When you plan a trip to Walt Disney World, you have to think about transportation. Transportation to Orlando, transportation to your resort, transportation to the parks, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention if you plan to go to Universal Studios during your stay (I mean, let's be real, Harry Potter is amazing!)
How are you getting to Orlando
I guess the first thing to discuss is how are you getting to Orlando. That, of course, depends on your budget, where your family lives, and what you are used to doing.
If you decide to drive to Disney (which is what my family did growing up), then bully for you! That is a great way to travel. However, do understand that if you are staying at a Disney resort, you will have to pay to park your car.
There are other things to know about parking that you should check out the article on Parking In Disney.
Disney's Magical Express
If you are flying into the Orlando International Airport (MCO), then there is a great option for getting to your resort! It's called Disney's Magical Express!
I could write a whole article just on this topic (and probably will), there is that much information to know. The main thing to know is that if you have a reservation at a Disney resort, it is FREE! Yes, I said FREE!
OK, not really, because you paid for it in your reservation, but it feels good not to have to pay extra for it.
You can either make a Magical Express reservation before you go on your trip, or you can hop on right at the airport without a reservation.
So you might be asking, Why make a reservation if I don't have to? That is a really good question, and here is a really good answer. If you make a reservation, Disney will send you tags to put on your checked luggage. THEN THEY WILL DELIVER YOUR LUGGAGE TO YOUR RESORT! How awesome is that! You just get off the plane and head to the bus! No trip to baggage claim which can be a time suck.
If you don't make a reservation but want to use Magical Express, that is fine. However, you will have to pick up your bags before you head over to the pickup location.
One caveat about Magical express is that it sometimes takes a bit to get to your resort. There are going to be other people on the bus staying at other resorts, and you may be the last resort that gets dropped off. But hey, you could also be the first one dropped off! I think the convenience of the trip (and they will take you back to the airport also!) is worth the little bit of extra time.
I say go with Magical Express.
Walt Disney World Busses
Well, now that you are at the resort, and don't have a car, how do you get around. It's easy! You use the Walt Disney World busses! They are free and will get you where you want to go.
That being said, there are some things that you should know. Taking the busses is certainly not the fastest form of transportation at Walt Disney World. And sometimes you have to wait in a long line at the end of a long day to get on a bus to your resort. I'm not gonna lie, that can be painful! But hey, it's free, and you aren't the one dealing with the traffic! That is definitely worth something!
Walt Disney World has also tried to make it easier to know when buses are going to show up to take you where you want to go. You can see bus arrival times on the My Disney Experience app! That is a pretty new feature that is really nice. You can see that the Magic Kingdom bus will be there in 20 minutes ( you can stroll to the stop), or 2 minutes (either run or catch the next one)! It used to be that you just took a shot and showed up. You might have to wait 20 minutes before your bus arrived, and you had no way of knowing. Instead, you just sat, waited, and complained after about 10 minutes.
Also you should know that you need to plan extra travel time when taking the Walt Disney World busses for transportation. While they are convenient, as I said earlier, they are not the fastest. My rule of thumb is if I need to be someplace at a specific time (like a dinner reservation). give yourself at least an hour on the bus to get there.
But hey, it's free, and you aren't driving! (I have many times taken a nap on the bus at the end of the day. And I would guess that your kids will!)
If you have to get someplace faster, I'm gonna give you an option a little later.
What about the Walt Disney World Monorail?
What about the monorail! That is probably the most famous Walt Disney World transportation! It is a lot of fun! It was my mother's favorite "attraction". She was just happy riding the monorail on the loop around the Magic Kingdom resorts.
So here is what you need to know about the monorails. If you are staying in a monorail resort (The Contemporary, Polynesian Village, or Grand Floridian), first off, congratulations! Those are great deluxe resorts. They are also monorail resorts! What that means is that you can take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Yahoo!
You can also take it to the Ticket And Transportation Center (TTC) and get the monorail to Epcot. That is definitely convenient!
However, those are the only places the monorail takes people. Now don't get me wrong, that is awesome and I love the monorail. But like many other Disney enthusiasts, I wish it went to all the parks. But alas, it doesn't. So enjoy it while you can.
That being said, it is free, and anyone can take it. It's a great way to tour the Magic Kingdom resorts or get to Epcot from the Magic Kingdom.
I will say that the fleet of trains is getting old, so be aware that there might be slowdowns on the system. Still, I think it is a fun way to travel. And they are getting a new set of trains made, and hopefully, they will be ready for the 50th anniversary coming up. So YAY for that!
Disney Boat Transportation
Another great way to get around is by boat! Yes, you read that correctly. Sometimes you can take a boat to get where you want to go!
First, there is the ferry from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom. I love this trip and I'm always glad I decided to take it. It carries a lot of people. You get a great view of the park. And there is a really nice breeze on those really hot and humid days.
There are also boats from resorts. You can get a boat from any of the Magic Kingdom resorts to and from the Magic Kingdom. You can also get one from The Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness campground! They are a lot of fun. They are small, and just really pleasant. You might want to give them a try.
There are also Friendship boats that take you to Epcot and Hollywood Studios from the Epcot resorts. That is my favorite way to travel from those resorts! They are so nice, and sometimes you get a skipper that has been around for a long time and has great stories to share. That is always the best!
Those boats pick up/drop off at Disney's Boardwalk, Disney's Yacht and Beach Club, The Swan, and The Dolphin resorts.
There is a new way to get around at Walt Disney World. The Minnie Vans!
The Minnie Vans are run through the LYFT app, and they are not free. But they sure are fun! If I could afford it, I would only use Minnie Vans.
They are air-conditioned. You can get your devices charged while riding (and we all have devices!) You also get a driver who knows Disney inside and out, and is always happy to share their knowledge! It is great!
If you have a reservation and are running late, this is definitely the way to go. They will pick you up at the front door of your resort (or really close to the front). And they will drop you off right where you need to be. SO GOOD!
Just know that they are not free. That is the only catch. But they are definitely worth a try. You won't be sorry!
Cabs, Uber, and Lyft
Maybe you don't want to use Walt Disney World transportation. You can always take a cab, an Uber, or a Lyft. They will definitely get you where you want to go. And they are plentiful.
When I want to go to Universal, I always take a Lyft. I just think it's easier than driving myself. Also cheaper than renting a car just for that trip.
You may have heard about the new gondola system Disney Transportation is putting in. I'll write about that when they are up and running so you can check back for that information.
Walt Disney World transportation can seem really confusing until you have all the information. Once you see the big picture, it's not that rough. You just need to decide what works best for your trip. For most people, it is bus transportation. But for you, it may be a combination of things.
It's all up to you. My suggestion is to have an idea of what you are going to use, and then be flexible as you feel the need. Don't let transportation be the thing that ruins your otherwise amazing vacation. Just know what is available. And if you are in the least bit confused, ASK A CAST MEMBER! They will be happy to help you find what you need.
What are your thoughts about transportation? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment so we can talk about it! Also, sign up for The Goofy Guy Newsletter to stay on top of what is happening!