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Best Tips for Using Disney Transportation

Disney transportation is {mostly} free in Walt Disney World.  And you’re going to need every mode of transport at Walt Disney World when you’re there! With 40 square miles of property, Disney World is roughly the size of San Francisco. Which makes trying to get to a theme park, resort, water park or Disney Springs a little daunting across WDW property.

aqua color car with eyes and lips at Disney Resort

Walt Disney World Resort Transportation Options

There are so many different types of transportation at Disney World. Some of which you’ve likely never heard of if you haven’t been to Orlando destination.

Monorails, Minnie Vans, and double decker ferry boats are probably not how you get around on most vacations!

And we’ll say it again. Most of the Disney transportation is FREE!

The good thing is Disney transportation is very convenient (and often fun!) if you know what mode of transportation to use. And what to expect in each of the different resort areas.

But let’s be honest, Disney transportation isn’t always a quick choice (or the best). These Disney transportation tips will help you make the best decisions on your vacation and save yourself some time, and hopefully money, when visiting Walt Disney World.

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Mickey’s Magical Express

If you are flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO), then Magical Express is the most convenient way to start your vacation. Especially after a long flight.

Keep in mind, if you are flying into Orlando Sanford airport, it’s MUCH farther away from Walt Disney World than MCO. Also, Magical Express DOES NOT work from Orlando Sanford.

If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel your checked bags will be automatically picked up at the airport and taken to your hotel room. That’s right, your bags are delivered into your room for free! You check in with Magical Express and they take you to your hotel free of charge with baggage delivery, too!

Helpful Tip: You must have your Magic Band to check into Magical Express and get into your room at the resort. So DO NOT check your Magic Bands in your checked luggage! Keep them in a carry on piece of luggage.

They also provide transportation back to the airport, but they tend to schedule your pickup time pretty close to the boarding time, so check in the night before you leave to confirm your departure.

FYI: Dogs are allowed on Magical Express if you are staying at one of the pet-friendly resorts. Your pets must be in their own carrier that you provide. Service dogs are always welcome.

Disney’s Magical Express is even offered if you’re camping or RVing at Fort Wilderness Campground. See how you can stay in an RV at Disney’s Fort Wilderness and have it delivered and set up for you!

Disney Transportation at Your Resort

If you are staying on Walt Disney World Resort property in one of their hotels or Fort Wilderness, your choice of hotel will determine how convenient certain modes of transport will be.

Buses

You will see an entire fleet of buses at Walt Disney World Resort. There are so many buses going back and forth between resorts and theme parks!

Buses are free Disney transportation to use. But they can be slow (and often crowded).

Every Disney resort will have bus transportation to all of the theme parks. There is a dedicated bus that only goes between the resort and one theme park. For instance, if you are going to Epcot, you must find the bus that says Epcot. You cannot hop on any of the buses and expect them to eventually go to Epcot. The only exceptions are the Disney resorts that are on the monorail loop near the Magic Kingdom. Those include:

Sprawling resorts with a large footprint tend to have internal buses with multiple stops that slow things down. These resorts are:

  • Caribbean Beach
  • Coronado Springs
  • Saratoga Springs
  • Port Orleans (Riverside)
  • Old Key West
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Fort Wilderness.

I’ve spent what seemed like an hour on a Fort Wilderness bus before trying to get from the parking lot up front to the dining destinations in the back of the resort. Keep this in mind when using any Disney bus.

Helpful Tip: You must fold up strollers to get on a Disney bus. If you have a sleeping child or a lot of “stuff” in a stroller, it can be quite inconvenient to have to collapse the stroller down and bring it onboard. Keep this in mind if you are traveling with strollers.

Disney buses run between theme parks, as well. So if you are at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and want to go to Magic Kingdom, you can take a bus between the two theme parks. You do not need to go back to the resort to take another bus to the theme park.

Keep in mind that there are NO buses that run from Disney Springs to any of the theme parks.

Monorail

There are three Magic Kingdom Resort area hotels that have Monorail stations. The monorails provide easy access to Magic Kingdom Park, the other hotels on the loop, and Epcot via monorail transfer. The hotels that share this unique benefit are the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian Village.

monorail on track near Epcot

Monorails are electric vehicles that ride on a track high in the air. It’s a great way to see a lot of Disney World property. You can also peek into backstage areas from your perch above.

