Getting To, From, & Around Disney

Fastest transportation at Disney!

When I began booking our trip to Disney World, I made the assumption that because we were coming from Atlanta, the trip would be easy and cheap. In this series of posts I've been sharing about Disney World, I've been going over the details that will help you make your trip to Orlando a success. So far we've discussed a little bit about the parkshow to choose the best hotel for your Walt Disney World vacation, why Disney MagicBands are useful, and which tickets will make all of your Disney dreams come true. None of that matters if you can't get down to … or around Orlando. So let's talk about that. :)

Let Disney handle the logistics.

Getting There –

Coming from Atlanta, Justin and I had a few more options than I imagine some of you (like those coming from Alaska or overseas!) have. We were only a 9 hour drive away from the magic, which is a 9 hour drive I became accustomed to as a kid. (Are we there yet?!?) So, if you are coming from a nearby state and have extra time on your hands, you might want to consider renting a vehicle for free to drive to or from Orlando (depending on time of year and availability), driving your own car (Hello gas!), or taking a bus or the Amtrak system. All are viable options, but they will definitely set you back a few hours in time.

Justin and I didn't have the vacation time to give to travel time, so we opted for flying. Being so close, I was hoping for $100 or so in flight costs. But, once again, time specifics cost us. I needed to get a full day of work in on both Thursday and Monday, but I also wanted two full days at the Disney parks (Friday and Sunday). Because we were leaving late Thursday night and coming back early Monday morning, our flight schedule was super tight. If you know anything about airlines, once they know your schedule is tight … the cost goes up … uP … UP.

First we looked at Spirit, who was having a sale. I considered getting a Spirit credit card to make the cost of our tickets be 5,000pts. a piece per flight plus $20. With 10,000 pts already in my account and the additional 15,000pts. being credited to my account after signing up, I assumed I'd have enough to fly myself and my husband to Orlando for $40. Not bad, right? But that didn't include fees charged for my husband and I to sit together or bring on checked or even non-checked baggage. Added altogether, the cost would be as much as ticket from Delta. Not cool. So, I kept looking…

Next in line, I looked at Frontier. Justin and I flew Frontier to DC last October and decided they were an acceptable airline for short flights. Why not? Well… they had the same problem as Spirit. The more extras that were added, the higher the cost went.

Delta is currently my favorite airline to travel with. #AtlantaNative

Finally, after hours of comparing, I bit the bullet and booked with Delta. I was paying more than I wanted to, but I also knew that Delta was reliable, would allow me to sit next to my husband, and would provide free drinks and snacks onboard. (No, the drinks and snacks aren't important enough to pay extra for, but they are a nice perk if you are going to be paying the extra on a cheaper airline anyway.)

One of the great benefits about traveling to Disney by air is that, if you check any luggage and use one of the magic transportation tags Disney sends in the mail prior to your visit, you can head straight to your room (or the park!) and Disney will take your checked luggage to your hotel room. Nice, right? Justin and I arrived really late (think: midnight), so we didn't use this service and cannot remark on how well it does or doesn't work though. :-/

Another bonus to flying into Orlando is that Disney will provide magical transportation for you to your hotel or resort for free! Justin and I did take advantage of that. It was nice not having to drive late at night, but it was also frustrating having to sit on the bus for almost an hour at the airport waiting for people to board before having a 30-45 minute drive to Disney property. At midnight, there is only one thing you really want to be doing … and that is sleeping. :-/

Getting Around the Parks…

A Disney bus at Hollywood Studios.

Let's say you don't want to rent a car; how do you get from your on-site Disney hotel to the parks? Or what about from one park to another? Disney transportation, of course! Drink yourself silly or wear yourself out, then fall asleep on the ride back to your hotel. Nothing bad can happen on Disney property, right? :)

Let me be straight with you, though. Disney buses are sllllllloooooooowwwww. You are guaranteed a good 30 minute wait any time you take one and that's if there are no crowds! It can be frustrating knowing there is a bus full of people waiting to go to a park or hotel and seeing the buses pick up much smaller lines. Plan your time wisely at the parks if you intend on using bus transportation; you don't want to move around too frequently or you will lose a lot of time to bus waiting. :(

Disney boat travel isn't much better. I was excited that the resort Justin and I were staying at had direct bus transportation to Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs). Justin and I got in a long line, waited 15 minutes, and when the boat finally came we were all excited! Yay! It's here! They let about 15 people on then departed with another boat not scheduled to arrive for another 15-20 minutes. :( Justin and I surmised that we'd be standing in line for an hour at that schedule, so we opted instead to drive a rental car. It's pretty bad when you get so frustrated by public transportation options that you opt instead to pollute the air and drive two people to the destination of choice. Waiting an hour when you have a finite amount of time is just not worth it. :(

Picturesque and fun!

One method of public transportation I do recommend is the monorail. After we dropped our rental car off on Sunday morning at the Disney car center, the guy from Alamo said he could drop us off at any of the parks. We had FastPasses at Magic Kingdom, so we told him we were going there. And you know what? That was the one park he said he couldn't drop us off at. :( So instead he took us to the Contemporary Resort, told us to go to the 4th floor and ride the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Then we rode the monorail again, later that day, from Magic Kingdom to Epcot. The whole experience was super fast, and really easy. Of all the public transportation options at Disney World, this is the one I would recommend. Stay at the Grand Floridian or Contemporary Resort to make monorail riding between Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and your hotel easy. It is worth noting, however, that there is no monorail access to Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, or many of the hotels; you will need to take the bus to those.

Finally, you can, if you really want, rent a car to go from spot to spot. Justin and I rented our car to attend a wedding. If you call up the Disney Car Center, they will hook you up with a rental, drive you to the car care center to pick up your vehicle and pay, and at the end of your time with your rental, drive you to your hotel or to a Disney park. It's really easy, and the folks at both National and Alamo are easy to work with and friendly. Justin and I were upgraded to a red Dodge Challenger and provided insider park tips from the Alamo representatives we spoke with. They almost acted like the Disney cast members from the parks – so happy and excited to have you using their service!

Splurge and rent a fancy car! But don't expect to get this one

Going Home…

At the end of your trip, hop aboard Disney's Magical Express for a free and easy ride home. You can check your bags at your Disney hotel to many airline carriers and even have your plane tickets printed right there! They do recommend that you take a bus 4 hours before departure for international flights and 3 hours before departure for domestic flights. Orlando International Airport is easy to navigate and provides enough food and shopping options to keep you busy in the small bit of time you might have before your flight.

End Thoughts

Overall, my experience flying to Orlando was a positive one. Maybe you will have better luck working with small airline carriers than I did? Otherwise, Disney transportation, while a bit slow, was easy to use and economical. The only gas my husband and I paid for was when we left the park in our rental vehicle. It was nice that we were able to drink as much beer and wine at EPCOT during the Food and Wine Festival without having to worry about putting anyone in danger when we left the parks. Plus, we could stay as long as we wanted at the parks (until they closed) and not have to worry about falling asleep while driving back.

If you are going to take advantage of Disney transportation, I recommend, like I said above, staying at locations with the monorail nearby. It is the fastest and easiest transportation to and from the parks. Otherwise, just be prepared for a wait.

If you've been to Disney, what do you think of their transportation? Do you like it or do you see where improvements could make it better? 

If you haven't been to Disney, would you consider going car-free? Or using their Magical Express to get your luggage to your hotel room?

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