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I don’t know about you, but I hate driving. My mother always taught me not to use the word hate, she says it is a strong word to use and I agree. I hate driving! So when I go to Disney World I am more than happy to stick the car keys in a dresser drawer, hop on the bus and sit back for an easy ride to the parks. If you choose to stay on property it is totally possible to park your car (if you drive to Disney) and not move it again until you head home at the end of your vacation. Even if you fly, thanks to Magical Express, you can leave the driving to Disney and with the price of gas going up again, why not? There are many different opinions about Disney’s transportation and I find that most of the complaints center around crowded buses and the length of time it takes to get somewhere. Let’s look at the transportation options, how to get around the crowds, and arrive at your destination in a timely manner.
The most obvious mode of Disney transportation is the iconic monorail. In a perfect world, Disney world that is, the monorail would be available from every resort to every park and would provide easy transfers to different lines to get you where you want to go. But even Disney isn’t perfect so there are two monorail lines available. The first line is the resort line that links the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian with the Magic Kingdom and the Ticket and Transportation Center. It is fast, efficient, and unless you are leaving right at park closing or after evening fireworks, it is very rarely jam packed. The second line goes from the Ticket and Transportation Center to Epcot and back again. The option to switch lines can be accomplished at the Ticket and Transportation Center, also known at the TTC. The monorail is great because if you have a stroller, you are allowed to roll right on without first removing an exhausted, sleeping child. Bonus!
The second mode of transportation is the bus line. It isn’t very glamorous and in the summer it can be downright stinky after a long, sweaty day in the park. But we always stay at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort and that means we ride the bus, sweat and all. Despite negative reviews, I can tell you first hand that riding the bus beats driving and I can debate my side all day long. Here are a few of my top reasons to get on the bus (if the monorail isn’t a choice, of course!): First, you aren’t paying for gas to drive to the parks. And at the end of the day you don’t have to fight the crowd to get on a tram to ride out into the parking lot to find your car. But what about the long lines to get on the bus you might ask? There are a few different things you can do to avoid that. The top thing to not do is leave with the mass exodus out of the park at park closing or after fireworks. Leave before the parade or fireworks or shop a little, get an ice cream or funnel cake, grab a bench and people watch, noticing the large mobs of people flooding out of the gates. You aren’t one of those people! You can sneak in one more ride or hunt down the Photopass photographers and have them take some nighttime shots. Putting off your departure by 20 minutes will lessen your wait in line at the bus. Would you rather wait in line at the bus stop or relax and watch the crowd go by? In the morning, it is all about timing. If you make it a point to leave an hour before or after park opening you won’t have such a crowd in the bus. It also pays to find out where the bus stops first at your resort which will increase your chance of finding a seat once you do board the bus. One side note though, if you see a parent juggling a toddler, a preschooler, a stroller and trying not to fall over as the bus takes off, get up and offer your seat. It’s called common courtesy and I don’t care what your gender is, be polite for goodness sake!
The other argument against bus riding is the time factor. The buses are not known for quickly delivering you to your destination. Here is my top tip for that argument. Plan ahead and treat it as a chance to relax, unwind, and enjoy the fact that you aren’t driving! If you are going from your resort to a park, it is pretty straight forward that you get on the bus that is going where you want to go. You should plan on 30 minutes travel time, from walking out the door of your hotel room to arriving at the turnstiles at the park. Keep in mind though that in the middle of the day the buses may run less frequently, although it has never taken me more than 30 minutes to go from resort to park. Going from resort to resort is going to take a little more planning and a little more time, but again, look at it as part of the experience and not as a hassle and then it can be fun. Example, on our Animal Kingdom days we like to eat at Whispering Canyon Café at the Wilderness Lodge. When we leave Animal Kingdom we simply get on the bus to the Wilderness Lodge. After dinner we need to get back to Port Orleans so we walk out to the boat launch (another fine transportation option) ride the boat over to Magic Kingdom, walk over to the bus and ride it back to Port Orleans. All in all driving would be quicker, but not more fun! My kids LOVE to ride the boat and I can guarantee they would choose that over driving in the car any day!
That brings me to another transportation option, the boats! Riding on the boats or ferries is an option at many different locations throughout Disney World Resort. The resorts that have boats as a Transportation option are Fort Wilderness, the Wilderness Lodge, the Yacht and Beach Club, the Boardwalk, Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, and the Port Orleans resorts. The big difference with the boats is that, like the monorail line, the destinations are very limited. For example the boats from Port Orleans go to Downtown Disney and back again and the hours and departure times are more limited than the buses. You can ride the boat from Epcot or Hollywood Studios to the Yacht and Beach Club and the Boardwalk and back again and so on. The boat from the Wilderness Lodge takes you to the dock right outside the Magic Kingdom. Obviously there are many options here and I find that the boats are the slowest form of Disney transportation, but it is an option to consider. You can also ride a ferry from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom if you choose to drive and park your car in the Magic Kingdom parking lot. On our Hollywood Studio days we like to eat dinner at Cape May Café. We ride the boat from Hollywood Studios to the Beach Club. After dinner there are two options to return to our resort depending on if we have a Park Hopper option on our ticket. If we do we get back on the boat and ride to Epcot, walk through Epcot and ride the bus back to Port Orleans. If not, we ride the boat back to Hollywood Studios and get on the bus to Port Orleans.
So there you have it, Disney transportation in a nutshell. I know that there are people out there who don’t like to give over the control of driving their own car and that is fine with me. However, when I go to Disney World you will find me riding the bus, or the monorail, or one of the boats, but probably not in my car. It’s just too easy to leave the driving to Disney!