One of the things we really didn’t understand before our first Disney World trips was how to navigate using Disney World transportation.
This led to some big frustrations as we tried to figure out how to get back to our room after dinner at a different resort.
But, now that we’ve been to the most magical place on earth more than a few times, we have Disney World transportation down to a T. We’re also here to help others with what can, at first, be an overwhelming system.
The fact is, Disney has an extensive (and relatively easy-to-use) transportation system and once you know what is available where, getting around is a breeze.
And even better, we have a handy tool that will show you the best way to get around the Walt Disney World Resort.
With that, here’s everything you need to know about navigating Disney World transportation, including buses, the Disney Skyliner, the monorail, boats, schedules, and more.
Let’s get started…
Masks on Disney World transportation
Masks are required for guests, including those who are vaccinated, while on all Disney World transportation, except for ferries. Masks must also be worn at transportation entrances.
Transportation is also back to “normal,” meaning no more physical distancing, barriers between seats to separate parties are gone, and standing is once again allowed on buses and the monorail.
Forms of Disney World transportation
As you can imagine, the size of Walt Disney World makes good transportation a must.
To help you get around, Disney uses several different forms of transport within its system:
- boats (sometimes known as Friendships) and ferries
- Minnie Vans (currently unavailable)
- gondolas (Disney Skyliner)
And the best part?
Most of the options are free.
Another huge perk with Disney transportation is that you don’t have to be staying onsite to use any of it.
All visitors to Disney World – whether they are staying onsite or off – can use any of the transportation options listed below.
The Walt Disney World buses will take you just about anywhere on property and are the main form of transportation throughout the entire resort.
It’s also free and typically is fairly reliable.
And as an added bonus, some of the newer buses even have charging ports and WiFi.
Buses for different parks typically begin running at slightly different times, depending on each park’s schedule.
With park hours constantly changing, it’s hard to give an exact time of when buses will begin running in the mornings.
According to Disney, bus service between Disney Resort hotels and theme parks begins 45 minutes prior to opening and ends 1 hour after closing.
For Disney Springs, buses are available during operating hours and end 1 hour after closing.
But, sometimes, buses run anywhere from 60 to 90 minute prior to official park opening. For example, if Magic Kingdom has an opening time of 9 a.m., buses can start arriving at resorts between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m.
It’s best to be prepared and manage your time wisely. We recommend, especially if your goal is to be on the first bus of the day, to show up to the bus stop early — no later than around 1 hour before the park opens.
You should also always give yourself at least 60 to 90 minutes for transportation. You never know if there will be delays, long lines, etc.
During peak times, buses for the parks usually arrive at least every 20 minutes or so. During non-peak times (like in the afternoon), the wait may be a bit longer.
Unfortunately, unlike a city transportation system, there is no set schedule for buses.
If you are waiting for a bus at a resort, however, you can check to see when the next one is set to arrive.
The bus stops at the resorts have handy display boards like this one:
Or, if you’d rather, the My Disney Experience app will also show you when the next bus is scheduled to arrive to your resort.
You must have a Disney Resort hotel reservation and be logged into your Disney account in order to see bus times at your resort via the My Disney Experience app.
Unfortunately, the parks and Disney Springs don’t have anything similar that will tell you when the next bus is scheduled to arrive. You can only find out bus arrival info at the resorts.
Park Bus stops
Bus stops for all of the parks are located outside of the main entrance.
There are giant Bus Directory signs nearby that will direct you to the correct gate for your resort.
The gate numbers can change from day-to-day so it is a good idea to always check your resort’s location.
Resort Bus Stops
As for the resorts, the number of bus stops at each resort varies and depends upon the size of the resort itself.
The Value resorts (Pop Century, Art of Animation, All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, All-Star Movies) plus the Disney Deluxe Resorts all have only 1 bus stop that is located at or near the front entrance/main building.
Port Orleans-French Quarter, which is a moderate resort, also only has 1 bus stop.
Some resorts share buses, meaning that 1 bus will go to multiple different resorts.
