If you are traveling to Walt Disney World, you’re probably
planning how you will travel from park to park, to resort, and probably even
Disney Springs. There are so many ways to move between resorts and parks, there
are options for everyone’s style and budget. Disney offers tons of options that
are also complimentary with your Resort stay.
How do we get around at Walt Disney World?
We’ve been to Walt Disney World a few times or two over the years,
both by flying and by driving our own car. Here are some options that we did,
which might give you some insight into how to travel between your resort and all
Getting Around Walt Disney World if Flying in
If you are flying into Orlando’s airport, Disney offers transportation
via the Magical Express. This is a large charter bus that will take you
directly to your resort. When booking your Walt Disney World vacation, you’ll
want to link up your flight arrival and departure times to the Magical Express,
so that you have a bus available to take you to your Resort. Once you arrive at
the airport, you will follow the signs to all the rental car, shuttles, and
Magical Express transportation areas. There will be signs posted all over
showing you where the Magical Express is located. You will check in to the kiosk
desk at the front of this are and they will direct you to which line to get
into. This is because during the peak arrival times during the day (basically
anything up until late at night) they shuttle people who are staying at resorts
next to each other, on the same bus. This allows for efficient transportation
to resorts. Some resorts that are much larger than others and are always busy,
like the All-Star resorts, might have a longer line to wait in, rather than a
luxury resort with fewer guests, that take the Magical Express, like the Yacht
Club or Contemporary.
What do we think about the Magical Express?
We’ve taken this route two different times. Our first
experience was when we stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter, which had limited
guests compared to some of the other resorts. We waited maybe 20 minutes in our
line and were quickly boarded on our bus and off to our Resort. The second time
we went, we were staying at Pop Century and it was much busier. We probably
waited closer to 45 minutes because there were so many people staying here and
Art of Animation that was right next to us. Either way, we enjoyed our trip as
the Magical Bus was fully air conditioned and had comfortable seats. They even
play a movie introducing you to Walt Disney World while you are on board.
Little ones will need to sit in a parent’s lap, if they aren’t old enough for
their own seat. Booster seats and car seats will be stowed underneath the bus
with the luggage, so plan on this when ready to board.
Benefits of the Magical Express
The great thing about the drop off for Magical Express is that our luggage is taken off the bus and given to the luggage area employees upon arrival. They tag them at drop off and will get them to your room (whether it is ready now or not) so you do not have to worry about walking around the resorts with tons of suitcases. They all have an area where they will stow luggage and strollers/scooters until you are ready to check into your room. If you are having a stroller or scooter dropped off by a third-party Stroller Rental company, this is also where you will pick up and drop off these items.
What if you don’t want to wait for the Magical Express?
If you didn’t want to take the Magical Express and mess with the lines, you are also welcome to rent your own rides, such as an Uber, or Minnie Van. Disney introduced their Minnie Van Service within this past year, and they’ve become a huge hit. Not only are they driven by knowledgeable Disney employees, they are also very clean and come equipped with child car seats if needed. The cost per trip from any destination to another is around $35.00 per trip when traveling around Wald Disney World. The Minnie Van service is technically provided by Lyft, so feel free to utilize this app to order one. While the Minnie vans are available for transportation to and from MCO (Orlando airport), you must call (407) WDW-PLAY to reserve, and the cost will be much higher at $150 each way (gratuity not included).
Driving your own car to Disney World
The other few times we’ve gone to Walt Disney World we have
driven our own car, and just drove right into the resort area, regardless of what
time of day it was, found a place to park and checked in. You are still able to
take advantage of the luggage claim area outside of the resorts if your room is
not ready. We especially enjoyed this service during our time at Pop Century
one time, since we arrived around 10:00am in the morning and our room wouldn’t
be ready for several hours. We were able to drop off all our luggage and hang
out by the pool and restaurant while we waited.
Please note that Disney now charges a parking fee if you will be taking
your own car on property, so you will want to check with your resort as the
price is different depending on which level of resort you will be staying in
(this is a per-night fee).
Once you are checked in and Ready to head to the Parks, how can you travel?
There are advantages to taking several modes of travel to several
different parks, it just depends on your schedule and what fits your style.
Using the Disney Bus System to get around Walt Disney World
Buses are always available, starting from an hour before the
park opens and run an hour after it closes. This also takes effect if there are
“Early Magic Hours” and “After Magic Hours,” which means if the park opens at
8:00am, buses will run as early as 7:00am, or if they close at 1:00am, then you’ll
have transportation until 2:00am available. Some advantages to taking buses is
that they will drop you off at the bus depot at the front of the park at all
Resorts. This is especially beneficial if you are traveling to Magic Kingdom,
as if you take your own car and park, you are in for a longer trek than you think.
