Walt Disney World receives upwards of 100,000 visitors on every single day – Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, all of 'em. And, nearly all of those visitors will use some form of Disney transportation during their day.
Some will arrive via parking lot tram, some via bus, monorail, or boat. But, nearly all of them will use the transportation services that the Walt Disney World resort provides for free – and that doesn't include the guests visiting Downtown Disney, the water parks, the resort restaurants, etc.
When you really stop and think about it, Disney's transportation is downright amazing. Yes, we love to complain about it, but on the whole, it's actually pretty efficient and pretty great.
I live in New York City, and let me tell you: No matter how crowded and delayed Disney's transportation can be, it's nothing compared to trying to cram onto the F train at rush hour on a Friday. In fact, it was on one of those overcrowded subways that a question popped into my mind:
Why is Disney's transportation so much better than the mess I deal with every day on the way home from work?
Sure, the fact that the NYC Subway has to serve 50-times more people makes things difficult, but it's more than that. There are a handful of things that Disney does that simply makes everything flow much smoother.
I've been to many big cities, but here are the things that Disney does with their transportation that outclasses all of them:
1. Utilizing proper queueing practices
In most cities, when commuters prepare to board subway and train cars, they simply stand along a platform, waiting for the train to arrive so they can pile in. Ideally, commuters will spread equally out along the length of the platform, evenly distributing the crowds – however, this rarely happens.
Disney, on the other hand, has guests wait in a queue when they're getting ready to board their buses and boats and even monorails. This has the effect of allowing cast members to point out where the empty cars are, as well as instruct guests on how to board quickly and efficiently. Because guests are in a line, the pushing and shoving that is commonplace in a metropolitan commute isn't warranted or allowed. In fact, pushing another guest would likely get you a stern talking to from a cast member, if not outright expulsion from the resort.
Ultimately, through the use of proper queues and a clear boarding strategy, Disney is able to control the mob-mentality that often forms when commuters board public transportation. And, effectively, this makes the whole experience more pleasant and less prone to delays.
2. Maintaining fully-staffed loading areas
Other than at its bus stops, Disney's boarding areas for its transportation options are fully-staffed by cast members waiting and ready to assist guests in getting to their destination. For the monorail, they make sure guests are properly distributed along the length of the monorail and operate the safety gates. For the boats, they help the boats dock and provide helpful information to guests waiting for the next launch.
None of this happens in a city.
For the most part, you're left to fend for yourself in a city, which leads to a few issues. First of all, as mentioned in the previous section, this disorganization can lead to crowding, which can lead to delays. Second of all, the lack of a well-staffed platform or boarding area can be a safety concern – in New York alone, over 100 travelers are struck by a subway train each year. It's impossible to know how many accidents could have been avoided with a well-trained, vocal staffer there to keep people orderly, but that number likely is greater than zero.
Thirdly, proper staffing allows travelers who are unsure of where they are going to have someone official to consult. At Disney, if you're trying to get from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot, there are plenty of cast members to ask who can help you. In the real world, these people are few and far between – and not always friendly.