When Disney Transportation Fails You
Updated: May 8, 2020
In this episode of The Misadventures of a Travel Agent ...
I grew up in southern California, close to Disneyland. In my young mind, it always felt like it took hours to get there when in reality it was about 25 minutes without traffic (of course, when is there not traffic in southern California). For those that are use to visiting Disneyland, or have only traveled to Disneyland, Walt Disney World is a whole other animal.
Let me first say that I LOVE anytime I can get to Walt Disney World and I love the variety of modes of transportation available but sometimes ... the magic is less than magical ...
I first went to Walt Disney World in 2012 for a second honeymoon. I had never been before and had no idea how anything worked. We took the Magical Express to the All-Star Sports Resort the first night when we arrived and then would transfer to Caribbean Beach for the official beginning of the honeymoon. We had no idea how to get our luggage from one hotel to another. The next morning, we brought our bags down to the bus stop at All Star and found a bus intern. We asked them how to get our bags from there over to Caribbean Beach. Their suggestion (which we stupidly followed) was to take a bus to Magic Kingdom and then take a bus to Caribbean Beach. This was early in the morning, not quite as early as rope drop but still early. We carried our luggage onto the bus and headed to Magic Kingdom. We then found the bus stop for Caribbean Beach and waited ... and waited ... and waited ... almost an hour later a bus arrived. Luckily we were the only people headed to Caribbean Beach that early in the morning and the bus driver kindly dropped us off at the Custom House (which no longer exists).
Since then, after multiple trips, and multi-stay vacations, we've learned we can call Bell Services and they will gladly come get our luggage from our room and transfer it to the next hotel on property. Sometimes it takes a long time to get from one hotel to the other but it is worth it to not have to get weird looks on the Disney buses carrying all of your luggage.
The Disney buses are a really great system. The big things to know is that there are no buses that run from resort to resort. And in the past few years there are finally buses running park to park. So if you need to get from one resort to another (as demonstrated above) you need to go to a park (or Disney Springs) first and then transfer to another bus. The exceptions being the Crescent Lake or Monorail resorts, there you can just walk (or take a boat). Sometimes you get good bus luck and don't have to wait long. During the first visit (as mentioned above) the longest wait we had was over 90 minutes from Disney Springs back to Caribbean Beach.
Here is where the misadventure comes in ... on our most recent trip to Walt Disney World (December 2019), Code Name and I had skipped an early breakfast reservation with my parents and were heading to meet them at Magic Kingdom. Looking back, it would have been faster to just wait for a bus to Magic Kingdom and gotten a quick breakfast snack or Starbucks when we arrived at Magic Kingdom. Instead of doing the easy thing, my brilliant idea was to take a bus, boat or walk to Disney Springs, mobile order some Starbucks, then take a bus to any of the monorail resorts and then take the monorail to Magic Kingdom.
What actually happened ... we took a bus to Disney Springs, mobile ordered Starbucks so didn't have to wait for that, and then walked back to the buses to wait for a monorail resort bus. For some reason, monorail resort buses don't pick up at Disney Springs until after 11am. There were several of us trying to get to one of those resorts and were suddenly scrambling to figure out where to go. The closest bus was going to Port Orleans French Quarter. We all got on that bus and got to the resort fairly quickly. The bus stop at French Quarter were a MADHOUSE and lines were insanely long for every wait. So after several minutes Code Name ordered a Lyft to come pick us up. We were headed to Magic Kingdom so we said that was where we needed to go. We should have said we were heading to a resort because the driver dropped us off at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC). So then we had to walk from that drop off over to the monorail. The monorail was down when we got there so they were directing everyone to the Ferry. (So how many different modes of transportation have we hit so far?) They were running three ferries and we had to wait another 30 minutes to get onto a ferry as there were several groups waiting to load before us. In total, it took us almost three hours to get from Saratoga Springs Resort to Magic Kingdom. This is obviously an extreme example of what can happen, but it also shows that when visiting Walt Disney World you need to be flexible and build in a lot of time if you're relying on Disney transportation.
*All experiences and comments are my own. Your mileage may vary.