You are currently viewing Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine Evaluation: Is Disney World’s Airport Shuttle Nonetheless Good?

Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine Evaluation: Is Disney World’s Airport Shuttle Nonetheless Good?


Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine is a shuttle bus between Orlando Airport and Walt Disney World resorts plus on-site third celebration lodges and some off-site choices. This transportation assessment shares our experiences with the paid alternative for Magical Specific, and the way it’s gotten higher & worse because the merger with its competitor.

Let’s begin with a fast recap. Walt Disney World’s free shuttle service between MCO and the corporate’s resorts, Disney’s Magical Specific (DME), ended over 2 years in the past. The elimination of the airport shuttle was massive and stunning Walt Disney World information, and continues to anger followers. It’s made the listing of Prime 10 Visitor Complaints About Walt Disney World in every of the final two years, and undoubtedly will once more in 2024 and even 2025 if the service isn’t magically restored forward of Common’s Epic Universe opening.

Instead of that free bus service between MCO and resort lodges, two paid bus companies initially crammed the void. One was/is Mears Join, the outdated operator of Disney’s Magical Specific that now makes use of the identical buses and drivers. The opposite was Sunshine Flyer, an upstart service with a enjoyable railroad theme. A type of is previous tense and the title of this assessment is “Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine,” so the astute detectives might even see the place that is going…

Mears Join and Sunshine Flyer “joined forces” final summer time to type Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine. This merger has execs and cons for customers. Competitors is at all times good for conserving costs and repair aggressive. However on this case, there arguably wasn’t a marketplace for two competing shuttle companies between MCO and WDW.

We used each Mears Join and Sunshine Flyer individually on a number of events, and now have used the mixed Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine a few half-dozen occasions. This assessment goals to deal with the considerations raised by readers to find out whether or not Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine is “nonetheless good” in comparison with Mears Join, Sunshine Flyer, or the OG DME.

For individuals who haven’t used any shuttle service between Orlando Worldwide Airport and Walt Disney World because the demise of Disney’s Magical Specific–or ever, for that matter–let’s start with a little bit of background. In a nutshell, these are excessive capability coach buses that take you from the varied terminals at MCO to your on-site resort at Walt Disney World, in addition to a handful of off-site ones within the WDW space.

Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine is enticing to many Walt Disney World followers as a result of it’s the identical firm that operated Disney’s Magical Specific. The most important promoting level of Mears Join is their declare that it’s the identical dependable, secure service company have been utilizing for many years to Walt Disney World space lodges. Once more, that is largely a rebranded Disney’s Magical Specific–it actually makes use of the very same drivers and buses, simply minus the Disney-branded wraps. A number of the buses look very just like the outdated ‘ocean-liner’ DME buses, with solely Disney logos and characters eliminated.

Because the merger between Sunshine Flyer and Mears Join, the mixed firm has additionally absorbed the railroad-themed buses into the fleet, and given them new wraps within the type of Mears Join, with nautical exteriors and marine life (manatees, dolphins, turtles, and so on.) on the surface. Gone are all traces of the trains.

Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine guarantees quick and handy airport transportation service in excessive occupancy autos, restricted wait occasions to board a bus, snug seating, restricted stops to your resort, inexpensive transportation the place children below three journey free, no want to fret about Uber or Lyft rideshare surge pricing, loads of baggage house, and wheelchair accessibility.

It’s simple to guide Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine on-line, and may be carried out in a matter of minutes. My slight nitpick is that that is tougher to do through their cell website, encountering hiccups a couple of occasions whereas my airplane is taxiing to the gate at MCO. However it’s nonetheless higher and simpler than Sunshine Flyer was–that required a number of days advance discover. I can actually guide Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine every time.

To that time, I by no means reserve my journey in period of time upfront. There’s zero incentive to take action, because the pricing is similar upon arrival and buses are dispatched as they replenish–not based mostly on bookings (which makes full sense given flight delays, early arrivals, baggage pickup occasions, and so on).

Due to this, I at all times test the costs of Uber and Lyft from MCO to WDW proper when touchdown. If the pricing premium is just too steep, I rapidly guide Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine. As I’ve been flying solo for the final year-plus, Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine has been the higher choice 100% of the time. If it have been each of us, it could be about 50/50.

