Walt Disney World has eliminated two long-standing privileges for people staying at the resort’s hotels – a move that travel experts say could save the company a lot of money.
Starting in 2022, Disney DIS,
will no longer offer Magical Express, a free bus that takes guests staying at Walt Disney World hotels to and from Orlando International Airport.
As part of the service, guests can even skip waiting for their luggage when picking up luggage by placing special labels on their suitcases. Disney collected the items and then carried them directly to people’s hotels. Private luggage service was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic.
“As customer needs and preferences change, we will no longer offer Disney̵
In a blog post, Disney noted that the change was made in light of the growing popularity of shared travel services from companies such as Uber UBER,
and Lyft LYFT,
The published blog notes that these services “save time and offer more flexibility” to the guests of the resort. Disney will continue to offer transportation within its Walt Disney World complex, including the monorail, buses and the Skyliner gondola lift.
Disney covered all the costs of getting people between the airport and their hotel without getting as much benefit as ever.
In addition, Brightline, Florida’s intercity rail system, has announced plans to expand the service to Orlando, including stops at the airport and Disney Springs, a mall located in the Walt Disney World resort. When completed, the Brightline train can serve as another opportunity for guests to reach the Disney property.
However, the choice to remove the Magical Express service came as a surprise to tourism experts. After Disney introduced the free shuttle and bagging service in 2005, travel experts noted that it served as a way to keep guests at Disney property instead of renting cars and traveling to other nearby theme parks. , such as Universal Studios CMCSA,
and SeaWorld SEAS,
In fact, the company has even seemingly increased this benefit in recent years by starting to charge hotel guests for parking.
“It was a very effective trench that, when introduced, had to keep people inside the Disney bubble,” said Len Testa, co-author of Walt Disney’s Unofficial World Guide and president of the Touring Plans travel site. “The rise of travel sharing apps has made it easier and cheaper for people to get off the site whenever they want (instead of renting a car or calling a taxi), and so Disney has borne all the costs of driving people between the airport next to their hotel without getting as much benefit as ever. “
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Disney did not work with the Magical Express service; it was subcontracted to Mears Transportation, a company based in Orlando. As a result, Testa said the move was “an absolute cost-cutting measure.”
“Walt Disney introduced us to their decision earlier today,” said Roger Chapin, a spokesman for Mears Transportation. “Although we are disappointed, Disney will no longer offer this service, we intend to continue to offer transportation services between the airport and all theme parks and hotels to meet the demand of visitors now and in the future.”
Separately, Disney has confirmed that another popular bonus, which was suspended amid the pandemic, will not return. Called “Extra Magic Hours”, this feature allows guests staying at Disney hotels to enter theme parks earlier than other visitors or stay in them later in the evening, sometimes adding an hour or more to their stay at park.
From later this year, Disney will allow hotel guests to enter theme parks in front of the general public, but additional evening hours for hotel guests will not be returned. This new bonus will allow visitors with a valid hotel reservation to enter one of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World 30 minutes earlier during their stay.
“The new benefit of early entry to a theme park helps us better distribute visits to all four theme parks, while providing extra flexibility by giving guests extra time for early parking on each day of their vacation and in their chosen park. “Disney said in its blog post.
In addition, early entry into the theme park should help reduce morning crowds in the theme park in light of pandemic-related entry protocols, including temperature projections. During the early entry period, people without proof of hotel reservation will not be allowed to enter the parks until normal business hours.
Whether the removal of the shuttle and the extra hours of the park will make passengers stay in hotels other than those run by Disney remains to be seen.
“Fans are understandably surprised by the news, but it’s hard to say whether two shared trips and the inconvenience of carrying their own luggage will make or break the entire holiday budget,” said Carly Weisel, a freelance theme park journalist.
With other changes Disney has made in light of the pandemic – including eliminating the ability to book FastPass to reduce the limit of popular travel – Walt Disney World’s experience will be very different.
“Only time will tell if the changes in Disney’s Extra Magic Hours and Magical Express leave a permanent dent in Disney’s hotel business, but along with some other changes from the pandemic era, such as the current Park Hopping system and a break in Disney’s FastPass + program, It remains clear that the future hotel at Disney World will be different from the one in the past, ”said Weisel. (Park Hopping is the ability to visit multiple theme parks in a single day without paying a separate entrance fee. Park Hopping was limited after the parks reopened due to coronavirus capacity limitations.)
It is difficult to say whether two walks with a shared trip and the inconvenience of carrying your own luggage will make or break an entire vacation budget.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced Walt Disney World to overhaul its operations. Theme parks remained closed for many months when the COVID-19 case first exploded in the United States, and the parks were finally reopened in July.
The number of people allowed in the parks remains reduced, although capacity constraints have been weakened since the initial opening of the parks. Guests in the parks are required to wear masks at all times, expect when eating or drinking. Certain attractions and experiences such as meetings and greetings of characters are paused due to the pandemic.
Most Disney theme parks around the world have reopened, but Disneyland and the Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California remain closed due to stricter pandemic protocols in the state.