We Took A Minnie Van And It Was Awesome

When Disney announced Minnie Van service at D23 this summer, I was skeptical to say the least. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are already my transportation of choice both at home and at Disney and cost less. So what are you paying for, the cute paint job?

But after using the service, I can say there are some scenarios where it definitely makes sense.

Why Choose a Minnie Van

Most importantly, your Minnie Van will seat 6 and will have 2 carseats in it. If you are traveling with more than three in your party, you’re already going to need to upgrade to a larger car (at a higher cost). And with the van, there’s no need to request a carseat.

Two of the vans are accessible, and can be requested. This number should increase as the service moves out of its test period and expands across Walt Disney World Resort. There are 25 regular and 2 accessible vans in service right now.

Another advantage to the Minnie Vans is that they have designated drop offs in convenient locations. So, if you want to take one to Hoop de Doo at Fort Wilderness and don’t want to go through the labyrinth of buses or boats to get to Pioneer Hall, just hop a Minnie Van and go straight from your resort to the bus stop right by it.

Want to be dropped off close to your hotel room instead of at the lobby? The Minnie Van has you covered.

Just want to travel from resort to resort without a bus transfer? A Minnie Van will save you all kinds of time.

Lyft knows where you are.

Disney has made sure that guests know that even though the Minnie Van service runs through Lyft (more on that later) the Minnie Van drivers are all vetted by them and are not the usual independent drivers you would get without the service. Me, I take cabs and other services like this all the time and don’t worry about it, but if you’re new to this sort of thing, you’ll probably find this comforting. (Secret: many of the drivers for the ride-sharing services around Disney are cast members working on their off hours or family of cast members working for a few extra bucks.)

How To Use a Minnie Van

So how does Minnie Van service work? Well, as of this writing, it technically isn’t offered at every resort. I used it after Epcot closed when I was at International Gateway and didn’t want to walk to the front of the park and then wait for a bus back to All Star Music. Because I knew Minnie Van service was offered at Boardwalk, I headed over there knowing that even if I couldn’t get one, I could always get another car service. We first went to the valet because we saw I placard about the service there and asked how to get a Minnie Van. The attendant asked if we were staying at Boardwalk, and when we said no, she said we wouldn’t be able to use the service. This is a lie.

We then went to Bell Services and asked them to enable Minnie Vans on the Lyft app on my phone. I gave them my phone and they texted the unlock that brings Minnie Vans to life for you.

I opened the app, chose our pick-up location and destination, chose “Minnie Van” as the type of Lyft, and agreed to the $20 flat fee that the ride would cost. The app reminds you that Disney employees aren’t supposed to accept tips.

The Lyft app shows you where your driver is and gives you an ETA for when the driver will arrive. You’re also told the number of the van (it’s painted on the side of the van) and its license plate number.

Ready to try out a Minnie Van? It’s easy!

In three minutes, I got a text saying our van had arrived just as the driver pulled up. Our driver was super friendly and we were back at All Star Music in less time than it would have taken to walk to the bus stop, wait for said bus, and travel back. I had a receipt for the trip emailed to me. Lyft does allow you to add a tip to your trip, despite the tip reminder. We tipped in cash, so I can’t speak to what happens if you try that or if the driver receives it.

Here’s what you need to do before you try out Minnie Van service yourself:

  1. Download the Lyft app to your phone.
  2. Set up your Lyft profile including your payment method.
  3. Visit Bell Services at a participating resort (currently Boardwalk, Yacht & Beach, and Animal Kingdom Lodge, but it’s expanding quickly) to get Minnie Vans unlocked.
  4. Use and enjoy.

Are you tempted to use Minnie Vans instead of other Disney transportation or your own car? Do you have questions about how Minnie Vans work? Talk about it in the comments.

 

Laurel Stewart

Laurel has been visiting Walt Disney World since 1971 when she was negative-15 years old and running the Disney races since 2007. Her favorite attraction is Big Thunder Mountain.

33 thoughts on “We Took A Minnie Van And It Was Awesome

  • September 5, 2017 at 11:19 am
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    Great review. We just got back and took Minnie Vans twice; it was perfect for our breakfast at Chef Mickey’s. The only thing important to note is that, yes, each car is equipped with two car seats stowed in the trunk, but that made stroller storage difficult. We ended up folding ours and putting it on one of the captain’s chairs, but that also limited the number of people who could ride.

