If you've ever been stuck in a bus line after exiting one of the parks…
Transportation in Walt Disney World has now changed with the reopening of the parks and there is a bunch of new information you need to know. Whether you’re planning on taking the Monorail, Disney Skyliner, Buses, or Boats, there are a lot of changes the next time you ride on one of them.
In this post, we’ll bring you up to speed on all the different Disney World transportation methods and what you need to know before you go. We’ll let you know the opening dates for each transportation method, the latest news, and the best way to get from your hotel to each of the parks.
We’ll also let you know how transportation wait times have changed and if any of them are a better choice given the current health situation.
(NEWS 1/2/21) – Disney has announced that the EPCOT Monorail line will NOT be reopening on January 1, 2021, when Park-hopping returns to Walt Disney World. Find out all the details in the “News” section of this post.
What we want to point out is that patience is going to be required on your next trip to Walt Disney World. If you go at all during the phased reopening, it’s going to be a much different experience than you are used to in Disney World. With new safety measures, it’s going to take some time do get used to the changes.
We also want to warn you that things are bound to change between now and the coming months, and guests need to adapt to whatever new rules Disney decides to implement in the various transportation systems across property. Even since July, we’ve had a bunch of transportation changes already.
We hope that we will be able to answer any questions you have and let us know if we leave something out. Thankfully there aren’t that many changes to transportation as there are with the parks, hotels and restaurants.
Before we get started, here are some other recent posts that will help you with all your planning needs for the Disney World reopening period:
- Disney World Reopening Complete Guide
- How to Make Guest Park Reservations
- Disney World Dining – Know Before You Go
- Disney World Hotels – Know Before You Go
Also, for more updates about Disney World transportation and other reopening info, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter
(NEWS 12/30/20): EPCOT Monorail to Remain Closed When Park Hopping Returns in January 2021
Disney has announced that the EPCOT Monorail line will remain closed even as Park Hopping returns to Walt Disney World on January 1, 2021.
Since the Disney World theme parks reopened in July 2020, there has been no transportation options going from one park to another. That’s because the Park Hopper option was suspended in 2020.
Many were hopeful that since Disney announced Park-to-Park transportation was coming back in January, that would include the monorail line going to EPCOT, however that is not the case.
However, since Disney announced Park Hoppers are coming back and guests can now go to multiple parks per day, transportation is needed to bring them to their next destination.
Disney World Park-to-Park transportation will be available starting January 1, 2021. Since park hopping starts at 2:00 pm each day, transportation between parks will begin running 30 minutes before that.
Without the Monorail connecting the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, the Bus system, Skyliner, and boats are the available transportation methods to take guests between parks.
Disney also announced that Cast Members will be verifying valid theme park admission prior to boarding guests on buses for park-to-park transportation.
We’ll have more news about these transportation changes as soon as they are announced. Stay tuned for more soon.
(NEWS 10/2/20): Minnie Vans Discontinued at Disney World (RUMOR)
Right now it seems that the Disney World Minnie Van Service at Walt Disney World has been discontinued and will not return.
As you are probably aware, 28,000 cast members were let go this week, including thousands in Walt Disney World. According to reports from inside Disney, some of those include Minnie Van cast members, putting a nail in one of Disney’s most recent transportation services.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to use since the transportation service never fully caught on like the others.
Minnie Vans work like other ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft and of course, guests have to pay for rides. Originally they were well-received by guests, but price increases and low availability have made them less attractive, thereby ruining their profitability.
Right now this is still just a rumor, but with now all the cast members in that department being let go, it sure doesn’t look like Minnie Vans are coming back anytime soon and maybe never.
We’ll wait for an official announcement from Disney.
Which Disney World Transportation is Open?
Disney World transportation started operating on June 22, 2020, with the bus service currently running for Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests only. Disney is reopening the other transportation methods in phases.
For a while, it was unknown which transportation options would be open for guests. Even though not all the methods are available right away, we are pleasantly surprised that the majority of them are now running again.
Here is a list of reopening dates for Disney World transportation:
- Buses (Now Open)
- Monorail (Now Open)
- Magic Kingdom Ferry Boats (Now Open)
- Disney Skyliner (Now Open)
- Friendship Boats (Now Open)
- Minnie Vans (Closed TBD)
Disney World buses are now running to take guests to the Disney Parks and Disney Springs. Other transportation methods like the Monorail and Ferry boats are running to the Magic Kingdom.
