(Last updated: January 31, 2019)
Ever since ride sharing began, we've loved how easy it is for travelers to get around in unfamiliar locations.
But, while we used to almost exclusively recommend Uber to families traveling to Disney World, we've had a lot of recent experiences that have turned us into 100% Lyft fans.
Here's why we love using Lyft at Disney World:
In this article
First things first - what exactly is ride sharing & why should you try it?
Companies like Lyft and Uber are part of a transportation trend called "ride sharing."
Basically, it's a private citizen (acting as an independent contractor for a company) using their personal car to transport you around the same way a taxi would.
Why should you try it?
There are lots of times when Lyft (or Uber) can make getting around easier, quicker, and so much less stressful.
Even if you've never used Lyft before, we think you should at least consider it when at Disney World.
If you don't live in a city where taxis or ride sharing is common and this is all brand new to you, the thought of hopping into a stranger's car may seem a bit intimidating at first.
But trust us:
The entire process is very easy, and the app makes it simple to go from Lyft novice to full-blown expert quickly.
More on how it all works below.
Should I use Lyft or just rent a car?
Considering renting a car at the airport? You might want to think about using a service like Lyft instead.
Now that Disney charges resort guests for parking, it makes the cost of having a car on property a lot more expensive and the idea of using a service like Uber or Lyft far more attractive.
Not only will you save on parking fees and rental car fees, you also won't have to worry about trying to find a parking place at your resort or having to deal with parking at the parks.
Sure, Disney makes parking easy, but in most cases, if you Lyft or Uber to a park you'll have a lot less walking than if you drove.
It involves a little math, but you can crunch the numbers to see what makes the most sense for you.
Make sure you're factoring in everything. Some things to consider...
- Take a look at your daily plan and map out which days you'd likely be driving to the parks. For reference, we usually do a mix of Disney buses and Lyft each day.
- You can get estimates for the cost of your fares on the Lyft website (or you can even plan mock trips in the app if you'd prefer).
Now, total it all up and see which is the best option.
When to use Lyft
You could theoretically use Lyft to get between almost any points during your Disney World trip, but these are the situations when we are most likely to use it:
- Traveling between resorts. Disney doesn't provide direct transportation between most resorts so this saves a lot of time.
- Early morning reservations. Although Disney will provide early transportation to most things (such as early dining reservations in the parks), the buses don't run as frequently. You can often save a lot of time by using Lyft.
- Going offsite. If we want to go somewhere outside of Disney World, including Universal, we are likely to use Lyft to get there.
- To/from the airport. Magical Express is a fantastic option, but if you need to get to or from the airport faster, Lyft is the best option.
Why wouldn't everybody use it?
Sounds like a good idea, right? Well, there are a couple of situations where you might not want to use Lyft.
We don't recommend Lyft at Disney World if:
- You have a lot of luggage or people that would require a higher level of service and maybe not make as much financial sense.
- If you are travelling with a child needing a car seat, a Minnie Van may be a better option. Minnie Vans seat 6 people and have 2 car seats available, however they cost considerably more.
- Surge pricing makes it cost more than it's worth to you. Surge pricing is when Lyft and Uber increase their normal rates due to high demand. This used to be a lot more common than it is now that there are more drivers, and, in fact, its been several trips since we've seen surge pricing. The app will tell you the full rate before you request a car so you'll know the fare ahead of time, though, so you won't get sticker shock when you get the payment.
Why do we recommend Lyft over Uber at Disney World?
For years we've strongly recommended using Uber, but that's changed recently. Here are a few reasons why.
We used to use Uber in part because it has better name recognition and there were simply more drivers in the Orlando area.
But all that changed when Minnie Vans came to town.
Minnie Vans utilize the Lyft app, and because of all the promotion for Minnie Vans, there was a dramatic increase in the number of drivers for just the regular Lyft service, too.
Lyft has better Disney World maps
One big (and very important) outcome of Minnie Vans is the maps utilized by the internal systems the drivers use.
Disney World is undergoing a TON of changes right now with a lot of road construction that can really play havoc with GPS.
But, because Minnie Vans use Lyft, it appears that Lyft keeps their system maps far more updated for the Walt Disney World Resort area, which means you're less likely to have your driver take a wrong turn.
Plus, we've found the Lyft app to work a lot better for narrowing down a specific building at a Disney resort.
The Lyft app actually has the building numbers included in a drop down, so you can be sure you're selecting the right spot.
And having the building number available makes it easier for the driver to find you quickly and efficiently.
Being dropped off and picked up at your building is a huge perk to using a service like Lyft.
Better drivers with Lyft
And, finally, the drivers themselves.
We've had far more positive experiences with Lyft drivers than Uber, in part because it appears the minimum driver rating for Lyft drivers in Orlando is higher than for Uber.
Don't get us wrong, we've had some amazing Uber drivers (and there are lots of drivers that actually work for both Uber and Lyft), but the drivers we've had with Lyft have been superior by far.
How do you use Lyft?
Lyft is an app that you install on your phone (available for iOS, Android, and Windows phones). From within the app, you can request a Lyft driver to pick you up and take you wherever you're headed.
