As promised, here's my report on using the "Magical Express Service" for our trip home. In a nutshell, it worked just great, I would not hesitate to take advantage of this service on a future trip to Disneyworld.
But here are the specifics on how it worked for us.
We had an 8:30 pm flight out of Orlando. The evening before our scheduled departure, we got a note left on our room door saying that we should be at the customs house to catch the bus to the airport at 5:45 pm.
The day of departure, we got up at the crack of dawn (6:00 am, which is only a little earlier than our usual rising time on a school day) and even though we supposedly scheduled the bell service to pick us up, we had to call them a the same morning. They arrived pretty quickly after that and took us to the customs house to check out of our room.
Since we were flying United (or Ted), we were able to check our luggage for the flight right at the hotel. We also were able to obtain our boarding passes. All this took maybe 20 minutes. We never saw our luggage again until we went to baggage claim back home in Chicago.
We had plenty of time to catch the bus to the Animal Kingdom and we even arrived before the park opened. Quite a bit before, actually. We were almost the first ones on the Kilamajaro Safari.
Anyway, I did feel a little nervous carrying around our boarding passes all day. In theory, I wouldn't have to. I could have packed a carry on bag for the airport and left it with bell services at the resort, but I felt better knowing that I had the passes on me.
We enjoyed a nice, though wet day at the park and made it back to the resort in plenty of time to catch the bus. We still had plenty of snacks left over from our dining plan, so we stocked up on snacks for the flight home.
The bus back to the airport was really nice. It even had TVs so we watched the beginning of Aladdin on the way to the airport. The flight was practically deserted, so the kids both stretched out in empty seats and slept all the way home.
Was the "Magical Express Service" really magical? Well, it sure was convenient and we did not encounter any problems at all really. By the time you're done with a Disney vacation, you do feel like you've spent a lot of time waiting in lines, but I think it's worth it. The entertainment, the attractions, the atmosphere at Disneyworld is top notch. We're already planning next year's trip!
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