The Disney Skyliner is also operational bringing guests back and forth to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, EPCOT and the hotels on the Skyliner route.
The Friendship Boats that bring guests to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios from the Crescent Lake Resorts reopened on November 1, 2020.
What to Know
While there are definitely many changes to Disney World transportation, here are the most important things to know.
Safety Guidelines – Guest Safety is a huge priority with Walt Disney World transportation reopening, and there are some new guidelines that have been put in place you need to know about:
- Guests will need to practice physical distancing while riding transportation vehicles.
- Increased cleaning and sanitization to vehicles.
- Face Masks must be worn while riding transportation. (See our Face Masks at Disney World post for more info).
- Some seats are blocked off.
- Some transportation like the monorails have partitions set up between cars.
Lower Capacity – If you’ve been on Disney transportation before then you know you are usually crammed in as tight as can be. That has now changed and one big priority is reducing the number of guests allowed per transportation vehicle.
The vehicles have markers letting you know where you should be standing or sitting and most guests will be separated by each traveling party.
Potentially Longer Waits – Because they are putting fewer guests in each transportation vehicle, you can also expect to have longer waits to get to your destination. Expect each vehicle to hold around 30% of its normal capacity, and Disney is not running the same amount of vehicles as before.
All of this means you will probably end up spending a bit more time at the bus station than usual.
Now, let’s break down all the info you need to know about each transportation method including the buses, monorail, Disney Skyliner, boats and more.
Right now The Walt Disney World Bus system is running for Walt Disney World Resort guests back and forth to the 4 Disney World theme parks and Disney Springs.
Because of distancing, the buses are running on reduced capacity and guests are not allowed to stand.
Before the safety modifications, Disney World buses had a maximum capacity of around 130 guests per bus. That number is significantly lower and most likely around 1/3 of that tops.
Our experience on the buses has been good so far, even with all the changes. The seats on the buses are easily marked letting you know where you can and can not sit. There are plastic barriers separating travel groups and even numbered zones to keep guests distanced even more.
With fewer buses running and less capacity on each one, wait times have been affected. This is especially apparent in the morning when everyone is rushing to the parks. We’ve had to wait for 2 or 3 buses to come at times because of the lowered capacity.
We recommend arriving at the bus stop at least 1 hour before park opening if you want to be one of the first guests in the park that day. Doing that should get you on the first bus to come that morning.
Skip the morning rush altogether if you aren’t concerned about doing tons of rides as after an hour or two from the park’s opening, the bus crowds really die down.
Right now, the bus service is not running to EPCOT or Hollywood Studios if you are staying at one the Disney Skyliner hotels. This includes the Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club, Riviera Resort, or Pop Century, Disney’s Caribbean Beach and Art of Animation.
If you remember, bus service from Skyliner hotels was already reduced before the closure period and for the time being, it looks like the Skyliner or walking are the only options.
Right now, both the Express Monorail Line and the Resort Monorail lines are running on the Magic Kingdom loop. This provides easy access to the park and Ticket and Transportation Center from the Contemporary and Grand Floridian Resorts.
The refurbishment has gotten underway at Disney’s Polynesian Resort which means the monorail is not stopping there until July 2021.
At this time the EPCOT monorail line is NOT running and Disney has not yet announced when it will start up again. Guests staying on the monorail loop will need to take the bus system to get to EPCOT.
Just like the buses, fewer monorails are running at a time, and monorail cars hold many fewer guests than before. Disney has installed partition dividers between compartments, though the material is vinyl and pretty flimsy. There is also a wide gap between the barrier and the bench, not exactly germ-free.
Monorail compartments divided to one group per bench, but you still have other guests with you sitting across from you.
Wait times are similar to the buses in that they are much longer in the early morning before the parks open. Expect the monorails to start picking up guests about 30-45 minutes before park opening.
We did however run into the same problem where if you aren’t in the first group of guests, you might have to wait for 2 or 3 monorails to come before one has room. This is especially true if you are getting on at the Grand Floridian or Polynesian and will get worse as Disney increases park capacity.
