Disney World Resort Transportation: The Ridesharing Bus Showdown

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If you’re staying at a Walt Disney resort, you may be wondering what the Disney World resort transportation system has to offer. Rest assured, that Disney has several free and reliable options to take you from your resort and back again, including buses, boats and the monorail, but you may be wondering how they stack up to some of the newer travel options, such as ride sharing and Minnie Vans.

To answer this question, we ran several comparison tests pitting Disney World buses up against ridesharing and Minnie Vans. We evaluated each option on five basic criteria, including speed, efficiency, cleanliness, driver friendliness, safety and overall experience, and the results may surprise you.

If this is your first trip to Disney World or your first time staying onsite, you  might want to brush up on your Disney World transportation travel options. Otherwise, dive right into our comparison.

The Ins and Outs of Disney’s Complimentary Bus Service

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Disney World Buses Ranked

  • Efficiency: 4/10
  • Length of travel: 8/10
  • Cleanliness: 8/10
  • Driver friendliness: 5/10
  • Safety: 10/10
  • Overall Experience: 7/10

Unless the resort is serviced by the monorail or a ferry boat, you can expect to take advantage of the Disney World resort transportation bus service when traveling to the parks, including Disney Springs, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. You can also hop on a bus to travel between parks.

Bus service is always complimentary, which is its biggest perk. For many people, it’s part of the Disney experience, so fortunately, there have been some considerable upgrades to make the service easier to use.

Monitors were added to resort bus depots a few years ago. They track buses headed to your stop and alert you to the arrival time. This same service was recently made available through the My Disney experience app, allowing you to skip the wait at your resort bus depot and enjoy a few extra moments in the comfort of your room. Despite these new improvements, the 12 guests in our party rated the system low on efficiency and moderate on overall experience.

Understanding the Low Efficiency Rating for Disney World Resort Transportation System Buses

Disney World resort transportation system buses ranked low in efficiency and overall experience due to a variety of reasons. One, was how long we had stood in line at the stop waiting for the next bus. Waits could feel particularly onerous when we were trying to leave a park.

Exiting during midday meant waiting long periods of time for the bus to arrive. Since fewer people travel this time of day, fewere buses are dispatched.

Once the bus arrives, you could wait again. If not fully loaded, buses must wait a minimum amount of time at each park for other guests. If you’re one of the first at the stop, you may easily find your self waiting for the bus and then again on the bus.

Loading times had a big impact on the overall experience factor. For instance, the rising number of ECVs in use throughout the parks can quickly throw a wrench in estimated travel times. Each scooter requires 4-7 minutes to load. This is important to note for a variety of reasons. If you’re traveling with an ECV or a passenger of one, you will be loaded before other guests waiting at the stop, almost assuring you a seat on the arriving bus. However, you’ll need to account for the additional loading time in your travel plans.

If four to seven minutes doesn’t seem like much of an adjustment to your time schedule, consider the impact of other passengers with wheelchairs or ECVs.

Buses are equipped to hold a limited number of units. If several passengers riding scooters are in front of you in line, you may be asked to wait for the next bus. That could add an additional 20 minutes or more to your travel plans.

If you’re a foot passenger, be advised that ECVs usually take the place of three to four seats. A similar situation holds true if a lot of parents are traveling with larger strollers. Even when folded, these devices consume space, limiting the number of standing passengers the bus can hold.

In either case, if you’re at the end of a long line, you could easily not make the cutoff and have to wait for the next bus in line. That could add another 10 to 30 minutes to your travel time as you wait for the arrival of the next bus.

Disney World Bus Stop Configuration or Location Also Impacts Efficiency Ratings.

Passengers wait at a resort depot to board a bus as part of the Disney World resort transportation system.
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Many resorts have more than one stop for buses, increasing efficiency. At Animal Kingdom Kidani Village, for instance, there is ample room for multiple buses to pull up and load. If one bus is boarding a large group of people or an ECV, it doesn’t hold up others going to different locations.

At the Grand Floridian, however, there is one loading station. In the evening, when a large number of people were heading to Disney Springs, we waited ten minutes to board a bus to Animal Kingdom. The bus was at the resort waiting, but two buses loading ECVs and a large number of people were ahead of it, causing a backup of vehicles going to other locations around the world.

