How to navigate with Disney World transportation – PREP007

Disney World provides free transportation to get between the theme parks, resorts and Downtown Disney but...

...how do you put it all together and figure out the best way to get between places during your trip?

I've got tips on how to do that plus a quick tip that will help you keep your pants dry.

These are notes from this episode. There's much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.

Disney World transportation

One of my biggest mistakes on our first Disney World trip was not understanding how to navigate with Disney World transportation.

  • There are 3 main forms of Disney World transportation - buses, monorail and ferries
  • People staying in a Value Resort, Moderate Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge and a couple of DVC resorts will be using buses to get anywhere from their resort (Port Orleans resorts can take a boat to Downtown Disney)
  • Pop Century, Art of Animation and Animal Kingdom Lodge have their own buses and don't share with other resorts
  • People staying at Deluxe Resorts use a combo of buses, ferries, monorail and walking
  • Downtown Disney does not have buses directly to the theme parks (although there's currently a test until the end of October 2013 for a bus that goes directly between Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney starting at 3 p.m. daily)
  • Downtown Disney and all theme parks have buses to all resorts
  • To get between resorts, you need to figure out the connection point that you'll use (theme parks and Downtown Disney serve as connection points). The map below (click to make it bigger) can help you figure out the best connection point.

map image credit

Special transportation situations:

  • When traveling to Ft. Wilderness, you will need to take the internal buses there to get where you're going so plan for that added layer of transportation that doesn't exist at other resorts.
  • For early character dining reservations, character dining buses begin running around 6:30 or 7 a.m., even though Disney says that their buses begin 1 hour before the parks open.

Other forms of transportation

There are a couple of ways to travel that are an additional cost for your trip but can be really convenient.

  • Rental cars - can get these at the Orlando airport or at the WDW Car Care Center on-site.
  • Taxis - recommended for early reservations (especially when traveling between resorts) and after nighttime shows. Use the taxi fare estimator to estimate the cost.

Quick tip of the day

Take a towel from your hotel room and pack it in your backpack. Use it to wipe off wet seats, save a spot for a parade, provide shade to a little one in a stroller or whatever other reason you find.

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Joyce Murray

Hi,
We are staying at the All-Star Movie Resort and are going this weekend. I want to get to MK around 8am to “open the park”, but I thought I read somewhere that the monirail and buses don’t start until a half an hour before the first park opens (which means they wouldn’t start running until 8:30)…is that true? If so, we will have a rental car and we can drive to the park, but would like to avoid that. How do you recommend us getting to the park and back?

Also, on a side note, we have QS meal plan. Do we get a refillable mug? If so, where do we pick it up?
Thank you so much

Tenley

Is the map still up to date? I see it refers to Downtown Disney so wanted to be sure nothing has changed!

Erica

How can we know which resorts share buses with which other resorts and might we be able to use that as a sort of resort-to-resort system? For example, if Wilderness Lodge shared a bus with the Grand Floridian, would it be possible to get on at one and stay on until it reaches the other?

Also, correct me if I am wrong but from the map it seems that water transportation in the MK area goes to between resorts and the MK? So I could get on at Wilderness Lodge and get off at the Contemporary?

Rita Patterson

This is very helpful – thank you!

Kristin

I have a question I haven’t seen answered before. If you drive to disney or rent a car, when should you use it? Is it quicker to drive from an on site resort to a park than to take transit? Should we drive to downtown Disney? Should we use transit the entire time? Thanks 🙂

Christi B

We’re leaving for Disney in the morning and am hoping you’ll see this before then 🙂 About how long would you say is the average wait/travel times? We’re staying at Art of Animation and I want to figure out when to leave to get to parks, etc. So if I get on the bus an hour before the park opens, about when does it arrive at the park? I’ve got two little girls I’m taking and I’m trying to minimize “standing around doing nothing” time as much as possible since I know we’ll be waiting in lines for rides, etc. Also, since we’re doing the half-marathon and have to pick up packets at ESPN WWoS, if I follow your podcast right I will need to take a bus (or the walking trail) to Pop Century and then another bus over to ESPN, correct? Thanks so much for all this great info! Your site has definitely been a lifesaver!

Clare

This map is perfect! Just what I’ve been looking for! Must make sure I print this to go in our planning folder!

Thanks a bunch! 😀

Dora

This map is awesome! I love that you find these things so that I don’t have to.

D

Emily

Thank you SO much for this map! This is my family’s’ first time going to Disney World as a whole! We will be staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort. I have noticed in the comment above that you said that you arrive at the bus stop at 8 a.m. Is this because the park you are wanting to go to that day opens and hour early or is that when the bus starts to run first thing? How do you know when the buses will start to run?

Thank you!

Sarah

So if a bus starts running at 8 am ( an hour before opening at 9), what time should I get in line for the bus?

Erin

I am looking to find the easiest way to get to the ESPN zone and back. There was no mention of this and I cannot figure it out. Please help. I the all your tips!

Jenny Matthews

I have heard that you can get some type of transportation card from the drivers of each type of transportation. Busses, ferry, monirail, etc… Is that true? Are they free? Are they worth it?

Thanks for the shout out Shannon!
We also learned that you can stop in the information booth at Magic Kingdom, beside the ferry exit, and ask them for transportation cards as well.

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