It’s important to note that starting October 2020, the monorail will not be stopping at Disney’s Polynesian Resort due to construction going on there. If you are staying there be aware the monorail will not be in use for some time.
Boat service has been running since July 7, however, not all boats and ferries are currently running.
Distancing from other guests is required on the boats. Some benches are restricted for use and ground markers will tell you where to stand if you aren’t seated.
Boat Service to the Magic Kingdom – So far, boats from Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian Village are running with service to the Magic Kingdom Park.
If you are staying at the Grand Floridian Villas and want to go to the Magic Kingdom, you can either take a boat from there or take the monorail.
Since being finished, the walkway between the Grand Floridian Resort and the Magic Kingdom is nowthe easiest and quickest way to get there.
Resort to Resort ferries are also not operating since there isn’t really a need considering Disney isn’t allowing guests to visit resorts other than where you have a reservation.
Friendship Boats – The Friendship Boats which operate between Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn and Swan & Dolphin were supposed to begin operating for service to EPCOT or Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 29.
The Friendship boats reopened on November 1, 2020 and are now operational.
If you are going to Hollywood Studios, you also have the option to walk or take the Skyliner instead.
Sassagoula River Cruise – This is the ferry that takes guests from Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter to Disney Springs. There is no reason to take this boat as both hotels are currently closed and without a reopening date.
Our favorite Disney World transportation, the Disney Skyliner, is running and brings guests back and forth from the Skyliner Route Resorts to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. All three Skyliner lines are operating and the Skyliner is making stops at every station along the routes.
Operating times are different depending on your destination, so make sure to read the posted signs at the Disney Skyliner stations outside your resort.
Disney is limiting ONE traveling group per Skyliner gondola, and gondolas are cleaned at least once daily. These changes haven’t affected wait times very much. It was already a very efficient system and the number of guests using it hasn’t risen much since there is no park hopping for now.
This is the form of transportation that has changed the least in Walt Disney World from normal operations, and besides others not getting in with you, it’s basically the same.
For a more detailed look at Disney’s newest transportation system, read our Guide to the Disney Skyliner Gondolas.
Minnie Vans/Ride Sharing
Disney’s Minnie Van service is not currently operating in Disney World. Disney has not commented on an opening date yet, saying just that Minnie Vans will return at a future date.
This makes sense as demand for Minnie Vans will probably be lower with fewer out-of-town visitors and it’s a lot harder to enforce distancing inside a Minnie Van. It seems like the smart choice to keep the service closed for the time being.
Ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft are running, and are an even better option for guests now than before if you are concerned about travel time.
If you are trying to get to the parks before opening, we suggest avoiding the monorail or and using a ride-sharing service. This will save you a ton of time and get you there without having to wait in line for transportation.
Disney’s Magical Express shuttle service is now open. Getting to Walt Disney World from the airport is still be possible on Disney’s Magical Express for resort guests.
Wait times might be slightly longer due to reduced capacity on each bus, but the service works mostly the same way as it did before the closure.
- One big change is that luggage delivery service is not provided for those arriving to and departing from Orlando International Airport. Guests can use the Magical Express to bring checked-in bags to their hotel, but guests will be required to pick up and drop off their own luggage from the airline baggage claim.
- The Airline Check-In service is also not available form your Walt Disney World Resort hotel at this time. That means your wait time at the airport could be longer than normal.
REMINDER: Disney’s Magical Express transportation will be discontinued starting January 1, 2022. That means guests will need to find another form of transportation back and forth from the Orlando International Airport to Disney World.
This isn’t a public transportation provided by Disney, but traveling by car to the parks is still a viable option since reopening.
Traffic at the toll plaza for the parks is heavy in the early morning so either get there 30-45 minutes before opening or come a bit later when the majority of cars have already parked.
You also need to be prepared to walk from your car because trams are NOT currently bringing guests from the parking lot to the park entrances. Thankfully the lots are more empty than usual meaning you have a shorter walk.
You can however drop off members of your party at the guest drop-off/pick-up locations.
Depending on which Disney World Resort Hotel you are staying at, walking to the theme parks might be an option for you.
Magic Kingdom – If you are staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the quickest way to get to the Magic Kingdom is by walking. There is a temperature screening tent along the path, but it’s significantly faster than the monorail right now.
