10 Reasons to use Walt Disney World buses

by on August 4, 2011 40 Comments

Filed under: Trip Planning

The Walt Disney World Bus System…what did you think of when you read those words?  Raise your hand if it was something positive…hmm, only two (yeah, I can see you…nice shirt).  I figured that, so I’m here to give you only the positive things about the bus system.

I’m sure you’ve heard over and over all of the problems with Disney buses and you may have even been advised against using it.  I know there is a renegade podcast out there that even recommends a rental car.  What you don’t always hear are the reasons why you should ride the bus…well here are the top 10.


Our own private bus ride. This also happens to be the only bus-related picture I could find.

10. No Driving – Okay, so we’re starting with the obvious, but I may or may not have had trouble coming up with ten items.  Granted that driving around Walt Disney World is not very hard, but it’s still nice to not worry about going the wrong way because the bus drivers never miss turns…ahem).

9. People Watching – You enjoy seeing some of the cool and, um…interesting choices people have made about their clothing and accessories too, right?

8. Kids like it – To many young children, the bus is another attraction.  It’s like the preshow to a day of fun…the Christmas Eve of bus service (there’s a phrase I thought I’d never write).

7. Extra Rest Time – I don’t know about you, but when I’m up early trying to make rope drop I like having an extra few minutes of time to zone out and prepare myself for the Toy Story Midway Mania 400 yard dash.

6. No Car Seats – This one is not going to apply to everyone but, as the father of two in car seats, it does to me.  With a rental car I either have to lug two seats through the airport and onto the plane or rent them (which will never happen again after my poor daughter had to sit at a 45 degree angle for a week).  With the bus, car seats are not something we have to worry about.  Is it as safe?  Sorry, I didn’t hear the question…

5. The Music – I’m a total dork when it comes to Disney music (okay, I didn’t need to add ‘when it comes to Disney music’), so I love how the buses play music applicable to the park or resort that you are heading to.  I’ll take any extra chances to get “One Little Spark” stuck in my head.

4. Magic Kingdom bus drops off at gate, not TTC – The biggest problem with driving to the Magic Kingdom is that you have to park at the Ticket and Transportation Center, thereby still relying on Disney transportation.  The bus takes you as close to the gate as you can get.

3. Interesting Conversation – Being in close proximity to other like-minded people is a natural conversation starter.  It’s a great opportunity to talk to people from all over the world and tell them about how awesome Touring Plans is (specifically a certain blogger, maybe).

2. Relaxing Your Pace – It is unarguable that driving yourself around Walt Disney World is a more efficient use of time.  It is also indisputable that you are on vacation, so maximum time efficiency may not be a top priority.  I am organized to a fault sometimes (I schedule spontaneity), so I find taking the bus forces me to relax my schedule.  I have to allow transportation time, so we usually end up with a little bit of extra, unplanned time that I can use to make better plans (yeah, I have a problem).

1. It’s Free – F-R-E-E, FREE!


Posted on August 4, 2011

40 Responses to “10 Reasons to use Walt Disney World buses”

  • by Isabelle Boivin on August 4, 2011, at 12:55 pm EST

    I really like number one !!! 😀 made me laught at work. Thanks.

    • by Isabelle Boivin on August 4, 2011, at 12:58 pm EST

      and may I add that on a 7 days trip, you always have one big “troubble” with the bus system… but hey, we are on vacation, and one every 7 days, it’s juste another story to tell when we come back 😀 nothing to really complain about !

  • First of all, thank you for the compliment on my shirt. I agree that it’s quite nice. A brilliant and noble man purchased it for me.

    I agree with all of your points, except #1. While you may not have to buy a boarding pass for the bus, it’s definitely not free. Disney has rolled the price into resort costs somewhere, rest assured. Much like Disney’s Magical Express (which I also like!), it’s one of those things for which you may not directly pay, but you’re paying for one way or another.

    • Yes, “free” is always a relative term at Disney.

