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Last Updated on April 19, 2021 by Allyson
Let’s discuss what you need to know about Walt Disney World transportation, especially during an ongoing pandemic when certain health and safety measures are in place.
There are several easy and convenient ways to get around Walt Disney World. That said, if you don’t know the transportation system, it can be a bit overwhelming. And with the reopening of the theme parks, transportation has changed quite a bit to ensure the safety of guests, including implementing limited capacity.
But, as always, Disney has created a system to make sure transportation runs as smoothly and quickly as possible. (Still make sure to pack all of your patience, because transportation isn’t always 100% reliable.)
With that, here’s what you need to know about Walt Disney World transportation.
FYI: Yes, a face covering is required. More about masks at Walt Disney World here.
Long gone are the days of Walt Disney World buses crammed with people. I certainly don’t miss having both my front and back sides brushing up against a stranger.
To ensure social distancing, only a select number of individuals are allowed on a bus. Only certain seats are open, along with dividers put in place to help with physical distancing. You must sit and are not allowed to stand.
When boarding, you simply tell the bus driver how many in your party and they will tell you which section (1, 2, 3, etc.) to sit. It’s as easy as it sounds.
There are also social distancing markers when waiting in line and this goes for all transportation options. And during busier times of the day, like those who want to rope drop in the mornings, there are additional Cast Members assisting guests with where to stand in order to keep a six-foot distance.
Since buses (and other forms of Disney transportation) can’t load as many guests like they did pre-pandemic, sometimes transportation can be delayed. As for buses, there seems to be more running, especially in the mornings.
For example, during my October trip, to accommodate all of us waiting to rope drop Magic Kingdom, there were at least five buses right away.
Overall, and from my own personal experience, Disney seems to have this new bus system down pat.
Where do buses travel?
Buses transport guests to theme parks, Disney Springs, and hotels.
When boarding the Disney Skyliner, only one group is loaded onto a gondola, meaning you no longer have to share a cabin with another party.
But, at times, Cast Members may ask whether or not you’re comfortable sharing a gondola with someone else. When I visited in October, I rope dropped Epcot and it was quite busy at the Caribbean Beach station, aka the main Disney Skyliner hub.
When guests reached a certain point in the socially-distanced line, Cast Members would ask if they felt comfortable sitting in a gondola with another party. To be clear, it appeared they were only loading two smaller parties of either one or two individuals into a gondola.
You don’t have to sit with someone else. Cast Members give guests the option of continuing to ride by themselves, which I did. This also meant I had to wait in the full line, whereas if you accepted the offer of riding with someone else, you were pulled from the line.
Boarding two parties together wasn’t an option in August, but it seems to be a choice during busier times of the day to help keep the line moving.
Where does the Disney Skyliner travel?
You can take the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and Disney’s Riviera Resort.
The Monorail still offers great Disney views, but there are some noteworthy changes.
First, there are barriers in place to separate the cars. Secondly, when you get to the front of the line, a Cast Member will direct your party to a number to stand on, then tell you when to board. You do not get to choose your Monorail car.
Up to four parties can be seated inside each car and there are dividers separating respective parties.
Where does the Monorail travel?
There are three different lines:
- Resort Hotels Line (the Resort Loop): Travels to all of the hotels attached to the Monorail, which include Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort &Spa. This line also goes to the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center, aka the TTC.
- The Express Monorail Line (the Magic Kingdom Line): This runs along the Resort Line, but only makes stops at the TTC and Magic Kingdom.
- The Epcot Monorail Line: This goes to Epcot and the TTC. At this time, the Epcot Monorail is not running.
Also, Monorail service is currently temporarily suspended to Polynesian due to the resort undergoing refurbishment. The resort also won’t reopen until summer 2021. The walkway to the Transportation and Ticket Center will remain open, where guests can still access the monorail and ferry boats to Magic Kingdom.
Similar to other forms of Walt Disney World transportation, water transportation has limited capacity and different measures to make sure guests maintain the appropriate social distancing.
Ferry Boats are standing-room only, which is definitely something to keep in mind. You’ll be directed to a spot to stand on for the duration of the boat ride. You are not allowed to sit or roam around the boat.
As for Friendship Boats & Water Taxis, they are sitting only.
Where can you take water transportation?
- Water Taxis: Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Ferryboats: Connect Magic Kingdom to the TTC
- Friendship Boats: Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Disney’s BoardWalk Villas, Disney’s Beach Club Villas, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
Boats to and from Disney Springs aren’t operating at this time.
Disney’s Magical Express
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Service for Disney’s Magical Express will be suspended starting with arrivals Jan. 1, 2022. But, guests who arrive prior to Jan. 1, 2022 will be transported back to Orlando International Airport after their stay via Magical Express until Jan. 10, 2022. After this date, Disney won’t provide complimentary transportation back to the airport.
Also important: Mears Transportation, the third party operator of Disney Magical Express, has announced its own service called Mears Connect, which will provide transportation between Orlando International Airport and resorts in the Disney World area. The service will launch January 2022. You can make your reservation starting May 2021. Pricing isn’t available yet.
Currently, guests arriving and departing from Orlando International Airport can still use Magical Express, but there are some differences.
Here are a few things to take note of:
- Luggage delivery service for those arriving to and departing from the airport is not currently available.
- Magical Express guests will be responsible for picking up checked luggage from baggage claim so it can be loaded onto the motorcoach and be taken to your Disney Resort hotel.
- Luggage assistance will be available at the front of your Disney Resort hotel, including luggage storage and/or transport to the room.
- When departing, make sure your luggage is with you and loaded onto the motorcoach, because the resort airline check-in service is not be offered at this time.
So how does the process work?
When in line to check in and while waiting to board your motorcoach, there is signage telling you where to stand for physical distancing reasons.
It’s important to note that the Cast Members will tell you that your face covering must remain on at all times.
When it’s time to board, a Cast Member will ask how many are in your party and then show you a floor plan of the motorcoach. They will then show you which seat(s) to occupy. They board from the back to the front and there will never be another party sitting beside you, in front of you, or behind you.
During my departure from Pop Century to the airport in October, the driver did not direct guests where to sit, but trusted us to space out on our own. Granted, I had a very early flight and there were only six individuals, including myself.
Minnie Van Service
At this time, Minnie Van Service remains “temporarily unavailable.”
Of course, you can also drive your own car, rent a car, or even use a rideshare service. Whatever type of transportation is best for you, that’s what you need to do.
And one final tip: If you want to rope drop, get in line for transportation at least 60 to 90 minutes before official park opening. More often than not, parks have been allowing guests to enter earlier than the listed opening time.
Really, you should always budget at least one hour to get from point A to point B, because you never know with Walt Disney World transportation and even more so now due to limited capacity.
For more on Walt Disney World’s reopening, be sure to check out my complete guide detailing everything from, dining, to hotels, to transportation, and much more.