When it comes to efficiency, Disney World resort transportation buses serving moderate and value resorts often rank higher than those servicing Deluxe resorts. These resorts tend to be larger and hold more guests. To accommodate the increased numbers, multiple bus stops are offered.

One surveyed party of three staying at Port Orleans, found pick up from the parks to be more frequent than buses going to their deluxe cousins. In some cases, articulated buses were in use, doubling the number of people that could be picked up in a single trip.

The same party also reported minimal waits for pickups at the resorts and the parks. However, their opinions may be slightly skewed due to the fact that their depot was the first on the route. The same party rated efficiency extremely low for the Coronado when their room was located near the last depot. Buses were often full by the time they arrived causing added waits of up to 30 minutes at peak travel times.

How Disney World Buses Rank in Other Categories 

Rules sign for Disney buses
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Despite the low efficiency rating, the buses in the Disney World resort transportation fleet ranked surprisingly high for cleanliness, even though each bus is in a near constant state of operation. Disney World bus driver friendliness on the other hand, was a mixed bag, with drivers scoring from high to low. While some were quite engaging, others found it challenging to reply to a civil greeting or a friendly, “Hello”. On one occasion, we had taken seats near the doors, knowing that we were disembarking at the first bus stop. A rather quirky driver corralled us all to the back of the bus, citing “security reasons”. He then proceeded to load the bus with additional passengers, allowing them to select seats or standing room wherever they chose.

If you haven’t experienced it yet, you should know that navigating a full bus of passengers when you arrive at your stop doesn’t always end well, especially If most of the passengers are remaining on the vehicle. In this case, the driver started to leave before we had squeezed our way to the doors. Fortunately, a man with a much deeper bravado managed to be heard above the noise, urgently demanding that the driver “stop the bus” before we had traveled too far past our stop to get off.

On the other hand, when you have a good bus driver, it can make the trip. One operator rivalled even the best Minnie Van driver, regaling us with facts and updates about the resorts and parks as we traveled to the Magic Kingdom.

Disney World Buses Compete on Speed

When it comes to speed, the Disney World resort transportation fleet doesn’t  always come in last. On one test run, leaving Animal Kingdom right at closing, a portion of our party took the bus, while the remainder hailed a Lyft driver. Since the bus was pulling up to the station at the time the party arrived, they actually made it back to the Grand Floridian a minute and a half before the Lyft ride.

At other times, we were forced to wait for a second bus, or for the loading of an ECV or large numbers of strollers, and in most cases, the ride-sharing or Minnie Van service was always faster. For instance, a Lyft trip from Kidani Village to Animal Kingdom was completed in just over 12 minutes, while the same bus trip took 18 minutes after loading two ECVs at Jambo House, the bus’ second stop before traveling to the park.

Disney World Resort Transportation: How Ride Sharing Stacks Up

Valet drop off and pick up area for ride sharing at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village
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Uber and Lyft Ranked

  • Efficiency: 8.5/10
  • Length of travel: 9/10
  • Cleanliness: 6/10
  • Driver friendliness: 5/10
  • Safety: 4/10
  • Overall Experience: 7/10

As ubiquitous as ridesharing has become, it’s no surprise that this popular service has also come to Disney World. Guests can easily hail an Uber or Lyft anywhere on Disney property.

In our recent trip, we had one dedicated Uber user while the rest of us relied on Lyft as the official provider to Disney World Resorts. In our experience, we saw little difference between the quality of the two services as many drivers worked for both companies.

Uber, Lyft and Minnie Van Efficiency

Whether you’re traveling by Minnie Van, Lyft or Uber, drivers can pick you up right in front of the resort. For deluxe resorts, this means taking a stroll to the lobby to meet your ride. At moderate and value resorts where each building has its own parking, you may opt to be picked up a little closer to home.

The only drawback to ride-sharing efficiency comes when traveling to the Magic Kingdom. Disney does not allow Uber and Lyft drivers to access the park. They must drop guests off at the Transportation and Ticket Center. From there, you must take the ferry service or monorail into the park. Since resort transportation drops passengers off directly in front of the gates, without the added transfer at the TTC, it’s advisable to skip Uber or Lyft when heading to this park.

