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.
Update – 2022 – Disney’s Magical Express is no longer included with your stays at the Walt Disney World Resort. You can book through Mears for a similar service, but it will come at a cost and it definitely isn’t as Magical as the Magical Express. Also, while the Minnie Vans have been out of commission, they will be making a return in the summer of 2022!
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 the attractions.
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, as 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 there and the Art of Animation 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 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 10:00 am 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 the property, so you will want to check with your resort as the price is different depending on which level of the 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 8:00 am, buses will run as early as 7:00 am, or if they close at 1:00 am, then you’ll have transportation until 2:00 am available. Some advantage 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 nowhere 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 downside 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, 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 for 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 which 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
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!
Disney World Website
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?
Oh yeah, we have an amazing community of Disney World Fanatics hanging out on our Facebook Page. If you want to join us and thousands of other Disney World Enthusiasts to get all of your Disney Vacation questions answered, check out our Facebook Group – Disney World Questions and Answers.