Part of the magic of Walt Disney World is you can be in “vacation mode” the entire time. Part of that means never having to drive, negotiate traffic, or find and pay for parking. Walt Disney World has an extensive network of public transportation designed to get you wherever you need to go. No hassle, and usually free.
Disney Skyliner Gondola System
Set to open Spring, 2019, this new transportation system resembles the Skyway that once transported guests within Magic Kingdom. This advanced gondola system will be connecting guests from select resorts to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The plans include stations at Pop Century and Art Of Animation. Caribbean Beach is getting a station as part of its current remodel. As will the Riviera resort, which is still under construction.
The Gondola ride system will feature enclosed, spacious cabins with comfortable seats. The estimated capacity is 4-5 thousand guests per hour. It’s anticipated that the gondolas will use passive ventilation rather than AC.
Disney’s Monorail System
This transportation system has been around since day one. It is another of three classic transportation systems born in Disneyland and the first one to make it as a legitimate form of travel. There are two monorail lines in Walt Disney World. both connect at the Transportation and Ticket Center. The first is the Magic Kingdom line. The loop starts at the Contemporary, and stops at the Transportation and Ticket Center, followed by the Polynesian, and Grand Floridian resorts before ultimately taking guests to the Magic Kingdom.
The second line connects at the Transportation and Ticket Center and takes guests to the front gate of Epcot. It’s a faster, more direct way to travel to these specific points of interest than using any other form of travel. Monorails take strollers, wheelchairs and ECVs with some assistance from a small portable ramp.
Each resort stop is accompanied by a security bag check before you board. At Magic Kingdom, this means you will not have to go through security again when you arrive at the front gate. Unfortunately the same does not go for Epcot.
The Monorail resort monorail system is beloved for the way it connects three of Walt Disney Worlds most sought after Deluxe resorts. Even if you are not a guest staying in any of the hotels, you can hop from resort to resort and take in the unique atmosphere, dining and entertainment each has to offer.
Disney Boat System
Traveling by Ferry, or water taxi is one of the best travel options Walt Disney World has to offer. There are so many waterways at Walt Disney World that even if you don’t have access to the monorail, you will still be able to get to some of the most popular destinations by boat.
The body of water that connects most of the Epcot resort area is Crescent Lake. It provides access to both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot and it harbors three deluxe resort hotels: Boardwalk, Yacht Club and Beach Club. With launches at the theme parks as well as the Boardwalk and Yacht Club, guests can use the “Friendships” to get around these parts of Walt Disney World and save themselves a walk, or a drive. The Friendship also stops at the Swan and Dolphin hotels in between Crescent Lake and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. These boats run from 8:30 to an hour after park closing.
The waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment district formerly known as Downtown Disney is uniquely accessible to four Disney Springs resort area hotels by boat ride. Disney Springs is accessible by car, bus and even by foot from some hotels located just outside of Disney world. However the Sassagoula River takes travelers to and from the quiet resort communities of Saratoga Springs and old Key West, as well as Port Orleans’ charming Riverside and lively French Quarter resorts. Hours of operation vary.
Bay Lake/Seven Seas Lagoon
Ferryboats take large groups of passengers from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Magic Kingdom and back again. They begin operations from about 45 minutes before park opening, to about 45 minutes after closing. A one way trip takes about 12 minutes. There are three operational Ferryboats.
Launch boats have a Bay Lake circuit and a Seven Seas Lagoon circuit. The Bay Lake boats begin operating at 6:30 and go between the Contemporary Bay Lake towers, Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge. These run until 11:30. Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness have direct routes to and from Magic Kingdom as well. Around the Seven Seas Lagoon boats operate between Magic Kingdom, Grand Floridian and the Polynesian. All Magic Kingdom Launch boats operate until 60-90 minutes after the park closes.
Disney’s Bus Transportation System
The bus system is by far the most extensive. In many cases it is the most convenient of Disney’s free transportation. It’s particularly necessary for guests staying near Wide World of Sports and Animal Kingdom (you can’t even walk from Animal Kingdom Lodge to Animal Kingdom). The bus network is massive and Theme park bus stops have several terminals to wait for the bus going to your next destination. All resorts have stops for each theme park. The buses begin operation 45 minutes before park opening and return trips to your resort continue until 2 hours after your park closes.
Some trips require you to switch buses, or take a combination of bus, boat and monorail. If you are uncertain of the best way to get where you are going, ask the nearest Disney cast member for assistance. Luggage and alcohol are not permitted on buses and strollers need to be folded up and stored.
Disney’s most luxurious and convenient way to take you anywhere at all in Disney World is the Minnie Van, but it comes at a price. The Minnie Van is official Disney transportation provided by Lyft. They are larger vehicles (not always vans) perfect for a family on the go. The fee is a flat rate of $25 to take you anywhere on property.
Disney’s Minnie Van service is perfect for families staying at Art of Animation, Pop Century or All Star resorts if you’ve budgeted for transportation. These resorts are farther out from most of Walt Disney World’s theme parks and resorts, especially Magic Kingdom. Minnie Vans eliminate the hassle of taking strollers on buses, or trying to find enough empty seats for the family. Minnie Vans are especially valuable when you need to get from one end of Disney World Animal Kingdom, ESPN Wide World of Sports) to the other (Disney Springs, Magic Kingdom) in a hurry.