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One Of The Replacements For Disney World’s Magical Express Was Inspired By A Disney Vacation

On New Year’s Eve 2021, we saw the last ride of Disney’s Magical Express. The bus service was the most convenient way to get to the theme park resort, as it meant you never even needed to rent a car for your Disney vacation. While the Magical Express said goodbye, its end has given others an opportunity to capture the business of those going to the most magical place on earth, and one of them, the Sunshine Flyer, launching in February 2022, is a fitting replacement, as its concept was actually inspired by a trip to Disney. 

I had a chance to speak with Tony Glibkowski, Vice President of The Sunshine Flyer, about the new bus system that will take guests to Disney World from the Orlando International Airport and back again. He explained that it was while watching his kids wait for the Monorail on his own Disney vacation that inspired the themed elements that will make it stand out. According to Glibkowski:

The whole theme itself happened years back, not necessarily the full idea but it was at a Disney trip with my family. They’re standing on the platform of the monorail… going ‘Oh my god, I hope it’s the blue one, I hope it’s the red one.’ That thought’s always stuck in my mind and when we were coming up with the plan to create a program at Disney World I said to somebody in the conference room, ‘You know, can we do something that the kids are going to look forward to and something that’s a larger experience than just a bus ride.

The 35 Sunshine Flyer vehicles are motorcoaches, not that unlike the dozens of others you’ll find at airports around the world. However, The Sunshine Flyers have been cosmetically designed to resemble an actual train, and there will be several different exteriors, so kids can have the experience of riding in one train on the way to their vacation, and then another on the way back. Beyond the vehicle itself, the entire ride will have a 1920’s rail look, with all the staff dressed to look the part as well.  

Sunshine Flyer staff helping guest with bags

(Image credit: The Sunshine Flyer/TMS)

It’s honestly a pretty brilliant idea and it feels like the one place where Disney World missed the boat on the Magical Express. While the drivers of the buses were always good at getting kids of all ages hyped for arriving at Disney World, there was no story on board the Magical Express. Everything at Disney Parks has a story, the rides, the restaurants, even the spas, but the bus that began and ended the trip did not.

And a 1920s rail theme makes a lot of sense, looking at the vehicles and the staff handling them, it all looks like stuff that would be right at home on Main Street U.S.A. Walt Disney himself loved trains, so there’s a real connection to the resort and its history. This seems to be quite intentional as well as, while the Sunshine Flyer is looking to pick up business left behind by the Magical Express, Tony Glibkowski made it clear the goal isn’t just to move people to and from the resort, but to do it in a way that feels like it belongs alongside the leaders in themed entertainment. As he put it:

We’re hoping to step in and fill that void with an experience that Disney would be proud of.

One way The Sunshine Flyer will be doing that is by donating half of its ticket sales in the first 50 days of service to one of Disney’s go to charities, Make-A-Wish. The attraction will begin operation on February 1, 2022. Tickets are $17.00 per adult, $12.50 per child each way. Reservations are available now

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