What You Don’t Know About Disney World Transportation Shortcuts

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Lines, lines, everywhere there’s lines. After enduring lengthy lines for attractions, characters, meals, and Starbucks, the last thing I need are lines for the buses, Monorails, and trams. Now Walt  Disney World provides a variety of options for getting around property. However, they can be confusing, time consuming, and lots of hurry up and wait. So to maximize your vacation time, and minimize stress, check out what you don’t know about Disney World transportation shortcuts.

When to Use Minnie Vans

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

Walt Disney World’s newest mode of transportation is Minnie Vans. Driven by a Cast Member, Minnie Vans are covered in Minnie Mouse’s signature white polka dots and transport guests all around property. A Minnie Van costs $25 per trip per vehicle and can be booked and paid for through the Lyft app. Up to six guests can ride in a single Minnie Van which comes with two car seats. This transportation service also accommodates guests with wheelchairs and ECVs as well.

Now I get that Minnie Vans offer that extra Disney touch, but a ride in a standard Lyft car costs less than the price of a Minnie Van. Basically, this means I’m paying for a Cast Member driver and a polka dotted car. Lyft also consistently offers promo codes making a standard ride even more affordable.

That being said, there are two instances where a Minnie Van may be worth the splurge. The first is when visiting the Magic Kingdom, but only if I’m not staying at a Magic Kingdom resort with Monorail access. Guests can’t drive or be driven to the Magic Kingdom, except by Disney bus or…Minnie Van. Yes, Minnie Vans are the only private vehicles which can drop off guests right outside the park gates. If I want to make rope drop or a dinner reservation at the park, the $25 cost may be worth it.

The only other instance where I would consider a Minnie Van is when visiting the Settlement at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. The Settlement is home to the resort’s marina, Trail’s End restaurant, and Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. The Settlement can’t be reached by car; and the resort’s internal bus system is notoriously complicated and time consuming. But once again, Minnie Vans are the exception. Minnie Vans can transport guests right to the Settlement; and believe me, that convenience is worth the price!

Take the Resort Monorail, Skip the Express

Grand Floridian Monorail



The Monorail is Walt Disney World’s signature mode of transportation, an experience as well as a convenience offering elevated views of the most gorgeous areas on property. If only the Monorail itself looked (and worked) better these days, but that’s another article…

Anyway, there are technically three Monorail routes. The Epcot route runs between the Transportation and Ticket Center and Epcot while the Express route runs between the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) and the Magic Kingdom. The Resort route, however, runs from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Polynesian Village Resort to the Grand Floridian Resort to the Magic Kingdom and then to the Contemporary before looping back to the Transportation and Ticket Center again.

Of course, guests going to and from the Magic Kingdom gravitate to the Express Monorail; and boy, does it show. One of the best Walt Disney World transportation shortcuts is to skip the Express Monorail’s long, long line and take the Resort Monorail instead. Even though it’s not a direct connection, the only stop between the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center is the Contemporary Resort. Even with that stop, the Resort Monorail is often the quickest way to get back the Transportation and Ticket Center at the end of the day.

Don’t Drive to the Magic Kingdom

PHOTOS: New Parking Tram Arrives at Walt Disney World

Unlike the other parks at Walt Disney World, guests technically can’t drive to the Magic Kingdom. Instead, guests park at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) where they then board a tram to take them to either a ferryboat, Monorail, and sometimes a bus in order to reach the park. The whole process takes half an hour easy, if not more. This is why you shouldn’t drive to Magic Kingdom. Save yourself the time and frustration and take advantage of Disney resort transportation, a Minnie Van, or plan accordingly.

Take the Walking Paths

PHOTOS: Construction Begins on Epcot Gondola Station at International Gateway

If you prefer determining when you get where, consider taking one of the many walking paths found on property. They’re some of my personal favorite Disney World transportation shortcuts.

One of the best walking paths is the International Gateway, a somewhat hidden entrance/exit between the World Showcase’s United Kingdom pavilion and France pavilion at Epcot. The walking path beyond the International Gateway leads to the Boardwalk Resort, the Yacht and Beach Club Resort, and the Swan and Dolphin Resort. But it doesn’t stop there. The path continues to Disney’s Hollywood Studios! I love being able to explore and enjoy so many destinations without bus hopping. Note: The path spanning Epcot and Hollywood Studios is about a 30 minute trek with little shade. FriendShip boats transport guests to and from both parks, but they do make stops at the resorts along the way and aren’t always operating.

Another convenient walking path connects the Contemporary Resort and the Magic Kingdom. It’s one of the best perks of this resort; and even if you’re not staying there as a guest, you can still use it.

A number of walking paths connect the resorts, which is great for exploring, shopping, and dining. Some of the best? The path between Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter and the Generation Gap bridge between Pop Century and Art of Animation. One in particular is the path connecting the Polynesian Village Resort and the Grand Floridian Resort along the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon. It passes right in front of the Disney Wedding Pavilion and offers gorgeous views of the Seven Seas Lagoon area.

Save Money with Disney’s Free Services

Disney Bus

Disney’s Magical Express is complimentary bus transportation and luggage delivery for Disney resort guests traveling to and from Orlando International Airport. It’s an awesome service, and one I take advantage of often to prevent the cost of a rental car. But now, I’m using Magical Express to avoid those new pesky overnight resort parking fees.

For all resort reservations made on March 21st, 2018 and beyond, resort guests pay a parking fee upon check-out. Currently, overnight parking at a Value Resort is $13 per night, $19 at a Moderate Resort, and $24 at a Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resort. Personally, I don’t want to forfeit anymore of my cash than I have to; and those fees add up quickly! If it works for your vacation plans, Magical Express can definitely be a Walt Disney World transportation shortcut for your budget!

