By Disney Bride Diva
This past week Disney has managed to ruffle a few feathers with their announcement that new reservations made on or after March 21st, 2018 will be charged a resort fee for overnight self-parking. The fees will depend on the resort category as follows:
Value Resorts: $13 per night
Moderate Resorts: $19 per night
Deluxe Resorts: $24 per night.
Day guests who are visiting the resort for activities, dining and shopping can still enjoy complementary self-parking. As can guests with disabilities and guests staying at the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds.
One of the most common questions I’m asked by first time visitors staying on Walt Disney World property is, “how do I get around?” and “do I need to rent a car?”. There are many factors that go into the decision making process that are unique to each family. Things such as the number of family members, the ease of travelling freely without relying on a transportation schedule and what activities or attractions in Orlando are you wanting to visit?
We have only ever rented a car when we were planning to visit other attractions in the Orlando and surrounding areas. If we are primarily focussing on Walt Disney World, then we don’t think twice about not renting a car. We have so many transportation options available to us on Disney property that we don’t feel we need a car. We also enjoy NOT having to drive on our vacation. My husband drives numerous hours a week for his job, and part of his vacation is getting a break from it!
So that being said, what are some transportation options at Walt Disney World?
Getting from the Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World:
If you have made the decision to rent a car, then the Orlando International Airport is where you would pick it up. The rental car companies are located on the A-Side and B-Side of the terminal on Ground Level (Level 1).
Disney offers a complementary bus service called the Magical Express. It is located on Side B, Level 1. This motorcoach will take you and your luggage from the airport right to the front doors of your resort. In order to use this complementary service, you or your travel agent must prebook the service once you have all your airline flight information. Want to know the best part about this service? Disney will take care of your luggage for you! Once you deplane, just head down to the Magical Express desk and check in. If you have attached the luggage tags that Disney provides when you register for the service, Disney luggage handlers will grab your luggage off the conveyor belt and forward them to your resort. Then, within about three hours, your luggage will be delivered to your room, (you don’t even have to be in the room to accept it!).
Another option to travel from the airport to your resort is a taxi or car service. A quick Google search will bring up many Orlando car service companies that can bring you door to door. Some will even make one stop if you want to pick-up groceries. I have never used a car service so I cannot recommend any company in particular.
Transportation options on Disney property:
This is where the fun begins. There are many paid and complementary transportation options throughout the Walt Disney World Property.
Complementary air-conditioned bus service is available from the resorts to each of the four parks, two waterparks and Disney Springs. The busses run approximately every twenty minutes and begin running about forty five minutes prior to park opening. Busses run up to two hours after park closing to make sure everyone gets back to their resorts. If you have an early morning dining reservation, buses do run for those as well.
A bus also runs from each of the four parks to Disney Springs between 4:00pm – 11:00pm (or two hours after parks close).
The downside to the busses is that they can be a bit of a hassle trying to go from park to park, or resort to resort. The busses do not have any direct routes. Guests must take a combination of busses, boats or the monorail to get to their destination. It is not a difficult route, and any Cast Member can assist you with the best route, however, it can be time consuming.
Another downside is that during busy park times, busses will be PACKED! You may even have to wait for two or three busses at park closing. The busses try to take everyone they can, which means many guests will have to stand and be packed in like sardines.
For this reason…here are some other options we have used:
Cast Members at each resort are able to call a Mears Taxi for you. Mears is the taxi and van provider for the Disney property. All you have to do is step outside the front lobby and ask. They are also available in a designated area outside each park. Signage and Cast Members will direct you to these designated areas. Taxi’s are very direct, but can have a steep price tag.
Until this past trip, neither my husband nor I had ever used Uber. We live in a rural area so at home this is not really an option. I downloaded the Uber App before leaving home and easily set up my account. We found Uber convenient for early morning reservations at other resorts, as well as resorts that are more difficult to get to. For example, this past trip we were scheduled for the Fort Wilderness Sleigh Ride (which I highly recommend). We were staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This would have required taking a bus to the Magic Kingdom, and then either the boat or another bus from the Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness. It was very cold that night so we decided to call an Uber. It was MUCH cheaper than a taxi and we had nice friendly drivers.
Lyft Minnie Vans:
I would recommend the private Minnie Vans for the exact same reasons as Uber. The difference with the Minnie Vans is that they are driven by Disney Cast Members, and they are a flat rate cost of $25 per ride, (the price just went up from $20 in February 2018). The Minnie Van service is still rolling out and changes all the time. At the time this article was written, it was available to all Deluxe Resorts, Port Orleans Resort and Pop Century Resort between 6:30am until 12:30am. The Minnie Vans price tag is close to a taxi, and really would not be worth it if you were travelling a short distance. We used this service when we were dressed up for a romantic date night dinner at Victoria & Alberts in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. I didn’t want to be squished on a bus dressed in my cocktail dress and my husband in his suit. The service was excellent and because it is a Disney Cast Member who is the driver, we learned some interesting facts along the way. Our driver used to work in the entertainment sector for Disney and was involved with television show and music video productions on property. He pointed out where some of the shoots took place and regaled us with stories about some of the celebrities who have filmed on property. It was well worth the $20 that day, however, I think we will stick with Uber when we are looking for private transportation for future trips for the sole reason of saving some money, (more money for Dole Whips and souvenirs!).
Depending where you are staying or visiting on property; the complementary monorail is a fantastic option. There are two routes that the monorail travels.
The first is a loop around the Magic Kingdom resorts. It stops at the following locations: Magic Kingdom Park, the Contemporary Resort, the Ticket and Transportation Center, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and the Polynesian Village Resort.
The second route goes between the Ticket and Transportation Centre and Epcot.
Complementary water taxis and ferries are available from some resorts to the parks or Disney Springs. Next to the monorail, this is my favourite mode of Disney transportation.
Water taxis go to:
Magic Kingdom Park from:
Epcot / Hollywood Studios from:
Boardwalk inn / Villas
Beach Club Resort / Villas
Swan / Dolphin Hotels
Disney Springs from:
I would highly recommend the complementary bus, boat and monorail transportation system that Walt Disney World provides. It will save you money on renting a car and having to pay for parking at both the parks and now the resorts. I suggest treating yourself now and then to a taxi, Uber or Minnie Van ride for early morning dining reservations or travelling between the parks or resorts.