Disney World Planning Guide

Guide to Getting Around Disney World

One of the hardest things to grasp about Walt Disney World Resort is its somewhat overwhelming magnitude. It’s certainly not a case of checking in at your hotel and then walking from park to park; the whole resort itself covers an area of 43 square miles, which is roughly the same size as the city of San Francisco. But don’t let that put you off, as getting around Walt Disney World is all part of the fun and experience. It’s best to get your bearings before you arrive. Travelling around Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is easy and stress-free if you take advantage of the extensive transport network that links all the parks, entertainment districts, hotels and even the airport. To help you out on your holiday, here’s a complete Disney World Planning Guide and all the information you’ll need to get from A to B and to and beyond.

From Airport to Hotel

First things first, after arriving at Orlando International Airport, you’ll want to know the best ways to get to your chosen accommodation, so here are some of the easiest options for you:

Option 1: Disney’s Magical Express

This is the most popular method of transport for those who are booked to stay at one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. It’s a complimentary service for eligible hotel guests, which makes the whole journey from the airport right to your room and back again absolutely stress-free. You don’t even need to worry about your luggage because if it’s properly tagged, you just need to take it from the baggage carousel to the Magical Express desk and they’ll take care of it from there, loading it onto the transfer coach and delivering it straight to your room for you. How’s that for service? Just remember that Disney’s Magical Express has to be booked in advance, so be sure to make your reservation before leaving the UK.

Option 2: Mears Shuttle Services

Mears Transportation offers a shuttle bus service from Orlando International Airport, which is the preferred method of transport for those who are not booked to stay at one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. It’s also a popular choice for guests who are staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, as this is a privately owned hotel, so isn’t eligible for Disney’s Magical Express. It’s possible to book your Mears shuttle service in advance of arriving in Orlando. Alternatively, you can head to the Mears desk on level 1 of the airport, at the far ends of ‘A’ and ‘B’ side of each terminal. You’ll need to look after your own luggage on this transfer.

Option 3: Car hire

And finally, there’s always the option of hiring a car to make your way around Orlando and Walt Disney World Resort in your own time. Car rental isn’t for everyone, just like shuttle services aren’t either, so take your time to weigh up the pros and cons of both. If you want, you can book your car hire in advance and collect it from the airport when you arrive in Florida. Alternatively, a lot of people like to use Disney’s complimentary shuttle service from the airport to their hotels when they have all their big suitcases. Then once checked-in at your hotel, it’s easier to go and collect a more suitable sized car hire from the Alamo Rent-A-Car, located at the Disney Car Care Center near the Magic Kingdom theme park auto plaza. This saves you from having to hire a much bigger vehicle to make room for all your luggage.

From Hotel to Park

If you’ve gone for the option of renting your own car while on holiday at Walt Disney World Resort, then you’ll already be using that to get from your hotel to the different parks. All you’ll need to do is check which car parks are free to park in or how much they’re going to charge if they’re not. If you’re staying on-site, then parking is free of charge in all the car parks, if you can show proof of your accommodation.

For those of you who have decided against car hire and are instead going to be taking advantage of Disney’s own transport system, there are a few different options for getting to the parks each day. Buses run throughout the day between most of the Walt Disney World theme parks, water parks, entertainment districts and resort hotels. Water taxis connect some Disney hotels to the parks and also a monorail system runs routes to take you from outside your hotel to the parks. You may have to queue to get on one of these at busy times throughout the day, but it’s hassle-free and saves you time and money.

New to Disney in 2017, is a private taxi service if you’re staying at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort or Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts. A Minnie Mouse-themed SUV will arrive and take you to anywhere you want to go in the Walt Disney World Resort. This is a great alternative to the buses, monorail or boats that are already available, especially for wheelchair users or families with pushchairs.

From Park to Park

Similar to getting from your hotel to the parks, you can make great use of the buses, water taxis and monorail when travelling around all the different theme parks, water parks and entertainment districts within Walt Disney World Resort.

Bus – The buses take you to pretty much every area of Walt Disney World Resort, including all the parks, hotels and Disney Springs.

Boat – Magic Kingdom is accessible by water taxi from a number of the Resort Hotels and then ferryboats connect Magic Kingdom to the Transportation and Ticket Center. Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs are all accessible by boat too.

Monorail – Disney’s monorail network has three separate beams: one that stops at a number of the Resort Hotels and the Transportation and Ticket Center; one that does an express round-trip service to Epcot from the Transportation and Ticket Center; and one that does the same but to Magic Kingdom.

