REVIEW: Minnie Vans Transportation Service Launches Through Lyft at Walt Disney World

REVIEW: Minnie Vans Transportation Service Launches Through Lyft at Walt Disney World
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Today, Disney officially launched their Minnie Vans service that we told you about a few weeks back and was formally announced at the D23 Expo 2017:

Walt Disney World Resort roadways just got a little more fun, with the launch of a new transportation pilot called Minnie Van service. Announced earlier this month at D23 Expo 2017, this new transportation service is now available for guests staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.

Through a collaboration with the US’ fastest growing rideshare service, Lyft, guests at these resorts can arrange their own private Disney vehicle right from the Lyft app on their smartphone. With Minnie Van service, Disney cast members will then whisk you away to wherever you want to be at Walt Disney World Resort. This service accommodates up to six guests and provides two versatile car seats so even the tiniest of passengers can travel in style!

Minnie Van service will be available between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. (subject to change). Guests staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts can learn more by visiting their Bell Services desk.

So, during the test period, a lot of other sites wrote reviews of the service, which at the time was free, did not utilize the app, and could only be taken one-way in many cases. Well, that’s great and all, but I’m not sure how helpful these reviews would be to the general public. That’s why we withheld our review until we were able to actually book and use the service as a regular paying guest, just as all guests would on a typical day. Today was the day the service launched, so we enrolled as a guest staying at the Boardwalk and went to work.

Note that the service is still not available to everyone, but guests staying at Disney’s Yacht, Beach Club, and Boardwalk Resorts can obtain access from the front desk. The Minnie Vans will not show up as an option in the Lyft app unless a cast member has activated them for you, which they will only do if you are staying at one of these three resorts. Once the service is determined to be a success, Disney will roll out more vehicles and expand access beyond this limited window. Guests who are granted access can utilize the service point-to-point anywhere on Walt Disney World property (not just from the three designated resorts).

Guests at the three resorts will find plenty of advertisements about the service.
Guests at the three resorts will find plenty of advertisements about the service.
Advertisements for the service are also being left in guest rooms and at the front desk.
Advertisements for the service are also being left in guest rooms and at the front desk.
Advertisements for the service are also being left in guest rooms and at the front desk.
Advertisements for the service are also being left in guest rooms and at the front desk.

In case you have never heard of it, Lyft is similar to Uber, but does have some differences in app presentation and such. It isn’t radically different, so if you have used Uber before, you will easily be able to figure this out. Lyft released a statement on the start of the program today as well:

Starting today, guests of select Walt Disney World® Resorts can open the Lyft app to get a fast and friendly ride with a new transportation pilot. With this new Minnie Van™ service, guests will be whisked away to wherever they want to be at Walt Disney World® Resort. This service accommodates up to six guests and provides two versatile car seats so even the tiniest of passengers can travel in style.

Delivering a great experience is central to the Lyft brand. You might not know that our co-founder and President John Zimmer attended Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. His background in hospitality fuels our focus on delighting passengers and drivers alike while providing today’s most reliable transportation.

“Playing a part in a family’s experience at the most magical place on earth is a dream come true,” John shares.

Currently, the pilot program will be offered to guests of Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts. The Minnie Van™ service will be driven by Disney cast members on park property — stay tuned for updates.

Keep an eye out for this Minnie Van™ service this summer if you’re headed to a Walt Disney World® Resort!

Once activated for you by a cast member, you should see Minnie Vans as an option when opening the Lyft mobile application (only while on Disney property of course).

You can get rates for your trip after entering your pick-up point and destination. Despite stating $17-20, the Minnie Vans will always cost a flat rate of $20 from point-to-point, including any necessary stops around Walt Disney World you might need to make (i.e. dropping some of the group off at the hotel before the rest of the party goes on to a theme park, or say you need to stop at the Speedway gas station for drinks or some other sundries before returning to the hotel).

Minnie Vans are Chevy Traverse vehicles that can seat up to 6. The Minnie Vans fleet also includes different vehicles for guests with special needs, such as those in wheelchairs or ECVs.

The "regular" version of the Minnie Vans, a Chevy Traverse
The “regular” version of the Minnie Vans, a Chevy Traverse
The wheelchair accessible version of the Minnie Vans, a Ford vehicle
The wheelchair accessible version of the Minnie Vans, a Ford vehicle

Once you select the Minnie Van™ service, the app will show you specifically where the Disney vehicles are (with a pretty cute graphic to boot) and the ETA if you were to call them to your current pickup location. Since we started at the Boardwalk, there were plenty nearby, but when we tried a return trip later, it was a 10-minute wait to get a vehicle at Disney Springs to go back to The Boardwalk. This would hopefully change if and when more Minnie Van vehicles are introduced.


