Disney Transportation – A Weekend Evaluation

by 67 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

I’m an Atlanta native, so typically when I talk about going to Walt Disney World, I’m planning to drive. In most situations, it’s cheaper and easier for me to drive down and then use my car to shuttle between parks while I’m at the resort. From time to time, however, I’ll catch a special fare, and that makes it easy to fly down, but it makes me reliant on Disney transportation. This past weekend proved to me again why driving was a better option.

At Disney, the vast array of transportation options seems like a convenience that is unrivaled in major resorts. And in many cases that is true; however, in my most recent visit for the opening of Star Wars Weekends, I was paying close attention to how long it took Disney to shuttle me from place to place. I timed every trip to see how long I was on the bus/boat/monorail/flying swan to get from place to place. Here’s what I found:

Magical Express was a very good transportation experience.

Disney’s Magical Express – This was the best of the services Disney offered, and a big reason why I was comfortable flying and not renting a car. As soon as we landed, my wife and I were able to head straight down to Terminal B, Ground Floor, and hop onto the bus. There was no waiting, no mess, and we were on the road to Disney in no time. We landed at 8:15 p.m. and were checked into our room at Disney’s Pop Century Resort by 9:10 p.m. That’s less than an hour from deplaning to having a room key. That’s about as good as it gets.

Returning to the airport was no different. Our pick up time was scheduled for 10:45 a.m, and we headed out to the bus stop in front of the resort around 10:30. We were on the bus and pulled out by 10:50, making it to Orlando International Airport by 11:30. The exact time was 39 minutes from the time we left until we were walking into the terminal. Again, very good, considering how far away the airport is from Disney.

Disney Buses – Here is where the center of the Disney system falls apart. Disney sells to its guests that they don’t need a car because the wildly efficient bus system will get people from their hotels to the theme parks or Downtown Disney without any issues. On my honeymoon 15 years ago, that was certainly true.

The Disney buses were there on time...but not quite timely.

On my last two trips that relied on Disney buses to get me to the parks, though, it has been a poor experience. Our first bus trip was from Pop Century to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the opening of Star Wars Weekends. We left early so we could get there for rope drop. From standing at the bus stop at 7:12 to arriving at the Studios at 7:35, it was a very manageable 23 minutes door to door, including wait time at the bus stop. That would be the last decent time on our trip.

The next morning, we woke up late and decided to go to the Magic Kingdom to have a nice breakfast at Main Street Bakery then check out Storybook Circus. We lined up for the bus along with about 75 other like-minded people at 8:47. We arrived at the Magic Kingdom bus depot at 9:35. If you do the math, that is 48 minutes, including only 5 minutes of wait time at the bus stop. I could have easily driven, taken the monorail and arrived quicker than that. I know that because I have made it from my front door at Pop Century to the Magic Kingdom in less than 30 minutes.

Our final bus ride of the trip was when we left the Magic Kingdom to make it over to the Studios for more Star Wars Weekends. The word nightmare comes to mind. First of all, to get a bus to the Studios, you must take the monorail over to the Ticket and Transportation Center. Considering that there is a bus depot right outside the Magic Kingdom, that’s insane. But we did it, which took us only 10 minutes, from 11:43 to 11:53. Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

It was 12:19 before a bus came to the Ticket and Transportation Center to pick us up. That’s not quite 30 minutes, but it’s darn close. Then, the bus trip itself, which should take no more than 15 minutes, took from 12:19 to 12:53. That’s 34 minutes on the bus. I don’t know if you’ve been on a lot of Disney buses, but they aren’t exactly built for long term comfort. To be fair to Disney, the crowds for Star Wars Weekends were extremely intense that day, to the point that the Studios parking lot was closed. So even driving that day would have been tough, but again, that’s back on Disney to figure out better ways to handle the crowds, isn’t it?

Disney's boat service was good, but had to deal with the weather.

Boats – I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do at Disney is to take a boat from Epcot to the Studios or vice versa. It’s relaxing, easy to do, and forces you to slow down. So, on our first day of this past trip, we decided to take a boat from the Studios to World Showcase, where we had planned to spend our evening. We walked out of the Studios around 2:11, waited for the boat as it loaded, and were on our way.

