Staying at a Disney resort provides guests not only with close proximity to the theme parks and other attractions at Walt Disney World, such as the water parks and Disney Springs, but also gives you access to multiple transportation options.
The most common form of transportation at Walt Disney World is their bus system, which is convenient due to its presence at every resort, theme park, water park, and Disney Springs. Drawbacks to the bus system include potentially long wait times, especially at the beginning and end of the day, and shared buses between some resorts such as the three All Star resorts, the Yacht and Beach Club, and several others. Another disadvantage is that buses do not travel between resorts except for the ones that share buses, so guests cannot take a bus from the resort where they are staying to visit a different resort. Similarly, buses do not always run to Disney Springs and the water parks – Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon – from a given resort or theme park.
This unique transportation system has two tracks: one between Magic Kingdom and Epcot and another that travels between Magic Kingdom and three of its area resorts: the Contemporary, the Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian. The monorail is also a great form of transportation for those wanting to “resort hop” around those three resorts. However, to get from one of those resorts to Epcot, you would have to first take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom then switch to the other monorail system that travels between Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Another drawback to the monorail is that it makes separate stops at each resort, so you do not travel directly to your destination like you often can on the buses.
Disney has three different boat systems: the Friendship Boats that travel to Epcot, and Hollywood Studios from the Boardwalk, the Yacht and Beach Club, and the Swan and Dolphin; the Water Taxis in the Magic Kingdom area that travel to Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian; and the Disney Springs ferry boat that goes to Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and both Port Orleans resorts. The boats usually have shorter lines and wait times than the buses, and guests traveling via boat to the Magic Kingdom have their own bag check line while those traveling to Epcot enter the park through the less-crowded World Showcase entrance. However, one boat is often shared between multiple resorts, meaning you might make several stops before your destination, and the Contemporary does not offer a boat directly to the Magic Kingdom, so guests much switch boats at another resort to reach the park.
Six Disney resorts offer a walkway to one or two theme parks. The Yacht and Beach Club, the Swan and Dolphin, and the Boardwalk have walkways to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and the Contemporary has a walkway to the Magic Kingdom (some sources say Disney is constructing a walkway between the Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom). The advantages to walking are you do not have to wait in a line for transportation and your travel time might be quicker depending on your pace. However, you are already walking miles a day in the parks, and walking home to your resort at the end of the day can seem tiring, especially for younger guests.
The Disney Skyliner
Opening at the end of September 2019, this gondola system will provide guests another means of transportation between Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and several resorts: Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and the Riviera Resort (planned to open in December 2019). While guests cannot yet know the wait times for the gondolas, travel times are estimated to be between 5 and 15 minutes depending on the points between which you are traveling. The coming months will reveal more about the operations of this new transportation system as well as its conveniences and drawbacks.