Once the trip was set, the app even told me what the ETA would be from Boardwalk to Disney Springs via the Minnie Van.

Using Apple Pay was super easy, I just put my thumb down for authorization. Note that the $6.70 was just an authorization – the trip would charge a total of $20 once the ride was completed.

The app then optimizes a route and calls for your vehicle.

The app will then tell you where your driver is and when to expect their arrival. Luckily for us, the car was already sitting outside. A nice feature is that the app shows you the car number, which avoids any confusion as to which vehicle is yours in the case that there are multiple at your location. As you can see above, our car number 23 was clearly indicated.

The driver will then call guests at this point to confirm the trip and to let them know their vehicle is waiting outside. This is when you would indicate if you needed a special vehicle for a wheelchair or ECV so they could call upon the alternate van.

While the ride is in progress, you can see how long you trip will take. Other than that, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

We told the driver that we were going to D-Luxe Burger at Disney Springs, which allowed him to choose a stop closer to our destination. Apparently, Minnie Van™ drivers can drop guests off at several locations at Disney Springs, not just the designated pick-up and drop-off locations that Uber and Lyft use. This is also the case for many other destinations around Walt Disney World. While Boardwalk to Disney Springs may not be an ideal route in terms of value, this would have been hugely important if we were running late for a dining reservation on a Saturday night.

While tipping is completely unnecessary as the Disney Minnie Van cast members are paid hourly, the app does allow the option after the ride is completed.

You can also rate the driver at this time.

The vehicles themselves are perfect for the service: spacious, comfortable, and with a lot of nice features such as individual climate control for the back seats and a few USB charging ports. The vehicles also come with two child car seats if need be, and all of the drivers have been rigorously trained to install the seats quickly and correctly, whether the children are under or over 2 years old. Note that car seats are free with the Minnie Van™ service. If you are using Uber, car seats add a $10 surcharge to your total.

Car seats on demand in the trunk of the vehicle.
Car seats on demand in the trunk of the vehicle.
Climate control and USB charging ports in the back seats.
Climate control and USB charging ports in the back seats.
The spacious interior seats up to 6 guests along with the driver.
The spacious interior seats up to 6 guests along with the driver.

The Minnie Van™ Service won’t always make sense to use for everybody or in every case, but they do serve niche purposes. There is the convenience of arriving at the front of the Magic Kingdom and avoiding the Transportation and Ticket Center, or similarly, skipping the extra bus ride to Pioneer Hall if you had parked or taken a bus to Fort Wilderness, or after a long day at the parks, getting dropped off close to your room at a larger Disney Resort hotel (Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Art of Animation, etc.). The service is also great for larger families of 4-6, those in need of children’s car seats, and those who need a vehicle for special needs such as a wheelchair or ECV (via the special Minnie Vans available by request). But clearly, in many cases getting a Minnie Van™ will probably not be a great value. Uber and Lyft have some great rates, so you can save quite a bit of money by just using Uber or the regular-old Lyft options. (And you should never use Mears taxi transportation because it is a massive rip-off!) Again, there are special circumstances where the Minnie Van™ just make more sense, even from a value standpoint, and most certainly from a customer service standpoint. If you’re reading this site, you know the Disney difference is in the cast members, and the service we have received on our few Minnie Van™ rides so far has been second to none. The cast members were beyond helpful and courteous. The CMs chosen to drive are very knowledgeable and are able to answer all different types of questions, so much so that they might even save you a trip to Guest Relations once at the park.

Minnie Vans aren’t going to become the preeminent transportation method at Walt Disney World, but they will become invaluable to many depending on their needs… and I’m never taking a bus to Pioneer Hall and the Settlement at Fort Wilderness ever again.

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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  • We had the good fortune to use the Minnie Van service while it was in the free, soft opening week.
    Took it from the Yacht Club to the Poly. We were told it was a one way only service at that time.
    Tried to tip our driver, who was adamant that tipping was NOT allowed.
    We ended up at the Contemporary for our dinner at the CA Grill, and as luck would have it, the weather took a turn for the worse as it started storming. Sooo, I called the Yacht Club where we were staying. Someone was nice enough to send a Minnie Van to the Contemporary for our return to the Yacht Club. BTW, different driver. Offered a tip to this CM who scarfed it up without hesitation… so I’m not so sure about tipping. I did see above that there is a note “no tipping please,” then there was a site for tipping. So I don’t know about that.
    We were extremely pleased with the service, but it was free, so it’s hard to complain… better than cheap!!! And they did go “above and beyond” to provide the return ride.

