There are 5 different methods of Walt Disney World Transportation Options: Disney Bus, Monorail, Boat, Skyliner, Minnie Van and by your own personal vehicle or taxi.
Disney has over 200 buses that begin running daily around 7 am (earlier if there are parks opening before 9 am; they start 2 hours before parks open) and run until 2 hours after the last park closes. The buses run from resorts to the parks and Disney Springs. Buses DO NOT run from resort to resort but DO run from park to park.
The buses are a great feature that Disney offers. You literally do not have to use your personal vehicle at Disney World if you don’t want too. You can get around everywhere via a bus. (You will just have to change buses if you are trying to get to other resorts).
This is how it works:
Every resort has bus stops in front of the resort. You have a stop for each of the major theme parks, the water parks and Disney Springs. You line up in the waiting area for the bus you wish to board. Buses run at least every 15-20 minutes, however they are dispatched as needed. If your bus driver radios to the central hub that another bus is needed, they will dispatch a second bus. (I often saw buses running every 5-10 minutes, but use the 20 minute rule of thumb.)
You then board your bus. If there is a handicap person, expect to wait while the driver helps them and their family board. If you have a stroller, you will need to fold it up to carry on board. Once inside, you will either get a seat or you will stand. I have seen buses crammed full of people. If we have had a hard day at the park, we often will wait on a second bus just so we didn’t have to stand with the kids on the way back.
As you travel through Disney World, the music on the bus will be themed with music of your destination. It will also play tips and facts to make your day at Disney World more enjoyable.
If you need to get to another resort for a character meal, you need to allow about an hour or more of travel time. You will need to take the bus to any of the theme parks or Disney Springs. You will then need to exit that bus and find the bus for the resort you are going to and board that bus. It’s kind of a pain in the butt. If you wish to drive to the resort, you are only allowed 2 hours of parking time. (This is if you are NOT a guest of that resort.)
Some people debate on if they should take the bus or drive their vehicles to the park. You do get free parking at the theme parks if you are a Disney guest (otherwise it’s $14 a day.) We were in limbo but my son fell in love with the buses and so we took them everywhere. I don’t have any bus horror stores to share with you. We really enjoyed them. My advice is to try out the buses at least once, you’ll never know if you find it more convenient for your needs. Keep in mind that Disney parking lots are huge. You will still need to board a tram to get you to the front gate of the park. Disney buses take you to the front gate of every single park. Magic Kingdom’s parking lot is at the Ticket and Transportation Center. You will have to park your car there, take a tram to the front of the Ticket and Transportation Center and then board the Monorail to take you to the gates of the Magic Kingdom.
Your bus driver is a wealth of Disney information. If you are able to engage him in conversation, you might learn things about Disney that you didn’t know. You can also collect transportation cards.
Keep in mind that Disney buses are only intended for guests of Disney resorts. They do not check to make sure you are a guest though.
Disney has 3 different routes for their 11 Monorail trains. One route is directly from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom and back again. The second route is from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom, Contemporary and Polynesian resorts. If you choose to stay in any of those resorts, you are able to board the monorail from one of the floors in your hotel. The third route is from the Ticket and Transportation Center to Epcot and back.
The Monorail does not require you to fold up your stroller before boarding. You can actually wheel your child right into the Monorail train if you so desire.
In years past, you were allowed to ride with the driver of the Monorail train. Unfortunately, this is no longer allowed. In the summer of 2009, 2 Monorail trains collided and one of the drivers was killed. No guests were injured as this happened late at night. Because of this incident, Disney no longer allows guests to ride in the front of the train. (Understandably, but do not let this discourage you from riding the Monorail. It was a terrible freak tragedy.) However, you can still get the transportation cards from the driver if you are collecting them.
Boats run from select resorts to the parks. You can choose to ride on a Ferry from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom if you wish. Otherwise, you have to be at one of the resorts to ride the boat to the parks. You can also request transportation cards from the captain.
The Skyliner system connects Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach and Riviera to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Guests may order a Minnie Van from the Lyft App. Up to 6 people may ride anywhere on Walt Disney World property for a fee. Two different style car seats are offered for small guests.
You are welcome to drive your vehicle around Disney. Keep in mind that Disney is like a city with a highway running through it that reaches an excess of 55 mph. It’s not tiny winding roads. It’s just like getting to and from destinations in your town.
If you are a guest of Disney or an Annual Passholder, you get free parking at the parks (otherwise it’s $14) Parking is always free at Disney Springs rather you are a resort guest or not.
You can go to each resort and inform the gate keeper that you are either checking out the resort or dining there. You will receive a parking pass that is good for 2 hours (I believe, correct me if I am wrong.)
Taxis are available at all of the Disney Resorts to take you around property or to other areas of Orlando. Just let Bell Services know that you need a taxi and they will ring for one to come to the front of the resort to pick you up. Keep in mind that children are required to be in a carseat in a taxi if they are under the age of 5. Some taxis are equipped with a carseat and can pick you up upon request.
Disney’s Magical Express is their complimentary bus that picks up Walt Disney World resort guests at the Orlando airport and brings them to their resort of choice. It also will shuttle you back to the airport. This combined with the buses, monorail and boats eliminate your need to rent a car when visiting Disney. Children under the age of 5 are not required to be in a carseat on the Magical Express.