As I said, we knew the boat would be slower, and that was perfectly alright. It took a while to get from the Studios boat dock to the Swan and Dolphin, longer still to the Yacht and Beach Club and a short hop across Crescent Lake to make it to Boardwalk. It was at that point that the captain of the boat informed us that because of lightning in the area, we would be forced to wait on the boat or get out in order to make it to Epcot. We chose the latter.

Our boat trip had taken us 31 minutes to get to BoardWalk. Again, we wanted to take our time, so this wasn’t a problem. It took another 11 minutes to walk from Boardwalk to the International Gateway, so it took 42 minutes in all to make the trip from the Studios to Epcot. Not a bad way to go, since it was easy to maneuver and the boat was a relaxing way to go. Sure, it took longer, but it was for good reason.

Waiting for a Studios bus at the TTC is a BAD idea

Taxi – I know what you’re saying…that’s not Disney transportation! What gives? Well, when Disney doesn’t give you the option, you have to take a cab. After our afternoon at World Showcase, we spent the evening at Disney’s BoardWalk, grabbing a drink at the Belle Vue Lounge then dancing the night away at Atlantic Dance Hall. The only problem? There’s no way for Disney transportation to get us from Boardwalk back to Pop Century.

That in itself is an issue. We got a cab from the valet at BoardWalk, and were back at Pop in 8 minutes. Easy travel time, no problems except the cabbie had issues taking my credit card. But once that was resolved, it was easy enough. With tip the total fare was $10, and we made it in plenty of time to get rested up for the next day.

So what’s the final verdict? Is staying on property without a car worth it? Well, in my opinion, the answer is no. My room rate at Pop Century was $115 a night after taxes. I could have stayed off property in a nicer room and rented a car for about $5 less than that a night. The time spent on the trip from the Magic Kingdom to the Studios alone was extensive, not to mention we would not have had to take a cab if we had driven or rented a car. So I paid a grand total of $35 extra for the Disney bus system. That’s not a lot of money, but it did give me pause, because I think I would have rather rented a car and not given up so much control of my schedule. While the Magical Express buses and the boat were actually quite nice, the inconvenience of the bus system and the lack of adequate stations at the Magic Kingdom or Boardwalk were very poor.

What about you? What’s been your experience with Disney transportation? Would you have rented a car in my case?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print
Posted on May 28, 2012

67 Responses to “Disney Transportation – A Weekend Evaluation”

  • When we’ve visited WDW in the past we have driven from CT. The Disney transportation has worked for us if one of us wants to stay in the park while the other one takes the younger kids in the car back to the room for a break. I can’t imagine only being able to use Disney transportation though. We stayed at the Poly last fall so it was great for transportation to MK and Epcot, but I know the Value resorts transportation can get pretty crowded at times. I can’t imagine what the buses are like after fireworks or when the parks close.

    • Wow…seem to have touched off a discussion here.

      Yeah, I have used the Disney buses for just what you are describing here, where one of us takes the kids back and the other uses the bus. But that’s not what it’s designed for, at least according to Disney. And while transportation at the Poly is great, I agree, it should be great everywhere.

  • I did a quick two-day trip back in March and spent a day checking out some resorts using WDW transportation. We should have used our car. We would have gotten a lot more done. We waited for boats. We waited and waited and waited for buses, including transfers at Downtown Disney a couple times. Then later in the evening when I was at Boma but wanted to meet friends at Boardwalk, there was no simple way to do it using Disney transportation, so we didn’t get to see each other. So if you’re trying to get a lot of places in a short period of time, car or taxi is the only way to go.

  • We are also from ATL, and prefer to fly and rent a car. My dear hubs likes to be in control and with a car, you get that. My last trip at POFQ had a couple bad bus experiences. The rates have been so cheap lately to fly which helps. We typically stay at a timeshare we rent because between that and the car and parking, its still cheaper than a Disney resort and in our opinion, the buses are not worth it. As we were walking out of DHS after Fantasmic last trip, we were SO happy not relying on a bus, crazy lines!

  • Great analysis. It really does boil down to touring style. If time is not object, Disney transportation gets the job done. If time is THE object, there is no substitute for a rental car.

    And, chances are if you subscribe to a site called “touringplans.com,” you’re the latter.