The air conditioning on monorails make them a pleasant choice of Disney transportation (buses are air conditioned, too). Monorails can be especially packed in the early morning and at night.

Strollers can be brought onto monorails without folding them. But only so many will fit on each monorail. So you might have to wait for space if it’s especially busy.

Boats and Ferry

If you are staying in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, or Disney Springs resort areas, you will have boat access for transportation.

There are boats to the Magic Kingdom from:

  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

boat in canal with green grass on banks and palm trees at Disney World

Water taxis to and from Disney Springs are available for:

  • Old Key West
  • Saratoga Springs
  • Port Orleans

Friendships boats are available between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios from their resorts, including:

  • Yacht Club
  • Beach Club
  • Boardwalk
  • Swan and Dolphin

The big double decker ferry is also available between the Transportation and Ticket Center (where you park for Magic Kingdom) and the Magic Kingdom. It’s a great way to see Cinderella Castle from afar and enjoy a more serene approach to the Magic Kingdom.

We love taking the boats. It’s a chance to travel peacefully and get a free boat ride! On a beautiful day, you can’t believe how lucky you are to be sailing the waterways of Disney World and enjoying the weather.

On hot days or in rain, it’s not as peachy keen. No air conditioning can make for a sweaty and hot experience. Especially if you are in full sun or the sun is shining in on your seat.

Helpful Tip: You’ll need to fold up your stroller to get on a boat.

Skyliner

Within the year, certain hotels will have stations for the new Skyliner gondola system that goes to and from Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  These resorts will be Pop Century, Art of Animation,Caribbean Beach, and Disney’s new Riviera hotel.

aqua color car with eyes and lips at Disney Resort

Walt Disney World Buses

Buses are sometimes the only free transportation available.  If you are staying in the Animal Kingdom resort area, this is the case. Disney Springs resorts similarly rely on the bus for anything other than Disney Springs.

Getting from one resort to another is a major inconvenience by bus, because you will be sent to a neighboring theme park and then have to transfer.  For direct transport to another resort, you will need to take an alternative mode like a taxi.

Uber or Lyft

Ridesharing apps are the most convenient and quick way to get around Disney World. They will take you exactly where you want to go and are never far away when you need one.

Unfortunately, Uber and Lyft are becoming more necessary for Disney transportation lately. There have been multiple times when the monorail is not working to the Magic Kingdom. Which means that everyone at the three resorts needs to hop on buses. And there usually aren’t enough buses for the amount of people that need them.

If you need to get to a dining reservation quickly, getting a ride share with Uber or Lyft is often the quickest way to get across property.

My favorite is Uber because they always have some kind of special rate and I save a ton compared to Lyft or Minnie Van.

Awesome BONUS: You may be able to get your first Uber ride for FREE! Use this Uber code for a free ride (value amounts vary by location):  kimb4850ue

Be sure to set up an Uber or Lyft account before heading to Disney World just in case. It’s much easier to simply request transportation when you need it, then trying to set up your account before you can hire a car.

Helpful Tips:

When you are taking a cab or an uber, request Contemporary and walk to the park from there, or have them drop you off at the Grand Floridian and take the monorail directly to Magic Kingdom.

Epcot is another park you can save time with by not going directly to the park.  If you have your driver drop you off at Beach Club instead, you are a very short walk from the International Gateway, a side entrance to Epcot, with much shorter lines (or none at all).

Minnie Vans

The Minnie Van is a Disney operated Lyft that charges a flat $25 to go anywhere.  It’s not cheap, but it is fast and the customer service is more reliable.

Helpful Tip: You MUST have a Lyft account to take a Minnie Van. Be sure to set up a Lyft account, attach your payment choice and have it installed on your phone before getting to Walt Disney World.

The paid transportation service can accommodate up to 6 guests for the flat fee.

Minnie Vans are painted bright red with white polka dots. They go anywhere on Disney property. It makes a fun photo op!

van painted red with white polka dots Disney Transportation

Minnie Vans come with 2 versatile car seats, which makes them a great idea for families.

Minnie Vans can accommodate wheelchairs and ECVs.

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