The Transportation and Ticket Center is the hub of Disney World. This is where you can buy tickets to the parks or special events such as holiday parties, visit restrooms that tend to be overlooked, head to any of the theme parks, and hop on transportation to a variety of resorts such as monorails to the Contemporary and Grand Floridian or boats to Fort Wilderness. Once you’ve decided that you’re going to visit Magic Kingdom, you’ve got another decision to make — how to get there. You could grab the monorail and feel futuristic, or you could go for something a touch more quaint and old-fashioned – the ferry.
Now, again, I know that monorails aren’t really futuristic and that ferry boats aren’t really old-fashioned, but that’s still how they make me feel. Getting on the ferry feels like being a part of the fairytales that I’m about to celebrate in the park and despite my ongoing terror of all things water that I can’t see through, it’s usually a very peaceful way to travel to the park.
The dock for the ferry is at the far left end of the TTC, past the monorails. This is a fantastic place to catch the fireworks from Magic Kingdom, complete with piped in music. This is another spot that can get a little busy, but fortunately there is a touch more organization here than on the monorail platform. If there is a group waiting, there is a line that helps to keep everyone under control and funnels onto the bridge that passes onto the ferry. Once the boat has gotten to the dock, wait for everyone to disembark and leave the bridge before walking along the bridge and onto the ferry. The ferries have two decks. I tend to stick to the bottom deck, but if it’s busy, head upward. There is more space up there, but you won’t have any protection from the sun or benches to try to find a spot on. I went up top one time when the ferry was empty and it was a pretty spectacular view. We could also hear the music better than on the bottom so we did the only logical thing — we danced.
If you are prone to seasickness, I still wouldn’t shy away from the ferry. There is no discernible rocking motion and the water is very calm. If possible, try to make your way to the front of the boat. It’s a great way to see the Magic Kingdom inching toward you and it primes you to get off first. If there are too many people, stake your claim on one of the sides and look out over the water, the island, or the resorts that are visible from the lagoon.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you climb aboard. The ride is not necessarily a speedy one. The lagoon isn’t big, but the ferry isn’t fast. This is an experience, not an express. Your ride in most circumstances will last about 10 minutes. There is a chance, however, that this will take longer. Depending on what is going on in the lagoon such as other ferries, private cruises, water sports, or kraken sightings (that one only happens in my mind, don’t worry), your ferry might have a delay. This happened once when we were in the middle of the lagoon and we ended up sitting there for half an hour or more. Fortunately there was no one else with us and it was a lovely day, but it was a bit nerve-racking. This brings us to a big tip — there is no restroom aboard. Be sure that everyone is good before you get on, because you’ll have no access to a restroom until you get to the Magic Kingdom. Same goes for heading back in the evening, you won’t have another rest stop until you get back to the TTC.
Here’s one more tip — if it’s not important to you to be in the park during the fireworks, time your ferry trip for right before them. They pipe in the music and you can enjoy the show from the deck. You may even get a fabulous view of the electrical water pageant. Heading out during this time also helps you avoid some of the crazy crowds that build up at park closing.
Taryn was born and raised, and still lives in Richmond, Virginia. Neither she nor her husband ever had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World when they were children, but when their daughter Avalon came along, they decided she was not going to follow in their footsteps. They brought Avalon for the first time when she was 3 and have been hooked ever since. Now along with Taryn’s mother and equally Disney-loving older brother, they go “home” at least once a year, and by the time she is staring longingly at Cinderella Castle from the ferry on their last night, Taryn is well on her way to planning the next trip. As a group consisting of two adults with Asperger’s, including one who is also vegan, a very accommodating husband, an only child, a senior, and a service dog, they are a pretty special family, but Taryn is excited to show that the World really is The Most Magical Place on Earth and that there is a place there for everyone. When she isn’t thinking about her next Disney adventure and trying to come up with a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party costume that will beat her Oozma Kappa nerd look, she is a professional blogger and novelist, but Taryn also likes to indulge her Disney passion on her Etsy shop It’s Better in Vinyl.