Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine is a popular option for guests looking to take a shuttle service to Walt Disney World. This is the most popular option for guests looking for a Disney Magical Express equivalent since it closed down in 2022.
In this post, we will go over everything you need to know about Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine including how the service works, how much it costs, and how to make reservations to get to your Disney World Resort hotel.
We know that many of our readers are upset since Disney announced they were discontinuing the popular Disney’s Magic Express service. For guests coming into Orlando International airport and going directly to Walt Disney World, this was often the most convenient and cheapest way to get to your hotel.
Disney’s Magical Express also offered easy luggage delivery upon arrival at the Orlando International Airport as well as Resort Online Check-In at departure. Magical Express is no longer running and unfortunately, that means guests now are forced to look for another option.
That’s where Mears Connect comes in.
Before we get started check out our full post on How to Get from Orlando Airport to Disney World with every transportation option and prices.
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Table of Contents
What is Mears Connect?
Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine is a shuttle service that offers transportation back and forth from Orlando International Airport and the Walt Disney World Resort. It works much in the same way as Disney’s Magical Express did, in fact, Mears was actually the company that runs the Magical Express bus service.
(UPDATE): Mears and another shuttle company Sunshine Flyer recently merged and will be referenced together now as Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine
Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine is the largest transportation company in the Orlando area and they also provide coach buses, taxi service, and luxury shuttles.
It’s a service that provides a fast and convenient transportation service for visitors in high occupancy vehicles, thereby reducing traffic and lowering environmental impacts.
Guests can expect scheduled service, luggage handling, convenient airport terminal staging, and return trips from resorts to the airport.
“We plan to offer the same level of experience, service, and convenience we’ve provided for the last 16 years, on behalf of our longtime partner, as returning guests and first-time visitors can expect nothing less,” said Roger Chapin, a Mears spokesman.
“It is important for visitors to know they still have many of the same safe transportation options for their Orlando visit, all offered by the same company who has been providing seamless, economical, and hassle-free transportation for decades.”
The Mears Connect service to Walt Disney World started on January 1, 2022, while the merged Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine started welcoming guests on August 1, 2023.
Here are some other details you want to keep in mind after this update:
- The new service began on August 1, 2023.
- A dedicated hotline is available 24/7 to answer questions and assist guests regarding new reservations: (407) 423-5566
- For all existing reservations, unless otherwise provided, please contact the customer care team on your confirmation email.
- Guests may also email during business hours: email@example.com.
- Mears Connect guests will not be impacted and reservations will remain the same.
- Sunshine Flyer guests traveling between July 14 and July 31 will receive an email using the email linked to the original reservation to confirm all travel instructions.
Benefits of Using Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine
When considering your transportation options, here are some of the benefits of using Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine:
- Quick access to Mears Connect once you land
- Limited wait time to board
- Entertainment for you and your party while you ride
- Spacious, comfortable seating
- Unparalleled Safety
- An arrival souvenir
- Limited stops to your hotel/resort
- Clean, sanitized vehicles
- Professional, friendly drivers
How Much Does Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine Cost?
Prices for Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine vary depending on the date and type of transportation you choose. However, there is a good introductory rate good for all dates in the immediate future.
The two transportation options are Standard and Express.
- Standard Service (One Way) – $16 per adult, $13.00 per child
- Standard Service (Round Trip) – $32 per adult, $27 per child
- Express Service (Round Trip) – $250 for 4 guests, $55 per additional passenger.
Standard service is a shared-ride shuttle (bus or van) and is the most economical solution. It is also the slowest since it is not direct to your hotel and you will have to make multiple stops for other guests along the way to your hotel. Departure is guaranteed within 20 minutes of your check-in at the Mears Connect guest reception.
Express service is a much faster solution and gets you to your destination faster not having to make extra stops. However, you are going to pay more. There is also no wait time after checking in which will save you another 20 minutes.
The listed prices also include all tolls and extra surcharges, so the final price is what is listed on the website.
As of this writing, the listed prices are the same for all dates, including holidays and weekends. No mention of how long these introductory prices will last but expect them to be the same into 2024.
To make a reservation go to the Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine website here.
In order to use the Mears Connect service to Walt Disney World, you need to be staying at a participating hotel. All of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels are included, as well as many on-site third-party hotels, and a couple of off-site ones as well.
Here is a list of all participating hotels:
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
On-Site Third-Party Hotels:
- B Resort & Spa Lake Buena Vista
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando
- Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
- Holiday Inn Orlando
- JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort
- Shades of Green
- Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando
- Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
- Walt Disney World Swan Reserve
- Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
- Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista
Off-Site Third-Party Hotels:
- Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
- Orlando Marriott World Center
At least guests who are staying at one of the off-site hotels near Walt Disney World now have another option for transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport. It’s just another reason why guests who are looking to save money should consider staying at a third-party hotel instead of shelling out the extra money to stay on property.
Ready to Start Planning Your Disney Vacation?
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Is Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine a Good Way to Get to Walt Disney World?
Now comes the part that matters, whether using the Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine is a viable solution for families visiting Walt Disney World.
It’s true that with Disney’s Magical Express discontinuing service, there is room for another transportation option to give guests more options. If you are going to be spending days outside of the “Disney bubble” we think renting a car is really the best option and will be much more convenient for you.
However, Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine is primarily competing with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. In recent years, they have grown exponentially and have become the preferred transportation method on a vacation for anyone under 60, and many over that age.
When Disney’s Magical Express service was running, it didn’t make a ton of sense to take an Uber or Lyft to get to your hotel since it was free of charge. The only reason was to save some time, but most guests prefer free when they can get it. The free luggage pick-up and delivery were also incredible advantages for the Magical Express.
Obviously, Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine is not free, and a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) is looking at a minimum of $116 plus tax round trip to and from the Walt Disney World Resort and the Orlando International Airport.
When you compare that price to Uber or Lyft at around $30-$40 each way, it’s hard to make a case for why you should choose Mears.
Things get closer in price if you only have 2 people in your group. In that case, you are talking about $64 round trip for 2 adults, which puts it closer in line with an Uber.
Besides the lower cost, using a ride-sharing service is also going to save you a bunch of time since you can just walk outside, grab an Uber in less than five minutes and be on your way. It also brings you directly to your resort instead of having to make other stops.
The only way a Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine shuttle might make sense is if you are traveling to Disney World solo. In that case, you will pay half the amount of money it takes to get to your hotel in an Uber, you just won’t get there as quickly.
We are happy with the new Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine service, and that guests now have another option. We are confident in Mears’ ability to continue offer a quality and trusted transportation service to Walt Disney World, even after the merger.
While not as many guests will use it when compared to a ride-sharing service or the old Magical Express, it certainly has its place for a certain category of guests. Again, we really recommend reading our post How to Get from Orlando Airport to Disney World?, where we go into way more detail on all of your options.
I want to know what you think about the Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine shuttle service…
- Would you take this from the Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World?
- What is your preferred transportation from the airport?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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My name is Ziggy and I love Disney, everything Disney! I grew up on Disney and it has and continues to be a huge part of my life. I started young when my parents took me to Disney World when I was 18 months old. Little did they know that would be the first of an uncountable number of trips we would take. I have so many amazing memories going to Disney with my family and friends and it has been interwoven into my DNA.