    • September 5, 2017 at 3:43 pm
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      Awesome to get more information on this new service, thanks! Good tip on the stroller, which leads to my question… I am curious about the car seat set-up: are they stored in the trunk until needed and installed at pick-up? This seems like it would add extra time to your trip. Do you indicate in the app that you would like to use them?

      • September 5, 2017 at 4:08 pm
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        Yes, there are two car seats stored in the trunk and are only brought out if needed. Cast members have been trained to install them and it added maybe three minutes. There’s nowhere in the app to note whether you need one or not, and both cast members we encountered seemed just fine with installing them upon arrival.

        • September 6, 2017 at 10:04 am
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          On regular Lyft, once the ride is booked, you can text or call your driver with a message (I like to text with my exact location and the color of my shirt or something significant to make pick up easier).

          I don’t know about the Minnie Vans, but I’m sure that the same functionality is there and you can text about the car seats.

          • September 11, 2017 at 2:13 am
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            In my experience, when I texted and called the driver, the driver did not answer the call or respond to the text. It probably has to do with Disney having a prohibition to avoid any distractions for the driver and not the cast member ignoring my call/text.

  • September 5, 2017 at 11:38 am
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    Good to know, thank you for the review! It does look easy to use. I may try out the Minnie Vans when I’m at the Boardwalk in March.

  • September 5, 2017 at 11:50 am
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    Just an FYI, Canadians can’t download Lyft!
    Any workarounds for this?

    • September 5, 2017 at 1:08 pm
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      Bummer! Switching between the US and CA versions of the iTunes and Google Play stores would be the only way. And that involves a lot of hassle and (I believe) would require a US credit card.

    • September 5, 2017 at 8:00 pm
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      That’s disappointing, but good to know. Hopefully that changes at some point!

      • September 6, 2017 at 8:41 am
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        just FYI you don’t need a US credit card for US I tunes. Were based in the UK and we have a US iTunes account. We don’t have any US credit/debit cards.

  • September 5, 2017 at 12:01 pm
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    We loved the Minnie Vans. We used them 4 times last week. The first ride was the best because there was some road construction so the driver didn’t get to us as fast as she wanted, maybe a couple of minutes late. To make things right, she pulled out a pad and gave us a paper Fast Pass to be used anywhere we wanted. We got an unexpected ride on the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train out of the deal.

  • September 5, 2017 at 12:19 pm
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    Do Minnie Vans pick up at theme parks as well as the above mentioned resorts? Or do they only drop off?

    • September 5, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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      Yes, they will pick up anywhere on property once you’ve enabled the app.

  • September 5, 2017 at 1:53 pm
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    We are going to Disney in November. There are 5 in our party, 3 adults and 2 children (16 & 11). Two of the adults use wheel chairs. They are the fold up kind. Is there a way you could let the service know you do not need the car seats so they could take them out before they picked you up so we would have room for the wheel chairs in the back?

    We are wanting to use this service on our first night there. Magic Kingdom closes early for a Christmas Party so we are wanting to leave there and go to Animal Kingdom to experience Pandora at night. Getting from Magic Kingdom to Animal Kingdom using Disney transportation could take an hour, at least! We are thinking the Minnie Van service will work perfect, but we are concerned about the wheel chairs.

    Thank you for any info!

  • September 5, 2017 at 2:08 pm
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    We would really like to do this on our trip later this month, but the rollout has been going much more slowly than I expected. I doubt we’ll be able to take one from Pop to our Boardwalk character breakfast. Any idea when the test phase is expected to end and all guests will be able to use them?

    • September 5, 2017 at 2:10 pm
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      Our driver didn’t know. It will probably take some time to get the number of drivers needed trained. The 25 they have now really isn’t a lot when you think of how big WDW is.

  • September 5, 2017 at 2:15 pm
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    I’m so jealous 🙂 We were at WDW the week of Aug 20, but didn’t get the opportunity to use the Minnie vans. We did take a Lyft from the Poly back to FQ after dinner at ‘Ohana, but it wasn’t rolled out there yet.

    Maybe the November trip will have more opportunities to use it.

  • September 5, 2017 at 3:30 pm
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    Does the app give you instructions on where you will be picked up? For example at the Magic Kingdom, I would assume they will tell you to go over the lagoon to the ticket & transport center. If they had a pickup spot by the buses at MK, I’d pay $20 every time to avoid standing in line for a bus for an hour at midnight!

