It’s not exactly boating weather here in Chicagoland, but since it’s one-year anniversary of the Disney Dream’s christening, I thought boating would be an appropriate theme for today. You are definitely in luck if you’re in Disney World and love boats, because they’re everywhere! That’s because there are also bodies of water everywhere: Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake, World Showcase Lagoon, Crescent Lake, Rivers of America, Discovery River, Echo Lake… I’m sure I’m missing a few. In fact, there are so many boats in Walt Disney World that today I’m only going to focus boats that aren’t considered attractions. Boat-ride attractions are so numerous that that will have to be a separate list for another time.
So, let’s get started. Here are four things to do in Walt Disney World if you love boating.
1. Magic Kingdom Ferryboat
If you are driving rather than relying on resort transportation, and you’re going to Magic Kingdom for the day, you will need to park at the Transportation and Ticket Center. From there, you have two options to get to the Park: monorail and ferryboat. Since you love boating, we know which one you’ll pick! It’s actually been years since I’ve ridden the ferryboat, since we usually stay on property and use the buses, but it’s a lovely old-school way to arrive at the Park.
2. Resort Water Taxis & Friendship Boats
If you’re staying at a hotel in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, or Downtown Disney resort areas, you likely have some sort of water transportation available to you. Specifically:
- Water taxis travel between Magic Kingdom and Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Fort Wilderness, and Wilderness Lodge.
- Friendship Boats run between Disney’s BoardWalk, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and nearby hotels: Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels.
- Ferryboats travel between Downtown Disney and Port Orleans Resort (French Quarter and Riverside), Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs.
3. Specialty Cruises
If you want a boating experience that’s not simply transportation (but still not technically an attraction), the specialty cruises are for you. You could choose a fireworks cruise, dining cruise, or a celebration cruise. The fireworks cruises include a Wishes cruise, the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage (mentioned in my posts on Peter Pan and pirates), and an IllumiNations cruise.
You could also charter The Grand 1, a 52-foot Sea Ray Sedan Bridge Yacht. (I don’t know what that means exactly, but it sounds impressive.) The Grand 1 accommodates up to 18 people (17 if you want a butler!) and travels around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.
4. Watercraft Rentals
With all the lakes, rivers, and lagoons around, there’s plenty of water for independent-minded individuals to pilot their own craft. Depending on your style, you could choose a motorized or non-motorized watercraft including Sea Raycers, sailboats, pontoon boats, Boston Whaler Montauk boats, pedal boats, kayaks, and canoes.
Rentals are available at most of the deluxe and moderate resorts as well as Downtown Disney Marketplace. Tubing and parasailing is also available.
5. Fulton’s Crab House
If you’ve been to Downtown Disney, you’ve probably noticed the huge riverboat with “Fulton’s” on the back. This is now Fulton’s Crab House, but it used to be the Empress Lilly after Walt Disney’s wife, Lillian. It was christened by Lillian herself in 1977, and it has always been a restaurant (with a submerged concrete foundation), not a working riverboat. Still, it looks an awful lot like a boat, so I’m including it on this list.
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This list is deceptively short, because there are a lot of options under #2-4. If you’re going to be a completist and ride all of these watercraft, you’re going to have your work cut out for you. It won’t be possible to complete this list in one day, because the fireworks cruises are all around the same time. Still, you have to start somewhere, and it’s easy to fill a day with boating activities without ever even stepping into a theme park.
You can begin your day with a ferryboat ride to Magic Kingdom, but don’t go inside. Instead, take a water taxi to one of the Magic Kingdom resorts. After you’ve ridden to and from as many of those resorts as you’d like, you’ll need to hop over to the Epcot resort area to ride the Friendship Boats. Next, it’s off to the Downtown Disney resort area to experience those ferries. When you’ve had your fill of transportation, rent the watercraft of your choice from the resort of your choice. Then head back to Downtown Disney for dinner at Fulton’s Crab House. Wrap of your day of boating with a romantic or fun-filled fireworks cruise. By the end, you’ll have experienced a wide variety of watercraft, with even more yet to experience (including all the boating attractions). Stay tuned…