  • Ryan,

    “My room rate at Pop Century was $115 a night after taxes. I could have stayed off property in a nicer room and rented a car for about $5 less than that a night. … So I paid a grand total of $35 extra for the Disney bus system.”

    Have you factored in the $14+tax parking fees per day for the car option?

    • I’m pretty sure resort guests have the parking fee waived

      • Ryan wrote “I could have stayed off property”, I assumed that meant in non-Disney accommodation…

      • I think Toby was asking Ryan if he took the parking fee into account when he said staying offsite and renting a car would be $5 less per night than staying at Pop.

          • I did not factor in the parking fee because if you stay on site you don’t need to, or more likely, because I have an annual pass and don’t ever pay to park . IT’s still a good point, though. That extra charge would even things out, but the room would have been way nicer.

  • We went earlier this month (15-23) and used Disney transport 100%. Stayed at All-Star Sports. We never had to wait more than 10mins for a bus TO a destination from the resort. What I really noticed this trip compared to previous trips (most recent before this was 2007, then 2001, and 2000), is that going back to the resort (especially from Magic Kingdom) we had to wait much longer than I remember in the past. Our last night of the trip we literally waited 40 mins for a bus from Magic Kingdom. Then when the bus finally arrived, they couldn’t get the ramp to come down for a wheelchair guest so that took 15 more mins. I’m not sure why whenever we were heading back it took so much longer but after walking all day standing in the que for the bus is murder! Overall though for me, I would still rather use Disney transport because it drops you off so close to the gate, and it’s just nice to have someone else have to do the driving.

    • I agree it’s very nice to have someone else drive. That was my best experience on my honeymoon and fifth anniversary trips, but it seems to be less and less efficient.

  • by Shelly Valladolid on May 28, 2012, at 1:33 pm EDT

    Don’t you get free theme park parking when you stay in a Disney hotel?

  • I think it really depends on two things – how do you tour (gorilla or leisurely)? And where are you staying?

    I can see if you stay at a value that having a car would be beneficial since you are located more on the outer park reaches. We only stay at the Epcot resorts. That puts us in walking distance of Epcot and a boat ride to DHS. It is debatable whether a car would be any quicker to MK in this situation.

    We tour differently than our first trip. Our first trip we were trying to get as much crammed in as possible. Since then it has become an almost annual event so we now tour more leisurely. Just being able to sit back and be driven to and from the parks is more enjoyable. Plus I can’t say we really have ever had any major problem with the busses.

    • I have not yet stayed at an Epcot resort. I imagine it would be the way to go.

      On this trip, we were trying to do Star Wars Weekends as quickly as possible, so this was a case where we needed not to spend a lot of time waiting. That did not work as you can tell.

  • We’ve got a trip planned at AKL coming up in October and we’ve gone back and forth on the rental car issue. The main problem is we plan to spend so many evenings at Food and Wine that neither of us wants to worry about being sober to drive. But we’ve also never done a trip relying solely on the Disney bus system before. This review is pushing me back toward the rental car.

    • I think if you’re at AKL, you may have a different experience. I’m not sure, and I don’t mean to say that my experience is representative of the whole. I will say that overall I have seen a decline in the bus system steadily over the last several years.

      If you’re going for Food and Wine, and you’re not worried about rope drops or things like that, you should just use the bus system. It will be way more convenient and easy for you.

  • I see your point but disney transportation is VERY convenient in two ways: 1) Teens that want to go off on their own and are not old enough to drive or drive a rental 2) When you want to have a few adult beverages and not worry about driving- I can’t tell you how many times this was important when I was down there in my early twenties with friends!

  • Thanks for your post on your experience, I love hearing about Disney stories. I’m sorry to hear yours didn’t work out that well for you.

    Our experience has been consistently good. My family has been twice using WDW transportation. We’re coming from NJ and didn’t consider driving an option. I love the magical express. Both times we have stayed at the Polynesian (partly because it has the monorail). We did depend on buses for AK and HS. This second time there was a bit more of a wait for buses — but mostly it was very good. Both trips we used a cab once, on nights where we had to get from one place to another quickly for a dinner reservation. It was as you said ~ $10. Considering the cost of the week, I would have been ok doing that every night rather than have to get a rental car from the airport. For me, not having a car for the week is part of what makes it relaxing.

