Hey everyone! I've been researching Disney World transportation options a LOT in the past few weeks, so I decided to compile everything I've learned into a blog post for you. Here's the Ultimate Guide to Disney World Transportation.
To make things a little easier, let's divide your options and talk about each. I'll also include a pros and cons list for each. Here's what you can choose from:
1. Disney World Transportation (including Disney's Magical Express, buses, the monorail, boats, and water transportation)
2. Rideshare services (including Minnie Vans)
3. Car rental
4. Combination of the above
Disney World Transportation
Disney World has an extensive connection of complimentary transportation options. If you are staying at a Disney World hotel, it is absolutely possible to get anywhere on property with some form of Disney transportation. If you're staying off property you can still use all their options for free, although you'll need some additional forms of transportation since Disney's only cover Disney World property. (The one exception to this is Disney's Magical Express, which I'll talk about below.)
Disney's Magical Express:
Magical Express is Disney's complimentary service between Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Disney World resorts. This option is only available to resort guests, and you must book online before your trip (find more info here) to secure your spot. Magical Express also offers complimentary luggage delivery, which is a great option for large families with lots of bags. When you book Magical Express you are mailed a special set of luggage tags which help Disney identify your room info. You can also use Magical Express to check in to your departing flight from WDW, which includes bag check at your Disney hotel if you fly through participating airlines.
Disney World Buses:
Buses are available to all Disney World guests, no matter where you are staying. Buses are the most convenient between resorts and parks, so probably won't be the best option for offsite guests. But if you are staying offsite and want to travel as 'free' as possible, the buses are an option if, say, you're trying to get from park to park or have a dining reservation at a resort.
The Disney monorail is an iconic part of Disney World transportation. The main monorail line connects the Ticket & Transportation Center to Magic Kingdom, and has three resort stops including the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian resorts. There is also a monorail line that runs between the Ticket & Transportation Center and Epcot.
Disney World is set on a lot of water, and many people are surprised to hear about its several water transportation options. There are two types of water transportation, boats (sometimes called Friendship Boats) and ferries. The lines here are pretty involved, but if there is a large body of water near you there's good chance you can take a boat or ferry across it.
The water transportation option most relevant to all WDW guests is the ferry that runs between the TTC and Magic Kingdom. It does take longer than the monorail but fits a lot more people per shuttle, so depending on the crowds it may be quicker to take the ferry. If you have some extra time, the ferry also offers some beautiful views of Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon.
For a full list of water transportation options visit the Disney website.
If you don't want to rely on Disney's public transportation options, rideshare services have been gaining popularity lately and are a great option on Disney World property. Uber and Lyft are the main two, and Disney has it's own service (through Lyft) called Minnie Vans. Minnie Vans are more expensive than a basic Uber or Lyft ride, but some are able to get you closer to the parks and all come with carseats, so they may be a better option for families with young children.
Uber & Lyft
My family almost always prefers to rent a car when we travel. Ultimately we enjoy the flexibility it offers, even if it means spending a little more. But this obviously depends on the family. If you're renting a car for your Disney World trip, you will probably be picking it up and dropping it off at the airport.
Combination of the Above
Of course, you're always free to use a combination of various transportation methods. The most common combination is Disney World transportation with a few rideshare options thrown in. If you want to save money by not renting a car but are worried about getting to the parks early, you might choose to use Minnie Vans on a few mornings and Disney transportation the rest of the time.
What's best for me and my family?
As always, it depends.
I recommend price comparing all options, then deciding what other factors are important to you. I mentioned my family always rents a car. It's more expensive, but we enjoy the flexibility it offers. Those wanting to save as much money as possible should stick to Disney transportation. It's all going to depend on your and your needs.
Want help planning your next Disney trip? Learn more about my custom Disney and Universal Studios trip itineraries here!