Thus far, you too can make walk-up reservations for Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine upon arrival. It’s a easy course of that takes lower than a minute, and there’s no disincentive to doing this. So should you land and uncover that Uber or Lyft are too costly or that your rental automotive reservation has a difficulty or no matter, Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine is a simple pivot.

Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine has two choices: Customary and Specific. The latter is direct service to your resort and again to the airport, because the assured first cease. Specific shouldn’t be essentially a personal service; it could be shared. Provided that, reserving Mears Join Specific is not sensible in anyway, as Mears has quite a few opponents specializing in precise non-public service.

I’ve been positioned on Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine Specific a couple of occasions, and on 2 of these events, they clients who booked Specific have been stunned that it was shared and that they have been crammed in a van with a bunch of strangers. A part of that is on them–Mears Join’s web site makes clear that it could be shared. However the total service they obtained and caliber of the expertise, in my opinion, was not commensurate with what I do know they paid for it.

Even with out having used Specific, I’d not suggest reserving it. There are higher alternate options specializing in non-public transfers. Or simply use Uber or Lyft? Mears’ robust go well with is high-capacity transportation options–not service or effectivity–so I can not fathom what they create to the desk on the Specific entrance. Regardless of that being a part of the DME identify, “categorical” is actually the antithesis of the Mears identify.

With Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine, you’ll obtain a boarding go someday earlier than your pickup with a QR code through e mail. Upon touchdown at MCO, you must also obtain a textual content message reminder welcoming you to Orlando with a hyperlink to the boarding go and arrival directions.

Take this QR code to the self-service check-in stands and scan it. If for no matter cause that doesn’t work–otherwise you didn’t get a QR code–there’s employees current to help. Whether or not you do self-service check-in or the assisted model, the method is extremely easy. Mears is unquestionably environment friendly at this portion of the method. After this, they ship you in your approach to the loading zone.

When this merger was first introduced, quite a lot of Walt Disney World followers have been involved about lengthy strains for loading and the mixed Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine changing into tremendous busy and inefficient consequently. That has not been my expertise in any respect. On the contrary, the occasions I’ve used Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine in 2023 and 2024, the mixed service has been (considerably) much less busy than after we used Mears Join or Sunshine Flyer in 2022 (by means of Spring Break 2023).

That is very seasonal and time-of-arrival dependent, however I’ve but to come across greater than a dozen or so individuals in the complete Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine loading space. Two of my flights have been within the fall low season, however one other two have been doing a traditional time, and two extra have been at near-peak occasions round Veterans Day and MLK Day. On all events, Orlando Worldwide Airport was at the very least reasonably busy. (Like Walt Disney World, there doesn’t appear to be a “gradual” time at MCO anymore–at the very least, not as in comparison with 2019 or earlier.)

The excellent news is that I’ve been nearly immediately loaded onto a Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine bus each time. I’d hazard a guess that my common wait time for being loaded is below 90 seconds. Possibly as soon as I waited about 5 minutes, however that was seemingly an anomaly.

The dangerous information is that the ready time as soon as on the bus may be for much longer as Mears does every little thing in its energy to not dispatch almost empty buses. I haven’t really timed these waits, however I’d hazard a guess that the typical is 15-20 minutes. There have been a few occasions that I’ve waited 30+ minutes for the bus to be dispatched.

Even then, I’ve but to be on a bus that was greater than 25% full. On common, there are 4-5 stops. I’m usually heading to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort or Disney’s All Star Sports activities, and I’d say about half the time, this has additionally entailed a cease on the off-site Gaylord Palms Resort. That doesn’t trouble me; it’s close by the All Stars and Coronado. There have been different occasions after we’ve gone to random resorts on the opposite facet of property–just like the Magic Kingdom space–which is pretty inefficient.

I’m no mathematician, however I assume somebody should be the primary cease when taking these shared shuttle companies from the airport, nevertheless it’s someway by no means me. In years of utilizing Disney’s Magical Specific and now these successor shuttles, I’d reckon that we’ve been the final or second-to-last cease roughly 90% of the time. Possibly someplace on the market, our Wario and Waluigi counterparts are boasting on their weblog about at all times being first.

