Once you get to Walt Disney World (choosing from your variety of options), you have another set of decisions to make. Disney World ground transportation options are plentiful. You may end up using multiple different forms of transportation around the parks and hotels of Disney World. What’s the best option for you and your family? We’re here to help you figure that out.
- Disney’s Magical Express
- Car Rental
- Disney Bus transportation
- Uber, Lyft, and taxis
- Minnie Vans
- Water ferries and boats
- Parking Fees
Breaking down Disney World ground transportation
Since this page aims to cover all of your travel needs on the ground, note that we need to cover both getting from the airport to Disney World and also getting around Disney itself. Obviously, if you’re driving your own car, a lot of this won’t apply to you, though you need to be aware of parking fees.
Disney bus transportation – Magical Express
If you’re staying on site at Walt Disney World, your hotel rate covers Disney’s Magical Express, a bus service between the airport and your hotel. I don’t like to think of it as “free”, but you don’t need to pay any extra (your hotel room paid for it).
The Magical Express can be a real stress reliever, especially if you have a lot of luggage. Disney will send you luggage tags before you leave home. Attach these to your luggage; after checking them in at your home airport they will be delivered to your room at your Disney hotel sometime after you arrive.
When you arrive at Orlando Airport (MCO), make your way to the B side and go all the way down to the bottom level. Follow the signs to Disney’s Magical Express. You’ll only need your magic bands to get in. If you don’t have those, you just need your reservation number.
The downside of Magical Express is it can take as long as two hours to get to your hotel. While we’ve never personally experienced travel time longer than one hour, since buses visit various resorts, it can potentially take a long time.
To sign up for Magical Express, you can fill out this form online or call (407)-939-1936. All you need is your resort reservation number and your flight number.
If you’re flying into the airport, car rental at MCO is pretty easy. Every car rental company is represented both on the A and B side of the terminal. Cars are just a short walk to the garages on either side as well. We recommend renting from a company that allows you to skip the line. You can do this with Hertz, National, and more just by signing up for their rewards program (free). With Hertz, for example, you go straight to the garage and find your name on a board that tells you where to pick up your car. Lines at MCO rental desks can be crazy – don’t get caught out.
You can also rent a car from the Car Care Center at Walt Disney World. Alamo and National are there. Rates can be a little higher but it can be useful if you need to go to Universal for a day and don’t want to rideshare. The Car Care Center also is very convenient if you need to drop off a one way rental and don’t want to ride all the way from the airport back to Walt Disney World property. They run regular shuttles to the Transportation and Ticket Center or you can just Uber/Lyft back to your hotel.
Disney bus transportation – resort to parks
Once you’re at your Disney Resort hotel, Disney offers free bus transportation between your resort and the various theme parks. (This one is actually free in my mind because anybody can use these buses, including non Disney hotel guests).
Almost every resort has a bus to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. You can also get to Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, though the latter often shares buses with Animal Kingdom. Finally, most resorts run buses to Disney Springs, the shopping, eating, and playing area that Disney recently finished a major remake of.
Note that bus service can be quite slow. Theoretically you only need to wait 20 min for a bus, but in our experience we’ve waited upwards of 40. Ironically, bus service seems better to the value resorts. The worst bus experiences we’ve had always come at Deluxe resorts.
Uber and Lyft
Ride sharing is one of the fastest and most economical forms of Disney World ground transportation. You can grab an Uber or Lyft outside every hotel and theme park and get from point to point very cheaply. At this point, we don’t even bother with taxis except at incredibly peak periods.
A great feature unique to Uber is Uber Car Seat. You can specifically request an Uber with a car seat. It will cost a little more but it’s great for little ones. (If you need more than one car seat, you might want to go with Minnie Vans. See below).
If you want to get to a theme park from your hotel quickly, Uber and Lyft are generally the way to go. The one notable exception is the Magic Kingdom. Rideshare companies have to drop you off at the Transportation and Ticketing Center (TTC). Since you’d still have to take a monorail or ferry, we generally prefer taking the bus to the Magic Kingdom. Alternatively, you can take a car to the Contemporary Resort and walk over.
Minnie Vans, Disney’s answer to rideshares, are available throughout the Disney World resort. You hail them via the Lyft app and pay $15 per pick up, plus a per mile fee. You can also use Minnie Vans to get to the airport – that costs $150 (by far the most expensive option out there). Lyft ride credits and gift cards can be used to cover these costs.
Minnie Vans have a few distinct advantages. For starters, they generally drop you off as close to the parks as you can possibly get. This is especially true of Magic Kingdom where they drop you off right outside the gates, NOT at the TTC.
For young families, Minnie Vans are a great option because each Minnie Van comes with two car seats – standard. Finally, Minnie Van drivers have been some of the happiest cast members (in our experience). They play Disney tunes and generally, the experience is much more pleasant than your standard rideshare.
The monorail can be a Disney attraction in and of itself. There is a monorail loop that services all the hotels on the Seven Seas Lagoon, an express monorail that travels between the TTC and the Magic Kingdom continuously, and a monorail connection Epcot and the TTC.
For guests staying near the Magic Kingdom, the monorail generally is the best “free” option to get around to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The system has started to get very dated, but rumor has it the monorails will be refreshed some time before the 50th anniversary (2021). Stay tuned.
Water ferries and boats
There are various watercraft servicing Disney hotels. You can take ferries across the Seven Seas Lagoon from hotels to the Magic Kingdom, ferries service Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge on Bay Lake, and the friendship boats connect all the hotels between Hollywood Studios and Epcot on Crescent lake.
Of final note, if you’re driving your own car or renting a car, you will have to deal with parking fees at Walt Disney World. Here’s a list of fees to watch out for.
- Theme park parking – $25/day (waived for AP holders or guests of Disney resorts)
- Disney Value resort parking – $13/night
- Disney Moderate resort parking – $19/night
- Disney Deluxe/Villas resort parking – $24/night
- Disney Deluxe/Villas valet parking – $33/night
Parking remains complimentary for day guests and guests dining at Disney hotels.