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Does Your Hometown Airport have a “Disney Shuttle?”

No, we’re not talking about Disney’s Magical Express. “The Disney Shuttle” is an affectionate term Sean and I like to call our flight to Orlando every time we go to Walt Disney World. Let me explain…


For us, going to WDW means waking up around 3 a.m. (If we even sleep at all because “we’re too excited to sleep” – love those commercials!), having one of our folks pick us up an hour later and drive us to the airport so that we are some of the first people there. Going to WDW means driving in the middle of the night and watching the sunrise from the airport terminal. It also means getting the first flight out of town so that we can get to Orlando as quickly as we can. The flight boards at 7:30 a.m., and by 11 a.m., we’re on board the Magical Express – nothing like starting vacation before noon!

However, we are not the only ones who want to get the first flight out. Since we’re usually the first ones in the terminal, we get to see everyone file in filling up every seat as we wait for the boarding call. As the seats in the terminal get fuller and fuller, anticipation builds because we know takeoff is coming soon. It also means we get to peoplewatch. It’s one of our favorite things to do in a terminal because you wonder where people are going, what their story is and what they have planned at their destination.

We call this flight “The Disney Shuttle” because as we watch people arrive and take their seats, with carry-ons in tow, we start to see all the Disney paraphernalia appear. Families wearing Disney gear and Magic Bands, carry-ons with Disney luggage tags, little kids with Mickey or Minnie (or their favorite character) stuffed animals held tightly in their arms. Before long, 90% of the people waiting to take off are going to the same place. There are a few people who aren’t, and you kind of feel sorry for them.

Maybe they are going to Orlando for business … how terrible. We always kind of feel sorry for those folks because we’re going to The Most Magical Place on Earth, and they’re going to a conference room and hotel, the furthest thing from Disney magic.

Unfortunately, our local airport no longer has that morning flight, which means we need to drive a little further to go to a different airport. While we still get up in the middle of the night, watch the sunrise from the terminal and grab the first flight out (which is about an hour later), it doesn’t have the same charm. Here, you see people from all over and the Disney travelers are far and few between. Yet, “The Disney Shuttle” will always have a place in our hearts.

(Photo from the author’s personal collection.)

Do you always take the same flight out of town? What’s your Disney “getting there” story?

 “New Yorkas” Felicia and Sean are avid Disney fans.  Their first vacation as a couple was in Walt Disney World.  They were engaged there, and also honeymooned there.  After a combined 30 trips to the World, they are self-professed Disney travel agents and enjoy helping family and friends plan magical Disney vacations.