Walt Disney World began its phased reopening almost three months ago, and while planning a Disney vacation certainly has looked different in the past- the most important components still remain the same. And a key component to a well planned Walt Disney World vacation is transportation.
Walt Disney World offers an array of transportation options. From Ferry boats, monorails, motor coaches, buses to Skyliner gondolas, they will whisk you around the resort with ease and at no extra cost to the guest in most circumstances.
But what does transportation look like in the new “socially distanced” Walt Disney World? With limited staff, reduced park hours, lower capacities, and social distancing it has become more important then ever to understand the currently operating transportation systems of Walt Disney World.
First let’s take a look at what’s operating and what’s not.
Disney’s Magical Express is operating with reduced capacities. They are not able to transport luggage at this time. Guests are responsible for claiming all checks bags themselves prior to checking in and boarding the motor coach to their resort.
Minnie Vans, Walt Disney World’s answer to Uber or Lyft, has been suspended indefinitely. Disney has not announced a date or plan for the reopening of this service. The website simply reads “ Minnie Van Service is temporarily unavailable.”
Friendship Boat service is suspended currently from the Epcot Area resorts to Hollywood Studios and Epcot’s international gateway. The Swan and Dolphin are offering Mears buses to Hollywood Studios and Epcot in lieu of this complimentary service for the time being. While guests of the Beach & Yacht Club as well as the Boardwalk Villas are being encouraged to use the Skyliner as an alternative transport to the walking paths. The Friendship boats within Epcot are operating.
The Monorail is currently transporting guests on the highway in the sky from their resort hotel to Magic Kingdom. The Epcot Loop is not currently operating. It has also been announced that it will no longer stop at the Polynesian come October. This is due to planned resort renovations at the main ceremonial house.
Buses are operating resort wide at a reduced capacity taking 5-6 families at a time. Additional buses are being ran to make up for the reduced capacity.
Boats from the Grand Floridian and Polynesian are operating to and from Magic Kingdom. Over at the Wilderness Lodge, the boats are operating on a modified route. Boats to Magic Kingdom are being offered throughout the day, boats to the campgrounds and contemporary are not.
Ferry service and monorail service from the Ticket and transportation center are operating at reduced capacities. Due to the restrictions from social distancing measures, Disney is offering additional bus service to guests from the TTA to Magic Kingdom.
The Skyliner is loading one family to a Skyliner bucket at the current time. The current hours of operation are relative to park hours, opening one hour before park opening and closing ninety minutes post park closing.
So how does all of this work with reduced park hours and limited capacity due to social distancing?
All forms of transport are utilizing social distancing and reduced capacities. Partitions and signage have been installed throughout to direct guests of where to sit and to remind everyone of proper social distancing procedures. Parties are sat together and separated from others. For example on the monorail Disney is loading one party per section, allowing two parities per car. On the buses they are allowing 5-6 parties who must sit in designated sections of the buses. Boats are utilizing particular rows with limited people to each row.
Toni-Ann Zarcone, co host to the poplar Disney podcast The Disney Crush shared her recent POP century Skyliner experience with us:
“On our HS we arrived at the Skyliner station at 8:30. There were about 20 families in front of us. The Skyliner started promptly at 9:00. When we arrived at the CBR transfer station the line appeared very long, but it moved super fast. As we glided into DHS we could see the parking toll booths below the cars and ubers were being held back. We were in the park by 9:25 and even got to ride MMRR before park opening. We exited MMRR with plenty of time to snag a boarding group!”
As we mentioned before, buses are taking about five to six parities per trip with additional buses in each route to help carry the load. Bus transportation typically begins operations forty five minutes prior to park opening and is said to continue until ninety minutes after park closing. However, Disney will not leave a resort guest stranded in the park. And typically the buses are the ones that run until everyone is “home”.
Jared Welch recently share his recent experience having a dining reservation at Hollywood and Vine close to park closing:
“We originally had reservations at 6:50 at 50’s prime time Cafe at Hollywood Studios yesterday. My wife wanted max time in the parks and wound up being able to change it to 7:30pm. As we were getting on the bus to go to HS for the day, I asked the bus driver how long the buses ran back from the parks after closing. The driver said not to worry, as long as there are people still at the parks the buses will run.
Sure enough, during dinner at About 8:15pm, the manager came over and asked how we were leaving. We told him by bus to wilderness lodge. He had a notepad and was writing everyone’s responses down and said they make sure everyone gets back to where they need to go.
When we exited the park at about 8:45pm, another gentleman asked which resort we were going to. We told him, and he said to head down towards the gate. They had a line of buses waiting there, and we were directed on to the first bus. The bus driver was great and got us back to the resort!”
Guests of the Walt Disney World resort are typically used to being able to rely on park transport such as the monorail or Skyliner to take them back to thier resorts after park hours. Wether it be for a post park dinner reservation or to enjoy amenities such as the boardwalk. However with park hours being reduced the hours of operation for these modes of transport have been reduced as well. If you are without transport after these have closed your options will be limited to bus transport to Disney springs, and then making a transfer to another bus to the desired resort or a private taxi ( Mears, Uber or Lyft).
It is more important now more then ever to stay up to date on current information regarding park hours and transportation offerings to ensure your plans flow smoothly. To monitor the current procedures for transportation follow The Know Before You Go information mini site on WaltDisneyWorld.com.
Have you had a recent trip to Walt Disney World? Did you utilize resort transportation while there? Tell us your experiences in the comments below!