For example, it isn’t unusual for the All-Star resorts to share a bus or for Port Orleans-Riverside and Port Orleans-French Quarter to share.
Sharing is less likely during the busy morning hours or at park closing, though.
We’re not sure that there is any more iconic form of Disney transportation than the monorail.
Disney’s Monorail service connects 3 resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary) and 2 parks (Magic Kingdom and Epcot).
And at the center of it all is the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC), which is kind of like the main transportation hub for Walt Disney World. We have more on exactly what it is below.
There are 3 separate monorail lines:
- Express Line which runs from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Magic Kingdom
- Resort Line which runs between Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and the Transportation and Ticket Center.
- Epcot Line which runs between the Transportation and Ticket Center and Epcot
Important: At this time, monorail service is temporarily suspended to Epcot and Polynesian.
The schedule for the monorail tends to vary a lot because, unfortunately, it is prone to operating under reduced capacity due to maintenance issues.
Officially Disney states, “The Walt Disney World Monorail System operates from 30 minutes prior to earliest park opening until one hour after latest park closing,” however, we always recommend you check at your resort for the most up-to-date schedule.
Transportation and Ticket Center
The Transportation and Ticket Center (or TTC) is the transportation hub for all of Walt Disney World.
The TTC is where you park if you drive to Magic Kingdom. It is also the only place you can catch (or transfer to) the monorail to Epcot.
If you plan to take a taxi or Uber/Lyft to Magic Kingdom, this is the official drop-off spot for that, as well as being the place where some of the offsite buses drop off guests for Magic Kingdom.
You can also purchase tickets here, snag the ferryboat to Magic Kingdom, and even grab a cup of coffee or snack from the Joffrey’s stand.
Boats and Friendships
Disney World has LOTS of water and with that comes lots of options for water transportation.
Boats and water taxis
You can access the parks via a boat or water taxi from the following resorts:
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (Gold Flag route)
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (Gold Flag route)
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (Gold Flag route)
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground (Green Flag route)
- Wilderness Lodge (Red Flag route)
- Boulder Ridge Villas (Red Flag route)
Keep in mind that some of the water taxis from the above resorts may be limited. Here’s what is open at the Disney Resort hotels right now.
Epcot and Hollywood Studios
- BoardWalk Inn
- BoardWalk Villas
- Beach Club Resort
- Beach Club Villas
- Yacht Club Resort
- Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
- Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
Disney Springs is also accessible via boat from these resorts:
- Port Orleans Resort—French Quarter
- Port Orleans Resort—Riverside
- Old Key West Resort
- Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Note: Boats are not running to Disney Springs at this time.
Resort to Resort
- Contemporary – Fort Wilderness – Wilderness Lodge (Blue Flag route)
The schedule for the boats and water taxis can vary, and of course the tricky weather in Florida can be an issue. We recommend you inquire at your resort upon your arrival for an updated schedule. Most routes run on 15- to 30-minute intervals.
In addition to all the water taxis, Disney also operates ferryboats between the Transportation and Ticket Center and Magic Kingdom.
These boats – the Richard F. Irvine, the Admiral Joe Fowler, and the General Joe Potter – are large vessels capable of transporting around 600 guests at a time.
The ferry boats typically begin running around 30-45 minutes before park opening and up until about 90 minutes after the parks close.
Minnie Vans (currently unavailable)
Minnie Vans are a premium service and are about as close to door-to-door service as you can get at a theme park.
At first, Minnie Vans charged a flat rate, but now fees are determined by a distanced-based model. Disney’s Minnie Vans charge a $15 flat rate plus additional cost per mile.
When they first started, Minnie Vans were limited to only onsite guests but that has since changed. Minnie Vans are now available across the entire Walt Disney World resort area and anybody can use them (not just Walt Disney World Resort guests).
We really love Minnie Vans and have written an entire post all about how Minnie Vans work and what to expect if you take one.
Minnie Vans are temporarily unavailable. When available, they typically run between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.
