One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “How am I going to get to the [Fill in the Blank—park, restaurant, resort, etc.]?” With most guests flying into Orlando, it is a very legitimate question. Walt Disney World offers a variety of transportation options from Disney’s Magical Express to get you to and from the resort to the airport, along with ways to get from one place to another once you are onsite. Here are the top 10 questions (& answers) for Disney Transportation:
10. Who is eligible to use Disney Transportation?
All of the transportation options onsite are available for anyone to use. If you are staying onsite at a Disney resort you can use the transportation from your resort to the parks. But even offsite guests are able to use the transportation options if needed. The only exception to this is the Magical Express to and from the airport. This service is only available for Disney Resort guests. If you are at the Magic Kingdom and need to get to dinner at the Polynesian for dinner at ‘Ohana, you can take the monorail—whether you are an on or off site guest.
9. What modes of transportation does Disney offer?
Within the Walt Disney World resort there are a few options to get around, depending on where you are and where you are going. There are the buses that service all of the resorts with transportation to the parks, waterparks and Disney Springs. Some resorts are on the monorail loop, or you can take the monorail from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. And then there is boat transportation. The Magic Kingdom area resorts (except the Contemporary because you can walk) offer boats to the Magic Kingdom, the Epcot area resorts offer boat transportation to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and the Disney Springs area resorts (Port Orleans, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West) offer boats to Disney Springs. There is also a boat route that connects the Bay Lake Resorts (Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness and the Contemporary). And there is the ferry that transports guests to the Magic Kingdom from the Ticket and Transportation Center and back. In addition to these complimentary transportation option, Disney also has a “Minnie Van” service provided by Lyft that will pick guests up from select areas and transport them for a fee.
8. How do I get from my resort to another?
Many people schedule dining reservations at other resorts—it is a great way to see other resorts and enjoy a great meal. If you are in a hurry I recommend called for a Minnie Van, Taxi, or Uber so you can go directly to the resort. If you aren’t, there are some options. You can take a bus (or other mode of transportation offered at your resort) to a park, then find the bus stop (or other mode of transportation) for the resort you need to get to. Get in that line and take the next bus to that resort. It may make sense to choose a particular park to make the transfer—for instance if you are eating at the Contemporary you would want to go to the Magic Kingdom and then take the monorail or walk to the Contemporary. Other times it might be best just to take the first park bus that shows up (or Disney Springs). If you are eating at Animal Kingdom Lodge it doesn’t really matter which park you use as a connection. One thing to keep in mind—there is no transportation to the Epcot area resorts from the front entrance of Epcot where your bus will drop you off. If you take the Epcot bus you will need park admission to walk through the park to the resorts (exiting in World Showcase). Without a park ticket to use for this, take the bus to the Studios and then take the boat to the resort.
7. Are strollers/wheelchairs/ECVs allowed?
Yes to all. On the buses and smaller boats the strollers must be folded, on the monorail and larger boats you can often just roll the stroller on. The buses have special areas for ECVs and wheelchairs that allow them to be strapped into place and secured. Guests using an ECV or wheelchair will be loaded first with their travel party; however there are a limited number of spots on each bus for ECVs and wheelchairs, so you may have to wait for the next bus.
6. Does Disney provide transportation to get from the airport to my resort (and back)?
Why yes they do! In a very smart move that makes it even easier and more convenient for guests to stay onsite at a Walt Disney World resort, Disney created their complimentary Magical Express service. Disney’s Magical Express is available to anyone staying onsite and flying into Orlando International (MCO), but you do have to register for the service with your flight details prior to your trip. You are given luggage tags so that your luggage will be picked up and magically transported to your room, and you will have a spot on a comfortable, air conditioned bus to take you to your resort. For your return to the airport you are given a time to meet in the lobby, and the Magical Express bus will pick you up (but it isn’t quite as magical on the return trip). Please note that Magical Express does not operate from the Sanford or Tampa airports (or any airport other than MCO).
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5. Where does the monorail go and are there any plans to expand it?
There are not any plans to expand the monorail at this time. Unfortunately, you cannot access Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom via the monorail. There are a few monorail loops that you can travel (and sometimes it is fun just to ride, even if you aren’t going anywhere). There is an express monorail loop that travels from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom—it does pass through the monorail resorts but doesn’t stop. There is a resort loop that travels between the Ticket and Transportation Center, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom and Contemporary stopping at each. And there is the Epcot loop that travels from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the front entrance of Epcot and back. Taking this one to Epcot is my favorite because you travel through Epcot before stopping to unload. *Note: while there are no plans to expand the monorail, Disney is building a Disney Skyliner that will connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts and other locations with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot via a gondola system!
4. Can you walk to the parks?
Yes, you can depending on where you are staying. The Epcot area resorts (Yacht & Beach Club, Boardwalk, and Swan/Dolphin) have walkways to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The walk to Epcot is quick and easy with an entrance at the International Gateway into the World Showcase. The walk to Hollywood Studios is longer, but is still along a nice pathway along the waterway. The only resort that has walking access to Magic Kingdom is the Contemporary. None of the resorts, including Animal Kingdom Lodge, allow you to walk to the Animal Kingdom.
3. Is the transportation free?
Yes! All of Disney’s transportation options are free, including Magical Express. The only Disney transportation you would pay for is if you are going on a Disney Cruise and taking the Disney shuttles to Port Canaveral from a Disney resort (or the airport) or if you decide to use the Minnie Van service provided by Lyft.
2. Where do you get on the bus/monorail/boat?
Each resort has its own bus stop (or multiple stops) that are well labeled. If there is only one stop it is located outside the main lobby or entrance to the resort. Some of the resorts have multiple bus stops around the resort—check your resort map to see which one is closest to your room location. At some locations you need in a certain area for particular parks—check the overhead signage. Once the bus pulls up its destination will be listed on the marquee on the front of the bus. When you arrive at the parks you will be in an area with multiple bus stops (one for each resort or a pair of resorts). Take note of the signs there to know which bus stop to return to at the end of your park day to catch the right bus back to your resort (for the return trip your resort will be listed on the bus marquee). The monorail can be accessed at the main entrance to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot, at each monorail resort (Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian), and at the Ticket and Transportation Center. The marinas at the resorts with boat access to the parks are usually located in the back of the resort.
1. How long does it take?
The million dollar question that has no definitive answer. If you have a certain time you need to be in a location (like for a dining reservation) you should allow 60-90 minutes using most Disney transportation. Buses arrive approximately every 20 minutes, so if you are lucky one will arrive as you get to the bus stop. But you might also walk up right after one pulls away and you would have to wait for the full 20 minutes. Knowing where your resort is in comparison to where you are going will help—it is going to take a lot longer to get to the Magic Kingdom from the Animal Kingdom Lodge than it would from the Wilderness Lodge. You can always ask the front desk staff if you need a good estimate of actual travel time. Check out the next bus arrival time by looking at the time screens available at each bus stop.