      Speaking of clothing, I almost linked #9 to a picture of a fellow blogger wearing a Figment hat, but decided against it. Maybe next time 🙂

    • by Isabelle Boivin on August 4, 2011, at 1:20 pm EST

      The reason why we sould use it… when we stay on proprety, we already pay for it anyway 😀

  • I’m all about utilizing the bus service whether we fly or drive. It’s so nice to just have one less thing to worry about – where I parked! 🙂

  • I love the Disney bus system, so I also have positive things to think and say about it. Part of this may be that I live in a large metro area and take the bus everyday to work and haven’t driven in 5 years, so I’m just used to all of the inconveniences of public transportation.
    My only complaint about the bus service is there is no set schedule. “About every 20 mins” is not a schedule. It would be nice if they put an electronic schedule up at the bus stop, on that large board where they advertise where your bus stop # is. Alas, they never will because it would cost $$$ and there’s little value added (in their mind).

    I also dislike bus sharing. For the price of staying in a deluxe, there should not be ONE bus for Contemp/Poly, or GF/WL, or (the worst offender of all), BWI/BWV/YC/BC/BCV/Swan/Dolphin. I mean, really!

    • Yes, I agree with the bus sharing. In truth there is plenty of complaining that I can (and do) do about the buses. I always just feel that you hear so many bad things I wanted to stay positive (which is weird for me)

      • I am uber-negative in real life (my office nickname is Eeyore), but I really do like the Disney bus system. I’ve never, ever, had to wait more than 20 mins for a bus. And that 20 mins was right as MK was closing on a Sat night and I had to wait for the second bus.

        I think the real trick to the system is to get on a bus as early as possible in the AM (I often have my own bus!), and then bolt out of the park as fast as possible right as it’s closing (they run the buses about every 10 mins).

  • Strangely, I agree with most of your points. However, I still am not ready to drop the car. We used the bus system a few times as younger adults. It seemed like a great thing, but once we rented a car, that was it. Pretty much all of these reasons don’t overcome the biggest flaw – the time. We stayed off-site and could still drive to most parks in 10-15 minutes.

  • I’m so glad you included conversation with like minded people (#3) on your list. That’s one of our favorite things about the bus system. My husband and I love to hear about the other hotels people are staying in and favorite or least favorite rides of kids and adults alike. Mostly though, we love to hear about the great restaurants around WDW! We haven’t tried them all (yet) so we really like to hear what else folks are enjoying. Thanks for your list, I agree 100%. I would also add no parking fees!

    • Totally agree on #3 – where else can you strike up a conversation outside of the world where 90% of the people are happy to talk with you and don’t have attitudes. Its easier to plan and talk about the park visit instead of worrying about other drivers. Plus, you can spread the wealth and direct other folks to this site.

      • I agree with you about the conversations, and the earlier comment about the music. It adds to the magic that we all love about visiting WDW. People wanting to be polite and acknowledge one another on public transportation is a beautiful thing, especially for those of us who live/work/visit often major cities like NYC. Disney buses are part of the experience for us!

  • i love your top 10 list! I live in Los Angeles and I spend 4 hours of every day in my car. I love not having to drive at WDW. My friends and I can have a few drinks without worrying about a designated driver, the bus has great music and it is an air conditioned break form the heat.

  • For the Magic Kingdom, #4 is key, but for the opposite reason. At the end of the day, after the Wishes fireworks fade out, there’s nothing like hopping on the air-conditioned bus while the line for the ferry stretches towards the horizon.

  • Just to chime in – I’ve only been to WDW twice as an adult and both times stayed at POR. One of the thigns that surprised and delighted me most was going home (well, back to POR) on the bus at night, and becoming conscious of the soft (banjo?) music and crickets. At that moment, I fell in love with the busses forever. I’m going back in September and staying at ASMu, and can’t wait to hear what will be playing on the busses!

  • What I love about the Disney buses — I love not having to pick up, pay for, or return a rental car. I love that they’re a thrill for the kids. I love the resort-specific music they play! We used to rent a car all the time and thought we’d never do the buses. Then one year to cut corners, we hesitantly gave it a try. We haven’t gone back to rental cars. 🙂

  • Toy Story Mania 400 yard dash- that’s funny! My son (2 and 1/2) LOVED the busses in May, even got in some quick naps laying on Daddy’s lap. We are going back with my parents in a couple of weeks and they insist on a car. I think my son is going to be disappointed- we may have to meet them there and take the bus!

  • All of the trips we have done have been without a hire car and relying on Disney transportation. I love not having to think about a car, not having to park, having that quiet ride to/from a park, and so on.

