Disney World spans across 40 square miles in central Florida. That’s a lot of mileage to cover while you are here on vacation so it’s a good idea to research ahead of time and know all the ways you can get around Walt Disney World Resort property. Plus we are going to share our top tips on how to get around Disney World.
Currently, the Disney transportation system is comprised of buses, boats, and monorails. It can be difficult to understand how all these systems interconnect.
The major hubs for the Disney transportation system include all four theme parks, the Ticket & Transportation Center (aka Magic Kingdom parking), and Disney Springs.
Disney’s Transportation System offers FREE transportation to their parks, hotels and even the airport (for Disney hotel guests only). So we are breaking down how each unit works allowing you to get to your next destination as quickly as possible.
Disney World Transportation Options
Disney Bus System
Disney busses are the core and largest transportation option at Disney World. Buses can run up to 20 minutes apart but it is often a lot less than that. The best part about buses unlike driving your own car is that they will deliver you to the front of the destination you are traveling to.
Looking to catch a Disney bus from your resort? Head to any bus stop located at your resort (you can find a map in your room or at the front desk) and look for a bus that displays the location you want to go above its windshield.
Disney buses will stop running to the theme parks once they close. However, they will continue picking people at the theme park and bringing them back to hotels until two hours after park close. In the morning, Disney buses start running about two hours before official park open.
If you want even more I recommend reading Everything you Need to Know About the Disney World Bus System.
Boats at Disney World
Where there is water there is often boat transportation at Disney World. These boats are referred to by different names in different places you have, launches, cruises, ferries, and friendship boats. The typical wait time for boats is generally between 15 and 20 minutes.
You will find the ferry boats at the Magic Kingdom parking lot taking you back and forth between there and the Magic Kingdom. At the front of the Magic Kingdom, you will also find smaller boats that go back and forth between there and the Magic Kingdom Resorts (Grand Floridan, Contemporary, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness).
Over at Epcot, they have what is known as the Friendship boats. These boats take you between countries inside of Epcot or you can take them in the back of the park to the different Epcot resorts.
The iconic monorail is a must do Disney ride! The monorail is comprised of three circuits. The first is a direct line into the Magic Kingdom from the parking lot, also known as the Ticket and Transportation center. The second line covers the Magic Kingdom resort loop. This circuit stops at the Polynesian, Grand Floridan, the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary and last but not least the Ticket and Transportation Center. The third and final loop is between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom parking lot.
Going from Value Resorts to Disney Theme Parks
There is only one option for this tier of Disney resort. You must take a bus to get to any location on property at Disney. The downside here is that you may have to walk a long way to get to the bus stop at your resort. A prime example of this is if you stay in the Little Mermaid rooms at the Art of Animation. These rooms are the furthest away from the bus stop and can make it a rough walk back to your room after a long day in the park.
One of the great things about the buses that go to the value resorts is there are a lot of them! This means that once you do make to your bus stop whether at the resort or in a theme park you rarely have to wait long. The official Disney statement is that buses can arrive up to 20 minutes apart but my experience is that I have never waited more than 10 minutes for a bus at a value resort.
Going Moderate Resorts to Theme Parks
Moderate resorts as you would expect are a cross between a value and a deluxe resort. The only way to get to a theme park is to wait at a designated bus stop that is scattered throughout your resort. If you are staying at Port Orleans Riverside you do have watercraft in the back of your hotel that can transport you to Disney Springs.
Going from Deluxe Resorts to Theme Parks
If you are staying at one of the monorail resorts (Contemporary, Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian) you will find that this is limited bus service is limited to the parks that you can connect to via the monorail (Epcot and the Magic Kingdom). In addition to the monorail, Disney also provides boat transportation between all these resorts plus the Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness Campgrounds and the Magic Kingdom.
For Epcot resort guests (Boardwalk, Yacht & Beach, Dolphin, and Swan) you also have a unique set of transportation options.
Insider Tip: If you are staying at the Contemporary or Bay Lake Towers we recommend walking to the Magic Kingdom it is so much faster than waiting for the monorail and having to sit through three stops before arriving at the Magic Kingdom.
Traveling between Parks
All Disney parks offer buses between all the other Disney Parks. Let’s break down the offerings that each theme park has for transportation to other parks.
At the Magic Kingdom, you can take a bus to the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. If you are looking to get to Epcot you would take the Monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center or parking lot and then transfer over to the Epcot monorail line.
From Epcot, you can take a bus to the Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios. Additionally, you can take the monorail over the ticket and Transportation center in order to transfer to the Magic Kingdom. At the back of Epcot, you can catch a Friendship boat which will take you all the way back to the Hollywood Studios.
At Hollywood Studios, you can take a bus to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Additionally, you can take a Friendship boat to the back of Epcot.
Your only option here is to take a bus to all other theme parks.
Traveling between Resorts
Disney World makes it tricky to travel between resorts. You may wonder why in the world would anyone want to go from resort to resort but this is common during the holiday season when there are special displays at select resorts. Also, important if you making a dining reservation at another resort outside of the one you are staying at. Lastly, keeping reading if you are traveling with friends or family that is staying at another resort.
I have been visiting the parks annually since my parents first brought me at just a year old. Recently I was able to fulfill my life long dream of being a Florida local and moved from the wintery Northeast to the sunshine and fun of central Florida. Now I am hoping to share my Disney knowledge with you so you can have the best vacation possible!