Again in my youthful days, this used to essentially bug me. I used to be impatient and excited, completely happy to be again “residence” at Walt Disney World however overly-eager to hit the bottom working and get to the parks. The time from the primary to final cease felt like perpetually. Now that I’m older and wiser (probably not), you would say that I’ve mellowed out a bit. Or you would say that as a result of abundance of empty seats, I sit within the again, pull out my laptop computer and use the Mears bus as my workstation to get stuff carried out. That is in all probability the extra correct evaluation, as I’m nonetheless accused of being impatient and intense–simply not in terms of buses, I suppose.

The ethical of the story is that Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine has turn out to be extra time-consuming, on common, than Disney’s Magical Specific and even circa-2022 Mears Join or Sunshine Flyer. However this isn’t as a result of lack of competitors, as some Walt Disney World followers concern.

On the contrary, it’s as a consequence of lack of demand. This downside can be even worse had the businesses not merged, as there’d be the identical variety of clients unfold over 2 shuttle companies. They’d nonetheless not need to dispatch nearly-empty buses, so that they’d wait longer within the loading space, cut back the variety of buses, improve the variety of stops, and so on.

Even when my half dozen experiences have all someway been outliers (fairly arduous to imagine since I additionally used Mears Join and Sunshine Flyer throughout their waning days and people separate ‘outcomes’ weren’t materially totally different), the purpose nonetheless stands. Demand is a matter, and there aren’t sufficient riders to maintain two separate shuttles. Even when there are lengthy strains and packed buses throughout peak season (I’m skeptical of this), the existence of what I’m describing–on many events–factors to unsustainability total.

In any case, you may count on Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine to take about an hour on the low finish and as much as 2 hours on the excessive finish. I’d estimate that my time from arriving on the Mears check-in podium to arriving on the resort averages round 100 minutes. Since I’m doing work and never timing the commute, I don’t have a exact quantity–that could possibly be barely off.

I’d additionally estimate that the typical commute is now ~20% longer than it was with Disney’s Magical Specific, which is pushed wholly by the longer wait earlier than being dispatched. The drive from the airport nonetheless takes the identical period of time, as do the stops between every resort.

The wildcards are going to be the wait to depart and variety of stops. These are variables for which no single assessment can account, and even when they may, you’d don’t have any approach of understanding what your expertise can be earlier than arrival. Should you get actually fortunate, it might take 45 minutes on absolutely the low finish; should you’re actually unfortunate, over 2 hours on the excessive finish wouldn’t shock me.

That is the powerful factor about reviewing Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine, and even Disney’s Magical Specific earlier than. It’s so dependent upon good or dangerous luck/timing. Two company might arrive 10 minutes aside however have polar reverse opinions–one simply barely making the bus to their vacation spot and the opposite simply lacking it. One would possibly write effusive reward on-line in regards to the shuttle service, the opposite a rant about poor service and delays. Each can be equally true, with mere minutes separating superior(ish) from the terrible.

Truthfully, the journey taking 20% longer for the bus being far much less full is a tradeoff that I’ll fortunately take, because it permits me to tug out my laptop computer and do work in peace and luxury. For that reason, I’ve began utilizing Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine on events when Uber/Lyft are a more in-depth name. As a result of at the very least with Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine, I do know I’m getting a quiet journey. Rideshares are extra of a wildcard, and I don’t like being impolite or aloof if my driver is chatty.

Clearly, although, all of that is extremely private. Should you’re a household of 4, it’s not like “pull out your laptop computer and reply to feedback in your Disney weblog” is helpful recommendation to your 6 12 months outdated twins. They in all probability don’t also have a Disney weblog but. What they could share with me is a way of impatience and pleasure, and that 20% longer journey could possibly be what brings them to their breaking level.

It must be famous that the above assessment focuses on the service from the airport to Walt Disney World. I exploit Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine for attending to MCO far much less steadily as a result of I don’t need to be on the airport 2+ hours earlier than my flight. (Should you don’t have TSA Precheck, you completely ought to–I’ve seen safety wait occasions of 45-60 minutes on a couple of latest events.)

