How to Get Around Disney World Without a Car

One of the first questions I had when planning our Disney World vacation was whether we needed a car to get around Disney World. We ended up not having a car for Disney after reading about the different transportation options. Now that I’ve returned from our one week Disney World vacation, I can show you how you can get around Disney World without a car.

Disney makes it pretty convenient for visitors to get around using Disney’s own free transportation system, which include:

  • Buses
  • Monorail
  • Skyliner
  • Boats

Disney World also offers a private (paid) option called Minnie Van, which is operated by Lyft and driven by a cast member in a painted car/ van.

In this blog I will go through what each of these transportation is, how they work, and where they can take you!

Can you use the Disney World transportation system if you are not staying at a Disney World resort?

This may or may not be one of the most popular questions when planning a Disney World trip (and deciding where to stay).

In short, everyone can ride the Disney World transportations for free (and for fun), but Disney World transports only go to Disney World resorts.

What I mean by this is that if you are not staying at a Disney World resort, there is no Disney bus that will take you from your hotel to the theme parks or Disney Springs.

BUT if you want to go from Magic Kingdom to the Polynesian (a Disney World resort hotel) to eat lunch and come back, you can take the Disney World monorail for free. Nobody will check if you are actually staying at Polynesia (or any other Disney World resorts for that matter), so you can just get on.

Therefore, if you are not staying at a Disney World resort, you should check with your hotel to see if they offer theme park shuttle services. Based on my research, some hotels offer a paid shuttle service, some don’t. In that case, you probably need a car to get around Disney World (or rely on Uber and Lyft).

Where does the Disney World Monorail go?

The Monorail mostly transports people between Magic Kingdom and the 3 “monorail resorts”. But here are all the stops on the Disney World monorails:

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Polynesian Village Resort
  • Grand Floridian
  • Contemporary Resort
  • Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) <— where you park your car for Magic Kingdom & access to EPCOT
  • EPCOT <— Monorail only goes between TTC and EPCOT

The monorail is free to use, and you can get on at stations listed above. You will have to go through a bag check when you board the monorail from each of the 3 hotels listed above. Note that if you are carrying a glasses case, you might get flagged and they will go through your bag diligently.

There are over 10 different monorail colors, and the monorail you board will be named after the color, like “Monorail blue” or “monorail yellow”.

Disney World Monorail Hours of Operations: 30 minutes before Magic Kingdom opens to 1 hour after it closes. It also opens 30 minutes before EPCOT opens and 2 hours after EPCOT closes.

We didn’t stay at the 3 monorail resorts (they are also quite expensive as they are all in the “deluxe resort” category). We simply wanted to check out each of the monorail resorts so we hopped on the monorail and went to all 3 resorts to check them out!

If you are going from Magic Kingdom to either of the 3 resorts of TTC, be aware that there is an express monorail line just outside of Magic Kingdom that goes to TTC. We mistakenly took that and didn’t realize that the monorail was going straight from Magic Kingdom to TTC and not directly to the resorts. So at TTC we had to switch to a different monorail line to take us to Contemporary Resort.

For the EPCOT Monorail, it only goes to TTC. If you want to get to Magic Kingdom or any of the 3 monorail resorts from EPCOT, you will need to go to TTC first, then transfer to a different monorail line to reach Magic Kingdom and the 3 monorail resorts.

In addition, if you reach EPCOT by the Skyliner, you need to walk through EPCOT in order to get to the monorail. This means you need a valid EPCOT ticket if you want to switch from the Skyliner to the Monorail there.

Where does the Disney Skyliner Go?

Ah, I love the Disney Skyliner. I actually think that’s the best ride at Disney World! Since we stayed at Pop Century, we had access to the Skyliner right at our doorstep, so you can imagine how often we took it during our one week stay there.

In case you are not familiar with the Skyliner, the Skyliner is a gondola that goes above ground. The cabins are airy and you can see the views if you happen to be in a gondola with clear glass (some of them have patterns on the outside so it’s harder to see through).

Disney World Skyliner Hours of Operations: 1 hour before early park entry to 90 minutes after EPCOT or Hollywood Studios close (or 1 hour after EPCOT’s extended evening hours).

There are four Disney World resorts that have access to the Skyliner:

  • Pop Century
  • Art of Animation
  • Caribbean Beach
  • Riviera Resort

The Disney Skyliner can take you to two of the 4 theme Parks:

  • Hollywood Studios
  • International Gateway at EPCOT

Since EPCOT is super close to Yacht Club Resort, Beach Club resort and BoardWalk Inn, guests of those resorts can just walk to EPCOT and then take the Skyliner.

We loved the Skyliner because it provided us a super fast and convenient way to get to Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. From Pop Century, we had to transfer one time to get to these parks, but it was really quick.

In addition, unless it’s super crowded, generally we got to have our own “cabin” on the Skyliner, providing us some privacy. Strollers also fit on the Skyliner (not the double strollers though, you need to fold those).

We also used the Gondola to resort hop from Pop Century to Caribbean Beach and Riviera Resort so we could try the restaurants over there. Caribbean Beach resort is a further walk from the Skyliner station than the other 3 resorts however.

Where do the Disney Buses go?

Disney world bus

The Disney World buses are the most common type of transportation there. Since not every resort has access to the monorail or Skyliner, they mostly depend on bus transportations.

Even the monorail and Skyliner resorts have buses that will take them around Disney World and to Disney Springs.

