Magical express planning

How long should I account for travel from the airport to our resort (POP) in December? Also, how many hours prior to our return flight are we required to get on the ME?

They pick you up from your hotel 3 hours before your return flight. That is fixed.

Allow 60-ish minutes from the airport, but that can be highly variable depending on the situation at MCO. When in December are you going?

Going to WDW it really depends on when in the cycle you board the bus. I think they are every 20 minutes or so (or when full if that comes first) but you could board at the beginning of that and be sitting a while or you could be directed on just before it leaves. The general rule is budget 90 minutes because of that and also you may not be the first resort dropped off.

You will be picked up around 3 hours prior to your flight from your resort. I have requested earlier during a busy time and had that accommodated, but you cannot request later.



Most of time, DME picks you up about 3 hours before your flight, but there have been times (holidays, airport construction, etc) where that was changed to 4 hours before your flight.

All of the above.


Earliest flight I would want to be on is 10am when returning home.


Agreed!! Mine coming back from my July trip is at 9:35PM!!


Lol! Thanks. Bad part is we have a 2 hr drive from the airport after we land.

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We had a 7 am departure over Thanksgiving one year and they said they would pick us up at 255 am. I remember precisely. The resort at least had the kindness to pick us up in a golf cart at our room with the luggage and drive us to the lobby since we were at POR and quite a distance from lobby. But we left the room at 230 am!! Never again!
Last trip we took the 10 pm flight LOL.

In Nov DD21 had a 7am departure and I had a 9am. The scheduled DME departure for her was 3am and I said no way, so we got an Uber for both of us at 5am. It was worth the $35 – its hard enough getting DD21 out of bed, I couldn’t imagine a 2:30am wake-up call!


All the more reason not to leave crazy early. We did that once. Only once. MAGICAL Express picked us up at 4:30 AM. We flew and then we had a 2 Hour Dr. home as well. By the time we arrived at home we were all toast

We will be toast but the opposite our flight home is at 10pm!

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See that’s no problem to me because you can just slap in the bed and go to sleep sleep


I used the Magical Express back in February. I, too, was staying at Pop Century. The actual bus ride itself was only 23 minutes which I found odd considering so many people on this forum say 45-60 minutes to get from the airport to your resort. I can see that being the case if traffic is really bad or you’re the last drop-off. We flew in on Southwest and quickly made our way to the airport shuttle. We stopped at the restrooms and the airport Disney store for a few minutes, then headed down to the Magical Express check-in. Our bus was waiting outside for us. From departing the plane to being dropped off at Pop Century took around 45 minutes for us.

The 45-60 minutes includes time waiting to get on the bus or once on the bus for it to load and leave. Unless you are VERY lucky and are the last person on before it heads out, you’re going to have some waiting at MCO. If it’s very early or very late the wait could be longer as they may combine even more resorts than the usual ones.

And then there is the time to get dropped off. If you’re the first stop, it’s naturally going to be shorter than if you’re the 4th of 4.


All of this. And for planning purposes it’s better plan on it being 2hrs from wheels down (the 60 mins from DME plus the time to deplane, use the potty, walk all the way to the other end of MCO) to arrival than to be sweating that you’re going to be late for something if you’re more liberal about it.


The bus will serve more than one resort too. So if you’re the first drop off, then your journey will be much shorter than if your resort is the 3rd or 4th.

The same applies to the return journey. You could be on the bus first but then go to two or three more before heading out to the airport.

Another thing to note is that your pick up time for going back to MCO is the departure time. The bus will not wait for you, so you need to be ready 15 minutes before, and also factor in time to retrieve anything from Bell Services.

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Actually, you CAN request later. I did that at the Beach Club on the last stay there. They were going to pick us up nearly 4 hours before the flight and that was just too much time in the airport. Disney did warn me that shortening the time down was at my own risk of missing my flight. And the lines at MCO are pretty bad for security if you don’t have pre-screening. We made it fine though. I think we left the hotel about 2:30 hour before. Not recommending this but it can be done.

Did you see the saga of @NoCapes journey yesterday? Multiple busses did not show up.