Nonetheless, I’ve used the return service a few half-dozen occasions (and right here, I’m additionally lumping in previous experiences with common Mears Join, pre-merger). It’s usually higher. What I actually respect about that is that they textual content you a hyperlink with real-time monitoring of your bus, so you may hand around in the foyer or wherever, and solely exit shortly earlier than the bus arrives.

I’ve additionally seen that Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine is extra environment friendly and the buses are fuller on these return journeys. Granted, it’s a comparatively small pattern measurement, however I assume that’s as a result of Mears is ready to use capability administration and allocation techniques to rearrange pickup occasions and dispatch buses accordingly.

Nonetheless, I want utilizing Uber or Lyft for getting again to the airport. It additionally helps that I nearly at all times depart on the very same flight, and the typical rideshare price is predictably low after I want to depart at round 1 p.m. (seemingly the candy spot between the morning and afternoon rushes).

On the service facet, I’ve zero complaints about Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine. Workers on the airport has been courteous, and the drivers are at all times pleasant. Some attempt to brighten up the bus journey with an upbeat perspective and Disney-related commentary. No points or complaints in anyway–they do pretty much as good of a job as may be anticipated.

With that stated, the difficulty for lots of Walt Disney World followers is that Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine doesn’t have that inarticulable Disney high quality to it. Disney’s Magical Specific had quite a lot of flaws, nevertheless it was simple to miss them as a result of DME was a magical approach to begin their trip. Being greeted by Mickey Mouse in his captain’s hat, a memorable and quotable video on board, and varied little Disney touches all made it simpler to miss what was in any other case an inefficient methodology of airport transportation.

It wasn’t that Disney’s Magical Specific was good, it was that it was Disney. An immersive expertise from the second you landed in Orlando, all of the whereas constructing anticipation aboard the bus and finally exiting at your themed resort. It was thrilling and distinctly Disney–even whereas being operated by Mears. It was a bittersweet finish to the journey, however one which already started planting the seeds in your subsequent go to. Unsurprisingly, Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine doesn’t have any of that X-factor. Possibly you care, possibly you don’t, however it’s what it’s.

Finally, that’s been my expertise with Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine post-merger of the 2 airport shuttle companies. Whether or not it’s “nonetheless good” is dependent upon whether or not you thought it was ever good within the first place. If sure, then in all probability nonetheless sure. If no, then nearly definitely nonetheless no.

Whether or not the airport shuttle service is best for you is a private query, and hopefully one you may reply in gentle of the above details about waits, service, and price. Our view is that Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine is an effective choice if the mathematics works out on it (usually which means you might have a smaller celebration measurement).

We’ll be utilizing Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine for Megatron’s first journey to Walt Disney World as a result of carseat scenario with Uber and Lyft, because the numbers don’t fairly work on non-public switch for us. My view on Mears is that it’s the lack of higher choices choice. Your mileage could range, although. There’s worth in predictability, comfort, and utilizing a longtime service.

After these experiences with Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine within the final ~6 months, my greatest concern now’s that the airport shuttle service could not exist in any respect in 2025 or 2026. I do know that Mears supplied airport buses even earlier than Disney’s Magical Specific, however the world has modified a lot since then. Rideshare companies are ubiquitous and rental vehicles are extra considerable.

Fairly quickly, there’s going to be an airport practice to Common (and so on.) that might additional cut back the demand for these choices, driving down costs and thereby lowering demand for Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine. A part of me wonders if the one approach an airport shuttle is viable in any respect within the long-run is by being an on-site perk supplied by Walt Disney World. I suppose we will see.

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What do you consider Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine? Have you ever already used the airport shuttle service post-merger? In that case, what have been your wait occasions and total impression of the providing? Will you utilize this, or is it too costly for shared transportation? Will you go for Mears Join Pushed by Sunshine over Uber, Lyft, or renting a automotive? Ideas on pricing, effectivity, or anything? Any questions we will help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even if you disagree with us–is each attention-grabbing to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!