Airport to park
Magic Kingdom Resort Area
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort Area
Epcot Resort Area
Disney Springs Resort Area
ESPN Wide World of Sports Resort Area
Airport to park

All timings are approximate and depend on traffic and time of day. Here are some of the best ways to get from your Disney Resort hotel to its neighbouring park.

Park Time Distance
Magic Kingdom Park 30 mins 23 miles
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park 30 mins 23 miles
Epcot 25 mins 22 miles
Disney’s Hollywood Studios 25 mins 24 miles
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon 23 mins 19 miles
Disney’s Blizzard Beach 27 mins 23 miles
Disney’s Springs 20 mins 19 miles
Disney’s BoardWalk 30 mins 23 miles

Magic Kingdom Resort Area

All timings are approximate and depend on traffic and time of day. Here are some of the best ways to get from your Disney Resort hotel to its neighbouring park.

Park Time Distance
Disney’s Contemporary Resort monorail10 mins 23 miles
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort coach10 mins 23 miles
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground coach15 mins 22 miles
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa monorail10 mins 24 miles
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa coach10 mins 19 miles
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort monorail10 mins 23 miles
Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows coach10 mins 19 miles
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge coach15 mins 23 miles
The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge coach15 mins 23 miles

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort Area

All timings are approximate and depend on traffic and time of day. Here are some of the best ways to get from your Disney Resort hotel to its neighbouring park.

Park Time Distance
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort coach15 mins 23 miles
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort coach15 mins 23 miles
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground coach15 mins 22 miles
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort coach15 mins 24 miles
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort coach15 mins 19 miles
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge coach15 mins 23 miles
The Villas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge coach15 mins 19 miles

Epcot Resort Area

All timings are approximate and depend on traffic and time of day. Here are some of the best ways to get from your Disney Resort hotel to its neighbouring park.

Park Time Distance
Disney’s Beach Club Resort boat15 mins 23 miles
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort boat15 mins 23 miles
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn coach10 mins 22 miles
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas coach10 mins 24 miles
Disney’s Beach Club Villas boat15 mins 19 miles
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort coach15 mins 23 miles
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin coach15 mins 19 miles

Disney Springs Resort Area

All timings are approximate and depend on traffic and time of day. Here are some of the best ways to get from your Disney Resort hotel to its neighbouring park.

Park Time Distance
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter coach10 mins 23 miles
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside coach15 mins 23 miles
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa coach10 mins 22 miles

ESPN Wide World of Sports Resort Area

All timings are approximate and depend on traffic and time of day. Here are some of the best ways to get from your Disney Resort hotel to its neighbouring park.

Park Time Distance
Disney’s Pop Century Resort coach10 mins 23 miles
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort coach10 mins 23 miles

Park Hopping

Park Magic Kingdom Park Disney’s Animal Kingdom Disney’s Epcot Disney’s Hollywood Studios Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Disney’s Blizzard Beach Disney Springs Disney’s BoardWalk
Magic Kingdom Park   Bus Monorail Bus Bus Bus Bus Bus
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park Bus   Bus Bus Bus Bus Bus Bus
Epcot Monorail Bus   Boat Bus Bus Bus Boat
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Bus Bus Boat   Bus Bus Bus Bus
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Bus Bus Bus Bus   Bus Bus Bus
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Bus Bus Bus Bus Bus   Bus Bus
Disney’s Springs Bus Bus Bus Bus Bus Bus   Bus
Disney’s BoardWalk Bus Bus Boat Bus Bus Bus Bus  

Frequently Asked Questions?

Is the airport far from Walt Disney World Resort?

It’s approximately 22 miles from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World Resort, although this will depend on where you’re staying. The drive takes roughly 30-45 minutes, but this also depends on traffic and what time of day you travel. If you’re catching Disney’s Magical Express, located on level 1 of the B-side baggage claim area in the airport, each bus will stop at three or four hotels on its route. So if your hotel’s first on the list, you could be there within half an hour of leaving the airport.

How much does it cost to park at the theme parks?

If you’re staying on-site at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, parking is complimentary for the duration of your holiday. You’ll need to show proof that you’re staying at an on-site hotel on arrival at the car parks. If you’re staying off-site and have hired a car, it’ll cost approximately $20 per day. The charge is the same across all of the parks and once you’ve paid, you’ll receive a parking pass that will enable you to use the car parks at all four theme parks. It’s free for all visitors to park at both Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach.

How old do you have to be to drive in Florida?

Many car hire companies require you to be 25 years or older to hire a car.

Do I need to hire car if I’m staying on-site?

For Disney Hotel guests, as mentioned above, there are plenty of ways in which you can get around all the Disney theme parks without needing a car.

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