    We have had very very few problems. The recurrent one is trying to get back to Animal Kingdom Lodge from Epcot an hour or so after park opening (usually on the last day or two, going back to a specific shop to get a specific souvenir we forgot last time). Trying Wilderness Lodge instead this time…

  • Totally agree! I love being able to have a few drinks at Epcot with my husband and neither one of us has to be DD or fork out $50 for a cab. I also love meeting people on the bus. After spending many years as a DLR Annual Pass holder where almost everyone you meet has been to DL a hundred times, its so awesome to meet people on the bus who are experiencing WDW for the first time. I think it takes us all back to the magic of that first trip to WDW.

  • Great list and excellent reasons! I also agree with Laura, it’s nice to enjoy some tasty beverages without the worry of driving (just the worry of wandering too close to a reckless scooter captain and his/her need for speed). The music is great, the air conditioning is a God-send, but for me, it’s the people watching. All of the funniest stories we retell over and over from WDW trips are the humorous things that other people’s children have done, funny things these children have said and inventive (and painful) games they invented to stave off the boredom of a bus ride. You’re ride, the bus is just another brilliant attraction.

  • Yup, I gotta agree with most of your readers, I like the bus system, and use it EVERY trip! I especially like that they drop you right in front of the entrance to Magic Kingdom! Sometimes it’s a little crowded and competetive for a seat on a particular bus, but heck, we’re at Disney World…. no problem!

  • I believe this is the first thing I’ve read about Disney buses with a smile *gasp*!
    Being a mother of 5 and bringing a double and single stroller this next trip I’m really trying to stay positive about the buses- we will be relying on them solely for transportation. One high note from our last trip— we got the magic pirate bus!!! It was like jungle cruise, but on a bus and pirate themed, really made our 11 pm trip back to POP great! We asked about the bus the next day and the CMs looked at us like we were crazy….maybe it was some extra Disney magic!

  • On my last trip with my family we only used the bus system. It was occasionally annoying, but it was annoying when I had a car too. I don’t go that often so I don’t know the roads that well, so driving I have to concentrate – that’s not so easy after a long day in a park!

  • You forgot to mention fun bus drivers. Its so much fun when the drivers starts to serenade the bus and gets everyone to sing along. The buses are not perfect but I’ll take the savings over renting a car.

  • #4 is the main reason we use the buses, but relying on the buses in Caribbean Beach (CBR) or Riverside has caused us to miss the MK opening ceremony 🙁

    The night-time wait at MK in the VERY long line back to CBR (at least a couple of buses filled and departed-with long waits in between-before we made it to the front of the line) led to a knee-jerk reservation at the Contemporary on our next trip.

    It’s so frustrating to get to the POR bus stop early in the morning, and watch 2 buses each for the destinations we DON’T want, and then have our bus appear and get us to MK well after opening. We did a knee-jerk reservation at the FW cabins (for proximity to MK) and the internal bus system slowed us down so we missed the boat we needed to get tot he opening ceremony. Aaargh!

    So, yes, the buses are a prepaid convenience that my daughter loves, but they are freezing and people use folded up strollers as body armor. Ugh.

  • by Jason in Iowa on August 5, 2011, at 12:45 pm EST

    Bus lovers unite! We use the bus every time. I’d say it’s part of the whole experience. For all the reasons above. As long as you understand it is what it is, a bus system, and not your private limo, then it’s great!

  • So glad to hear all the positives! The last time I rode the bus was in 1995 and I’ve been a little concerned about the riding the bus on our upcoming trip. I hear over and over how we should just rent a car, “it’s so much better”. We rented a car our last two visits. It was stressful trying to navigate the World, got lost a few times, and our pickup and return of our rental the last time was a nightmare. The renting of the car seats (added cost) and having to install something I am not familiar with, forget it! I totally get the whole “45 degree angle” thing. I’m not hauling my own car seats either.

    This is a vacation, I want to leave the stress at home! I am happy to leave all the driving to Disney and leave my worries behind. Why spend $200 – $300 extra when transportation is already included in the cost of the vacation? The bus is part of the adventure, right?! I may have to wait a little longer than someone who has a car, but to not be stressed out and to take a weeks vacation from driving, I’ll take it!

