There is no denying that Walt Disney World in Florida is a huge resort. Set on 27,000 acres, it is roughly the size of San Francisco! Unlike some of the smaller Disney resorts, walking isn’t an option. For many people, not having to drive is a big part of a holiday.
You want to relax and have everything done for you, right? Thankfully, the transportation options at Walt Disney World are many and varied and this is exactly why I often choose to stay in one of their many resorts. When it comes to weighing up the cost of staying offsite and paying for transport every day or staying on-site and using the free travel options, for us it’s better to put that money towards a nice hotel at Disney over picking a cheaper hotel offsite and paying to get to the parks every day.
In recent years, Walt Disney World has extended parking charges to the resorts as well as the parks so while you might look at hiring a car as more freedom to leave the Disney bubble. It’s worth factoring in the additional costs and compare it to an Uber or a Lyft ride if you are planning a trip to one of the other amazing parks Orlando has to offer.
But if you’re a first-time guest you might not be aware of what transport options are available. Hopefully, this article will help you feel familiar with the many transport options at Walt Disney World, both free and the ones that cost extra!
Disney Shuttle Buses
Let’s start with the trusty shuttle bus. Free to all whether you’re staying on property or not. These buses have a very direct A-Z route so you need to make sure you’re getting on the right one. The most well-known ones are the resort-to-park bus that runs from an hour or so before the park opens right until a few hours past park closing to ensure everyone gets back to their resort for the evening.
There are also the ones that run from park to park and even the ones that run as monorail replacements when the monorail is down and on days with large crowds. These buses can get crowded, but they do have good air con and a soundtrack to listen to. If you’re lucky you’ll get a great driver who really hypes up the crowd, it really adds to the excitement of the day.
Most resorts now have an electronic screen that tells you when the next bus to your destination is due but like with a regular bus, sometimes it’s not completely accurate. Remember, if the roads get busy, you’re going to have a longer wait.
If I want to be at the park for a certain time, I always ensure I’m at the bus stop an hour early because it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially where dining reservations are concerned. The shuttle bus is without a doubt the most popular of the free transportation options at Walt Disney World.
Like with the buses, there are a fair few different kinds of boats you can take at Walt Disney World. Starting with the most commonly recognised, the ferry that runs from the Transport and Ticket Center to Magic Kingdom. Like the shuttle bus, the ferry runs every day from an hour before park opens until everyone is cleared from the park. The view as you approach the Magic Kingdom is nothing short of magical, but it can be soul-destroying when you are leaving on your last day! The boat takes a little longer than the monorail service but it’s enjoyable and often more spacious.
You can also catch boats across Seven Sea Lagoon between Magic Kingdom and the resorts around it such as Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and the Wilderness Lodge.
Epcot also has a waterway system that extends from the lagoon that World Showcase surrounds all the way to Hollywood Studios. You can take the Friendship Boats between the two parks and they also stop at the Epcot area hotels such as the Yacht and Beach Club resorts and Boardwalk.
Finally, you can take a boat between Disney Springs and the resorts close by Port Orleans, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs.
Walt Disney World Monorail
Riding the Monorail has always been a Disney ride in itself. Back in the day, you could even ride in front with the driver but that’s no longer a thing, much like visiting the cockpit of a plane with the pilot. You can take the Monorail in a loop from the Transport and Ticket Center to Magic Kingdom.
There is a direct train and one that stops at Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary. You can also take the monorail from the Transport and Ticket Center to Epcot. I personally adore this route and try to do it at least once a trip. Like I said, it’s like a ride in itself.
Disney’s Fleet of Minnie Vans
Returning this summer after being discontinued during the pandemic, the Minnie Van Service. For a while, it looked like this would be discontinued indefinitely but back in March, Walt Disney World announced its return. Firstly, this isn’t a free service. And it’s not a cheap one at that. However, I love it and budget for a few rides, in particular for the days we have dining reservations at a resort.
The Minnie Van Service is a bit like Uber or Lyft, in fact, you need to activate it on the Lyft app to use it. Simply ask at reception for a code to get it set up and once it’s done when you try to order a car via Lyft you’ll get offered the option of a Minnie Van while you’re on Disney property.
They have car seats, so you don’t need to pay extra to get a car with one in (Uber was going to charge $23 just for a ride with a car seat), they also install the car seat for you and make sure the straps are perfect for your kid. The driver opens the doors for you, carries your bags and treats you like royalty. The Minnie Vans are also equipped with an amazing soundtrack that they can change so it matches where you’re going. There are so many little magical touches that make it feel like a treat worth splashing out on.
Disney’s Skyliner Cable Car
The newest addition to the Walt Disney transport network, is the Skyliner. The Disney Skyliner is an aerial gondola service that connects Hollywood Studios to Epcot’s International Gateway. It also has stops at the following resorts Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Riviera.
The capsule-style gondolas feature some Disney magic by being decorated with iconic characters and attractions. Most families will be allocated on each so you have the privacy you don’t get on other free modes of transport such as the monorail or bus and the view is simply incredible!
All the modes of transport listed above are accessible. Yes, including the Minnie Van although you do need to request a specific vehicle.
As you can see from this list, there are plenty of transportation options at Walt Disney World, you should never feel like you’re stuck just because you don’t choose to have a car!
But if a hire car is something you definitely feel you need, your Fairytale Holidays Magic Maker can help you with that.