New to Lyft? Use code SHANNON30277 for some free credit on your first few rides.
Where can you use Lyft at Disney World?
Lyft is available in many cities around the world, and Orlando is 1 of them. In Orlando, you can use Lyft almost anywhere, but you cannot use it in a few spots:
- At Magic Kingdom, because only Disney buses/monorails/ferries/Minnie Vans go directly there. You can walk to The Contemporary and get Lyft from there, though during busy times the security guards at The Contemporary may not allow this. You can also ask to be picked up/dropped off at the Transportation and Ticket Center when traveling to/from Magic Kingdom.
- The Casitas at Coronado Springs Resort. You can get Lyft at the main building at CSR, just not in the Casitas sections themselves.
- The middle part of Disney Springs. Lyft and Uber drivers can only pick up and drop off at the ends of Disney Springs - the area near the Cirque du Soleil building and the old bus stops in the Marketplace section (behind the Disney Days of Christmas store).
How does it work?
When you want to use Lyft, you just open the app on your phone...
...and the pickup location will default to your current spot.
In the "where to" box, type in where you're headed. You can also change the starting location from where it automatically detected you to something else, if you'd like. The cars shown on the screen show how close Lyft drivers are to your current location.
Notice at the bottom that you have options such as Lyft, LyftXL, Lux, and Lux Black XL? The default is popular options like just "regular" Lyft, but you can slide the screen to the left to see more options (including Minnie Vans).
Here are the levels of Lyft at Disney World:
- Lyft - least expensive option, usually a sedan type of car, allows up to 4 passengers
- Lyft XL - second highest priced option, often an SUV or minivan, allows at least 6 passengers
- Lux - moderately expensive option, luxury cars (such as BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus) with leather interiors, allows up to 4 passengers
- Lux Black - Ultimate luxury ride in a black car with top notch drivers, allows up to 4 passengers
- Lux Black XL - Spacious, luxury ride in a black car that seats up to 6 passengers
- Minnie Vans - Minnie Vans are owned by Disney and driven by Disney Cast Members. They seat up to 6 people and come with 2 car seats but they are significantly more expensive than a regular Lyft, however, they can go places that traditional ride share options can't.
To request a car for later, click the calendar/schedule icon directly above the "Request Lyft" button. That will allow you to choose a later time to be picked up.
To request a car for now, click the request button at the bottom of the screen. That takes you to the confirmation screen.
From here, you can adjust your pickup spot by dragging the pin on the map.
Within just a few moments, a car will officially have accepted the request to pick you up and you'll see info on them on your screen.
You can see the name of the person picking you up, usually see their pic, the make and model of their car, and their license plate number. That way you know who to look for.
From here, you can cancel your trip, share your ETA via text, see the fare, and contact the driver.
We usually hit the contact option (which will allow you to send a text message to the driver) to let them know where we are (such as "waiting in the lobby of Pop Century" or "in the car pickup area of the parking garage"). That helps to clarify your location and get them to you without any confusion.
When the car arrives, you should always double check the license plate number before getting in. All Lyft and Uber drivers will have a decal/emblem clearly displayed on their front windshield, too.
Some Lyft drivers may also have a bright LED Lyft sign (called an Amp) on their dashboard.
If they do, your app will tell you what color the sign will be. It changes color depending on your pickup to make it easier for drivers and riders to find each other (which is especially handy in busy pickup and drop off areas like airports or at park closing).
If your Lyft driver has an Amp, it will also show your name.
The color and name on the signs make it much easier to connect to the drivers who have the signs.
After a driver has picked up your request, you'll be able to follow their progress to you in the app so you know exactly where they are.
Your driver should arrive shortly, and at the end of the ride the app will prompt you to rate them, and they'll rate you within their app. Drivers have to maintain a high rating in order to keep driving for Lyft. And passengers should want a high rating so that drivers will want to pick them up in the future.
As you get out of the car, you might want to say something like "thanks for the ride, I'll give you 5 stars in the app" just to make sure they know you thought it was a good experience, and they'll likely reciprocate.
Payment is automatically processed with whatever payment method you selected in the app. Tipping isn't required, but you can tip if you'd like.
Traveling with bags? We suggest tipping $1/bag if the driver helps you load/unload luggage.
What about car seats?
Unfortunately, Lyft doesn't offer any cars that provide car seats in Orlando at this time.
Minnie Vans, however, do - but they are a lot pricier than just a regular Lyft.
Uber, on the other hand, does offer a level of service called UberFAMILY that includes car seats.
You can get UberFAMILY for an extra charge (~$7-10) which will provide a car seat for your ride. This is available with uberX and uberXL cars. The Uber driver is required to have 1 car seat from a list of approved models that hasn't been in a car accident. FYI - Orlando's version of UberFAMILY isn't following the same structure as other cities who have stricter rules (more info on that).
What to do before your trip
Before you leave for your Disney World trip, be sure to download the app, sign up for an account, set your profile pic (the drivers need to know what you look like when they pick you up!), and add your payment info.
What other questions do you have about using Lyft or Uber at Disney World? Feel free to leave your questions in the comments section below!