Patience. With all our articles around our trip to Disney World during COVID, there is a common theme. Transportation at Disney World is no different, and the word we’ll use most is patience. Getting from point to point around Walt Disney World has always taken time. Disney recommends planning for around ninety minutes on a typical day. But, we’re not talking about the typical day. We’re talking about the unique new world we live in where physical distancing and cleanliness rightfully take precedence over speed. So, what is transportation at Disney World currently like? We’re glad you asked! It’s time to head to parks, let’s catch our ride!
More Than One Way
Whether or not to drive yourself to the Disney parks has been the age-old question. Nevermore than today. Renting a car is definitely an option, but for this article, we’ll be focusing on the Disney Transportation options. During our trip, we did speak to a couple of different people who drove and they provided the following insights.
Parking lots at each of the parks are opening around forty-five minutes prior to park opening. Disney parking attendants are parking cars in a physically distanced method by using every other space. Once parked the only option to get to the main entrance is to walk, as Disney is not using the tram system. The people we spoke with said the one time they felt stressed about driving themselves was when then headed to Hollywood Studios, as it’s the busiest park at opening. Rise of Resistance boarding groups, need we say more. This will be a common theme when talking about getting to Hollywood Studios.
The only aspect that is challenging with driving yourself is going to a Disney resort you’re not staying at. Unless you have a sit-down restaurant reservation it varies on whether or not you’ll be allowed in. It appears to be security guard specific. However, if you mobile ordered from the resorts quick-serve and show the order to the security guard, you should be good to go. With Disney Transportation there is no issue going resort to resort (ie, resort hopping).
They are the number one option for transportation at Disney World after all. By far the busiest time at the resort bus stop was for park openings. Currently, Disney is advertising bus operations begin thirty minutes prior to park opening, however, in our experience buses we arriving about forty-five minutes to an hour beforehand. Additionally, around each park’s opening time the buses came more frequently. This is importation when talking about Hollywood Studios. We’ll talk more about this in a few minutes.
At the bus stop, we found physical distancing markers on the ground. The majority of the time these were not needed unless we were heading to Hollywood Studios at park opening. For the most part, all guests separated themselves while waiting for a bus. Right now, Disney buses are taking six groups at a time. When the bus arrives the Disney bus driver will instruct groups on which section to sit. They are loading buses from both the front and back. This takes a little more time as the driver allocates the seats. Additionally, the buses tended to wait at the stops until they were either fill completely full or at least for a minimum amount of time. Definitely, plan for an extra few minutes if you’re using the buses at any time outside of park opening or closing.
Once onboard the bus felt very clean and safe. We noticed the drivers were wiping down the seats on a regular basis. Additionally, the roof hatch was cracked to allow for better airflow through out the bus. Best part, no standing or filling every spot. It was by far the most comfortable bus ride we’ve had.
The biggest challenge we had was getting back to our resort late at night. With all the parks closing by 7 pm est. many times we found ourselves taking a Lyft back to our resort, as we ate dinner at a different resort sit down restaurant each night. The only time we didn’t need a Lyft was for the monorail loop hotels (Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian), as a bus ran between the resorts until 11 pm. If you’re looking to avoid using Lyft you can take a bus to Disney Springs, then transfer to your Disney Resort bus.
No need to stand clear of the doors! Why? Well, on the monorail you get the whole cabin to yourself. With a divider between the two sections, the monorail is loaded with one group per section. Unlike the buses there is no ventilation within the cabin, however, the doors are opening every couple of minutes as it stops at each of the resorts. We did not experience any pauses or waits while the train in front cleared the station. The one interesting thing we learned is they asking all guests to sit. Even though you have the cabin to yourself, Disney does not want anyone standing within the cabin. We’re assuming it allows for better physical distancing between guests. The few times we took the monorail we felt comfortable.
It should be noted with the Magic Kingdom closing earlier the resort monorail stops an hour after park closing. When the monorail stops for the night, Disney deploys a resort monorail bus that goes between the three resorts.
Physically distanced by nature. With no park hopping at the moment, we only used the Skyliner a couple of times to head over to Disney’s Riviera Resort to grab lunch. When we took the Skyliner they were loading only one group per car. From what we could tell there was no cleaning between trips, however, the cabins are well ventilated. We made sure to lather up with hand sanitizer before and after each ride. Disney had dispensers both before you boarded and when you arrived.
Similar to the buses, the Skyliner is the busiest at park opening for Hollywood Studios. While we didn’t stay at a Skyliner resort we did speak with a couple that did. They told us the Skyliner started an hour before park opening and guests start lining up for the Skyliner about 2 hours prior to park opening. In there experience, the most stressful part was the transfer station at Caribbean Beach Resort, as they were coming from Pop Century. They said is was about a 20 minute wait per load area (one at Pop Century then another Caribbean Beach).
At the time of writing the Skyliner is operating between the resorts until 9 pm est each night.
We’ve been hinting about it through our whole transportation at Disney World article. By far the hardest park to get to for park opening is Hollywood Studios. The only time we didn’t feel stressed was when we stayed at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort as we were able to walk to the park. If you’re trying to get a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance, we highly recommend you get to the first bus stop at your resort or the Skyliner Station about two hours prior to park opening. This way you’re more than likely to catch one of the first two buses.
On one of our attempts in going to Hollywood Studios we got to the bus stop about 30 minutes prior to park opening and we missed the opportunity to get a boarding pass.
It’s all about patience. Going point to point is definitely taking a little more time right now. Overall, we felt very safe while using Disney transportation, as we used hand sanitizer both prior to boarding, and once we disembarked. We did not take any of the boat options (Magic Kingdom Ferry and Wilderness Lodge Ferry) so we’re not able to speak to the experience. We would definitely use Disney Transporation again over renting a car.
In our next DVC Duo trip review article we’ll be diving into attractions!
Previous Trip Review Article: Attractions at Disney World
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