    • This is very true. I don’t really LIKE having a car, but sometimes it seems like a necessary evil in order to get things done. I will say that my only experience at the Poly was MUCH different, in that transportation was very good. Perhaps it’s a value resort thing?

    • I agree with your comment on the cabs. My husband and i went from shopping at downtown disney to the ESPN club to watch my football team. we ended up having a medical emergency and decided to take a cab back to our resort (riverside) instead of waiting to go to a park and then transfer to the riverside bus. It was a FANTASTIC experience! The driver was super nice and super quick. It is now an option for us on our trips when we need to go from resort to resort :)

  • I flew twice with my daughter. Then I did my homework and signed up with TP. We have APs now and always drive. I feel that for the most part, Disney transportation is a waste of time. My car and the monorail are generally all we use. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!

  • On our first few trips, my wife and I would drive down from Northern Virginia, stay on property, and use our car to get from place to place. Several years ago, we got stuck in insane post-tornado traffic in North Carolina on the way home and a 13 hour drive turned into a 19 hour drive. We haven’t driven down since, but after our first trip relying upon Disney transportation, we’ve rented a car every time. The Disney folks seemed to do a fine job, but nothing comes close to the freedom and efficiency of having your own set of wheels. And rental cars in Orlando are very competitively priced (compared to the DC market, anyway), so it doesn’t sting too bad. For us, there’s absolutely no question that having your own mode of transportation beats relying upon Disney transportation. It’s not really even close.

  • During our last trip in 2009 we used Disney’s transportation it was nice we only had a couple of times we had to wait longer than 30 minutes or the ride itself took a weird route that added time to the trip. But, the moment my wife and I have kids and bring them down we will rent a car without question. It is too difficult in our opinion to use the buses with young children. We will still use the service even if we have a rental car for one of us bringing a tired little one to the resort, or if we plan to have any alcoholic drinks. I really can’t complain about the transportation in situations like those.

  • You stated that you had to take a cab back to Pop Century from the Boardwalk. This is not true. While you can’t go directly from Boardwalk to Pop there are other ways to get there besides a cab. You could have walked over to Epcot and took a bus to Pop from there. You could have took a boat to Hollywood Studios and then took a bus to Pop from there. Or you could have taken a bus to Downtown Disney, or anywhere else, and then took a bus to Pop from there. So there are other ways of doing this where you won’t have to come out of pocket for a cab.

    • His post states that they “grabbed a drink and danced the night away” which leads us to believe it was late in the evening when they wanted to leave Boardwalk and return to Pop Century. Unless there were evening EMH at either Epcot or DHS, the only way to get from Boardwalk to Pop Century after 11pm would have been to take the bus to Downtown Disney or TTC and change.

      • Correct. We left Boardwalk at 12:15 a.m. There was no way to get to Pop at that time except going to Downtown Disney and then to Pop. That seems a bit insane for a place where the restaurants and clubs and bars are open much later than that.

  • For me the whole point of the WDW vacation is to be one on property and letting the outside world disappear. To me saying I can make it to the park in 30 minutes saving 18 minutes, I say who cares, I am on vacation and not in a hurry to get anywhere. Relax people.

    • Ah, finally someone else who thinks like me.

      • I think that way too – part of being on vacation is letting someone else do the driving and Disney does it well, for the most part.

    • by Meredith McCutcheon on May 29, 2012, at 8:11 am EDT

      If it was just me and my husband, I’d agree 100%. But with two tired and cranky young kids, the LAST thing I want to do at the end of the night is wait forever for a bus to take me back to my hotel. We always rent a car.

      • Very true. See, usually I am with you guys on not wanting to drive when it’s my wife and I, such as it was this past weekend. But we had a few things we wanted to do, and even those were difficult to accomplish because of the transportation snafus.

        We were very relaxed when we were in the parks, but trying to get from one to the other actually stressed us out more. I would have been less stressed if I had driven.

  • Would almost always drive from IN instead of fly – flexibility is too important for us (and airfare for four much more expensive than gas) Fort Wilderness Cabins is a great place to say when driving: Got to have the boat ride to MK, but also could drive to other parks, go to an off-site grocery to stock the kitchen, and take my son quickly to a clinic for an ear infection – all with the car parked right outside our door!

