Hot Take: All Aboard the Tragical Express
Updated: Apr 16
It’s been the news heard ‘round the world: Disney’s Magical Express will suspend trips in January 2022. Like many of you, I was shocked, confused, sad, and uncertain. It just didn’t make sense why they would discontinue this service. A service that makes you feel like you’re in Disney from the moment you get off the plane.
Maybe you’re someone that always drives to Disney or always rents a car, so this news doesn’t really impact your future trips. However, I have been using this service with my family and friends for as long as I can remember. It’s all a part of the pre-trip preparation: making your reservation, getting the bright yellow luggage tags in the mail, sticking them on wrong at the airport, and your bags magically appearing in your room after your first day on property.
It’s taken Disney the 20+ years the service has been offered to just about perfect the system (I’m talking about you, delayed bags), and now it will be taken away. Aside from coronavirus-related budget cuts, I just don’t understand this decision for a couple of reasons.
Your travel day to the parks is made as simple as it can be with signs featuring Mickey to guide you through the airport. You breeze past security and Terminal B baggage claim, which is “hell,” according to Twitter user @carlyewisel, and get straight in line to tap your MagicBand and confirm your reservation. Then, a swift 45-minute ride later, you’re in the bubble. It takes the thinking out of traveling, and who wants to think while on vacation?
The International Clientele
Disney World is an internationally-recognized tourist destination unlike Disneyland which serves a local audience. Going through the airport and seeing the shape of Mickey is an international symbol for Disney. You don’t need to speak the language to easily get from the gate of your plane to the front door of your resort.
The Tourist Economy
Central Florida is a hub of tourist destinations. From Universal Orlando to Seaworld to even the Ferris Wheel at Icon Park. And with great deals on Airbnbs, it’s becoming all too easy to stay off property, and if you stay off property you’re less likely to eat and play on Disney property. The Magical Express keeps you in WDW as long as possible and reduces the likelihood you will venture off property, and that’s just good business.
Sure, a Brightline train will eventually connect Disney Springs to MCO. Details are limited, but I imagine that means if you’re staying on property you’ll have to lug your bags through the often crowded village of shops and restaurants to the resort bus and proceed to your resort from there. That doesn’t exactly sound pleasant. I’d rather take an Uber, and that’s saying something in a pandemic.
In summary, my heart broke when I saw that Disney is gutting the Magical Express. It has its ties to the comings and goings of Disney, the best and worst parts of the trip. This news feels like the return trip to MCO where you suddenly notice the babies crying on board, the news notifications buzzing on your phone, and the unmagical parking lots in Orlando. It’s the tragical express, and that’s a bus I don’t ever want to ride.