Disney World Bus Hours of Operations: 45 minutes before park opens to 1 hour after park closes

The Disney World buses generally take you to:

  • All the 4 theme parks
  • Disney Springs
  • Typhoon Lagoon water park (requires a transfer at Disney Springs)
  • Blizzard Beach water park (requires a transfer at Animal Kingdom)
  • Disney World resorts

If you are looking for a specific route, you can use the My Disney Experience app to get directions, or just ask your hotel lobby Cast Member.

Although I have not taken the bus from all the Disney World Resorts, I did take the bus from Pop Century, Art of Animation, Grand Floridian and Disney Springs to get around. Based on my experience, the resorts that are “further away” like Pop Century generally get direct buses; whereas when we took the bus Grand Floridian, the bus went to other resorts first before taking us to our final destination.

Another interesting fact I observed was that the “cheaper” resorts (the Disney value resorts like Pop Century) always had a bus stop much further away than the deluxe resorts ones. After we visited Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs, we always had to walk to the furthest bus stop to board our bus back to Pop Century, whereas the bus stops to Grand Floridian and Polynesia were right outside of the entrance.

You can bring strollers (folded) and wheelchairs onto the bus. When all the seats are taken, you will need to stand on the bus. When the bus is too full, the driver will obviously make you wait for the next bus.

Where do the Disney World boats go?

Disney World boats - how to get around without a car

I honestly think the only thing Disney is missing is a chartered plane, because they pretty much have all sorts of transportation options for its guests.

I never took the boats at Disney but I saw them quite often, like when we went to eat at the Yacht Club resort and when we were leaving Magic Kingdom.

The boats allow resorts that are located near the Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake, Crescent Lake and lake Hollywood to easily access Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.

Magic Kingdom can be accessed via water taxi and ferry boats (these are two different things) from:

  • Grand Floridian (yes they have a monorail and a boat!)
  • Polynesia Villas & Bungalows
  • Wilderness lodge
  • Fort Wilderness
  • Contemporary Resort
  • TTC

You can also take the FriendShip Boat to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios from a few of the club villas and Sassagoula River Cruise is available to access Disney Springs.

Other questions you may have about getting around Disney without a car

Do the Disney buses go to outlet malls and restaurants?

Unfortunately no, the Disney World buses only go to:

  • Disney world theme parks
  • Disney world water parks
  • Disney world resort hotels
  • Disney Springs

If you want to go to the outlet mall or other restaurants outside of Disney Springs, you will need to take Uber, Lyft, or drive your own car.

Can you take the Disney World buses/ monorail/ Skyliner if you are not staying at a Disney hotel?

Yes you can take the Disney World transportation for free even if you are not staying at a Disney world resort. You just need to find your own way back to your airbnb/ hotel after.

Do I need to pay for parking at Disney World?

If you are staying at a Disney World resort, you do not need to pay for parking at the resort or at the theme parks.

If you are visiting a Disney World hotel during the day, you can park for free during the day, but not overnight.

If you are not staying at a Disney World resort, you will need to pay for parking at the theme parks.

Parking at Disney Springs is free for everyone.

Is there free transportation from Orlando Airport to Disney World?

There is no free transportation between Disney World and Orlando Airport. You will need to get your own transportation from the Orlando Airport to your hotel. Some of the options include:

  • Mears shuttle: $16 per person (adult) each way
  • Uber/ Lyft: $35+ each way
  • Car rental

Mears Bus from orlando airport to Disney World

Can I request a Minnie Van from Orlando Airport to Disney World?

You cannot request a Minnie Van (via Lyft) from Orlando Airport to Disney World. You will need to use regular Lyft or Uber.

Can I bring a stroller onto the Disney buses, monorails or Skyliner?

Strollers are allowed on Disney buses, monorails and Skyliners, however the stroller must be folded on the buses. You cannot use a double stroller on the Skyliner since it’s too wide and literally cannot get in, so you will need to fold it up. We were able to fit a regular stroller on the Skyliner and monorail with no issues.

Can I bring a wheelchair onto the Disney Skyliner or monorail?

Yes, you can bring wheelchairs onto the Skyliner and monorail. I saw that Cast Members were slowing down the Skyliner just to let wheelchair on.

What is the easiest way to get around Disney World?

Taking a combination of buses, monorail, boats and Skyliner allow guests to get around Disney World easily without a car. However, if you are not staying at a Disney World resort hotel, then you should find other means of transportation, such as renting a car or taking Uber/ Lyft.

The exact route depends on where you are staying and where you are going. You can always use the My Disney Experience app to find the best way to get around.

One thing I want to mention is that the Disney buses can drop you off very close to the entrance (especially at Magic Kingdom), but parking is further away.

Can you eat on the Disney buses, monorail or Skyliner?

Yes you are allowed to eat and drink on Disney World transports, but you cannot bring alcohol onboard.

How long is the wait at Skyliner every morning?

You can expect a wait of between 15 to 20 minutes every morning during “peak” time in the morning. Otherwise there is almost no wait at the Skyliner (from Pop Century) that is. Coming back from Hollywood Studios, we waited 5-10 minutes at most.

Is the Skyliner better or the monorail better?

Personally I think the Skyliner is better since you most likely can get a private cabin (when it’s not super busy). The view from the Skyliner is nice and it is very relaxing and breezy to ride it.

The monorails work well for the 3 monorail resorts, but you will have to share a train car with strangers.

There is no bag check for the Skyliner, but you have to go through a bag check for the monorail.

Hope my guide on the Disney World transportation system can help you decide whether you should rent a car or not!

Read my other Disney World blogs



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