Disney Skyliner (gondolas)
The Disney Skyliner gondola system is the newest transportation option and connects 4 different resorts to 2 theme parks:
- Art of Animation (shares station with Pop Century)
- Pop Century (shares station with Art of Animation)
- Caribbean Beach (home to the main station where you transfer if heading to Hollywood Studios)
- Riviera Resort
- Hollywood Studios
- Epcot (via the International Gateway)
The gondolas are adorable and, aside from mishaps at the beginning, they have been operating smoothly.
Because of the uniqueness of this transportation option we have an entire post dedicated to explaining how the Disney Skyliner works if you would like more information.
If you’re in need of some dining ideas, be sure to also check out our dining on the Disney Skyliner post.
Probably the most frustrating thing about the new Skyliner is the schedule.
The schedule isn’t published ahead of time and typically you are only able to see the current day’s schedule posted on signs outside of the stations.
Generally, they start running 1 hour prior to park opening and usually go until 90 minutes after park closing.
However, keep in mind that they undergo extensive testing each morning before starting up (which can sometimes delay the opening) and that they do not operate during inclement weather.
When it comes to boarding, depending on your party size, you may have to share a gondola with other guests. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to score your own gondola.
Because of the possibility for long lines and the fact that the weather can force the gondolas to pause operations, if you plan to arrive for park opening we typically don’t recommend you use the Skyliner unless you absolutely have to.
Other ways to get around
When it comes to using Lyft or Uber, we encourage you to review current policies for both companies before riding, and for general information on how ride sharing at Disney World works you can read our post on why we prefer Lyft.
If you choose to rent a car, costs can add up between paying for the rental, gas, and paying to park at the resorts. But the trade-off is that you’ll be in control of your arrival time to the parks. You won’t have to rely on a bus or boat or monorail or gondola.
It’s also important to note that at this time there are no parking lot trams operating, meaning you’ll have to walk from wherever you parked to the front of the park.
In some instances the walk won’t be that bad, but if you arrive later in the day you, may find that you’ll have quite a distance to hoof it.
We have found that the parking lots typically open up about an hour before the park is scheduled to open.
Going from Values and Moderates to theme parks
Until the Disney Skyliner opened up in September of 2019, guests staying at all Value and Moderate resorts only had 1 option to get to all 4 parks: bus.
But, now guests at Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, and Pop Century have the option to take the Disney Skyliner (gondolas) to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Note: while the Skyliner is open, bus service to Hollywood Studios and Epcot from Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, Pop Century will be reduced to once per hour.
Guests staying at those resorts wishing to go to any other park will have to take a bus.
And, for guests at all other Value and Moderate resorts, the only option for all 4 parks is bus.
Going from Deluxes to theme parks
Magic Kingdom resorts can take the monorail or boats to Magic Kingdom, monorail to Epcot, and buses to the other parks (guests at The Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian can also walk to MK).
Boardwalk resorts (Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Swan, & Dolphin) can take a Friendship or walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Buses are available to the other parks.
Guests staying at Disney’s Riviera (Deluxe Villa) have the option to take the Disney Skyliner to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Note: while the Skyliner is open, bus service to Hollywood Studios and Epcot from Disney’s Rivera Resort will be reduced to once per hour.
All other Deluxe resort guests will take buses to theme parks.
Traveling between resorts
Want to get there fast? Use Lyft/Uber or a taxi
Traveling from resort to resort is one of the most difficult things to figure out at Disney World.
We’ve often considered making a dining reservation at a hotel, but changed our mind once we thought about getting to and from the restaurant.
At least we would do that until we discovered just how easy it is to use a rideshare service or taxi at Disney world.
Hands down the quickest (and easiest) way to get between resorts is often by taxi or Lyft/Uber.
We don’t think this option is used enough at Disney World.
It doesn’t usually cost more than $10 or $15 for a taxi (less for a Lyft/Uber) and can get you to your destination within a few minutes.
Disney’s Minnie Vans are also an option for a $15 flat rate plus additional cost per mile.
Free options for traveling between resorts
If you’re using Disney’s free transportation, a good general rule is to get to the theme park closest to the destination resort and catch a bus or monorail from there to your destination resort.
