While some guests fly to Walt Disney World, others drive or even rent a car. This brings up the question of if you happen to have a car while on vacation, should you use Disney's free transportation system or rely upon yourself?
We have been faced with the same question several times during past Disney trips! So what did we do?
Even when we had our own car, we still prefered to take advantage of Disney's bus or Monorail system for a number of reasons. First of all, it's nice to take a seat on the bus or Monorail, relax, and let Disney do the driving! You have to admit, being carefree is pretty magical; and you don't have to concern yourself with traffic and directions.
Secondly, we prefer to take the bus and Monorail so we don't have to be concerned with parking, walking the long way to the gate, or taking the tram. The Monorail and bus system drops us off close to the entrance which makes the transportation process much easier.
However, there are some instances when we do prefer taking our own car, and you might too!
For instance, if you have babies, toddlers, and or young children, you may find it easier to not have to share close quarters with strangers. At certain times of year, and during certain times of day, Disney's transportation system can get very crowded and may be even standing room only; and if you have little ones, this can be a problem!
Another instance where we prefer to take our own car is when visiting Disney's Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach! You see, the bus route to Typhoon Lagoon also includes two stops at Downtown Disney; and the route to Blizzard Beach also stops at Animal Kingdom. Plus, if your resort bus route includes more than one stop, as many do, you're looking at several stops for one trip which can eat up a lot of time!
We also like taking our own car when it comes to water park visits because it's no fun to be wet on a Disney bus! Almost all of the buses have the air conditioning at full blast, which is great when you're hot and tired; but not so much when you're damp from several hours of water fun.
So do you agree? Do you prefer to drive when at WDW or take advantage of the free transportation? Share with us!
When planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, probably one of the last things on your mind is your resort bus stop. However, you will find that you and your family will spend a lot of time at these spots waiting for your park bus.
Just as each Disney Resort is different, each of their bus stops is different too. So today, we are discussing (in our experience) the best bus stops at WDW!
First of all, we have noticed that Disney World Resorts bus stops match the resort category it belongs to. For example, the bus stops at All-Star Movies are not nearly as good the bus stop at the Grand Floridian.
For example, most Deluxe Resorts feature covered bus stops with plenty of seating and sometimes offer soda machines, fans, and even a TV. In the picture to the right, you can see a bus stop at Animal Kingdom Lodge's Kidani Village which is entirely covered and has turrets containing televisions for guests to enjoy while they wait.
Moderate Resorts are a step down from deluxes. They are covered and offer seating, but have few extras. There is also usually more than one bus stop at moderate resorts.
Lastly, Value Resorts typically feature the worst bus stops. They are usually located at the front of the lobby, but are not covered leaving guests to stand in the sun. There are a few benches and covered areas nearby, but they are not in the actual line where guests wait to board. Fortunately, Disney's newest Value Resort, the Art of Animation, has addressed this downside with a covering over the bus stops so guests are standing in the sun and rain.
Although, sometimes even deluxe bus stops can have a few negative points. For example, the buses which stop at the Grand Floridian bus stop also have to stop at the Polynesian and the Contemporary. This means that you may have several stops to make on your way to your destination, and possibly several stops on the way back.
As I already mentioned, some Moderate Resorts also have this issue. This is because the grounds of many moderate resorts are spread out and feature several bus stops for the convenience of guests who may be located far from the lobby's primary bus stop. However, this may mean that you will have to stop by several bus stops on the way to yours.
This is also the case at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, as there are numerous bus stops scattered throughout the campground meaning numerous stops and some confusion.
So after experiencing a variety of different resort bus stops for ourselves, and taking into consideration the pros and cons, we are here to provide you with a list of what we think to be the best resort bus stops!
5. Port Orleans Riverside-While this resort has several bus stops, we are featuring its main bus stop located down from the gift shop. This bus stop is large and covered and very close to the shop and lobby. It's also very picturesque and captures the charm of the resort!
4. Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House-This bus stop is spacious, totally covered, and can be reached by a covered walkway leading from the resort lobby. It's also very close to Zwadi Marketplace, the gift shop.
3. Wilderness Lodge-This resort bus stop is small, but shady, and isn't far from the lobby or the DVC Villas. The walkway to the bus stop is also completely covered and spacious, keeping you comfortable as you head to the stop and when you wait.
2. Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village-As we have already stated, this bus stop has plenty of shade, seating, and spacious turrets containing additional shade and televisions. This bus stop does make a stop at Jambo House as it leaves; but this means that Kidani Village guests get the first pick of seats. It is also the first stop on arrival!
1. Grand Floridian-This resort's bus stop is a gorgeous white with lots of seating, a fan, and television for guests to enjoy while they wait. It is smaller than many bus stops; but this is because the monorail provides transportation to both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
Which resort bus stop do you think is the best? Let us know!
Since Disney World is so massive, and so popular, getting from one place to another and dealing with crowds can be a chore! So to help you navigate WDW more quickly, we have put together a list of our favorite shortcuts!
