If you’ve been to Walt Disney World in the last year and you stayed at one of the Disney owned hotels, there’s a good chance you took advantage of Disney’s free airport shuttle service – Disney’s Magical Express. This service has been making most guests happy (hey, free is a very good price and not having to handle your luggage is even better) and Disney Management likes the fact that more guests don’t rent cars and therefore are less likely to leave the Disney property during their stay.
Of course, this has made a number of people unhappy. Car rental companies have seen a small drop in business, but are worried about a larger drop as DME comes out of beta. Airport Limos and Shuttles have been the hardest hit losing more than half of their previous fares to the Disney property. Additionally, both groups have been upset because they see the airport treating Disney with special rules and fees.
Putting aside those arguments DME is a great thing for the airport and Orlando. At the airport it eases crowding in the baggage and check-in areas allowing the airport to support a higher capacity without having to build new terminals. For Orlando, the busses act like a light-rail line (but without the costs of building one) taking many cars off the roads and saving the county from having to do repairs or expansion of its infrastructure.
So it was no suprise when I read that the Airport and Disney have negotiated a deal to run Disney’s Magical Express at the airport through 2011. Neither side got exactly what they wanted and the limo, shuttle, and car rental companies will just have to adjust to the new facts of life. But in general, this is a good thing for Disney’s customers and for Orlando.