For example, if you’re at Pop Century and need to get to The Grand Floridian, you’d want to take a bus to Magic Kingdom and then take the monorail to The Grand Floridian.
Disney World Cast Members will likely suggest going to Disney Springs and connecting there, but going to the nearest theme park usually makes much more sense.
Traveling between parks
All 4 parks have transportation available to allow you to hop to another park.
- From the Magic Kingdom to:
- Epcot – Take the Magic Kingdom monorail or ferry to the Transportation and Ticket Center and transfer to the Epcot monorail (at this time, the Epcot monorail is not running)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – bus
- Animal Kingdom – bus
- From Epcot to:
- Animal Kingdom – bus
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – bus, boat, Skyliner (gondola), or you can even walk
- Magic Kingdom – Take the Epcot monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center and transfer to either the Magic Kingdom monorail or take the ferry (at this time, the Epcot monorail is not running)
- From Disney’s Hollywood Studios to:
- Animal Kingdom – bus
- Magic Kingdom – bus
- Epcot – bus, boat, Skyliner (gondola), or you can even walk
- From Animal Kingdom to:
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – bus
- Epcot – bus
- Magic Kingdom – bus
Some special situations
Getting to Ft. Wilderness – many people need to get to Ft. Wilderness for various activities.
Our previous advice to go to a theme park and catch a bus to your destination resort will work here, but there is also a boat from Magic Kingdom that you might want to take.
If you are short on time, we also recommend taking a Minnie Van (currently unavailable) as this service drops you off extremely close to Pioneer Hall.
After parks close – after the nighttime entertainment ends and crowds leave in droves, there will be long, long…..long lines at the bus stops. To avoid this, consider 1 of these options:
- Take a taxi or Uber/Lyft back to your resort
- Use a Minnie Van
- Position yourself so you’re one of the first to leave the park and one of the first to get to your bus stop
- View from outside the park so you’re not caught in the crowds at all. This mainly works at Magic Kingdom where you can view fireworks from one of the beaches at the monorail resorts. It doesn’t work as well at the other nighttime shows.
There are no buses from Disney Springs to the theme parks.
Resort guests can get directly to theme parks or Disney Springs, and you can travel to Disney Springs from the theme parks after 4 p.m., but people wanting to park for free in Disney Springs and go to the theme parks will not be able to do that.
Note: With all the new construction happening at this park, things have been changing frequently. Use this as a guide but double check locations when you are there!
Note: We are in the process of updating the following map. The ride share, taxi, and Minnie Van pick-up/drop off areas are now located at the furthest bus loop.
In love with Disney transportation?
Here’s a fantastically awesome transportation map from https://www.wdwfocus.com/map/ (click to enlarge) that you might like as a handy reference. I bought a print of it that hangs in my office.
Disney’s Magical Express
Important: Magical Express will no longer be offered beginning with arrivals Jan. 1, 2022.
Guests who arrive prior to Jan. 1, 2022 will be transported back to Orlando International Airport after their stay via Magical Express until Jan. 10, 2022. After this date, Disney won’t provide complimentary transportation back to the airport.
That said, the below information is still true and relevant for all arrivals prior to that date.
Magical Express is still operating, but expect things to work a bit differently than you may recall.
First, the following is no longer available:
- Luggage delivery for guests arriving to and departing from Orlando International Airport
- Resort Airline Check-In Service
Guests using Magical Express are responsible for picking up their checked luggage from baggage claim, so it can be loaded onto the motorcoach and taken to their hotel.
Upon departure, you must also bring your luggage with you to the Magical Express.
Luggage assistance is available at the front of Disney Resort hotels, along with luggage storage at Bell Services and/or transport to the room.
Just make sure you allocate enough time to snag them from there before your scheduled Magical Express pick-up time.
Disney World Transportation tool
Disney World has started including navigational information in the My Disney Experience app, but it’s confusing and often completely incorrect, so we made our own!
Open this tool on its own page to easily reference it anytime.
You might also consider going to that link on your phone and adding it to your home screen to pull it up easily during your trip.
Have you tried out one of the Disney World transportation options? Leave a comments below and tell us how it went!
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