1. Friendship Boats-Waiting for buses and switching buses at the Transportation and Ticket Center can take up a lot of time and energy. Therefore, if you are park hopping between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, take a friendship boat! To the right of the Hollywood Studios entrance, and at the International Gateway at Epcot, there are boat docks where small ferry boats transport you back and forth between the two parks while stopping at a few Disney resorts in between. It's a relaxing way to get from one place to another without trekking through the parks to wait for another bus!
2. International Gateway-As previously mentioned, the International Gateway is a small park entrance/exit located between the France and United Kingdom pavilions at Epcot. If you are exiting through the gateway, the path takes you straight to the Yacht and Beach Club, the Boardwalk, Swan and Dolphin, and eventually, Hollywood Studios. We prefer to use this gateway as an entrance if we have been visiting these resorts because they is rarely ever a crowd and it takes us directly to the World Showcase! Tip: Do be aware that World Showcase opens later than the rest of Epcot, so you should take the main entrance if you want to get in to Epcot early. Also you don't have to be a resort guest to use this entry/exit.
3. Stores-Trying to avoid the bottleneck streets at the parks? Cut through the stores! Most of the stores connect to one another and this is especially helpful during the morning rush or when everyone is leaving the parks at night.
4. Left Lines-While this isn't always true, guests tend to naturally go to the right when there are two lines for an attraction. So to save time and beat the crowds, take the left line!
5. Sit Near Show Exits-When taking in one of Disney World's many entertaining shows, try to sit near the exit if you can. Then, once the show is over, you can slip out quickly without struggling through the crowds!
6. Frontierland Bridge-Running along the banks of the River of America in the Magic Kingdom's Frontierland is a wooden bridge or boardwalk which you can use. It also offers great views of Tom Sawyer's Island! The main street in Frontierland is often crowded, so to save time and avoid crowds, take advantage of this walkway!
7. Monorail-Planning to resort hop? Take the Monorail! WDW's monorail system tends to get from one place to another much faster than a bus.
8. Magic of Disney Animation-Want to check out the Animation Academy art class, get a pic with some characters, or check out the interactive stations at the Magic of Disney Animation without sitting through the Mushu movie? You can! Head into the Art of Disney store next to this attraction and you will see automatic doors in the back. This is an exit for those leaving the Magic of Disney Animation, but you can go in this way too to enjoy what's inside without sitting through the film!
9. Outside Paths-Heading to Epcot's World Showcase? Don't follow the main path towards the lake, take the paths closest to the far edges of Future World. They take you straight to the pavilions and tend to be a little less congested.
If you have ever stayed on property at Walt Disney World, you know that you will spend quite a bit of time on a Disney Bus during your vacation. Disney Buses are complimentary transportation that take guests to and from the resorts, parks, water parks, Downtown Disney, and more! While they definitely beat any city bus, guests on a Disney Bus still have to deal with crowds, long distances, traffic, fatigue, kids, baggage, and etc.
Therefore, for today's post, we are offering a few tips and reminders for when you find yourself aboard one of Disney's buses!
Interior of a Disney Bus
1. Time Constraints: Even though you are at Walt Disney World, pixie dust doesn't make traffic disappear or alters bus routes. Many Disney Buses pick up and drop off at more than one stop. This is especially true of resorts with more than one bus stop or those whose resorts sit next door to another resort. Also, it takes time to get from end of Walt Disney World to the other,especially when there are other modes of transportation trying to get to the same place.
Buses usually arrive at a stop every 20 minutes; however, this does vary, as does the time it takes you to get to another park. Therefore, if you are trying to make rope drop, a reservation, or the last showing of Wishes for the night, arrive at your bus stop early and allot for 45 minutes at a minimum for travel time.
2. Strollers: Face it. Walt Disney World is geared towards families; and when you visit, you will walk A LOT. Therefore, strollers are a frequent, and somewhat necessary, presence on a Disney vacation. For those of you using strollers, bus drivers prefer that you fold strollers before entering. The aisles of the Disney buses are narrow and the steps are steep, which make navigating strollers containing tired kids very difficult and lowers your popularity with the other passengers. Try to do this ahead of time, such as when you first arrive at a bus stop. If you're still in the process of doing so, don't be concerned. If the bus driver sees you, he will wait!
3. Mind Your Manners: Be courteous to seniors and those with small children when on a Disney bus. If you think that your feet ache after a long day of trekking across Epcot, imagine how they feel! Spread some Disney magic of your own and offer your seat to them. You may be tired, but you will feel good on the inside!
4. Lighten Your Load: It's difficult to know what you need for a day at the parks; and because of that, it's difficult to pack light. However, we still recommend that you try! Pack the essentials; but anything you're in doubt about, leave it at your resort. After an hour or two of lugging that heavy bag, you will wish you had! Plus, this makes bus hopping a much smoother ordeal when you don't have to haul your stuff off and on.
If you do some souvenir shopping during your day, keep your load light by shipping your purchases to your Disney resort room! It's a complimentary service for Disney resort guests and saves yourself the hassle of hauling your treasures on crowded buses.
