Let’s face it: navigating around Walt Disney World is, at first, an intimidating task. It’s a massive property (and growing!) consisting of four theme parks, two water parks, thirty or so Resort hotels, and offering a handful of transportation options.
Those numerous modes of transportation are free for guests and include everything from the iconic Monorail to the new Skyliner gondolas! In between you’ve got buses, ferryboats, water taxis, trams, and walking paths.
While planning your Disney World travel might seem like an overwhelming task, we’re here to help with our favorite tips and tricks for traveling the World — Disney World, that is!
Here are five tips and tricks to help you navigate your way around the Most Magical Place on Earth!
Know Your Options
First and foremost, we should probably start with what modes of FREE transportation Disney World offers. Probably the best known (and most iconic) at the parks is the Monorail, which connects the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC — where you’ll park if you drive to Magic Kingdom), along with Disney’s Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian Resorts to both Magic Kingdom and Epcot. For guests staying at any of these resorts, the Monorail is both a convenient and magical option! If you’re not staying at those resorts, it’s still a free option for guests to hop on when you park at the Ticketing and Transportation Center or if you’re looking for a short, proximal escape from the Parks for a bit.
Another way to get around the parks is by boat, with boat stops at the Epcot Resorts Area that will get you to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios and a boat over at the Magic Kingdom Resort Area that will take you to the Magic Kingdom from Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian Resorts. There’s also a ferry that guests who park at TTC can take to the Magic Kingdom!
The Skyliner is the newest mode of transport around the parks! The gondola system connects both Epcot and Hollywood Studios to Disney’s Riviera, Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, and Pop Century Resorts.
Finally, there are the Resort Buses, which are the most ubiquitous free mode of transportation to navigate around Disney World. The bus system connects Disney resorts to all the parks, water parks, and even Disney Springs.
ALL of these options are free modes of transportation, available to both resorts guests and day visitors at Disney World. With so many options to choose from, it can be easy to navigate Disney World if you know your options and plan ahead.
Which leads us to our next point…
Map Out Your Day’s Route
There is a LOT to do at Disney World, and whether you’re heading to the parks for the first time or the hundredth, we’d still recommend making an itinerary of where you want to go and what you want to do. For example, if you know you want to check out certain popular rides, it’s definitely a great idea to make your day’s plan around that, looking at what day the park has Extra Magic Hours that are available for resort guests so you can knock out the popular (i.e. busy) rides early in the day.
From there, you can plan out your route. Since Disney World offers so many ways to get from point A to point B throughout the property, it all comes down to planning everything out as much as you can (and knowing what your alternative options are if your first plan goes awry).
Say you want to do Hollywood Studios in the morning and then head to Epcot in the afternoon for dinner. You can choose the best way to get to Hollywood Studios for park opening (whether it be by bus or Skyliner), and then you have numerous options to get over to Epcot in the afternoon, with bus, boat, and Skyliner lines all available to get you from one to the other. And — believe it or not — you can even walk from Hollywood Studios to Epcot, too!
Knowing your options allows you to make the best transportation decision possible for your family. Knowing the secondary and tertiary options can ease your mind when things don’t go as planned.
Give Yourself Extra Time
This is a big one when it comes to managing your expectations of what you can accomplish on your trip. While it’s normal to want to get as much done with your time in Disney World as possible, it’s always good to plan in a little extra time when traveling around the area.
While Disney does a great job of trying to get guests from one destination to the next as efficiently as possible, it’s impossible to eliminate delays with transportation methods. Traffic jams or high crowds can delay buses, inclement weather can send boats back to the dock, and temporary closures on the Skyliner can halt operations.
That’s why it’s important to try and plan a little extra time to get over to the bus stop, or leave a bit earlier on the Skyliner than you think you might need. It’s always better to be a little bit early than to be rushing to your Advance Dining Reservation or FastPass to miss rope drop because the line for the bus was prohibitively long.
Make My Disney Experience Your New BFF
To make planning transportation a bit easier, make sure you have the My Disney Experience app downloaded on your phone. Not only is the app a great way to do everything from making FastPass+ plans to finding dining reservations (or even mobile ordering!), but it will also help you keep track of the bus schedule for your resort so you can know what bus is coming when.
It is important to note that the resort bus schedule will only appear for Disney resort guests. If you’re staying at Disney resort, simply log into your account on My Disney Experience, and navigate to your resort stay’s page. On there, you’ll be able to look up the bus schedule for your resort, showing what times each of the park buses will be coming (and, if you’re at a resort with multiple bus stops, breaking it down by bus stop).
Take a Deep Breath
This is an important one! While it can be frustrating navigating from place to place, especially when you’re traveling with a big crew, it’s so important to remember to just take a deep breath and remember that you’re at Disney World!
Also remember that Disney World Cast Members are there to help — if you ever find yourself unsure of how to get from one place to another in the parks, they will always be more than happy to help you! And if transportation woes do occur, be sure to talk to the Cast Members about your options.
What tips and tricks would you recommend for navigating around Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!