    • Lyft apparently refused to remove tipping in the app because they would have to remove it for their regular drivers as well. It is not encouraged, but it is possible.

      • 2Vents,
        For the record, I’ve tipped my Uber driver 100% of the time.
        If the Minnie Van wasn’t available on a free soft opening basis, I would have driven over.
        But why, when the ride is free??

  • Am I the only one that feels like $20 is a bit steep for this service? Half of these needed point to points should not cost anywhere near that much. Heck, I paid less then $20 before tip to get from Art of Animation to Universal last year when I was down there. I just can’t see the value in these, but I do love their look.

    • This is how I feel. The other estimates on his app in this review even show like, $7-$9, if he just took a regular Lyft. What sane person would pay double that?

      • As stated in the review, there are circumstances where these are a better value, whether it be the special drop-off locations, or the car seat surcharges that Uber and Lyft both have, or you have a wheelchair or ECV. It is not a replacement to any other option, just a viable filler service for special circumstances or convenience.

      • Because that’s what it costs to operate. Disney knows what they’re doing.
        What sane person is going to drive families around for $3.40 when they’ve each spent more than $4.00 on bottled water at the parks.

    • While I agree $20 is too much for my wife and I to use this service, it is exactly right for a family with say 2 kids in car seats and 4 adults. If you have more than 4 people it is very comparable to UberXL or Lyft Plus rates and given that they drop you off at better locations certainly helps. Like Tom said, a bus to Pioneer Hall can run you and extra 30 mins each way if you are going to Trail’s End or Hoop-Dee-Doo. Or even being dropped off at the Magic Kingdom bus loop rather than having to wait for the Monorail or Ferry can save some time as well. I see a ton of value to this service for the “family” segment of Disney guests and to be honest, that’s who they were aiming at. I would like to see them expand this in the future to smaller sedan style vehicles for $10 or so.

  • This is a ridiculous money grab for Disney. Please Disney Guests do not fall this. $30 = $10 to use a car seat, $20 to go 3 1/2 miles so you can sit in a Minnie Mouse Van? This trip would not cost $30 in a Mears taxi. Just use regular Uber or Lyft and forget the flash. Disney should be doing this for a very small fee, they want you to visit the other resorts for dinner and holidays.

    • Disagree, we took Mears from Boardwalk to Animal Kingdom Lodge and the cost was $15.60 and then we had to leave a tip, so basically it was $20. With Minnie Van no tip is required.
      It’s a choice, not a money grab.

        • Of course you don’t HAVE to provide gratuity to Mears, but who doesn’t tip their taxi driver? For God’s sake, you spend thousands on a Disney family vacation, but are too cheap to tip your Mears driver? Smh… That said, every time I’ve used Mears, particularly to get to Disney Springs and back, has cost at least $20 with tip. So, no, Minnie Vans are neither a rip off nor a money grab.

    • The car seats in the Minnie Vans are not an extra $10. It’s a total of $20. Re-read the article it said Uber adds an additional $10 for car seats on their service. The Minnie Vans are a flat fee of $20 with or without the car seats.

    • While I agree it is kind of a ridiculous money grab – you know people will do it because they want to ride in a “minnie van” just to say they did it. I bet a lot of people on this website will for that reason as well. It is certainly not an unprecedented way for Disney to make money.

      • Thanks Jeff for your comment, we appreciate the feedback. I’m sorry it’s not free for cheapskate’s like you who want things for free where ever you go (entitlement). Yes just driving in a Minnie van makes us all feel wonderful.

    • Uber and Lyft with car seats are fare more than this. There is also no extra charge for the car seat in the Minnie Van.

      Maybe pay better attention before getting indignant.

  • So you paid 400 something in order to be able to pay them an additional 20 bucks….geeez I guess that makes sense…

  • 1)Have to wonder if sooner or later, regular Lyft and/or Uber will be prohibited from Disney property??
    Don’t even know if Disney can do that??? Does anyone know??

    2) it’s an optional service.. don’t like it, don’t use it. Just like a lot of things now at Disney, with more to come, I’m sure… (fast pass packages???)
    I don’t think the extra pay bus service is worth it, so I don’t use it. Lots of the hard ticket dessert functions seem to be over priced, so we don’t use it. As much as I absolutely love Food and Wine, the souvies, the concerts (at least in the past), I haven’t purchased food at a booth in a few years. Just wayyyy overpriced for what you get…. imho. I’d rather go into a restaurant than buy food at a booth.

