Part 5 — Disney Transportation
Disney transportation can be both a highlight and a cause of immense frustration during your time at Disney World. The unique ability to get picked up at the airport and shuttled all around the entire complex, FREE OF CHARGE, is something that brings people back year after year.
However long lines for busses, heat, confusion and missed dinner reservations have caused some to express extreme frustration with the bus system.
Likewise, some disney resort guests do the driving themselves. After all, why wait 15 minutes for a bus when you can get in your car and get to the resort. While this might seem reasonable, some guests don’t want to touch their car for the entire trip!
Let’s analyze the three basic means of transportation at Disney, the bus, the monorail and your car.
Without a doubt, the most convenient and easy mode of transportation at Disney World is the monorail. Unfortunately the monorail only stops at three resorts, the Polynesian, the Contemporary and the Grand Floridian. The monorail also currently only services the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. If you are staying at any of these three resorts, I highly encourage the monorail for all visits to Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.
The monorail is also one of the two ways to get to the Magic Kingdom from the Transporation Center, which is where you will park if you drive to the MK. However, the TC can be very busy. You will encounter long lines (especially if you aren’t getting there early!), and the parking lot is huge.
MouseHint: Driving a car? Book an early morning dining reservation at one of the Luxury Resorts. You can park your car in the resort parking lot, eat breakfast, and then catch a quick monorail ride to the MK. Likewise, you can do the same if you’ve booked dinner or lunch reservations. Just tell the security guard that you have a dining reservation for that day! If you plan it right, it’s a great way to take advantage of the monorail system, even though you aren’t a guest at that hotel.
The bus system is adored by many, and despised by others. Unfortunately, all it takes is a couple of really bad experiences to sour one’s opinion on it. While busses for each resort are supposed to arrive every 20 minutes, please understand that 20 minutes can be a long time in the Florida heat, and an ETERNITY with small, tired kids! If you need to be somewhere and plan on using the bus system, please give yourself an hour at a MINIMUM if using the bus system.
At times the bus system is highly recommended, however. The bus to the Magic Kingdom saves you from having to stop at the crowded Transportation Center and drops you off at the front gates. We highly recommend it.
Conversely, there are a few times, when using the bus can be extremely painful. One of those is if you have dinner reservations at a resort. If you are staying at the All-Star resort, for instance, and you are eating at the Wilderness Lodge, there will not be a bus that runs directly between the two. You’ll need to catch a ride to one of the parks, and then get on ANOTHER bus that goes directly to that resort. If you are one of those people that always catches bad breaks with your timing, you can see how you may need to plan to leave 90 minutes in advance, in this case.
If you are unsure of the quickest route using a bus, I strongly recommend asking a cast member at your hotel for the quickest way to another resort.
A final thing to consider with the bus system is your stroller situation. Lugging huge strollers in and out of a bus, especially when Disney is crowded, is enough to cause many to forego this means of transportation.
In conclusion, if you have flown to Disney World and are relying on the bus system, give yourself ample time to get to the parks. If you know ahead of time that you will have a 15-20 minute wait, and if you plan for that, you will do just fine using the bus system. Many times, those that complain are the ones that cut things too short, miss their reservations, and then blame the bus system. Plan ahead and leave early!
There are many who are convinced that a car is a necessity at Disney World. With a car, you can quickly change plans, you can drive off grounds to the store, to Orlando restaurants, or even to the doctor if a family member gets sick.
If you have a car, I recommend driving to the Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and to Epcot. All three have trams that can pick you up and whisk you to the front gate if you had to park far away. Unless you get lost, a car is almost always going to be faster than a bus. There are no special bus roads, so busses travel the same roads that you do. In addition, you usually will have your car right next to your hotel room, whereas with a bus you have to walk to the front of the resort, quite a haul from some hotel rooms.
I would, however, recommend taking a bus to the Magic Kingdom. The bus takes you right to the front gates. You cannot drive to the front gates of the MK. Instead you have to drive to the Transportation center. If you are early, as I hope you are, this won’t be too much of a problem. Just give yourself time, as you’ll have to catch the monorail or ferry from the transportation center. If you find yourself getting a late start, I STRONGLY advise using the bus. The transportation center is torture when its crowded.
Mouse Hint: When leaving the Magic Kingdom at night and heading to the transportation center, you’ll notice that guests instinctively flock to the Monorail Station labelled EXPRESS that goes directly to the Transportation Center. I guess the word Express is so ingrained in people’s minds as being fast, that they’ll stand in unbelievably long lines to get on this monorail. Don’t make that mistake. Head to the Resort Monorail Station. Yes, this monorail will make a stop at the Contemporary, but you can literally save 20 minutes of waiting in line. At times there will be no one in the Resort station and extremely long lines in the Express station. One of the wonders of Disney…
We hope you enjoyed our series on Beating the Crowds. We hope a few of these tips help you to have a great time in Disney World.
Now that you’ve learned a few tips on how you can beat the crowds, lets discuss how to book the perfect Disney vacation with our article on Planning a Disney Vacation!