Home » Tips and Tricks You Need to Know for Getting Around Walt Disney World

Tips and Tricks You Need to Know for Getting Around Walt Disney World

When you’re at a Walt Disney World theme park, you’re having an amazing time. Getting to the park isn’t always easy, though. Disney has three primary (and free) modes of transportation, with a fourth one available for a fee. In this article, I’ll evaluate each one, telling you all the good and bad about the various options. Here’s everything you need to know about Walt Disney World transportation.


Image: DisneyWhen you evaluate the various transportation options at Disney, you need to know a few things. The primary concerns are availability, reliability, logistics, and convenience. Since the presumption is that you haven’t visited Disney in a while if ever, you need to understand the process with each transportation mode. This conversation will be framed with these concerns in mind. It’s definitely more for the beginner than the frequent Disney guest.

I’ll start with buses since they’re the vehicles that you’re most likely to ride. When you stay at an official Walt Disney World resort, Disney even sends a bus to pick you up at the Orlando International Airport, presuming that you fly into that facility. This bus is the Magical Express, and it sets the tone for the bus system at Walt Disney World, albeit with a few wrinkles.

On the Magical Express, you’ll store your luggage in a special section at the bottom of the bus. Then, you’ll sit down and savor a 40-minute ride to your hotel. The one unusual element is that you’ll have an introductory video playing throughout this journey. The buses that transfer you from resorts to parks don’t have this feature. Otherwise, the experience is about the same.

You’ll ride to a designated location, but your bus will make stops along the way. It will visit other Disney resorts, giving all guests an opportunity to depart at the appropriate hotel. Disney’s main bus system is similar. At your designated Disney location, you’ll walk over to the bus station, which is impossible to miss due to its size.

Image: DisneyYou’ll wait for the bus to arrive. Each vehicle is first come, first served. Should the line be so large that it’s beyond bus capacity, you’ll have to wait for the next one. This situation frequently occurs soon after park closing. While they don’t seem as huge as the classic Disney Omnibuses of yore, modern buses have more room than you realize. They have standing room areas, too, but you will probably have to wait for a second or third bus at some point during your trip.

Something else you should understand is that there are multiple buses. One will take you directly to Magic Kingdom, another goes to Disney Springs, and so forth. Some will have shared stops such as Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Each additional stop will delay your time of arrival. You’ll want to allow for this when you plan your travel time.

You should also understand that several resorts have multiple internal bus stops. For example, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside will stop several times before you ever leave the resort. Again, these extra stops add more travel time. Once you pick your resort, you should research the number of bus stops to reduce your daily time spent on buses.

Image: DisneyDisney recently added bus schedules to several bus stations at the resorts. These digital displays list the expected arrival of the buses. They also state the destination for each bus. They’re invaluable, and you should use them. Disney’s also testing the addition of bus times to the My Disney Experience app. This enhancement would dramatically alter the reliability of buses.

With buses, you never quite know how long the trip will take. You can do web searches for general estimates, but even those are unreliable. A quick trip one day may take much longer on another due to traffic, slow bus boardings/un-boardings and missed red lights. A lot about buses is seemingly random.

Despite the negatives, buses are currently the most readily available Disney transportation option. They’re the second most reliable rides, but their consistency is still dubious at best. So, their convenience is up for debate. Longtime Disney guests complain about the buses about as much as anything, which speaks to the fact that the setup hasn’t improved much over the years.


Image: DisneyBoats are effectively a less reliable but more enjoyable form of transportation than buses…unless you suffer from motion sickness. Disney’s boat transportation system is available at several resorts, most of which have waterways that connect to three of the theme parks. You won’t ride a boat to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but every other theme park has some form of boat dock access. Disney Springs does, too.

Boats tend not to fill up the same way that buses do. When you wait for a boat, odds are good that you’ll get to ride it. You can tell by the crowd whether the boat may be too crowded, though. When you see that, simply head over to the bus station instead. While there may be an exception, I can’t think of a Disney resort with a boat dock that doesn’t also have a bus depot.

Image: DisneyThe huge problem with the system is that you never know when a boat will arrive. I’ve waited less than five minutes before, but I’ve also waited for an hour (at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge). There isn’t any sort of notification system in place. You just sit on the dock of the bay, wasting time. When you see a boat on the horizon, it’s a thrill since you know that the wait is over. Even when you’re riding the boat, you still will have to make stops at other parks and resorts prior to your destination. So, it’s a slow transportation method, too.

Boats do have a special x-factor. Some sailors, especially ones working the late shift, are known to break into song. The delightful practice often leads to crowd singalongs of Disney classics. It’s the perfect way to end the day at a Disney park.

Overall, boats are the least reliable system. They’re also not available at all resorts, only ones on the water near parks and Disney Springs. I still think they’re a wonderful change of pace, and the scenery is universally gorgeous. So, I recommend them, but this option is an occasional solution rather than a frequent one.


Image: DisneyNo vehicle is more closely associated with Disney theme parks than the monorail. Walt Disney himself traveled to Europe to investigate the transportation system, which was almost totally unknown in the United States. He gambled and won on the monorail, which remains an intrinsic part of Disney park travel to this day.

At Walt Disney World, the monorail system is something of a mixed bag. I’m a shameless aficionado of the technology, but even I must note that the current fleet is woefully outdated. Disney’s never left a set of monorail trains in operation for this long. Hopefully, they never will again, as some of the cars have a certain smell that just won’t go away. Decades of baked in sweat have a lingering impact. Also, Disney’s suffered some negative press due to an unforgivable mistake on one monorail.

Still, we’re talking about the monorail. It’s the most reliable form of transportation ever at Disney theme parks. You’re never more than a few minutes away from the next monorail train. It will efficiently transport you to your destination, which is never more than a few monorail stops away.

Image: DisneyAs a word of caution, you may suffer some confusion at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). Guests traveling to Epcot must exit one monorail and walk around the station to a different train. At the TTC, a monorail travels directly to Epcot and then back again. The main monorail line only stops here on its path to Magic Kingdom and the monorail resorts.

Overall, the monorail is a wonderful option at Walt Disney World. It’s not readily available for all guests, just the ones at certain resorts. Anyone can use the monorail, of course, but it’s more convenient to a select few than the rest. Despite some snafus caused by age, I still view it as the most reliable of all transportation options. Plus, it’s just damned cool to ride in one. Since 2017, however, it’s no longer the coolest ride at Walt Disney World. That honor belongs to…

Ride-sharing/Minnie Vans

Image: DisneyWhat price would you pay to ride around in the best transportation on the Disney campus? Presuming that your answer is $25 one way, I’ve got the ultimate suggestion for you! The Minnie Van is Disney’s answer to a frustrating problem.

Since the company’s transportation options are all imperfect, the ride-sharing industry capitalized on a great opportunity. They disrupted Orlando travel by offering direct rides to and from various locations on the Disney campus. Uber and Lyft went from non-factors to dominate players in the city in a short period of time.

Disney hates the idea of other companies earning revenue from Mouse-based enterprises. After some deliberation, they invented a ride-sharing solution of their own. Called the Minnie Van, this fleet of SUVs is attention-grabbing to say the least. In reality, they’re Chevy Traverses (mostly), but Disney put their own stamp on the cars by adding red paint with polka dots. The distinctive appearance is unmistakable…and amazingly awesome.

Unlike other ride-sharing services, the drivers of Minnie Vans are cast members. They’ve received specific training to satisfy your travel needs. For a (not insignificant) cost of $25 one way, a Minnie Van will take you from point A to point B anywhere on the Disney campus. While the ride ain’t cheap, it’s the height of Disney transportation at the moment.