Once you arrive in Orlando or Los Angeles, it’ll be important to know how to get around throughout the week. Transportation can be a confusing mess, so it’s good to know the ins and outs before you go.
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Disney transportation is a pretty well built system, but even the best transportation can be tricky to navigate if you’re not prepared.
Disneyland transportation is mostly pretty easy, with all onsite hotels and a lot of offsite hotels within walking distance to the front entrance, you just have to know the distance and go from there. If you’re a little bit further than you’d like to walk, Anaheim does have a bus system known as ART that can pick you up near your hotel and drop off at the main entrance.
If you’re driving in, there are also a couple of large parking lots nearby. The Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals parking structures offer tram rides from the lot to near the park entrances. The Toy Story parking area has buses shuttle guests to the front entrance.
To get to the Disneyland area after flying in, you can either rent a car at the airport, take a rideshare, or set up a roundtrip ride from a limo/van service. If renting a car, be aware most hotels charge for overnight Parking. I’ve seen prices range from $15-$25/night at hotels I’ve looked into. We ended up taking a van service to and from the airport, but also scheduled a multi hour ride on the way in to have someone take us sightseeing. Unfortunately, I should have booked another hour as we ended up only having time to go to the Santa Monica Pier.
The Walt Disney World transportation system, on the other hand, can be pretty intimidating. The list of transportation options include rental cars, ride shares, buses, boats, trams monorails, skyliners, and pretty soon, trains. So, uh good luck, I’m out!
Only kidding. Let’s take a look at when and where you might use each option. If you’re flying in, MCO, Orlando International Airport is probably going to be your landing spot. The Sanford airport is another option, but less frequently used by Disney guests. Prior to 2022, Disney offered a free shuttle to their hotel guests. Unfortunately, you’re on your own now.
There are still bus shuttles available. Mears Connect is the primary company that took over these duties and charges around $30 per person. Other options to get from the airport include renting a car or using a rideshare service. A train service is currently under construction at the airport and soon to be at Disney World. If you’re staying offsite, I’d highly recommend renting your own car. The hotel may offer Disney shuttles, but they’re not frequent and not at good times.
Offsite guests with rental cars will be able to park at the theme park parking lots for $25/day or $50/day for premium. Most parking lots are right next to the park entrance and you can either walk or take a tram as available. However, at the Magic Kingdom, the parking lot is across from a large lake. To get to the Magic Kingdom entrance, you’ll take the parking lot tram to a monorail station and then take the monorail to the park. There are 3 monorail ramps, so be sure to take the express to the park. There’s also a hotel loop and a connection to EPCOT. One other option is taking a ferry boat across the lake to the entrance.
Onsite guests have several transportation options depending on which hotel and which park you’re going to. In almost all situations, you can take a bus to the park you’re going to, unless the park and hotel connect another way. See below for more details.
For guests staying at a Magic Kingdom area hotel and going
- To the Magic Kingdom
- Take the monorail
- Take a boat
- Walk, depending on distance.
- To Epcot
- Monorail to Ticket and Transportation Center, then transfer to EPCOT line.
- To Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom
For guests staying at Crescent Lake area hotels and going
- To the Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom
- To Epcot – International Gateway entrance
- Walk along the boardwalk
- Friendship boat
- To Hollywood Studios
- Walk along the boardwalk
- Friendship boat
For guests staying at Skyliner area hotels and going
- To EPCOT or Hollywood Studios
- Buses available infrequently and if skyliner is down
- To Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom
So how much does Disney transportation cost? All onsite transportation is free of charge, regardless of why you’re taking it. In fact, even offsite guests can hop a bus, boat, monorail or skyliner and go anywhere for free after they arrive onsite.
So how do I get into the transportation? Every hotel has a bus stop outside the main entrance. For any hotel with other options, there will be signs to guide you or you can ask a cast member for assistance.
So are there long lines for free transportation? There can be, especially before park opening and after park closing. The car options will be just as backed up though, so either way, you’ll need to be patient.
So what time should I arrive at the transportation location for rope drop? Transportation starts running about 45-60 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry, but it’s recommended to get lined up about 90 minutes before ETPE to ensure you’re on one of the first buses to the park from your hotel. The sooner you’re on a bus, etc, the better position you’ll be in when it’s time for the parks to open and everyone is racing (walking fast) to their first ride.
So how often does the transportation run? Buses typically arrive every 15-20 minutes. Monorails and boats are a constant loop with another vehicle available every 10-20 minutes. Skyliner is constantly available, but may have long lines before parks open and after parks close.
So is there a charge to park a car at your hotel? Yes, Disney charges $15/night at Value Resorts, $20/night at Moderate Resorts and $25/night at Deluxe Resorts. Onsite guests do receive free parking at the theme parks.
So if I pay to park in the morning, leave and come back, do I have to pay again? No, the payment made to park at a theme park in the morning is good all day and for any theme park parking lot. So, if you want to drive from Animal Kingdom to Hollywood Studios to Epcot to Magic Kingdom all in one day, that’s only $25 ($50 for premium).
If you’re ready to start exploring a Walt Disney World or Disneyland family vacation, I recommend checking out Undercover Tourist for your ticket options. I’ve already used them twice, once at Disneyland and once at Disney World and will plan to continue comparing their prices with other sites, however I usually come back to UT because they have the best deals and their instructions make it easy to add your tickets to the Disney apps.