The walkway between the Grand Floridian and the Magic Kingdom is complete, and now you can walk to the park from the Polynesian or Grand Floridian Resorts.
EPCOT & Hollywood Studios – We love staying at the Crescent Lake Resorts for the easy access to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn and Swan and Dolphin all are within walking distance of both parks and are the safest ways to get there.
Temperature Screening on Disney Transportation
Temperature screening is currently required on the following methods of Disney World transportation:
- Boats/Ferries (from Ticket and Transportation Center)
All guests arriving at the Ticket and Transportation Center are required to go through temperature screening before proceeding to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. This means all guests taking the ferry or the monorail will need to get their temperature checked first.
Also, guests getting on the Disney World Monorail system from any of The Walt Disney World Resort Hotels (Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand Florida) also have to go through temperature screening before boarding a monorail car.
Temperature screenings are not required leaving the Magic Kingdom on the way back, nor is it required to ride the Disney World Bus system.
Which Disney Transportation is the Safest?
I don’t know if there is an easy answer to this, and it’s not something that we feel qualified to answer correctly considering we aren’t in the medical field.
We will say Disney has been working extremely hard to make the entire Disney World experience as safe as can be, including transportation. From what we’ve seen so far, all the transportation vehicles are being sanitized much more than usual.
If you haven’t yet, we suggest reading our post on All the New Safety Measures and Guidelines at Disney World which breaks down exactly what has been implemented.
As far as the safest transportation method to take at this time, your best options are taking a car or walking to the parks.
If we are talking about Disney World public transportation, we would say that anything that carries passengers in the open-air is always going to be a safer bet. That means that taking a ferry boat to the Magic Kingdom for example is probably a better idea than the monorail.
Our best advice to give if you are concerned about limiting exposure to germs is to walk to the parks whenever possible. That might be an added incentive to stay at one of the Crescent Lake hotels like the Yacht and Beach Club or Boardwalk Inn to be near EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, or at one of the Seven Seas Lagoon hotels for the Magic Kingdom like the Contemporary Resort. You’ll also be able to walk to the Magic Kingdom from the Grand Floridian very soon!
I think you’ll realize that Walt Disney World is still safe to visit and they’ve done an excellent job with the health modifications to the transportation systems.
Which Transportation System is the Fastest Now?
Of course, transportation wait times have changed dramatically since the parks reopened. Distancing, new safety measures and reduced operating schedules will all have an impact on wait times, which we’re guessing will be longer.
Our first tip is to avoid the buses when possible since they are always the slowest and most unreliable form of transportation in Walt Disney World. This of course depends on where you are staying though and how many other guests are in that hotel.
We have also noticed much higher wait times for Disney transportation before park openings each morning. If you plan on being at one of the parks before they open, allow for at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours of travel time to get there.
Since each vehicle is taking fewer guests, we’ve sometimes had to wait for 2 or 3 buses on the way to the parks in the morning.
To avoid transportation delays in Disney World right now, we suggest leaving a bit later and avoiding the initial rush at park opening. As long as you aren’t planning on riding Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios this is a viable option for you.
How Long Will These Changes Last?
Unfortunately, these changes to The Walt Disney World Transportation systems are going to be in place for a while. It’s a pain, but if you want to visit Walt Disney World right now you’re going to have to get used to and follow the new rules.
Expect things to be different throughout the entire reopening period and beyond. How long is that going to last? Your guess is as good as mine. Not even Disney knows the answer to that question and the situation is constantly changing. Things will remain in place as long as is necessary to keep guests safe while visiting.
Expect these changes to stay in place throughout the rest of 2020 and into 2021. We suggest you read our post on “Should I Visit Disney World in 2020 or 2021?” to get a better idea of what to expect over the next couple of years.
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Yes, it is. Right now the Disney World Bus system, monorail, Disney Skyliner, and ferry boats are all operating.
Capacity for each transportation system is lower than normal meaning fewer guests in each vehicle. Expect to find distancing guidelines onboard and travel parties could be separated from other groups.
If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World, don’t forget to check out our Disney Crowd Calendars which will help you decide the least-crowded time to visit.
I want to know what you think about Disney World Transportation during the reopening phase…
- What has been your experience after the reopening?
- What suggestions do you have?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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