Efficiency can also be slightly impeded when traveling from one resort to another. While buses and Minnie Vans are able to pass directly through resort security checkpoints, ride sharing drivers must stop at the security booth and explain their intentions. Sometimes this was as simple as showing a card to the attendant, but most often required an explanation from one of us as to why we were entering the resort.

“I’m staying here” or “I have a dinner reservation” was usually sufficient, but we did encounter extra diligence when traveling to resorts on the monorail line. One of the perks of staying at a Magic Kingdom resort is access to the exclusive monorail that operates strictly for the benefit of these guests. As a result, security officials at resorts such as the Grand Floridian and Polynesian were diligent in routing out those who were looking to bypass the TTC by boarding the monorail through one of the Magic Kingdom resorts. On at least one occasion, we were asked to confirm the restaurant we were visiting before being allowed to enter.

Convenience was another positive factor with ride sharing. Since it turned quite cool for several days of the trip, it was nice to wait in the comfort of the lobby for our ride to arrive. The app reported when the driver was nearby. A quick check of his location on our phone told us when he had cleared security and was near the lobby. We could then walk out just as the driver was pulling up.

Resort and walkway in Port Orleans
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Resorts like Port Orleans Riverside, have multiple bus stops to accommodate the many buildings within the resort.

Ride Sharing Transit Time Ratings

When it comes to speed and efficiency, ride sharing received high marks from our test group. Signaling a ride through the app was simple, and we waited on average only 5 to 8 minutes for the driver to arrive, sometimes much less. The wait for a bus, on the other hand, averaged 12 minutes.

If you’re wondering how long your ride-sharing travel will take, here are some actual travel times experienced during our test trip.

Pick up Location & TimeDrop off LocationTravel Time
Grand FloridianAnimal Kingdom16 minutes
Port Orleans RiversideAnimal Kingdom14 minutes
Animal KingdomGrand Floridian16 minutes
Animal Kingdom LodgeEPCOT9 minutes
Wilderness LodgeAnimal Kingdom Lodge17 minutes
Port Orleans RiversideAnimal Kingdom Lodge15 Minutes
a chart of actual ride sharing times we experienced during our last visit
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Ride Sharing Driver Friendliness

Another area we evaluated ride sharing at Disney World was driver friendliness, and we had mixed reviews here as well. On a positive note, one driver transporting the group from Port Orleans Riverside to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner came equipped with water bottles, candy, and charging cables, as well as a wealth of friendly, informative conversation. His service was top rate and earned him two different tips from members of our party. Unfortunately, this was the exception, rather than the rule.

Seventy percent of the drivers received low marks on the friendliness scale, most for refusing to engage in conversation or for eliciting overall disinterest in their passengers. While this may be standard ride-sharing behavior, it isn’t what guests at Disney expect from their vacation experience, and drivers hoping to gain tips might want to step up their game.

On the other hand, all Minnie Van drivers received high marks for friendliness, owing to Disney’s stringent standards in this regard and the fact that becoming a Minnie Van driver is a privilege not offered to all.

Ride Sharing Cleanliness

Cleanliness met our expectations with most ride-sharing drivers receiving high marks. However, approximately a quarter of vehicles did cause a few eyebrows to raise. Stains in the upholstery or bad smells were the primary reasons. Out of 20 rides, only one vehicle completely failed on the cleanliness scale.

Of the 7 Minnie Vans we experienced, all were exceptionally clean.

Ride Sharing Safety

Overall, ridesharing safety was acceptable. However, when things went wrong, they did so in a big way. During one early morning ride to Animal Kingdom, the driver exceeded 60 miles per hour in a 40 MPH zone and reckelessly weaved in and out of traffic. Comments from us, fell on deaf ears, as his cell phone rang continuously off the hook.

At drop off, he sprinted to the door and threw it open, seemingly ready to pull us from the vehicle. As we discussed the ride after being dropped off, we surmised that he felt a sense of urgency to take the incoming call, and therefor put us all at risk.

Another driver rolled through stop signs, waited until the last minute to hit the brakes, and drove faster than the speed limit or prevailing traffic throughout the entire ride, all while chatting about how important tips were to Uber and Lyft drivers. We thought perhaps it was time for him to consider a career change.

