Auntie Tip: Navigating Disney Transportation

Here on Vacationearing, each list of “x things to do in Walt Disney World if you love y” tends to include activities and experiences that are spread throughout the four Walt Disney World theme parks, in addition to Downtown Disney, Disney’s BoardWalk area, and other locations on property. That means doing the lists will involve park hopping, so you’ll have to figure out how to get from park to park. I usually mention the means of transportation that I would use, but I thought in today’s Auntie Tip I’d provide a little more comprehensive overview of the transportation options on Walt Disney World property.

The gist is that if you can’t or don’t want to take a car to Walt Disney World, it’s no problem. If you fly into Orlando International Airport and stay in a Disney-owned-and-operated hotel, you can take Disney’s Magical Express bus service, for no charge, to and from the airport and use Disney-provided transportation throughout your stay.

Some bloggers and podcasters in the Disney community are huge proponents of taking your own vehicle or renting a car, because they consider it easier and faster to have your own transportation. That may be true, and that might work best for you, but since I almost always use Disney transportation, that’s what I’m going to focus on.

Once you reach your Disney hotel, you can use Disney buses, boats, and the monorail to get around property. Basically, wherever you need to go, a bus can get you there. The boats and monorail are additional options available only in certain locations.

Friendship Boat headed to Disney's Hollywood Studios, seen in front of Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

Friendship Boat headed to Disney's Hollywood Studios

If I have a choice, I like taking a boat or monorail. Sometimes it’s faster, but even when it’s not, it’s usually more scenic and pleasant than the buses. Plus, those options often don’t require you to collapse strollers, which can be a significant advantage if you have a child sleeping in one. In fact, the need to collapse strollers on buses is a big reason behind my suggested adult-child ratio for a successful vacation.

Regardless of the mode of transportation, the options you have for getting from place to place are usually well-marked and easy to find. If you’re intimidated by urban public transportation, don’t worry. There are no tickets or complex routes to figure out here. Just follow the signs, and you’ll be fine. If all else fails, you can always ask the driver if you’re not sure if they’re stopping where you are going.

Monorail entrance at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World

Monorail entrance at Magic Kingdom

The buses are particularly easy to navigate. For example, If you want to go to Epcot, get on the bus that says “Epcot” on the large electronic sign on the front. Getting on the wrong bus is rather unlikely. The more common challenge you’ll have is waiting for the correct bus. Sometimes, particularly at the end of the night, you could wait 30 minutes or longer for a bus. That’s just part of the experience that you have to prepare yourself for (or, if you just don’t want to deal with that, bring or rent a car). As I’ve mentioned before, the magic has a price, and sometimes you just have to be patient. Even the most efficient transportation system has its limits.

Detailed charts showing how to get from any location on property to another are available on MousePlanet. The Disney website also has information, but it’s less detailed. My post on boating also lists the resorts and other locations accessible via boat.

Since those resources are available, I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but since usually my lists involve hopping from park to park, here’s a brief overview of the ways to get from one to another.

From Magic Kingdom:

  • To Epcot: Monorail or ferry to Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC), then monorail
  • To Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Monorail or ferry to TTC, then bus
  • To Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Monorail or ferry to TTC, then bus

From Epcot:

  • To Magic Kingdom: Monorail to TTC, then monorail or ferry
  • To Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Boat (leaves from International Gateway, between United Kingdom and France) or bus
  • To Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Bus

From Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

  • To Magic Kingdom: Bus to TTC, then monorail or ferry
  • To Epcot: Boat (will take you to International Gateway, between United Kingdom and France) or bus
  • To Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Bus

From Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • To Magic Kingdom: Bus to TTC, then monorail or ferry
  • To Epcot: Bus
  • To Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Bus

You’ll see that for all the parks except Animal Kingdom, there’s often more than one transportation option. As I mentioned, I tend to prefer routes that have boat or monorail options rather than buses, and I’ll often use those in my suggested themed-day itineraries. I also try to suggest a route that makes sense geographically, so you’re not crisscrossing the property unnecessarily.

In the comments, share any Disney transportation tips you have!