    Looking forward to our stay at Pop, one of the top reasons we chose it is because it does not share a bus with another resort, yet.

  • love the buses. when i am on vacation, i want to forget about the real world and part of that real world is driving. it adds to the overall experience and being immersed in disney. are there a few times waiting is bad, sure but 100x better than sitting in traffic and driving on unknown roads.

  • Driving, parking my car, and trekking through a lot to a theme park entrance (to me) feels like visiting any other amusement park like Six Flags, Hershey Park, Cedar Point, etc, and I think this is why I have always been disinterested in a rental car. I love Disney transportation because to me, it equals being on vacation at Walt Disney World.

  • As a Florida resident for the last 50 years I have visited WDW on many, many occasions for both immediate family (Florida residents) and large family reunions (from all over the country), and for the most part, the Disney buses are very handy to use. For obvious reasons, the buses are not an option for those staying off property. The main reason I have ever had a need for a car is for traveling to other resorts where we’ve made dinner reservations (like the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review). The Disney bus system does not intentionally make runs between resorts. This is where “shared” buses are a plus IF you know the bus routes.

    In addition, I disagree with #4; if you get on a bus too early, the buses will take you to the TTC. If your arrival time to the TTC will be later than approximately 8:45am, then they will do as you indicated and take you directly to the MK. This is one point I have always taught my out-of-town relatives. Otherwise, I agree with everything in your list, especially the kids being able to take a nap or going completely to sleep for the night at the end of a long day!

    • Barney said: “In addition, I disagree with #4; if you get on a bus too early, the buses will take you to the TTC. If your arrival time to the TTC will be later than approximately 8:45am, then they will do as you indicated and take you directly to the MK. This is one point I have always taught my out-of-town relatives. Otherwise, I agree with everything in your list, especially the kids being able to take a nap or going completely to sleep for the night at the end of a long day!”

      That is not my experience. Over the past 5 years we have got early buses to MK (for character breakfast ADRs) and have always been dropped “at the door”.

      For travelling between resorts we have simply travelled via a park that is en-route (avoiding Downtown Disney and water park buses as they seem to cover the ground much more slowly). Comng home late by the same method is a breeze as well, so long as there is a park with Evening Extra Magic Hour (or late enough regular closing). Otherwise we grab a taxi. (This happens so rarely it easily beats the cost of car hire for our stay.)

      • I agree with Jason- several times we’ve accidentally arrived at MK very early by bus because I was worried about transportation times. We’ve never been dropped off at the TTC instead. Last year we were over an hour early from BWI (I’d heard about crazy bus sharing at those resorts)- and were chosen as the opening family as a result! We were LOVING WDW transportation that day!

  • I’ve stayed on property 3 times and always use the buses. They are my #1 reason for staying on site. They aren’t perfect but you get safely and easily to wherever you want to go without having to engage your brain.
    I have a busy job – like many – and when I’m on holiday (okay you call it vacation) I want to R E L A X. Car travel on the wrong side of the road does not achieve this!
    BTW, #5 made me laugh out loud.

  • I have done Disney both with and without a car. The buses add an element of Disney Magic that is an extension of the Parks and deluxe resorts. It’s like being on a different planet if you choose to believe! I try to utilize the boats and monorails as much as possible but the buses did a good job of keeping in character. When I finally stayed off property and rented a car, it didn’t have the same feeling to the vacation.

  • Totally agree with #5. It is so much fun when you round that corner to the Magic Kingdom resort bus stops, and the Mickey Mouse Club March comes on. You know excitement is just ahead! I also love the bus music themed to the resort; especially Pop Century’s. It is one of the reasons I like staying there.

  • Do you have to stay at the disney hotels to catch their buses?

    • No, no you don’t. All Disney transportation systems are open to everyone. There can be a bit of issue on where you leave your car (i.e. parking at the resorts to avoid paying the fee at the regular lots) but if you want to, as an example, park at Animal Kingdom, take the bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge for lunch, then bus back there is no problem with that.

      • great! I wasn’t intending to sort of cheat the fee’s of the payment, its just that i’m staying just out of the park and the shuttle bus for the hotel doesn’t go to downtown disney, so its great to know i’m able to get there now!