The parking lot is no where near the front of Magic Kingdom, so people who take
their own car will actually park in the parking lot, take a tram to the transportation
and ticket center, and then you have three options from there: Take the
monorail around to the front gates, take the ferry across the water to the
front gates, walk around a mile to get there, or in a rare occasion there are a
few buses waiting here to take you to the front gate. Also, if you are driving
your own car, then make sure you remember where you park. This parking lot has
more parking spaces than I’ve ever seen, and it can be easy to get lost.
Cons of using the Disney Bus System
The down side to taking buses, they do get crowded, which
means that you might be standing and holding on to a rail the entire way. This
gets hard when you have kids and are toting large strollers and bags. Keep this
in mind. Also, if at the end of the night, and you are exhausted like everyone
else, you might be waiting in a longer line than you’d like to get on to a bus.
For larger resorts, like the All Stars and Pop, we have waited three and four
bus cycles before we were able to make it on to the next available one.
Using your car to get around Walt Disney World
For all the other parks, taking your own car is an option
that isn’t too bad, just try to get to the park close to open so your car will
be parked somewhere near the front. Don’t stress too much, there is a tram that
goes through each of the parking lots frequently to pick up guests and get them
to the front. If you are traveling with a large stroller, it will need to be
folded up, so be prepared for this upon arrival. The tram is not very large, so
oversized double-strollers might not fit and you might spend your time walking.
Using Boats through the Waterways
For Epcot and Hollywood Studios, if you are staying at a resort
near the waterway of these two parks, there are several boats that will shuttle
you from those resorts to the boat dock of these two resorts. There is a back entrance
to Epcot, called the International Gateway, that you can get to by boat as well
as by foot if staying at resorts close by, such as the Board Walk.
Also, if you are staying at the Wilderness Resort or Fort
Wilderness, there are boats that go between each of the resorts and the Magic
Kingdom that are located on Bay Lake.
This is a slower way to get around, but when the weather is right, it
makes for an enjoyable boat ride.
Finally, if you are staying at either of the Port Orleans
resorts (or any of the resorts on the water near Disney Springs), there are boats
that take you between the resorts and Disney Springs.
Using Disney’s Monorail to get around
You can take the monorail from three different resorts to
the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. These Resorts are the Grand Floridian, The Polynesian,
and The Contemporary. The Magic Kingdom monorail (resort monorail) will take
you between all three results and the front of the Magic Kingdom. Heads up, if
you are not staying at one of these Resorts but you end up at the Transportation
and Ticket Center via car, as you walk up to the monorail there is the Magic
Kingdom entrance and the resort entrance. If it is early in the morning, then
take the resort monorail. It will stop at both the Poly and the Grand Floridian
before Magic Kingdom, but it is usually less crowded than everyone piling up
for the Magic Kingdom. From this same Transportation and Ticket center, you can
also go to the line for Epcot, which will take you directly to Epcot and back.
This is a unique way to travel between Epcot and Magic Kingdom in the most
efficient way. On super busy days at Magic Kingdom, some people have even
actually gone to Epcot to park, and then taken the monorail to the Transportation
and Ticket Center and then switched to the MK monorail.
Using Ride Share (Uber – Lyft – Minnie Vans)
Ubers and Minnie Vans are also ways to navigate between your Resort and parks, just keep in mind the cost per trip of each of these is separate, versus the monorail, boat, and bus are all included in your park stay. Uber and Minnie Vans are efficient and convenient when you have a reservation for breakfast or a special event, where you’ll want to make sure you are dropped off right on time and won’t be impacted by waiting for other transportation. We had an 8:30 am reservation at “The Pirate’s League” for our daughter when she was 5, and we ended up running inside the park to make it because we took the bus route, versus our own car that trip. (We flew that time and probably should have taken an Uber) but we made it!
Using the Disney Skyliner (coming sometime in 2019)
According to the Disney World website:
Beginning in fall 2019, Guests can discover Disney Skyliner, an incredible new way to travel around Walt Disney World Resort!
Glide above the treetops and add an extra dash of pixie dust to your day. This grand, state-of-the-art gondola system will conveniently connect Disney’s Hollywood Studios and International Gateway at Epcot to the following Resort hotels: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Riviera Resort.
Guests will be able to enjoy easy access to Disney’s BoardWalk entertainment district and a fun way to travel between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Plus, the Disney Skyliner provides a relaxing trip to dining locations across Disney Resort hotels—including Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.
Some of the gondolas are adorned with iconic Disney Characters, figures from Disney attractions and film favorites, which makes getting around even more magical as Guests enjoy breathtaking vistas over and between each of these enchanting locations!
All in all, multiple ways to travel from the airport to your
Resort, and between your Resort and all the parks or Disney Springs. Tell us how you like to travel! Have you tried
any of the ways listed above? What is your favorite way to get between the
different parks and resorts at Walt Disney World?