  • We travel from the UK and are fans of the Disney transportation. I spend 45 minutes getting to work each day so don’t get annoyed if it takes me a similar time to get to a park from my resort. We can chat about our day ahead and it’s utterly stress free. If we hire a car I’m a nervous wreck by the time we arrive.

    We’ve visited 4 times (as adults) and hired a car for the full trip once and for a Kennedy Space Center day only once and I universally hate travelling by car.

    Disney transportation makes the whole trip more magic for me and I’m disappointed so many judge it mostly by minutes ‘lost’.

    • by Meredith McCutcheon on May 29, 2012, at 10:11 am EDT

      I do think that Disney transportation can eliminate much of the hassle, especially for adults. We travel with two young kids, and while Disney buses CAN be efficient, we always drive if we are staying until park closing. With a giant double stroller and two cranky kids, waiting a long time for a bus (then trying to get everything on a crowded bus) can be a very negative experience. For us, it is not about “minutes lost”–it is about “sanity saved” :)!

      • I get that and my sister always hires a car for similar reasons. I just get a bit miffed when so many people slate the Disney transportation when it’s generally pretty good and – for me – a key differentiator from other resorts

        • I think Disney’s transportation is outstanding for what it is, but subpar for what they purport it to be. That’s the problem. Disney sells it as a benefit that saves time and money, and as you can see from my experience, that was not the case. It could be, though, depending on when you go, and it was in the past. I think it could be again if they work a little harder at it.

  • I definitely agree about the buses. In recent years, as they have opened more and more resorts, the bus service has got worse and worse. I find the most difficult task is when you try to leave a park in the late morning to get back to your resort.

    My worst experience of this was a couple of years ago at Blizzard Beach. We waited 90 minutes for a bus to take us back to the Boardwalk. Animal Kingdom also tends to be a big wait.

    These days we go for convenience over all other considerations so we drive to water parks and Animal Kingdom. We bus to Magic Kingdom, Epcot and DHS but we rarely bus back. Instead we tend to go to a resort nearby and get a taxi. Obviously that also gives us the opportunity to have a look around the shops and stop for a drink at resorts we like before heading home.

    This is why I think that you can’t beat the Boardwalk and the Yacht and Beach club resorts for convenience because you can walk to two parks without relying on any transport. However, in 48 hours I’ll be getting on a plane from the UK to stay at OKW for the first time in about five years. As it’s all about buses it’ll be interesting to see what happens but we’ve already budgeted for a lot of cabs.

    I do agree with the people who say ‘relax’ as I’ve seen people take it all WAY too seriously but I also don’t want to sit at another bus stop for an hour when I could be having a drink by the pool instead.

    • Exactly! I do not mind waiting for a bus and taking my time, but if I want to take a midday break or a nap, the Disney buses tend to subtract a lot of time from that.

    • I am very interested in the bus service from Old Key West. We are staying there for three days for the first time in March, at peak time.

  • We used Disney transportation during our stay in early November 2011. It was our first trip to Disney and we didn’t want the hassle of having to drive around. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and the only time we had a really long wait was when we were trying to go to Downtown Disney from WL. Maybe it depends on where you are staying and what time of year you go, but we did not have any problems and when we go again we will use the Disney transportation.

  • We have had two experiences with the bus system. Our first trip was to the yacht club and it was great. Buses were quick and empty. We went to coronado springs this past year (crowd levels low) and waited forever (up to 50 minutes) both at the resort and for a return bus from the parks. Going in September this year and staying at the contemporary. I’m afraid to do value resorts now unless we rent a car. We love the buses and find it easier than driving with kids but I agree that is Disney is advertising this as a feature to kidnap you for the week then they need to make it an enjoyable experience.

