A deal between Walt Disney World and Orlando International Airport to keep Disney's free Magical Express shuttle running for five more years left industry competitors Thursday grappling with how to cope with the shuttle's impact over the long term.
Until this week the popular service that shuttles tourists directly from the airport to their Disney hotels and separately delivers luggage to their rooms was a pilot program scheduled to end in December.
Other transportation providers were hoping the service would end or, at least, begin charging for the bus ride and baggage delivery.
"I don't think I'll last another six months if they don't start charging," said Leonardo Dale, owner of limousine and sedan service Image Transportation. "From 40 reservations a day we dropped down to three or four. You can't survive on that."
Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said the company has no plans to begin charging for Magical Express.
Though the service is free to passengers, Disney along with its contractors Mears Transportation Group and Aircraft Services International Group will pay the airport an estimated $4.4 million next year to run the program. Mears runs the buses; ASIG transports the luggage.
That new revenue from Disney could either add $300,000 to the airport's bottom line over a full year or nick it $600,000, depending on collections from ground-transportation companies.