One of the many perks that come with staying on Disney World property is never having to worry about transportation. That’s because Disney actually takes care of all your travel needs via the complimentary transportation services they provide to get you anywhere you need to go within the expansive range of Walt Disney World Resort. So, all those concerns about how you’ll commute back and forth between Resort and Park or even how to venture on over to nearby Disney Springs are nonexistent. All that stress of needing to rent out a vehicle to drive yourself around just melts away like a broken spell.
While every Disney Resort offers mutually befitting transportation options to Guests, some of the versatile forms of travel do differ depending on a Resort’s proximity and route to specific theme park locations. Here is a comprehensive guide for navigating Walt Disney World, looking into the various forms of transport available to Disney Guests.
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Disney Shuttle Buses
A constant mainstay available to Guests at every Disney Resort is the elaborate line of shuttle buses arriving and departing throughout the day. On average, shuttles make their rounds every 20 minutes, back and forth. And don’t worry if a bus fills up too soon because Disney Cast Member drivers are good about calling for backup to keep up with the constant flow. So, you’re never left waiting too long.
Unless there is an alternate form of transportation available to a nearby Park, you can pretty much count on all Disney Resorts to provide buses to take you on your way to every Disney Park (and water park), as well as into nearby Disney Springs. Individual bus stops are marked clearly, denoting the destination you are departing to. Likewise, the shuttle buses themselves all display the destination they are bound for. And when you are ready to return back to your Resort from any Park location (or Disney Springs), bus stop markers for each accommodation are again clearly indicated.
Disney shuttle buses begin their daily operations 45 minutes before a Park’s scheduled opening and continue to run an hour after a Park’s closing time. This schedule takes into account both Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours.
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The Walt Disney World Monorail
One of Disney’s most iconic means of transportation is, of course, its world-renowned Walt Disney World Monorail System. Every visitor yearns to ride along these high-in-the-sky rails at some point during their vacation. But those staying within the Magic Kingdom Resort Area, in particular, get to rely on the Monorail for their primary means of getting to nearby Magic Kingdom Park if they so choose. For them, they hop aboard what’s known as the Resort Monorail Loop, which circles around to the Magic Kingdom with stops along the way at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. There’s also a stop-off at the Transportation and Ticket Center for those arriving via the parking lot who may want to ride on into the Park using this coveted method. Similarly, a far-less utilized Express Line runs solely from the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center (and back again) without any Resort detours.
A separate Monorail Loop travels from the Transportation and Ticket Center to just outside of the front entrance leading into EPCOT. Guests staying within the Magic Kingdom Resort Area looking to travel via this method only need to take the Resort Line over to the Transportation and Ticket Center and switch lines to continue onto EPCOT. Likewise, those arriving through the parking lot need only hop onto the EPOT-bound route.
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Disney Watercraft Services
Some Resorts and other locations throughout Walt Disney World with large surrounding bodies of water have established connecting water routes. For instance, within the Magic Kingdom Resort Area, you can take a water taxi on over to the Park from the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.
Larger, old-fashioned ferryboats also sail consistently back and forth between the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center through the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon. This offers a nice, scenic, breezy, open-air alternative to taking the Monorail.
Over within the vicinities of EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, you have trusty Friendship Boats navigating back and forth between the two Parks while making stops at surrounding Resorts along the way. These include the BoardWalk, Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, and the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Hotels.
You can also sail smoothly into Disney Springs from several nearby Disney Resorts. Watercraft services here depart from the following accommodations: Disney’s Old Key West, Disney’s Saratoga Springs, and both Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—Riverside and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—French Quarter.
Most of the water-based routes throughout Disney World run anywhere between 15 minutes to a half hour.
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The Disney Skyliner
Disney expanded its innovative travel methods between Park and Resort locations several years ago with their Skyliner gondola system. Guests looking to embrace this means of venturing back and forth, however, take note. The routes by which the system runs are very limited. In short, the Disney Skyliner connects only to a handful of surrounding Area Resorts and features a stop-off that is in a convenient range from Hollywood Studios and the back entrance into EPCOT via the International Gateway. The Resorts that are a part of the gondola line include Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Riviera Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and Disney’s Art of Animation.
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Not to be overlooked is the most basic way to travel—the lost art of physically walking to and from the destination on foot. But Disney World is huge, and not everything is located in close range. So, is walking even possible? The answer may surprise you—YES.
While admittedly limited, there actually are a couple of options where you can walk directly from certain Disney Resorts to the closest theme park. For many years, Disney’s Contemporary Resort was the only accommodation onsite with a pathway by which Guests could walk to Magic Kingdom Park. But in recent years, an extensive, scenic pathway was established, leading from Disney’s Grand Floridian straight to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. And because Guests staying at the Polynesian can easily walk to the Grand Floridian, it goes without saying that Polynesian patrons may also walk to the Park via this method. However, you should note that, unlike the Contemporary’s quicker route, the Grand Floridian path is no short stroll. In fact, it may average 15 to 20 minutes (up to 35 if you’re starting out from the Polynesian). But if you’re up to the challenge of taking on a lengthier, scenic alternative by which to stretch your legs, then more power to you!
Guests staying around the EPCOT/Hollywood Studios Resort Area may also walk to both of the aforementioned locations with convenient, navigational walking ways. If you stay at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, you have one of the shortest walks to Hollywood Studios than any other Resort. It amounts to less than a mile and may take as little as 15 minutes, depending on your walking speed. Venturing to EPCOT from here is only .3 miles and can take as little as five minutes to complete. From the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, depending on where exactly you are starting off from, the walk can be anywhere from five to 10 minutes to EPCOT or up to 20 minutes to Hollywood Studios. The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels are not officially considered Disney Resorts but are within this same convenient, walkable range.
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This is the only transportation method on the list not included as Disney World’s complimentary services. But it’s still an absolutely awesome option to consider, especially if you’re looking for a private ride/chauffeuring experience by which you do not have to wait for a fixed schedule or share space with strangers. It’s also great if you’re trying to get from one Resort to another, as shuttle buses do not travel between individual Resort locations.
While officially part of Lyft rideshare services, the comfortable, roomy vehicles with their cute Minnie Mouse theming all boast the same extended Disney Magic you’d expect from any other Walt Disney World Transportation method. Each vehicle can accommodate up to six Guests at a time and is equipped with two child safety seats that can be installed directly by the Cast Member drivers. That’s right, you have knowledgeable, friendly Disney Cast Members at the wheel! So, you may rest assured that they’re experienced in navigating the roads and getting you to whichever Disney destination you so seek in a timely fashion.
Minnie Vans can be booked through the Lyft app. Services are provided to and from select Disney World locations, including all Disney Resorts and neighboring Resorts like Shades of Green, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World, and the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin.
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Considerations When Arriving and Departing
For many years, Walt Disney World offered a wonderful, additional complimentary transportation service to chauffeur arriving and departing Guests between the Orlando International Airport and their respective Disney Resort accommodations. It was known as Disney’s Magical Express, and many Guests are still rightfully lamenting its discontinuation. While there are many existing alternatives for traveling to and from the airport and your specific Disney Resort, none are free. So, this is another thing to consider when adding up all the additional costs you can expect when establishing a Disney World vacation budget.
But again, once you arrive on location at the one and only Walt Disney World Resort, you can relax knowing that you won’t have to do any of the driving or spend any additional cash on rentals or parking! Just go with the flow and enjoy the ride!