One of the many awesome perks of any Disney experience is the complimentary transportation options. This network of buses, monorails and boats is among the most efficient, easily accessible, and convenient mass transit system in the world. Even if you are not staying at a Disney Resort, you can take advantage of this complimentary transportation which is available one hour prior to park opening and one hour after park closing. Also, buses operate until 2am from the Downtown Disney area.
A. Tram Cars
If you are driving, you will park your car, walk a short distance to the end of the aisle, and shortly a courtesy tram will pick you up and bring you to the main entrance of whichever theme park you are visiting. When you are ready to visit any of the other parks, you will have your choice of transportation.
Walt Disney World has a large fleet of buses, so the wait time is usually no more than 20 minutes. These buses resemble standard city buses, with plenty of seating. They accommodate wheel chairs and ECV’s. Strollers have to be collapsed and carried onto the bus. On really busy days, the buses fill to capacity and riders may be required to stand. There are plenty of overhead and side bars to hang on to while the bus is in motion. These buses are accessible at Disney Resorts, Parks, Water Attractions, and Downtown Disney. Schedules and hours are available at the TTC (Ticket and Transportation Center) or any Disney Resort.
1. Ferry Boats
Magic Kingdom – There are two Magic Kingdom class ferries, the Richard F. Irvine and the Admiral Joe Fowler, and the Kingdom Queen class, General Joe Potter which transport guests daily between the TTC and the Magic Kingdom These ferries have a capacity of 600 guests and 3 crew members. The wait times are normally between 10 – 20 minutes. If you’re lucky, you may catch Goofy showing off on his skis by performing comical acrobatic stunts.
2. Friendship Boats
These beautifully designed water taxis provide a smooth, quiet, air-conditioned ride across the World Showcase Lagoon located in Epcot. You can board one of these colorful boats near Mexico and travel to the dock at the Germany Pavilion, or you can board near Canada and travel to the dock at the Morocco pavilion. You can also board one of these boats on a dock located outside Epcot’s International Gateway, located between the United Kingdom and France pavilions. These Friendship boats that cruise Crescent Lake will make stops at the docks of Boardwalk, the Yacht and Beach Club, the Swan and Dolphin resorts, and Disney’s Hollywood Studio. These water taxis are stroller friendly and wheelchair accessible, but they are slow-moving, so take that into account if you have fast pass or dinner reservations.
3. Launch Boats/Motor Cruisers
With varied routes and unique designs, these boats offer a quick ride to multiple destinations. Some resemble the sleek Friendship boats, while others have the look and feel of an old-fashioned Mark Twain keel boat. For clarity, the routes are color-coded:
- Gold — From Magic Kingdom to Disney’s Grand Floridian and Disney’s Polynesian Resort
- Blue — Between Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Bay Lake Tower, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Red — Between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and the Magic Kingdom
- Green — Between Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and the Magic Kingdom
4. River Boats
Take a leisurely trip from your resort on one of several traditional river boats to Downtown Disney. Their operation, however, is only at select Disney Resorts and their routes are also color-coded:
- Yellow — between Downtown Disney and Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter
- Blue — between Downtown Disney and Disney’s Saratoga Springs and the Treehouse Villas
- Green — between Downtown Disney and Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Red — Internal Downtown Disney Service
- Magic Kingdom Route — This is a dual beam route, with the Express route between the Magic Kingdom and the TTC, which runs on the outer loop and travels counter-clockwise.
- The Resort Route is a round-trip local service on the inner loop, running clockwise making stops at the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the TTC, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian.
- Epcot Route — Service on this route is a single beam running clockwise on the loop between the TTC and Epcot.
D. The Monorail
This is my favorite means of transportation at Walt Disney World. The official definition of a monorail is a railroad in which the track consists of a single rail, typically elevated with the trains suspended from it or balancing on it. The definition of a Walt Disney World monorail would be a monorail built to service the Magic Kingdom theme park, Epcot, and select Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels. The WDW Monorail system covers a span of 14.7 miles with around 50 million guests traveling on
the monorail each year. There are three distinct routes:
Tip — If you are in Epcot and your destination is the Magic Kingdom, be forewarned that to get to the Magic Kingdom by monorail, you will have to walk up a really long walkway to get to the boarding area, then you will have to disembark at the TTC, and walk down one ramp and up another ramp to board the MK monorail. It might be quicker to take a bus from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom.
Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper