Since the unfortunate and short-sighted demise of Disney's Magical Express, two companies have sprung up to fill the gap in the market. Mears Connect - who was the company that actually operated Disney's Magical Express - and Sunshine Flyer. Because we were flying with British Airways which now operates out of Orlando International Airport's new terminal C, we opted for Mears Connect as they are the only shuttle company out of the two that run shuttles out of terminal C directly - or so they say. Here is our Mears Connect review.
Booking Online & Customer Service
We paid online in advance during the Spring sale for a cost of $12/child and $15/adult. So for 2 adults, it was a $60 total return. The price is usually $15 for children and $19 for adults each way but it can vary. You don't have to book online in advance, you can just rock up and pay there.
Because we added a Pop Century stay at the end of our trip, we had pickup booked at Animal Kingdom Lodge. There's no way to edit your bookings, you have to cancel and re-book online. To do this you have to email their customer services. The good news here is that they replied quickly and I received a full refund of the booking within days. I could then book again for my new pickup.
After you disembark at terminal C, grab your luggage, and go through security, you'll be presented with big "ground transportation" signs - you can't miss them. When you follow those signs you'll be presented with a cosy corner where Mears Connect operates.
The two staff members working at the desk were very friendly and polite. There was a bus about to leave, but one of them ran out to stop them so we didn't have to wait for the next one! After we got checked in, the bus that was waiting for us was a Disney Cruise Line bus! A little bit of a tease because we didn't tack on a Disney Wish cruise at the end of the trip this time. As I said, the old Disney's Magical Express and the current Disney Cruise Line bus services were/are both operated by Mears.
It wasn't Disney's Magical Express, but it's the next best thing! I think because we were last to board, we were the final stop, but that wasn't so bad. There were 5 resort stops altogether and even after a long flight, it's quite nice to sit in some air con enjoying the scenery of other Walt Disney World resorts. And the moment we all wait for...
On the return trip, you're given a time to be outside your resort. We were at Pop Century for pickup. It gets somewhat confusing when buses come in and you're unable to tell if they're picking up or dropping off. We had two Mears Connect coaches enter Pop Century while we were waiting that were only dropping off, it would be good for the coaches to have signs or something rather than have 10 people go up and disturb the drivers every time.
Thankfully a Mears Connect coach picking up arrived just in time! I will also point out that whether you're running early or late (although if you're running late you should contact them so they don't hold up other guests) you can jump on any Mears Connect coach! We showed our boarding passes and hopped onboard.
It was a sad but pleasant journey back to the airport. The one annoyance is even though they advertise "The only shuttle servicing both main & C Terminals arrivals & departures." our coach was not going to terminal C. I am not sure whether it was just not this coach not going back to C, or if it's more and I've been misled. I asked the driver and he said he was only dropping off at the main terminal, and if I wanted to go to C there was another minibus that runs to C (I couldn't tell if it was a Mears one or one operated by the airport, either way it wasn't there at the time) or I could go inside and get the indoor tram over to C. It took another 20 minutes or so to get to C using the tram. I chose Mears Connect because they were meant to take us back directly to C, but it turns out that's not the case, even though they advertise it as such.
Overall a pleasant trip which I think is good value for money, but I am unable to confirm whether all coaches truly return to terminal C as advertised. If you're flying into terminal A or B, it's a good service, if you're flying into C, watch out for this inconsistency.
Update 25th June 2023
Since publishing this review we've had some readers tell us they had the same experience and Mears Connect did not drop them off at Terminal C, but others have also reached out to say they were. It looks like there is some inconsistency and I have reached out to Mears Connect for a statement.
Update 26th June
Mears Connect has provided me a statement which says that all drivers should be going to Terminal C if there are guests onboard who are flying out of that terminal.
All of our drivers should be dropping off at terminal C for all passengers departing on those airlines. At the time of vehicle boarding, the drivers are supposed to confirm the passenger's airline so that they are aware of the need to stop at terminal C. Any drivers not dropping at terminal C are violating our service policy.
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