There is an abundance of transportation options at Walt Disney World. With so many options, there is no need to rent a car while on vacation. And the best part is they are all free! With Walt Disney World Resort being 43 square miles, that is a lot of ground to cover shuttling guests. Here are tips for getting around on your next Walt Disney World vacation.
Disney’s transportation fleet consists of buses, boats and the famous monorail system. These means of transportation are not available at every resort or park, so you have to know the in’s and out’s of getting around. It can seem overwhelming, but my tips will hopefully help you make the most of your time on vacation.
My biggest tip for not having to rent a car on a Disney World vacation is staying at a Disney owned resort hotel. This will allow you use of the Magical Express shuttle to/from Orlando International airport and all of the various means of free transportation once you check in. Not having to drive for a week is a perfect way to disconnect from reality and enjoy your vacation to its fullest. You will be fully immersed in the “Disney Bubble” as it is called.
Transportation to the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs begins two hours prior to opening time and runs until approximately one hour after the parks close. Your driver will remind you of the last departure before you exit.
The largest fleet in the Disney transportation system is the bus system. They will take you to parks, other resorts and Disney Springs. This is an easy way to get around Disney World, but you may have to wait up to 20 minutes for a bus if you watch yours pull away as you approach the stop. The bus transportation is clearly labeled so that you will know exactly which park you are going to. It’s hard to get on the wrong bus. The bus system is equipped for scooters and wheelchairs as well, and a driver or aide will help you on and off the bus. Take a quick fold stroller for the kids, as it is less of a hassle on the bus if it is folded.
TMOM Tip: If you are in a park and have a dinner reservation at a resort, you can take the bus directly from the park to resort. Allow yourself up to 60 minutes to get to your destination so you don’t miss your reservation.
Walt Disney World has many lakes within its 43 square miles, allowing for boat transportation around the resort in certain locations. I love taking the boats and kicking my feet up for a relaxing cruise (for free). You don’t have to be staying at the resort that offers boat transportation. Remember Disney transportation is free for all guests of Walt Disney World.
Should your resort be accessible by boat or walking to a park there will be no bus. For example, boat service to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is available to and from Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and Disney’s Beach Club Resort. These resorts are on Crescent Lake which connects to both of those parks. This saves Disney from using a bus to transport guests at these resorts. The walk to Epcot is not bad. It takes ten minutes or so depending on your room location. Walking to Hollywood Studios is 15-20 minutes, so you may opt for the boat.
TMOM Tip: You can ride a friendship boat from Epcot to Hollywood Studios round-trip and it is 40 minutes. That is a great park break and you can enjoy the cool breeze and take in the views.
Every visit to Walt Disney World should include a ride on the famous monorail. You can ride the monorail a few different ways.
- Stay at The Contemporary, Grand Floridian or Polynesian Resorts and you are directly on the monorail line to Magic Kingdom or, after a transfer, a quick trip to Epcot.
- If you do have a car you can take the monorail from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom.
- Tired of Epcot? Hop on the monorail over to Magic Kingdom for a bit (must have park hopper ticket to change parks).
TMOM Tip: Strollers fit perfectly on the monorail. If you have a cranky little one that is over-stimulated, take them on a monorail ride. It is air-conditioned and once the monorail starts moving usually the kids will give in and sleep. No need to get off the monorail when it stops; just take a few trips around the loop. This will also save you a bit of sanity.
Should you have a car you will not pay for parking at your resort or the parks while staying on property. I will say if the parks are crowded you could be parked out in no mans land and have to wait for a tram for quite a while. You may find it less stressful to park the car at the resort and utilize the free transportation.
The Magic Kingdom also does not have a direct access parking lot. You will park, then take a tram to the Ticket and Transportation Center, then take ferry or monorail to Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney wanted it this way so you could not see the park as soon as you arrived in the parking lot. The Disney bus system drops you almost at the front door to park without all of the extra steps.
TMOM Transportation Tips:
- If you’re leaving one of the parks at closing or after fireworks, consider waiting. All of the transportation gets packed and you end up waiting in crazy lines. Take this time to do a little shopping or grab a snack and sit down to wait it out. After a long day in the park you don’t want to wait in line for a ride back to the resort.
- A bridge connects Pop Century to Art of Animation Resort. This means you can take whichever of the two buses arrives first when leaving the parks.
- You can walk from Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort to Disney Springs via sidewalk. It’s faster than the boats at times.
- You can walk from Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Yacht & Beach Club, and Swan & Dolphin resorts to Epcot’s (World Showcase) entrance, but you cannot walk from the front entrance of Epcot to any of these resorts, without a park ticket.
- Ferry boats are available from Old Key West Resort, Saratoga Springs Resort, Port Orleans Riverside, and Port Orleans French Quarter to Disney Springs. There are three different stops it will make depending on where you are visiting.
- You can walk from Disney’s Contemporary Resort to the Magic Kingdom via a sidewalk. This is faster than monorail.
- If the monorail line is long at the end of the night for your resort, take a ferry. They almost never have a long line and will drop you off directly at The Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts.
I hope this will help you navigate your way around Walt Disney World a little easier. Do you have a transportation tip to share?