Those are just a few Walt Disney World transportation shortcuts to help maximize your vacation time and minimize time spent in line. Do you have any transportation tips, hacks, and shortcuts to share?

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  • Love the walking path point and honestly wish there were more of them. I often would much rather walk 20-30 minutes than wait in one place that long for a boat or bus. Off the top of my head, paths connecting Wilderness Lodge to the Contemporary, Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom Lodge to Animal Kingdom would all be welcome additions.

  • While I appreciate a lot of the info, I do disagree with the Magic Kingdom statement. The ride in the tram and then we monorail something we look forward too. Actually we usually rent a car and drive to all the parks. System seems very efficient and the ride home can be long and cramped if you catch the biannual after closing.

  • Another tip that we used before when staying at Fort Wilderness and going to MK for park opening, instead of using the direct boat and waiting in that long line we used the boat to the Contemporary instead, no line and we used the walking path from there to MK.

    • We did the same thing when we stayed earlier this year. Made things much easier, especially because we were pushing kids in a stroller.

  • Last time I was there we walked from Epcot to Hollywood Studios, and in fine weather with ice cream from ample hills creamery in hand it is a very nice walk indeed.

    • I love that walk, too. But when I went that route on the Boardwalk in Jan. 2017, Ample Hills Creamery was not open until 2:00 pm. But there were other food places on the Boardwalk that were open before that.

  • Good article. However, I do NOT like the fact that people not staying at the Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian have the ability to jump on the “resort monorail” to get to the ticket and transportation center instead of the “express monorail”. Guests at those resorts pay an extreme premium for such a perk like the “resort monorail”. I know there isn’t a way to prevent this, but it can be annoying when you have to wait longer because people are using this “short cut”.

  • We’ve found Uber and Lyft drivers get confused if you ask them to drop you off at MK. It’s much better to have then drop you at the Contemporary rsort and just walk.

    • CM here. I have had 2 guests this summer tell me their uber driver got lost going to MK. Both itmes they first were taken to “Park 3” which is a parking lot backstage at MK. We also get daily tourists wandering on foot around our cast lot. I know GPS doesn’t always work well because its private property I’m assuming this is the case. Google/waze is correct though.

    • It appears, according to the article, that Minnie Vans are the only vehicles besides Disney buses that can get you directly to the MK’s front gate area. No other Lyft/Uber driver.

  • Disney should build a tunnle under baylake with people movers. So people can walk from the parking to magic kingdom. Just like Universal does with their parking

  • The Minnie Van is also good If you have a dinner in the World Showcase in Epcot. Especially if you are running late or its raining pretty steadily. We used it a couple of times in May at the Port Orleans. Calling for an accessible can is easy and they picked us up at our building. Then a quick trip to the Beach Club and a short walk to the International Gateway entrance.

  • you can also walk to fantasia gardens from Epcot,Holly. Studios.,Yacht and Beach club,and the Swan and Dolphin

  • My wife and I were at WDW shortly after Minnie Vans started running. I agree that the pick-up/drop-off location is crucial to whether or not Minnie Vans are worth it.

    The Minnie Van pick-up/drop-off locations for Animal Kingdom and Epcot were particularly distant and clumsy to find. I hope they have improved that since our visit.

  • Avoid looking for parking at Disney Springs on peak days by parking at Port Orleans and taking a boat to Disney Springs.

    You can also park at the Polynesian and grab a quick pre-park drink, then either take the monorail from the Polynesian, or walk a few feet to the TTC and take the express monorail. The guard will ask your reason for parking there, and I usually say it’s to have a drink before going into the park, which is typically true. The guards know that’s a very legitimate need some days. :)

    • I remember the WDW opening decade, the 1970-ies days of the MK. Went to the Polynesian in the first evening, dined there and had a first view of the fireworks from the Polynesian beachside !
      (A/ parking was free. B/ parking guards did not exist, except when you mean parking help CM’s (for luggage). C/ the fireworks spectacular was over the lake, NOT behind the MK castle !!)

      • About those fireworks, and about the Electrical Water Pageant which also operated on the lake. There was a massive viewing area for the shows, at the side of the MK.
        See this map :

        There is the (redish coulour) path going to nowhere from the monorail station to the left (on the pic) and there was the same to the right (now interupted, first though the bus station, further on in building site grounds)
        The huge lawn there, and the patches of semi-beach (not waterside), were the actual fantastic 1970-ies view areas for the shows ! Sitting down on the grass or the sand… so cozy !!! (no standing needed)
        There were many topiary ‘animals’ over the whole area, to add a pinch of garden magic.
        Since then, it’s just laying there. Unused. (or broken up, other side)
        At least, now, you understand WHY there is that paved path “going nowhere”. :-)
        It’s perhaps, a piece of MK history, the far majority of people today cannot even remember, …technically, because “not yet born” !!! :-) :-)

  • It’s obvious that the writer here doesn’t have kids. The Minnie Van drivers under go extensive training in car seat usage and set up. They can pop one into a car seat in about 2-3 minutes flat, properly installed. And they have 2 of them in the car available for usage at all times. Have you tried to get an Uber or Lyft with 2 car seats? Getting 1 car seat is difficult, 2 seats, let alone properly installed car seats, is nearly impossible. Paying a little extra for the Minnie Van for correct car seats is definitely worth it to me, though maybe as a pediatric ICU doctor I’m biased.

  • I’m too amased, that the use of the big ferries (Transport centre to MK) is left out of this article, as if they do not exist !? :-) A ferry still transports more people then a monorail !

    By the way. I’m very proud the Magical Express busses are Belgian top quality products. (Vanhool)

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