    • September 5, 2017 at 4:06 pm
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      There is a specified location at each park. At MK for instance, it has a dedicated bus stop. Not sure about other parks.

    • September 11, 2017 at 2:18 am
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      According to my Minnie Van driver, here are the pick-up spots:
      1. MK – Bus Stop 11
      2. Epcot – Bus Depot/Taxi pick-up spot
      3. AK – just past the bus depot at the “corner of the cast member parking lot.”
      4. DHS – Bus Stop 28
      5. Disney Springs – flexible for drop off, but pick-up is the Strawberry lot (near La Nouba) or parking circle near Christmas Shop

  • September 5, 2017 at 3:59 pm
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    Based on Lyft’s website, the same ride you took would have cost $7-11 in a 4-seat Lyft, or $10-18 in a 6-seat Lyft. If you have no need of the child seats, what makes the Minnie Van service worth more than a regular Lyft?

    • September 5, 2017 at 5:17 pm
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      Minnie Vans can drop off closer to the parks where regular Lyft wouldn’t have access.

      • September 6, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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        This only applies to MK. All other parks have convenient drop-offs for all taxi and car sharing services.

  • September 5, 2017 at 6:21 pm
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    The drop off location for Magic Kingdom is the same as the buses, correct? I want to use t for an early morning breakfast reservation and not have to worry about a bus or monorail to get to the park gates.

  • September 5, 2017 at 6:46 pm
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    What types of carseats are in the trunks? Baby carseat? Convertible carseat for toddlers/preschoolers? Booster for older kids? Thanks!

  • September 5, 2017 at 9:04 pm
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    On my last trip in late January, my husband and I almost exclusively used Lyft, and ended up with some amazing drivers. We even ended up with a retired Imagineer who did it for “fun money!” We had no issues with getting them to drop us off closer to our building at Port Orleans French Quarter. So if you don’t need a car seat, regular old Lyft works fantastic (and is probably cheaper, to boot).

    Also, if you have to decide between Lyft and Uber, I always pick Lyft. They’re backed by a better executive structure, and treat their drivers less like cogs in the machine and more like individual humans (who deserve to make decent pay for their work).

  • September 6, 2017 at 1:41 am
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    Well, this would be a step up from traditional ride services, as long as Disney really is vetting drivers.

    Last year, we took an Uber from Boardwalk to Pop Century late at night but our Uber got mixed up with another that was taking a cast member to Epcot. We were already well on our way when it was all figured out. The difference wasn’t much so everyone agreed to just proceed to the destinations in the cars we were already in. However, our Uber driver didn’t know Disney at all, didn’t know what Pop Century was, didn’t know English well, and didn’t know how to use his GPS properly. After he drove miles out of Disney World on the highway, we had to advise him that we were clearly headed the wrong way. After much frustration, he just dropped us off at Epcot.

    So, at 2am, my husband and I are standing alone in a giant and empty parking lot somewhere in front of Epcot. We walked to the gates, but failed to get anybody’s attention. We tried ordering another Uber but they all had trouble locating us in the maze of parking lots and with no help from us as we didn’t know how to get to where we were. After 45 minutes, a driver finally found us on the third attempt, cheered us up with jokes, and drove us back to Pop.

    So, yeah, bring on the Minnie van.

    • September 6, 2017 at 6:50 am
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      Or just take the free Disney bus and be done with it. 🙂

  • September 7, 2017 at 8:26 am
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    I’m really happy to see you can take them even if you’re not staying at those hotels (and hoping they’ll expand the service to the rest of WDW.)
    We’ll have dinner at Boma next December and I was counting on the Minnie Vans to get back to ASMusic.
    Thanks for the update!

  • September 8, 2017 at 5:49 pm
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    Do you have to be staying at a WDW resort to use this service or could I, for example, travel from Epcot to animal kingdom in one even if I were staying in a villa off site?

  • September 14, 2017 at 9:09 pm
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    Does anyone now how late the Minnie Vans run? We’ll be down in late October, and we’re thinking of a situation where we would go to Jelly Rolls on the boardwalk, and maybe stay there until midnight, and indulge in a few drinks (which is why I wouldn’t want to drive that night). Do the Disney run Minnie Vans run that late? I know I could do a non-Disney/regular Lyft or Uber, but for not too much difference in cost I’d trust the Disney Minnie Vans more.

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