Transportation Options Using Walt Disney World Transportation or Renting a Car
DECEMBER 2016: Walt Disney World has launched a new "Express Transportation" service that will allow you to travel quickly from theme park to theme park, bypassing the main park entrances. This option is available as an add-on to those who have purchased the "Park-Hopper" option for their theme park admission. The service costs $15 for a single day, or $24 for seven consecutive days from the date of purchase. Buses run from pick-up/drop-off locations within each park every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. until the parks close. See flyer at left for more details.
Modes of Walt Disney World Transportation
Learn the difference between a Ferry, Water Launch and Friendship.
You have your plane tickets and hotel reservations and now comes the decision of whether to rent a car. Walt Disney World has a vast fleet of more than 260 buses, numerous boats and, of course, the famous monorail to transport you all around the world. However, just like anything else, there are pros and cons to consider in making your decision.
One of the nice things about Walt Disney World transportation is that it is clean, air conditioned and for the most part reliable. If your group is going to split up and you're staying on property, everyone will have a way to return to the hotel or meet at a park. It really provides great flexibility. Check out our Readers' Thoughts on Disney's Transportation services!
When it comes to hotel to major park transportation, you can't beat Disney's web of bus, boat and monorail service. Approximately every 20 minutes a transportation vehicle arrives to take you to one of the 4 main magical parks – Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot.
Park transportation begins approximately 1 hour prior to that park's opening time and all transportation runs until approximately 1 hour after the parks close (check with Lobby Concierge upon arrival for specific times). You are dropped off close to the park entrance and so no need to wait for a tram/ferry or take a long walk after a tiring day.
Walt Disney World transportation is also available to take you to the water parks and Disney Springs.
If you plan to golf at a Disney course, complimentary transportation is available from your Disney resort. Check with your Valet Desk upon arrival for details.
If you plan to eat at many of the fine Walt Disney World resort restaurants your transportation options become more complex and definitely limiting, especially after 9 pm. If leaving from your hotel, you would need to go from there to a park and then catch transportation to the hotel where the restaurant is (Unless you are staying and going to a monorail hotel). Likewise, on the return, you would need to go from the resort to an open park and back to your hotel. Once the hotel-park transportation has closed, you generally will be bused to Disney Springs and then catch a bus (or boat) to your hotel. As you can see, this does take quite a bit of time. A final option would be to pay for a taxi back to your hotel.
My experience has been that WDW transportation is admirable, and works fairly smoothly. But, it IS possible to hit ALL the worst-case transport scenarios in ONE vacation (catching the wrong bus, just missing the bus, getting the boat with one broken engine…) and that can be very frustrating. If you're the kind of person who would rather drive backwards than sit in a traffic jam, you're better off with your own car. (SarahElizabethII)
Transportation within Disney was not as bad as I expected or I had read about. Once we parked our truck, we never moved it again. The shuttle bus ran like clock work and the longest we ever had to wait was about 20 minutes. They gave us a brochure explaining the transportation system and schedule. Once we read that, it was easy to follow. (Regina Allen – Guests at Fort Wilderness)
One comment about the Disney Transportation. Every time we went back and forth to the parks, we used the Disney buses. There was hardly any wait, and it took 12 minutes to get from the All Star Music to the Magic Kingdom, and a shorter time to the other parks. The buses allowed us to take a good mid-day break without losing a lot of time commuting. We could have never gotten around like we did, especially with my scooter, without those Buses, and the drivers were great. (Marie Kuhn)
You were right about bus transportation. It was extremely convenient for us. I can only stress what you said that if you need to be at a place at a certain time in the a.m. give yourself 90 minutes to get there by bus. (90 minutes from the time you get to the stop.) Our character breakfast at Cinderella Castle was at 8:12. We got to the bus stop at 7:05. The MK bus didn't come until 7:45. We got there just on time but we were worried. If I had known, I would have driven. (TRoberts)
If you are staying in one resort and dining in another with no car. Consider a taxi. Well worth the money.
Dolphin/Swan to Disney Springs- $20 + tip
Dolphin/Swan to Animal Kingdom Lodge – $20 + tip
You definitely want to get a copy of the Walt Disney World Transportation Guide from the front desk when you check in and become familiar with it. I have heard Cast Members give guests directions that were clearly not the most efficient, so it pays to know. Also if you are given directions that just don't seem right; ask someone else.
If you plan to rely on Walt Disney World transportation , be sure to give yourself 1 solid hour of transport time to get where ever you wish to go (and 90 minutes if you have to be someplace at a certain time). More likely than not, it won't take nearly that long; but it just might! Be aware that you may find yourself waiting at 10am for a Magic Kingdombus back to the Beach Club, only to be detoured to the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Disney's Hollywood Studios and THEN the Boardwalk, Dolphin, Swan, Yacht Club and finally the Beach Club . (This happened to me!) Get the picture?
What if you want to tour some non-Disney attractions and have no car…
In addition to taxi service, Mears Shuttle will accept reservations to major theme parks (Such as Universal, etc). You can also use Mears to get back to the airport. One reader suggests: When making a reservation of the return trip to the airport, call Bell Services which will connect you directly to Mears.
The Future of Disney Transportation —
Disney has been putting big resources into research and planning for transportation in the coming years. With all the expansion that has taken place between all the theme parks and resort hotels, the roads are getting congested! Ideas such as monorail extensions, light rail and different types of bus service have all been considered but nothing has really come of it as of 2016. Whenever you go to Disney now, there is always some road (or several roads) under construction — lanes being added, redirection of traffic, etc.
According to a December 1999 Orlando Sentinel Article:
Disney initially considered expanding its monorail, which has nearly 15 miles of track, but that's unlikely because the system is so costly, the Disney official said. Building a monorail system, including the price of the cars, costs about $110 million a mile. By comparison, a light-rail system probably would cost Disney about $25 million a mile, Hardgrove said. Monorail trains are so much more expensive mainly because they have to be elevated.
The proposed light-rail system could link up with Animal Kingdom and Epcot, as well as two resorts under construction: the Animal Kingdom Lodge and a 5,700-room economy resort near Disney-MGM Studios. Other details on the plan, which is in the early conceptual stages, were not available."
Some Final thoughts:
If you are traveling on a budget, then by all means, rely on Walt Disney World transportation . It will get the job done, albeit at a leisurely pace.
Do you want to lay back, kick up your heals and leave your watch at home? If so, rely on Walt Disney World Transportation.
Are you one of those folks that hates to wait for anything? If so, then rent a car !
If you decide to rely on Walt Disney World transportation and then decide you wish you had a car, National/Alamo has a rental office on property near the Magic Kingdom and at the Walt Disney World Dolphin.