  • by Just some guy on May 29, 2012, at 9:24 am EDT

    I would hope by now any blogger and park guest would understand there is never only one correct way to do anything and anyone’s opinions must be factored in with a host of variables: family size, personal preferences, all the costs involved…and all the variables the fine folks at touringplans.com factor in to create excellent plans for guests.
    And rather than rebut several places where I disagree with Mr. Kilpatrick’s opinions and experiences, I’ll just add this to the discussion:
    Sometimes we’ve used the car more and sometimes we’ve relied extensively on Disney transportation. We’ve almost always relied on a touring plan once inside the parks. And we’ve also found that not every part of the Disney experience need be quantified regarding ‘wait time.’ Whatever mode of transportation we’re on is a wonderful time to…talk to each other. Talk to those around us. Even catch up on those pesky texts or voice mails. Or just close our eyes for a few much-needed moments of rest. Sometimes it takes a little while to get from here to there and it’s up to me to choose my frame-of-mind.

    • Hey Guy,
      I could not of said it better myself. Carry on my man.

      • 100% agree. We can agree to disagree, because not everyone has the same experiences, and my time over this particular weekend was just one example. I was hoping to make the point that you need to evaluate the transportation for yourself, and not just accept that it’s a time saver. In some instances it may be, but not always.

        • by Just some guy on May 31, 2012, at 8:30 am EDT

          Thanks, Ryan. I enjoy all your columns and value your willingness to share your experiences. Your point is so appropriate: that we need to assess each situation as to what we want/need and what the situation is likely going to be, and then to plan from there. That’s where knowing ourselves helps tremendously. For instance, I know there were trips where using DDP was probably more expensive than paying for each meal…but I also know that after reaching for my wallet the 3rd time I start playing those head games about “how expensive everything is” and that cuts into my “just enjoy myself, I’m on vacation” mode…so we use DDP and I’m happier, even if I haven’t maximized every vacation dollar. Thanks again for your research and blogs!

  • by Mrs. Norcross on May 29, 2012, at 9:58 am EDT

    My daughter, mother, and I were at WDW this weekend for the Girl Scout event. We stayed in the Girl Scout block at All-Star Sports. There were quite a few international youth soccer teams there as well.
    We relied completely on Disney transportation and had no complaints. Our wait times for any of the modes was less than 5 minutes, except for the Magical Express back to the airport. Most of the time, we just walked on to a waiting bus. The only time we had a standing-room only bus was Sunday night coming back from Epcot. Travel times were 20 minutes or less.
    My mom was impressed with the transportation system and the fact that we could leave the driving to someone else. It was her first visit to WDW (at 65 yrs young) and I think she’s looking forward to her next.
    Usually my family drives to WDW, but even then, we leave our car at our Disney resort. We have to drive everywhere at home because we don’t have public transportation, so we look forward to using the system at WDW.

  • by Aliceinwonderla on May 29, 2012, at 10:27 am EDT

    Good points here, but our family of 5 drives from TX and are happy to park the car for a whole week and let someone else drive. We use the time to visit without worrying about what other drivers are doing, and we send pictures to friends, catch up on texts, etc. for us the possible bus wait is worth not walking through the boiling parking lot or remembering where we parked. Nice to have this option if you prefer it. P.S. we stay at AKL and have never been frustrated with service.

  • Hey All, For those who do decide to go with Disney transportation, any thoughts on which resorts make using the buses better, easier, faster, etc?

  • #1 At busy times, there can be a line of cars waiting to pay for parking, especially at the Magic Kingdom.

    #2 If you park too late, there can be a long walk from your parking spot to the entrance of the park.

    These two delays should be considered in comparing the total travel time of car vs. bus.

    Also, when one is not in control, a short wait can feel a lot longer. Waiting 4 minutes for a bus can feel a lot longer than a 4-minute walk through a parking lot. During the walk, you can sense your progress but at a bus stop, you feel every second.

    Finally, it is human nature to blame others. People always remember a 20 minute delay on a bus and blame Disney but easily forget and forgive themselves for a 20 minute delay trying to find their rental car in Pop Century’s parking lot.

    In terms of total time from room to park entrance, I suspect the bus will be shorter than a car for the average guest, but will often “feel” much, much longer, especially when blogging about it :)

    • I’m sure the control thing is a big issue with me! I have actually timed things in my car vs. the bus, and it’s a 50/50 proposition. Magic Kingdom is usually quicker on the bus, as is the Studios. Epcot and Animal Kingdom tended to be quicker when driving. I probably should have put those times in the post, but it was long already. But the post was only about this past weekend, and trying to again make the point to evaluate things carefully, not just at face value.

