At around 40 square miles (compare that to the city of Manhattan at 34 square miles), Disney was sure to craft a transportation system like no other. With four major theme parks, 2 water parks and a shopping mecca, as part of your next trip you should consider how to get around when visiting Walt Disney World. Keep in mind that as of March 21, 2018, driving and having your car available may start to add up quickly with the implementation of resort parking fees. Rates start at twenty dollars per night at value resorts and increase per night depending on the category of hotel you choose to stay. The modes of transportation we will review are Monorail, Bus, Boats, Skyliner Gondola system, and Minnie Van services. Whether you are staying on property or not, here are some Pros and Cons of using Disney Transportation.
The monorail system was built in 1971 for guests staying at the flagship Contemporary resort and Polynesian Resort. It runs around Seven Seas Lagoon and stops at Most of the resorts overlooking Magic Kingdom including Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Resort, and Grand Floridian resort and starts at the Ticket Transportation Center (TTC). The monorail also has a separate line that leaves from the TTC to Epcot.
The Monorail is a relatively clean mode of transportation and will get you around the Magic Kingdom resorts fairly quickly. There are several trains running through out the day, so if you miss one or the train is full, another train will be pulling up within 10-15 minutes. Lastly, getting on and off is easy especially if a guest needs a scooter to get around or have strollers. Each station is equipped with ramps for easy access. Lastly, traveling by monorail also provides a beautiful relaxing view of the Seven Seas Lagoon and stops at locations close to Magic Kingdom and easy access to each of the resorts on the monorail line.
During high peak times of the year, the wait for the monorail can be slower, therefore, comfort level is dependent on crowd level since there is limited capacity in each car. In addition, since 2017 with Security stations set up in front of the monorail stops, this may cause a delay in boarding.
With so many square miles to cover, buses have played a major role in providing reliable transportation from report to theme park while staying on property. Although Buses do not run resort to resort, they do provide frequent stops to each of the 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and Disney Springs that are all on property. Buses are well maintained and provide air conditioning relief as you sit back and relax back to your resort room.
Buses run very frequently during the early morning and later afternoon hours and go just about everywhere when compared to other Disney transportation. They are efficient and relaxing and the added bonus of taking a bus, is the drop of locations. Most drop off locations are very convenient and give relatively each access to the entrance to each of the park, water park, or Disney Springs. Lastly, if you are using a scooter or wheelchair, you will be asked to board the bus first and get settled and belted in before other guests can board providing a stress-free process.
Disney bus transportation does not run resort to resort like the Monorail or Boat lines do. For example, if you have a reservation for the Spirt of Aloha dinner show at the Polynesian Resort and you are staying at the Boardwalk, you may have to take 2 modes of transportation to get to that reservation such a bus to Magic Kingdom, then a boat or Monorail to the Polynesian Resort so plan accordingly. Another drawback to bus transportation, is that you may need to modify your schedule during high peak season. Buses are subject to high crowd levels during peak season, in turn buses could be overcrowded and it will delay getting back to your resort room. Also, keep in mind that buses are running as frequently during the afternoon hours and may take a bit longer to catch a bus back to your resort.
Walt Disney World provides several types of watercraft to transport guests to resorts, theme parks and shopping. They maintain Ferries, water taxis, and a fleet of boats called the Friendship Boat line along with smaller launches and cruisers that provide continuous service between the Magic Kingdom resorts. Ferries bring guests to and from the TTC to Magic Kingdom and run serval times per hour. Water taxis are located in the Disney Springs area waterway and brings guests to and from Disney Springs to Saratoga Springs Resort, Old Key West, and Port Orleans. The Friendship Boats connect guests to and from Epcot and Hollywood Studios and stopping at the Boardwalk Resort, the Yacht and Beach Club resort, and the Swan and Dolphin.
Boats are not as crowded as each boat can only have a specific number of guests. The rides are a relaxing way to travel and some boats will go from resort to resort. Most boats are handicap accessible and will allow for scooters and wheelchairs, for the exception of the smaller launches and cruisers.
Although this mode of transportation is relaxing, the wait times can be long due to the limited capacity that each boat provides and the time it takes to unload and load passengers on safely. In addition, there are not as many boats in services and shut down services sooner when compared to bus transportation. During the summer months for example, boats will stop running around 10pm as compared to buses that keep running for an hour or two after closing of the parks. Lastly, boat transportation does not run everywhere around Disney property. For example, Disney does not offer boat transportation from Disney Springs to Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom.
Skyliner Gondola System
The Disney Skyliner is expected to open the end of September 2019 and is free for guests to use. The gondola system is built to provide transportation from Hollywood Studios to Epcot and stops at four resorts that include the Art of Animation, Pop Century Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort and the new Riviera Resort. Although it is not open to the public at the time of this article is written here are few pros and cons to keep in mind while planning your next trip.
The gondola will provide great views of Epcot and Hollywood studios and can quickly get you to and from Epcot to resorts on the Skyliner line. The gondolas will not be crowded due to limited capacity. The new system may alleviate crowds who would have normally utilized the Friendship boat or bus transportation. Lastly, the gondola’s will be handicap accessible and can allow for scooter and wheelchair access.
The Skyliner gondola does not go as many places as for example a bus. The Skyliner has specific assigned stops and may not be as convenient as other modes of transportation. The Skyliner may be weather dependent and be shut down during inclement weather. Lastly, due to the limited capacity each gondola provides, crowd levels will dictate how quickly you will get to your destination.
Minnie Van Service
Introduced in July 2017, the Minnie Van service operated by the company Lyft, provides a personal pick up service for a cost of $25 per ride and is now available to all visitors on Disney property.
Minnie vans provide a personal service to bring you where you want to go quickly with no other stops in between. Ride-shares are also available, but cost does not go down and stays at $25 per person. The cars come equipped with 2 car seats, so you won’t need to bring extra items. Handicap accessible vans are also available by request. Lastly, you can use your smart phone to download the Lyft application, request your Minnie van service and pay using your phone application.
Since being introduced in 2017, demand has been high so depending on how many drivers are available wait times can climb to 15-20 minutes. Since fees are at a set rate of $25 per ride, this mode of transportation can add up quickly. Lastly, because ride share vehicles are not allowed on the bus routes, the drop-off locations may not be as convenient. For example, if you would like to get to the Magic Kingdom using a Minnie Van, guests must be dropped off at the TTC and use the Ferry or Monorail system.
Walt Disney World’s public transportation system provides resort guests and visitors with multiple relaxing and fun options to get to one of the many attractions located on Disney property. This system is following Walt’s vision every year by continuously improving and expanding their services in order to provide the best service possible. It is no wonder Walt Disney World continues to be one of the top family destinations each year.