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.
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.
Let's get started...
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!
Select starting/ending points below for tips on how to navigate between Disney World locations.
|⍏ WDW Prep Navigator ⍖|
|Allow up to an hour each way to get between resorts and theme parks (up to 90 minutes to get between resorts), with each trip leg taking 10-20 minutes once you're en route.|
Here's another option: 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.
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
- 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 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:
- Buses for the Magic Kingdom start running at 6:30 a.m. daily
- Buses for Animal Kingdom start running at 7-7:15 a.m. daily
- Buses for Hollywood Studios start running at 7-7:15 a.m. daily
- Buses for Epcot start running at 7-7:15 a.m. daily
- Buses for Disney Springs begin running about 1 hour before opening daily
At the end of the night, Disney states that buses continue running until about 1 hour after the park closes, however, it is oftentimes closer to 2.
For Disney Springs, buses continue returning to the resorts until 2:00 a.m.
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.
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.
Most of the Moderate Resorts (Port Orleans-Riverside, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs) all have multiple internal bus-stops as do both Old Key West and Saratoga Springs (Deluxe Villa Resorts).
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
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 that "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 from the small snack bar.
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)
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
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.
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 1 and half hours after the parks close (including both Morning and Evening Extra Magic Hours).
Minnie Vans are a premium service (they cost a flat rate of $15/ride plus an additional cost per mile ) and are about as close to door-to-door service as you can get at a theme park.
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 operate between 6:30 am and 12:30 am daily.
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.
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 somewhere between 7:30 and 8:30 am and go until 10 or 11:00 pm.
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.
Other ways to get around
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 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.
Another example: if you're at Port Orleans Riverside and need to get to Animal Kingdom Lodge, you could take a bus to Animal Kingdom and then catch a bus over to Animal Kingdom Lodge.
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
- 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
- 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, including the popular Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue show.
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 as this service drops you off extremely close to Pioneer Hall (which is where Hoop-Dee-Doo is located).
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.
Early-morning breakfast reservations - Have an early morning breakfast reservations and concerned how to get there? Read our article on character meals for info on how 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!
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.
Have you tried out one of the Disney World transportation options? Leave a comments below and tell us how it went!