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).
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.
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.
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.