    • To your point number 1, no, they partnered with Lyft for this per the article so they would not ban that service. Also, this is a service for a specific purpose and I can’t see any impact either way. Again, this service is aimed at families that need car seats or parties of 5+. Also, with airports beginning to loosen their restrictions on Uber and Lyft that would be a silly step backwards.

  • The car seats appear to take up a good portion of the trunk space. Is there still room for a stroller in the back if the car seats are in the back?

    • Why would you need a stroller if your child doesn’t need a car seat? If a kid is big enough to not need a car seat, they’re big enough to not need a stroller.

  • I travel a lot for business and use Uber or Lyft a lot. Using the regular services of those companies, you will pay extra if you need to seat more people (larger vehicle), for car seats, AND if you need to use at a peak time (which is pretty much any time traffic/demand is heavy), you will pay more. Sometimes MUCH more.

    So if you are thinking an Uber/Lyft would be cheaper at park closing or during busy times at Disney Springs, the Minnie Van fixed rate looks much better.

    I have a medical condition and have to use an ECV at the parks. This service would allow me to go to WDW with just my daughters (my husband typically lift the ECV into our rental car). I just wish there was a way to request the special van without first waiting on an arrival notification. I hope they eventually expand this service to the DVC resorts.

  • How is Mears a rip off??
    They’re just charging what customers should be paying.
    Do you think Uber and Lyft’s rates are sustainable since they’re subsidized by the drivers?

  • I’m curious what the Bell Services CM’s “activation” of the service entailed. Did they have to do something with your phone? Or did they do something on their own computer that then caused the Lyft app to behave differently on your phone?

  • In my opinion $20 per ride is steep. Also the service is limited to guests staying at the Board Walk and Yacht Club resorts. I wonder why management decided not to offer the service at the bus only resorts. I understand that the Yacht club resort and and BoardWalk Inn are deluxe resorts. But Wilderness Lodge, and the Beach Club resort are deluxe resorts with two transportation options also. Animal Kingdom is the only deluxe resort with one transportation option.

    The Express transportation option looks like a excellent deal. $29 per person and it’s good for up to 7 days. It’s park-to-park transportation. The great thing is that I only have to go through security once.

  • […] But from Magic Kingdom, simply board the boat that docks immediately outside the entrance/exit. From the other Parks or Disney Springs, take the Fort Wilderness bus to the Outpost Depot, which is the only stop that the bus makes. Then board one of the internal buses that will drop you off at Pioneer Hall in around 15 minutes. There’s also a bus that travels between Wilderness Lodge’s bus stop and Pioneer Hall, which is an underappreciated choice. And of course, boat service is available from the Contemporary Resort and Wilderness Lodge to the Pioneer Hall area. Finally, Disney’s Minnie Van service also drops off directly at Pioneer Hall just outside of Hoop and Trail’s End, making it one of the more intelligent destinations to use the flat-rate $20 service. More on the Minnie Van service is available here. […]

  • Make this available thru the my Disney experience app and use a magic band to bill it to the room. I think it would be a great service to guests at all resorts.

  • I could see the advantage of using the Minnie Van to get to the bus loop at the Magic Kingdom and of course it would be convenient, especially for a larger family, if you have dinner reservations at a different resort. I am curious why Mears is called a rip off? They are usually immediately available at every resort and park. I have used them many times and thought their service was good. The only issue I every had was a driver who told me that the ride from the Poly to BLT would be about $15.00. I said that seems high compared to what other cab rides are, he then told me to pay him $10. I suggested we pay what the meter shows, and he said just pay whatever we feel. I was in a hurry and did not feel like discussing it or complaining to someone about him so I paid him $7.00 when we got to BLT and went on my way.

  • Just returned from WDW. Used Minnie Van to travel from Boardwalk to ESPN Wide World of Sports on March 5 to catch Braves-Pirates pre season game. Our Driver Bob was terrific, everything you expect from a seasoned CM. Ride was less than 10 minutes, bit longer on return due to rush hour. All in all great experience. The price point is going to be a deal breaker, at least for me. Party of two $50 round trip. Great idea and Disney must have had a overwhelmingly positive response to raise the price to $25, but I can’t see using it for anything but unusual connections. This is one gouge I can avoid.

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