One of the many benefits to staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel is complimentary transportation between your resort and Disney theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs and other Disney resort hotels. Disney moves millions of guests each year using a very well run transportation system which includes buses, boats and monorails. While it may sound intimidating, navigating the different transportation options is actually quite simple (and fun)!
Boats (also referred to as Water Launches or Water Taxis)
Disney’s fleet of boats ranges from smaller water taxies to large ferries and everything in between. Simply look for the signs at each boarding area to see where each boat stops.
Several large ferries (the number used depends on crowd levels on any given day) run between the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Magic Kingdom.
From the Magic Kingdom smaller boats run to the following resorts: Grand Floridian/Grand Floridian Villas, Polynesian Village/Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Contemporary/Bay Lake Tower, Wilderness Lodge/Wilderness Lodge Villas and Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds. This is a great way to move around this area when going from one resort to another for dining reservations however please be sure to check with a cast member as some routes require you to change boats at the Magic Kingdom.
From Epcot and Hollywood Studios water taxis, also called Friendship Boats, serve the following resorts: Beach Club, Yacht Club, BoardWalk Inn/BoardWalk Villas, Dolphin, Swan.
From Disney Springs you can hop on a leisurely boat ride to one of the following resorts: Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West.
Monorails (affectionately known by Disney lovers as the Highway in the Sky)
This is the workhorse of the Disney transportation system moving approximately 50 million guests a year over its almost 15 miles of track. The monorail system runs 3 different routes using 12 trains. The number of trains in service on any given day depends on the crowd levels. You do not need a park pass to use the monorail.
Resort Route ~ This is a circle that runs from the Magic Kingdom all the way around Seven Seas Lagoon stopping at the three resorts located on the monorail line along with the Transportation and Ticket Center. These resorts are (in order of the stops) the Contemporary Resort/Bay Lake Tower, the Transportation and Ticket Center, the Polynesian Village Resort/Polynesian Villas and Bungalows and the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa/Grand Floridian Villas and then back to the Magic Kingdom. This line is primarily for those staying or dining at one of the the resorts although there are no restrictions as to who can use these trains.
Express Route ~ This route runs the opposite direction of the resort route and only stops at the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Magic Kingdom. The trains do go by the three resorts along the track however they do not stop. This route is designed for those parking at the Transportation and Ticket Center (Magic Kingdom parking). It’s also used by guests “hopping” from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot and vice versa as they change trains at the Ticket and Transportation Center to catch the monorail to Epcot/Magic Kingdom.
Epcot Route ~ This route runs from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Epcot and back. When you pick up the train at the Transportation and Ticket Center you will be treated to a pleasant 10-15 minute ride that will end with a quick pass through Future World at Epcot. This is a great way to get an overview of the park and check out the crowds.
Buses (or Motor Coach)
While this may not be as exciting as a boat or a monorail it is efficient and the way most guests travel around Walt Disney World. Disney has over 300 buses that stop at every theme park, water park, Disney Springs and all Disney owned and operated resort hotels.
Each resort has a bus stop located in the front (some also have an internal bus route that connects). At the bus stop will be signage that will direct you to the correct area to wait for the specific bus you are looking for. All buses have a marquee on the front that lets you know where they are headed. Buses serve the four theme parks, two water parks and Disney Springs from each resort.
Each theme park has bus loading areas with a bay for each different resort hotel. Simply find your hotel (or the hotel you would like to visit) and wait in that bay for the next bus.
Buses do not run from resort to resort unless they share a route to a theme park. Use theme parks as “hubs” to change to a bus to a different resort.
Buses run approximately every 20 minutes however additional buses are added during peak crowd times.
All transportation is open to Disney guests regardless of your resort hotel. Operating times vary based on park opening and closing. Please check with a cast member if you are unsure of the best way to reach your destination.
My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a travel professional with Travel with the Magic. I’ve visited Walt Disney World over 25 times and I would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation. Email me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com and follow me on facebook for tips, tricks and information on all things Disney!