  • I finally had enough of the Disney Bus system after a park closing, super crowded bus, flashing green ice cube in my eyes for the whole ride……. that made me swear off the Disney Bus scene for the past 2 years. I’d rather lug the wheel chair in and out of the trunk of my car than wait, who knows how long, in what weather and for what mystery experience on a Disney Bus. Will I ever try their Bus System again? Maybe……. Yet for now, I prefer to just hop in my car. I guess it’s a control thing? :)

  • LOVE Magical Express. While I would prefer less stops, it’s really hard to argue with the price.

    WDW’s internal bus system, however, is definitely erratic. Either too many of the same type of bus arrive at the same time, or you end up waiting for what seems like forever.
    When we were at the Contemporary last year we narrowly missed a bus to DHS and figured we would be waiting awhile. Less than 30 seconds later another DHS bus pulled up, completely empty. We were the only two people on the bus for the entire trip to DHS. For a company as adept at crowd control as Disney is, it’s surprising to see their bus system be that inefficient.

    Boat rides are fantastic and definitely one of my favorite things about the Epcot resorts. It definitely forces you to relax a bit.

    Cab rides can be expensive, which isn’t too surprising. On a property as vast as WDW you are potentially traveling a decent distance. We took a cab from Beach Club to AKL three years ago and it cost $20.

    • LOL! my favorite is when you’ve been waiting for the hollywood studios bus (or any other park you want to go to) for 30 minutes and you’ve seen 20 buses for EPCOT pass by your stop almost empty everytime :)

  • by Leslie Whitten on May 30, 2012, at 5:03 pm EDT

    We have consistently used the bus service exclusively, until this past visit when we stayed off site. One thing I can say for sure is that we will still take the bus to MK. It’s just too many steps to get there. Also, we like to get there well before opening, and we did have an experience in 2010 where we waited over an hour for the first bus to AK because the driver decided to sit at the first stop until the bus got full (it was not peak season), and the park had already opened when we arrived. Based on that, the car will definitely be an option for anything other than MK.

  • I also had trouble with cab driver taking a credit card this past weekend. It was a $13 fare before tip from poly to epcot.

  • Oh yeah, then later that night on way back to poly from EPCOT I asked cab driver if he took a card, he said no, but asked how much cash I had told him only $7 so he said cool and took me back to poly. On the drive said he and other cabbies like to sit at the bus stops to “challenge” folks on vacation into saving time with a cab vs a free disney bus.

  • I drove once to Magic Kingdom and will NEVER do it again. I just remember waiting in the parking lot for what seemed like hours to get out and on to the road. Maybe things have changed but I’d rather wait for a bus than sit in traffic trying to get out of a crowded parking lot after a park closes!

  • We stayed on property last May with the only intent to see a moderate hotel(we had never stayed on property before) and to go to Downtown Disney. We had just got off the Disney Dream and wasn’t able to get a flight back home until the following day so we opted to stay at PO Riverside. We took the Magic express from port and agree that it was nice and we’d do that again. But once we got there, I hated the transportation setup they provide. We took the boat to DTD and it was slower than quoted and the driver was very rude. To go back we opted to take a bus which took forever to get to DTD. The next day we were suppose to fly out and our flight was cancelled so at the last minute we decided to go to Magic Kingdom. Getting a bus there and back took forever. The drive itself wasn’t bad but just trying to get on a bus was probably a 45 min process each way. Then when our flight was cancelled again the next day, we thought we’d move properties and try out Cornado Springs. That was a awful. They took our luggage because luggage isn’t allowed on the buses and we had to from POR to Animal Kingdom to CS to get there which in total took 90 min. And then we had to wait for our bags to get there which took another 3 hours. Granted most people wouldn’t do it that way and would have been at a park but our stranded situation was much different. It wasn’t until later we realized that we should have just taken a taxi. Then we wanted to eat at Animal Kingdom lodge so we had to again go to Animal kingdom park and then catch another bus. We will be renting a car next time!

  • Fortunately I have just the opposite to say about the buses. We stayed at AS Music and only waited for a bus once that took over 10 mins. The rides to the parks were usually about 20 mins. Downtown Disney was the only bus that was ever crowded, and only because a huge tour group got on the bus at the stop after ours.