Imagine getting dropped off in San Francisco and told to go about your life. You want to do things in all corners of the city and are staying in the middle. But you don’t have your car with you.
The thing is — that’s essentially what you’re facing when you go to Disney World. The area encompassed by the resort is the size of San Francisco and many people don’t have their cars with them when they visit. My family always drives, so we are ready to drive wherever we need to go, but we rarely do.
So how do we get around?
We’ve already talked about the monorail and the ferry in our exploration of Disney, but now I want to talk about the form of transportation that we use the most often and dearly love — the buses.
I know. I know. I can hear the groans coming at me from all directions. It’s true that the bus system at Disney is somewhat debated and there are people out there who are vehemently against it. My family and I are on the other end of the spectrum. When we discuss our trips and the thought of ever staying off-site pop up one of the very first things that is mentioned is “but then we couldn’t use the buses.”
Because they are awesome.
I don’t drive, but I spend a lot of time in cars and dealing with parking lots and watching my hubby or Tutu get lost while driving. When in Disney, I love the convenience of not dealing with any of that. Remember when we talked about the biggest parking lot I have ever seen at the Transportation and Ticket Center? Imagine being able to skip that entirely and just roll up to the Magic Kingdom. Or not having to battle traffic and sit in line at the attendant booths. And never, ever having to wonder where you parked. Such are the dreams-turned-reality of the buses.
The transportation system operates out of all of the resorts and the parks. This means you can hop a bus to essentially anywhere you want to go on the resort property, including the water parks. The only thing you can’t do is head to the parks from Disney Springs. For obvious reasons.
One of the best things about the buses is if you are staying onsite, you have the whole property at your disposal without having to worry about the rest of your family. That sounds awful, but hear me out. Imagine that you have your car with you and that’s how you’re getting around. Now, half of your family wants to go back to the resort and half want to stay in the park for the late Extra Magic Hours. What are you to do? Have someone drive them to the resort and then come back to the park? That’s a lot of time gone right there. Instead, just have the resort-goers hop the bus back to the hotel when they please, and the rest of you can keep playing until the very end. Then you can get on your own bus and venture back. The buses run from about an hour before the parks open until about an hour after they close, including EMH and special events. That means if you are going to brave the super late 3 AM closing time in December when your family has jumped ship at 10 PM, you can still get back to the resort without worrying about falling asleep behind the wheel or that miserable feeling of dragging yourself out of the car and then making your way through the parking lot. The bus will bring you right up to the resort and drop you off, and you can walk away knowing it will be there waiting for you when you’re ready for more fun the next day.
So let’s talk logistics.
The buses are just what they sound like…buses. They are like city buses but with a bit of Disney magic. They arrive to each of their stops approximately every 15 to 20 minutes, though sometimes it might take a little longer or be a little shorter. Keep in mind that there are space restrictions so if you are at the end of the line when Magic Kingdom lets out you might have to watch longingly as a few buses full of park goers head off into the distance. But don’t lose hope. Another is on the way.
When you are getting ready to get on, make sure that you are ready. Close up your stroller. Have all of your belongings in hand. Nothing is more annoying than having to wait for someone scrambling to get ready to board when the bus is already sitting there. And it is mortifying to be that person. True story.
If you are in a motorized scooter, look for the handicap entrance to the line. This will put you in the correct position to use the lift into the bus. Be sure to have your family with you so that you can all board together.
Once onboard, head toward the back of the bus. This just makes it easier for everyone to fill in without fighting past people already seated. I actually love the back seats. They are elevated on a platform and stretch across the entire back of the bus, so my family can take over and look around without feeling split by the aisle or looking at the back of other people’s heads. Keep in mind that there are seats at the front that are set aside specifically for those with special needs, so don’t take them if you don’t need them. There’s plenty of space even if you don’t see any open seats, so don’t despair. Grab ahold of one of the poles or loops hanging from the ceiling and enjoy the fun of riding in a moving vehicle standing. I’ve done it a few times and it does add a little bit of excitement to the ride.
When the bus heads on its way, listen up. There is a voiceover and music loop on each bus that talks about the park you are headed to and things that are going on at the resort at the time. My favorite time to really tune in to the voice, however, is when I’m pulling back up to the resort where I’m staying. Especially if it is your first time getting there during your trip, pay attention. There’s nothing like being welcomed home to your resort. Sigh of happiness.
Taryn was born and raised, and still lives in Richmond, Virginia. Neither she nor her husband ever had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World when they were children, but when their daughter Avalon came along, they decided she was not going to follow in their footsteps. They brought Avalon for the first time when she was 3 and have been hooked ever since. Now along with Taryn’s mother and equally Disney-loving older brother, they go “home” at least once a year, and by the time she is staring longingly at Cinderella Castle from the ferry on their last night, Taryn is well on her way to planning the next trip. As a group consisting of two adults with Asperger’s, including one who is also vegan, a very accommodating husband, an only child, a senior, and a service dog, they are a pretty special family, but Taryn is excited to show that the World really is The Most Magical Place on Earth and that there is a place there for everyone. When she isn’t thinking about her next Disney adventure and trying to come up with a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party costume that will beat her Oozma Kappa nerd look, she is a professional blogger and novelist, but Taryn also likes to indulge her Disney passion on her Etsy shop It’s Better in Vinyl.