March 3, 2023
Whether you have been to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or not, you are probably aware that it is HUGE! Navigating it can be a challenge, but there is plenty of transportation throughout all the Disney areas, so you don’t have to worry about driving for any of it, unless you choose.
With that said, there are many options and it can be overwhelming to figure out how to get from place to place. Our family had annual passes for several years, visiting weekly many of those years. We have stayed at resorts and visited throughout our lifetime, and spent some of our days just resort hopping (what we call it when you visit the common areas of the resort to see the shops and restaurants and walk the property–this does not include using amenities if you are not a guest, so do not plan to do that).
Let me give you a quick overview of the options and where they are best to use them to, then I will give a few examples of navigating some of the more popular places.
BUSSES This is one of the biggest options and available at all Disney parks, entertainment areas, and resorts. There will be a main bus area at all locations with a schedule either on a screen with expected arrival times or a schedule of estimated times. It can vary, so be patient. Be aware the bus areas may be parked for which park or resort it is going to and you can wait there, or some will be a general waiting area, depending on volume. All busses will have a marquee displaying where it is going to. It is wheelchair friendly, has both seated and standing areas, and is air conditioned. Strollers will need to be folded and children carried, so prepare for this before it arrives.
BOATS Some of the parks and resort areas offer boats as transportation. The Magic Kingdom offers this to and from all resorts that connect to the lagoon (Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Fort Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness Campground, Polynesian), as well as a ferry from the Ticket and Transportation area to the park. There are also boats available in the Disney Springs area to connect to those local resorts, and in the Boardwalk area to connect to those resorts. Be sure to ask since not all resorts are on waterways and accessible. These are stroller and wheelchair friendly for some. These are open air, although they do have roofs, so be aware of this when the weather isn’t favorable.
MONORAIL A most iconic transportation system, it does not connect all areas. You can ride the monorail from the Ticket and Transportation center around the loop to the Magic Kingdom and to 3 of the resorts along the loop (Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary). The monorail also connects to EPCOT from the T&T, but not directly from Magic Kingdom, so be prepared to transfer. The monorail is stroller and wheelchair friendly, is air conditioned and has both standing and sitting room.
GONDOLAS These are one of the newest transportation methods and are a great way to see Disney property from the air, reminiscent of the Skyway from long ago in the Magic Kingdom (I’m dating myself with that reference, but with more than 4 decades of Disney visits, I remember a lot of things). These do not connect to all areas, so if you want to experience them, be sure to plan ahead. You’ll find gondola stations behind EPCOT (the entry/exit between England & France that connects to the Boardwalk, Hollywood Studios and some resorts), as well as to some of the outlying resorts. These are vented, but do also have a small AC and heater to offset the extreme days. They have windows all around and two opposing benches, with doors on one side. It is both stroller and wheelchair friendly, and while they are in constant motion, do have an area for loading wheelchairs, so you may notice slowdowns while these recirculate into the queue.
WALKABLE AREAS Many areas have walkways connecting them, including the newly added walkway from the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian, allowing you to walk back to the Polynesian and Ticketing and Transportation/parking if you don’t want to wait on the monorail or ferry. The Magic Kingdom also has a walkway to the Contemporary Resort. There is also a walkway connecting the back of Epcot to Hollywood Studios. This also connects to the Boardwalk entertainment area and several resorts. They are wide walkways and smooth surfaces that are both stroller and wheelchair friendly.
CAR SHARE SERVICE-LYFT I haven’t used this one, but you can’t miss seeing the “Minnie-mobiles” driving around with their red and white polka-dot color scheme. This car share service does have a minimum fee and will transport you around Disney property without sharing with others. You will need to use an app for it, just as you do for other car share services.
So let’s talk options for getting around.
There is personal vehicle parking at all the theme parks and entertainment areas for a fee (Disney Springs and Boardwalk are free at the time of this blog).
Use the busses to get from any resort to any park (except from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary since the bus area is right across from the resort). Use the busses to get from any resort to the Boardwalk or Disney Springs.
For the Magic Kingdom from TT, use the ferry, monorail or take the walkway through the Polynesian, Grand Floridian and around to the Magic Kingdom. For the Magic Kingdom resorts (on the Seven Seas Lagoon) you can use the boats (unless you are one of the 3 on the monorail system–Grand Floridian, Polynesian or Contemporary; you can also walk to Shades of Green from the TT area). Fort Wilderness connects by boats and by bus–be sure you look for Lodge vs. Campground, they are not at the same place.
For EPCOT, you can use the Monorail from Ticketing by the Magic Kingdom, the Gondolas from some of the far off resorts, the boats or walkways from the Boardwalk and Hollywood Studios area resorts.
For Hollywood Studios, you can use the Gondolas, walkways, and busses.
The bus or a personal vehicle will be your only transportation option for reaching Animal Kingdom since it is far from any other locations (including the Animal Kingdom Lodge).
Looking to park hop or try to ride all the transportation options? Here’s an option for you that we have used. Fair warning–you will pay for parking and it does make for a long day, so wear comfy shoes and bring water! Start by parking at the Ticketing and Transportation. Take the ferry to the Magic Kingdom. From the Magic Kingdom, take the walkway around through the resorts to Ticketing and Transportation. Take the monorail to EPCOT. On the backside of EPCOT, take the Gondolas to Hollywood Studios. From Hollywood Studios, take the bus to Animal Kingdom. Then you can take the bus back to Ticketing and Transportation, or to the Boardwalk or Disney Springs to ride the water taxi boats. Then either a Lyft or a bus back to the Magic Kingdom, then your choice to return to TT via the monorail, walkway, or ferry and to your vehicle.
If you are simply trying to resort hop or ride the transportation options, and don’t want to pay parking or admission, you can park at Disney Springs and use the busses to get to a starting point. Be aware you cannot get from the monorail at the front of EPCOT to the Gondola or walkway at the back without admission, so you can take the busses as an alternative (the busses at EPCOT are on the front parking area).
Whichever way you choose to get around, have patience and check the posted marquees for information. Realize, I have no affiliation with Disney, nor is this a paid blog, simply one traveler trying to help other travelers navigate around on their Florida Disney vacation. If you missed last week’s blog about our stay at Fort Wilderness Campground, I share more about that resort, so check it out! Happy traveling!
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