney.families.com)

About this column

Danielle Perry shares the adventures and challenges of travelling to Walt Disney World as a family.


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