Being such a large property, Walt Disney World Resort has lots of ways to get around to the many theme parks, resort hotels, water parks and Disney Springs. With buses, monorails, boats and gondolas, you have many options to choose from. And best of all, all of these options are toadally free! We frogs are here to help you hop from place to place as efficiently as possible. This guide breaks down each mode of transportation and any tips to keep in mind. Let's get movin'!
Overview of Walt Disney World Transportation
One of the perks of staying on-site at Walt Disney World is the free ride around the resort. By gondola, car, ferry or monorail, you can hop straight from your Walt Disney World Resort hotel to the theme parks and Disney Springs! From the time Tad was a teeny tiny tadpole, he's loved collecting Disney Transport Official Collector Cards to document all of the different ways he jumped around during a particular trip. For Lily, card collecting is not her bag, but the monorail is always a must-do, a magical experience each and every time for our little froglet. And now, Walt Disney World has even added "The Most Magical Flight on Earth" — aka the Skyliner transportation system — to its fleet! With so many options to get around, it can feel like a puzzle to know how to get where using what.
Anyone can access Disney World transportation (not just those staying on-site) and they operate on fairly regular schedules. Generally, services begin about an hour before park open and stop about an hour to an hour and a half after park close. If you’re planning to hit the parks early or leave with the closing crowds, make sure to factor in more time than usual (and pack your patience!).
If you don’t want to depend solely on Disney transportation or don’t wish to be around others in these enclosed spaces, you may want to consider walking, using a ride-sharing service (Minnie Van Service is back, as of June 29, 2022) or driving yourself in your own vehicle or a rental car. If you’re driving, exciting news! The parking trams are back at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom and will hopefully return to EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios soon.
For a park-by-park transportation overview, check out our guides:
Bus Transportation at Walt Disney World
Did you know that Walt Disney World has a bus fleet the size of Atlanta? Each Walt Disney World Resort hotel (as well as Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts) offers complimentary bus service to and from the theme parks and Disney Springs. Direct bus service between theme parks and Disney Springs is currently suspended, so you'll need to hop to a hotel first and transfer. If you're headed to the water parks, you'll typically need to transfer buses at Disney Springs.
If your goal is to be at the theme parks upon opening, we suggest using a ride-sharing service or arriving early at the bus stop to catch one of the first buses of the day. However, if you aren’t in a rush to head out of your hotel room, the lines will eventually simmer down after park open. Did you know that, if you're staying on-site, you can check bus wait times via the My Disney Experience app, as well as posted display boards at the bus stop?
If traveling to and from the airport, the complimentary Magical Express has ended its service as of Jan. 1, 2022, but there are third-party options available for an additional cost. And don't froget ... we frogs have awesome deals on car rentals, which you can bundle with your tickets or hotel stay for maximum savings!)
Monorail Transportation at Walt Disney World
The monorail may be the very first mode of transportation you think of when it comes to Walt Disney World! We're usually "Team Monorail" when heading to Magic Kingdom. The Express Monorail goes directly between the park and the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC), while the Resort Monorail also includes stops at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
The EPCOT monorail transports guests directly from the Transportation and Ticket Center to EPCOT. Tad and Lily love it when the monorail actually journeys through part of EPCOT. Remember that the monorail only goes back and forth between the two locations, so you'll need to transfer to the Express Monorail to get to Magic Kingdom.
Water Transportation at Walt Disney World
Onto Leap's favorite mode of transport — boats! Remember when we said that Tad likes to collect the Walt Disney World Transportation Collector Cards? Well, while we simplify "Water Transportation" here, there's a Walt Disney World Transport card for every type of boat you encounter! There are several different types around property — from large ferries to Friendship Boats to water taxis! In fact, if you counted all of the boats at Disney World, they'd make up the seventh largest naval fleet in the world.
For Magic Kingdom, large ferry boats connect the park to the Transportation and Ticket Center. Smaller water taxis are available to connect the park to Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, Grand Floridan Resort, Polynesian Village Resort and Disney's Wilderness Lodge.
Friendship Boats connect EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios, and the EPCOT-area hotels, such as Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, Disney's Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts and Disney's BoardWalk Inn and Villas.
Headed to Disney Springs? Watercraft service is available for Disney's Old Key West Resort, Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort, Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside and Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter.
Skyliner Transportation at Walt Disney World
Disney World's newest (and cutest) mode of transportation is the Disney Skyliner system. These colorful gondolas connect EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to select Disney hotels. Because the gondolas are constantly moving, the lines can move quickly at most of the stations, except for the Riviera station (which we’ll explain in just a bit!).
If you’re staying at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Riviera Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort or Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Skyliner is currently the only Disney transportation option offered for guests who want to go to EPCOT or Hollywood Studios. Buses are only available if Skyliner is not operating (which happens often in the summer due to weather). If you’re staying in the EPCOT Resort area, riding the Skyliner is a possibility in addition to walking or taking a Friendship Boat. You can check out the Skyliner station at Caribbean Beach in Tad's video above.
Plan extra time if you’re hopping on at the shared Skyliner station for Pop Century and Art of Animation. Because you need to transfer lines at the Caribbean Beach station, you’ll have to hop off and go to the back of another line for whichever destination you’re headed to.
The lines at the Riviera station may take longer (in either direction) because most guests are traveling straight through the station and do not hop off. Therefore, it may take longer for an empty gondola to come through the station, as opposed to guaranteed empty cabins at all of the other stations.