5. Pick the Second Bus: During peak season or after a fireworks display, bus stops can get VERY congested. It's not unusual for buses to reach capacity and move on with guests still waiting. Disney is usually pretty good about bringing a second bus to a crowded bus stop before the first bus can leave. Here's a tip: Instead of hopping on the first bus, let others go ahead of you or choose the second bus. Most likely, you will have a better shot at a seat or a less crowded ride on the second than the first!
6. Lifts: Every Disney bus is wheel chair accessible. For those of you who are not disabled, be kind, courteous, and patient to those as they board. Don't ruin someone's magical day acting like a Disney villain! Also be aware that the lifts are for those using a scooter as well.
7. Distance: Unless you are staying a Magic Kingdom Deluxe Resort, travel time to the Magic Kingdom on a bus is typically longer than in comparison to other parks. Also, Animal Kingdom buses also seem to take a bit longer than most; and they pick up and drop off guests at Blizzard Beach. Downtown Disney buses also take guests to and from Typhoon Lagoon. Be aware ot this facts when trying to make a deadline!
8. Choices: When choosing between Disney's bus transportation and the monorail, we recommend choosing the monorail for quicker trip and a shorter wait!
9. Bus Drivers: Be kind and courteous and friendly with your bus driver. Some strive to spread a little extra magic; and some may need some themselves! Be a Fairy Godmother and transform someone's day who works hard to get you to the magic!
10. Bus Activities: If you have little ones, it may be wise to bring something with you to keep them occupied when on a bus or waiting at a bus stop. You can also encourage them to get in a few winks during the ride, as Disney can be exhausting, and you might want to take that advice too if you still have a full day ahead!
11. Standing Room Only: If buses are crowded, and there are no more seats, you may have to stand up. There are bars and straps to hold on to; but some children may find these out of their reach and the bus ride can get a little rocky. We recommend having your kids sit down on the floor if they can; and as for you adults, be prepared to fight to keep your balance!
12. Pay Attention: At the Disney Resorts, there are usually marked areas for what park or place you want to visit and where that bus will stop. Be sure to pay attention to where you are so you don't miss the bus you want. Also, there is a digital board above the windshield and on the side window of each bus that state their destinations. Pay attention to these as well, instead of asking the driver. What's on the sign is where he's going.
Disney's Magical Express is a free service that provides luggage care and transportation from Orlando International Airport to your Disney Resort! This service also extends to guests leaving the resort and flying back home.
We always fly into Disney and have used this service many times. For the most part, we have always been pleased. It's definitely convenient and you gotta enjoy something that's free; however, we do acknowledge that there are some downsides. But first, here's how it works...
If you want to use Magical Express, Disney sends your Magical Express information via mail, along with instructions (hang on to all this info). Then, once you land in Orlando, you get to be carefree while Disney deals with getting your luggage and transporting it to your room. Meanwhile, all you have to do is check in at the Magical Express counter at the airport and wait for your Magical Epxress bus to take you to your resort.
The buses are very comfortable, much better than those stiff, airplane seats, and there's tv screens hanging overhead. A few minutes into your bus ride, your friendly bus driver will play a video starring costumed Disney characters that explains the check-in process at your resort, as well as familiarizes you with the parks and some of Disney World's top attractions! It's informational for first-time adults and the kids enjoy the characters!
Be sure to be aware of where you are though, as you don't want to miss driving under the Disney World sign! Overall, the trip from the airport to Disney World takes around 40 to 45 minutes.
A day before you're a scheduled to fly home, Magical Express will leave the information you need at your Disney resort door. This information includes the time that your Magical Express bus will pick you up at your resort to take you back to the airport. The bus time is usually scheduled several hours before your flight, so you may be walking around the terminal for awhile, but it's important not to miss this bus! I think the extra time is a precaution due to security and such these days; and hey, it's better to have more time than no time.
While this is a great service, there a few downsides too. First of all, once you exit your plane and make your way to check in at the Magical Express counter, you will discover that it's usually very crowded. Therefore, you may have to wait awhile. Then, after you have checked in, you may have to wait in line for your resort bus.
Secondly, sometimes Magical Express buses go to multiple locations. Therefore, you may have to wait again if your resort is last on your list. Note: If you are ushered aboard a Disney Cruise Line Bus or a bus that does not say Magical Express after checking in at the counter, don't be alarmed. This bus is just an extra recruited to do Magical Express work, even if it says something different on the side. If you are still unsure, ask your driver.
Thirdly, your luggage probably won't be delivered to your room until sometime later in the day. While you are free to head out into the parks once you've checked in at your resort, this can be disappointing if you're wanting to change or need an item out of your suitcase. Therefore, we recommend packing a change of clothes and other necessities in your carry-on so that you won't miss your suitcase if it arrives after you.
Finally, as I have already stated, you have a scheduled Magical Express bus that will take you back to the airport, so you do have a deadline to meet on the day you leave. Also, this bus usually drops you off at the airport quite awhile before your plane leaves so you will have spare time at the terminal.
Despite a few negative points, this is really a great service overall and one we recommend. It's nice to know that once you get off your plane all you have to concern yourself with is getting aboard a comfy bus to head to the magic.
Have you ever used Magical Express? What do you think about it?