Disney With Special Needs: Planning for Transportation

Buses, monorails, and boats- oh my! The Walt Disney World Resort offers a variety of transportation options for their guests (unfortunately magic carpets are not one of the options). If you are traveling with a family member or loved one with special needs, it will be helpful to know the different transportation options available while planning your vacation.

 If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, there are many complimentary transportation options to choose from. The options differ depending on what resort you choose, but on the official Disney website, they list the options for each resort.

All the resorts do provide buses to and from the parks, Disney Springs and the water parks. They can sometimes be quite crowded, so if your loved one has a hard time dealing with crowded spaces or a lot of noise, this may not be the best option. My brother sometimes gets over stimulated with a lot of noise, so he does not always do well on the buses. He does have ear cans that muffle out sounds. If the bus is your only option, I would suggest the ear cans to help get rid of some of the noise, if that is a main concern. The buses do run for an hour before the park opens and an hour after it closes, so try to plan around the times when the buses will most likely be less crowded.

Resorts like the Swan and Dolphin, Disney’s Boardwalk Resort and the Yacht and Beach Club offer boat rides to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. They are not the quickest options, but they are usually calmer than the buses.

Disney also offers transportation to the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT by monorail. The monorail can also be very crowded like the buses, but it is a relatively quick ride. If your loved one with special needs doesn’t like heights I wouldn’t suggest the monorail.

There are also some new options available that, while not free, may be helpful choices for you and your loved ones. Both of these options provide easier, more direct transportation and so may very well be less stressful for those with special needs.

Disney offers an Express Transportation option for guests who have park hoppers, to enable them to “hop” between parks more quickly and efficiently. These buses pick up and drop off within the parks, so Guests avoid having to go through security etc. a second time. These buses are also non stop, and since there are no other real bus options from park to park, they are a real time saver. The cost is $19 for a single day and $29 for multi-day passes and you can purchase them at the Disney hotels, at Guest Relations and special kiosks in the parks and at Disney Springs.

The other new option – Disney “Minnie Vans” – has literally just started, and at this time is only available as a trial option for Guests staying at the Boardwalk and Yacht and Beach Club resorts. Operating through a collaboration with the rideshare service Lyft, these Minnie Vans are available to transport guests literally anywhere they want to go on Disney property. This service accommodates up to six guests and provides two versatile car seats so even the tiniest of passengers can travel in style. As a direct transportation option that should be quite affordable, Minnie Vans provide a stress free way for guests to travel. This service is expected to be expanded to all Disney resort guests in the coming months.

Tips for Transportation:

  1. Look over all the transportation options and choose which one would best accommodates your needs.
  2. Take into consideration what parks you are visiting and what your options are to each one.
  3. If you are taking the transportation offered by the resorts, try to plan around the crowds if your loved one with special needs is bothered by crowds.  Most transportation options run for an hour after before and after park closing.

Hopefully, these tips will come in handy during your planning process!

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Paige was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. Her frequent family trips to Walt Disney World started her Disney obsession and sparked her dream to be a cast member. Paige’s dream came true when she participated in the Disney College Program in 2012. She worked at Casey’s Corner, The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and the Main Street Bakery. Paige shares, “I love to live by Walt’s words, ‘All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.'”

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