We love the whimsical gondolas and think the Skyliner is a great addition to Disney World's transportation!
Other Modes of Transportation at Walt Disney World
Depending on which Walt Disney World Resort hotel you’re staying at, walking may be the fastest and most convenient option for you. Disney’s Contemporary Resort guests can easily walk the half-mile to and from Magic Kingdom within 10 to 15 minutes. We especially recommend walking to Magic Kingdom because the resort monorail has to make a few stops before it gets to the park entrance. A new walkway has opened to connect Magic Kingdom with Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, which will also link the existing walkway between the Grand Floridian and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are also accessible on foot if you’re staying at one of the Crescent Lake resorts. This includes Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Walt Disney World Swan Resort and Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort. Friendship Boats are still a great option, however, walking may still be faster than a boat, which makes multiple stops.
Using a ride-sharing app is an alternative if you wish to skip the long waits for Disney transportation (and the ride-share pick-up and drop-off areas are all right by the theme park entrances). We generally like using Uber or Lyft sparingly, the exception being if we’re running behind and need to make a dining reservation. However, it’s not the most cost-effective or family-friendly option. A ride will likely cost about $10 each, and the total costs add up quickly if you rely on ride-sharing. Also, if you have a large party or need more than one car seat, you may have to request multiple cars.
Exciting news! The colorful polka-dot Minnie Vans have returned to Walt Disney World, as of June 29, 2022. The ride service works through the Lyft app and the cars are driven by Disney cast members. Each vehicle can accommodate up to six guests and has two car seats — perfect for larger families.
Depending on where you’re coming from, it may be easier to drive your own car, especially if you’re staying on property. You get to move around in the comfort of your own vehicle and not have to worry about relying on Disney transportation. If driving to Orlando isn’t feasible, then consider renting a car that you can pick up at the Orlando International Airport. Especially with the absence of Disney’s Magical Express, you would need to travel to the resort and then still be in control of your own transportation around Disney World. While you would have to pay a nightly self-parking fee at any of the Disney hotels, general parking at the theme parks is free for on-site hotel guests (and annual passholders).
If you’re not staying on-site, we’d recommend weighing the costs of ride-sharing services against the costs of a rental car, plus any parking fees at the hotel and general parking at the theme parks. It would likely come down to how far away your hotel is and the size of your frog squad. Also keep in mind how close you are to Disney Springs — if you can walk to Disney Springs, you can hop on any of the resort buses there (though you will have to transfer buses if you're headed to any of the theme parks).
Navigating Walt Disney World Transportation with Wheelchairs, ECVs and Strollers
If you utilize an ECV, wheelchair or mobility device, or have little ones in tow in a stroller, here's what to know about Walt Disney World transportation:
- Strollers will need to be emptied, folded and stowed when onboard a bus, tram and some smaller boats.
- All Walt Disney World buses are equipped to accommodate various types of wheelchairs and ECVs/scooters. There's a lift on board where the ECV or scooter will be fastened. It is then recommended that guests transfer to a bus seat. Guests using canes, walkers, crutches or who have difficulty walking can board via the rear door (just let the bus driver know before boarding, as this is generally an exit only).
- Strollers may remain open (and full of tadpoles) when riding Skyliner, the monorail and larger ferry boats.
- There is a separate queue for wheelchair-accessible gondolas at each Skyliner station. These special gondolas move to the side so that you can take your time getting on and comfortable (no "ghostly interruptions" like you'll hear on Haunted Mansion!). Mobility aids, as well as larger strollers, need to fit within a 30-inch by 48-inch area.
- Watercraft access for those utilizing scooters, wheelchairs or ECVs varies depending on the type of watercraft and the existing water levels and conditions. Please contact a Disney cast member at the watercraft dock for information and assistance. When we've taken Grandma Frog to the parks, who uses a walker or cane, we've noticed that the smaller boats are more difficult to step off of the dock and onto the boats. The larger ferries, including the TTC Ferry and the Friendship Boats, make for a more stable transition for her. If you utilize mobility devices, it may be your safest bet to steer clear of the smaller forms of water transportation.
- Guests with mobility aids may access the Walt Disney World monorail system by using the elevators or ramps at each station.
- When Minnie Vans are operating, you can request an accessible vehicle via the Lyft app. There's also plenty of room to stow a stroller, and Minnie Vans are equipped with car seats.
Walt Disney World Transportation Tips and Tricks
- Be sure to check your hotel bus stop again as you leave the theme parks! Sometimes, these can change throughout the day (so the stop you arrived at may not be the same stall as you leave).
- The biggest transportation rush hoppens about an hour before the parks open, and in the hour after the parks close, especially right after the fireworks.
- Be sure to allow yourself about an hour to an hour and a half (if traveling during peak times) for Disney transportation. Whether you're parking and heading to the park's entrance, or utilizing free transportation, you'll need to pack some transport time into your day.
- Disney World theme park parking lots open up about an hour before the park's scheduled opening time, so if you arrive and see that there's a traffic jam, don't worry! The attendants may not be letting cars in just yet. Once things open up, it clears quickly.
- At Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground, rideshare vehicles can only meet you at the Outpost (while Minnie Vans can come directly to your campsite — which is especially appreciated during those Orlando showers!).
- Not sure where to catch a ride? In My Disney Experience, on your map, you can toggle to "Transportation" to see modes and stops near you (including directions).
Did we miss any tips for transportation at Disney World? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! Which mode of transportation is your favorite?