People generally like to know where they are going, how they will get there and how long their journey will take. Planning your visit to the Walt Disney World Resort is no exception. With all Disney has to offer, there are so many different choices of where you will stay, play, and dine that you can be doing something different from every other visitor during each day of your trip. When planning a Walt Disney World itinerary, one of the most confusing topics seems to be how we will get around the resort area in the fastest, most efficient way possible.
One of the main things to remember is that Walt Disney World is a very large complex, 47 square miles to be exact. You can understand that it would take a little time to get from any point A to point B in the resort area. In addition to travel time, you must allow for waiting for the mode of transportation as well as allowing for getting to destinations without direct connections.
Disney’s extensive transportation system is provided free of charge to all WDW visitors. Guests of all WDW resorts should receive a brochure at check-in which details the transportation options.
There are three main forms of complimentary transportation inside the WDW Resort: bus, boat, and monorail. Here is some pertinent information about each:
The primary mode of transport is bus. Nearly every location is accessible by bus, but some destinations may require transferring from one bus to another in route. They generally run every 15-20 minutes and typically begin operation 1 hour prior to park opening and continue until 1 hour after park closing. They do fill to capacity so it is not uncommon for many guests to be standing.
There are several forms of boat transportation including water taxi, Friendship boat, and ferry. Water taxis transport guests from the three monorail resorts (Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian), as well as the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom park.
Two parks, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, share service by Friendship boats. Guests of the Boardwalk Inn, Beach Club Resort, Yacht Club Resort, Dolphin and Swan may use the boats to travel to and from these parks as well.
Ferryboats are also available for guests to travel to and from the Magic Kingdom theme park and the Transportation and Ticket Center. They typically run every 15-30 minutes. Guests of both the Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside, as well as Old Key West and Saratoga Springs, may also travel to Downtown Disney via ferryboat. You can read more about the WDW ferry boat system in my upcoming Thrifty Thursday article this week.
A popular and fun way to travel is the monorail system. The monorail has three separate loops:
- The Resort Monorail travels to the three monorail resorts (Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian), the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Magic Kingdom park
- The Express Monorail connects the Magic Kingdom with the Transportation and Ticket Center but makes no additional stops
- The Epcot/TTC loop simply connects Epcot with the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Monorails typically run from 7:00 a.m. until two hours after the latest park closing time (1 hour after MK extra magic hours). Just like the buses, they do fill to capacity so it is not uncommon for many guests to be standing.
How to Use Disney’s Transportation System
There are 3 rules about Walt Disney World transportation that you need to know right up front.
- You cannot travel from any park to the Magic Kingdom directly – you must either stop at a resort or the Ticket & Transportation Center in order to transfer to another bus or the monorail.
- You cannot travel directly from one resort to another, unless you are staying on the monorail route and traveling to another monorail resort.
- You must schedule ample time for travel, including allowances for transfers, traffic, peak season, holidays, etc.
How to get around the rules
- Park to Magic Kingdom
- From Disney’s Hollywood Studios or the Animal Kingdom Park, take a bus to the TTC, then take monorail or boat to the Magic Kingdom.
- From Epcot, take the monorail to the TTC, then take monorail or boat to the Magic Kingdom.
- Resort to Resort
- If you are on the monorail route, traveling to another monorail resort is as easy as hopping on board. To get to any resort off of the monorail route, though, you will have to follow the same steps as listed below.
- To get from one non-monorail resort to another, you will have to use either an open park or Downtown Disney as a hub. Choose the hub (that is open) closest to the resort to which you are going, and then take the bus, boat, or monorail (whichever is closest/easiest) to your resort.
Brenda is a native Texan born and raised on the Gulf Coast. She visited Disney World twice as a teenager and always dreamed of growing her family Disney. She took her first-timer husband and their three children to Disney World in 2000 and they now spend every Thanksgiving there. Brenda writes with a comedic twist on various Disney topics. She will be sharing tips she has learned during her travels and also hopes to enlighten people on little-known freebies that Disney has to offer. She wishes she could have met Walt Disney and considers herself to be a student of Walt. In parallel to his dream it is her wish that everyone would take at least one trip to Disney World in order to share in its magic with their families.