Overall, we did notice a difference between regular Uber or Lyft drivers and the premium service offered through either app. When paying the upgraded fee, drivers were much more likely to be responsible and concerned for passenger safety.

When it came to Minnie Van travel, we never felt at risk, nor did we have any reason to question the driver’s commitment to safety.

Ridesharing Overall Experience Rating

When it comes to overall experience, ride-sharing won unanimous raves from our test group. Being able to duck out of the crowds for a few minutes and savor the comfort of a private ride was especially appreciated at park close. Ride sharing was also exceptionally convenient for traveling from one resort to another for dinner reservations. This is an area where Disney has little coverage, in many cases requiring guests to travel to the nearest park or Disney Springs, and then transfer to a resort-bound mode of transportation.

Cost, while not a factor in this evaluation, ranged from just over $6.00 a ride to over $20, depending upon the size of the vehicle, the class (regular or luxury), the distance, and the time of day. One Uber driver revealed that prices were three times higher around park opening and closing than at other times of day. We did indeed notice an increase over middle of the day travel.

If you plan to use ride-sharing while at Disney World, be sure to download the Lyft or Uber app and set it up before you arrive.

Disney World Resort Transportation System Now Offers Minnie Vans

Minnie Vans Ranked

  • Efficiency: 7/10
  • Length of travel: 9/10
  • Cleanliness: 9/10
  • Driver friendliness: 10/10
  • Safety: 10/10
  • Overall Experience: 8/10

Minnie Vans are the newest offering on the Disney World resort transportation slate but are not part of the complimentary system. Like Uber and Lyft, they require an additional fee, a cost that can be quite high depending upon your travel distance and when you are riding. As for overall experience, Minnie Van travel is a way to remain inside the Disney bubble of contentment as you move to and from your destination.

Vehicles are festive, inspired by our Matron Minnie Mouse with her signature colors and white polka dots. Each Chevrolet Traverse can accommodate larger groups up to six. We experienced several rides in the Minnie Van with six adults and all were fairly comfortable during the ride.

According to one of our drivers, Disney is now expanding their fleet to include larger Suburbans. These vehicles have been adopted primarily to accommodate families who want to travel in style to and from the airport, but we did see them in use in and around the parks.

Giving another nod to the overall experience as well as driver friendliness, It’s important to note that all Minnie Van operators are hired by Disney as part of the Disney World resort transportation system. As such, they go out of their way to make your ride enjoyable.

In our recent tests of the Minnie Van service, the drivers we encountered were polite, respectful and willing to engage in conversation, sharing what they know about the area and even upcoming improvements to the parks and resorts. In this test, 100% of our drivers scored high marks

Minnie Vans Extremely Efficient if You Can Get Them

When it comes to efficiency, Minnie Vans have some strong positives going for them. For instance, all Minnie Vans carry car seats and the drivers are trained in their installation. This is
a real plus for families who might otherwise be forced out of the advantages of ride-sharing.

Minnie Vans are also the only vehicles, aside from Disney buses, allowed into the loading and unloading hub in front of the Magic Kingdom. They’ve been allotted their own bus stop for dropping off and picking up passengers, making this service one of the best options for getting to and from the park, if you don’t mind spending the extra cash.

arch entrance to Walt Disney World
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Minnie Vans, like buses, are permitted to drop guests off at the Magic Kingdom. Other ride sharing providers must drop guests at the Transportation Ticket Center.

All is not coming up roses for Minnie Van efficiency, however. At peak travel times, the vehicles are in scarce supply. During the roll out of Minnie Vans in 2018, we attempted to hail a Minnie Van to take us to the Early Morning Magic at Toy Story. We sent the request through the app at 6:50. Disney’s website indicates that Minnie Vans are available as early as 6:30 in the morning, but after 5 minutes of searching for an available driver, we gave up and took a Lyft.

We experienced the same scenario the next time we hailed a Minnie Van through the Lyft app. We were heading to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party from Boma restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge at 6:40 on a Tuesday night. The party started at 7:00 pm, and it took 10 minutes for the Lyft app to find a van with availability. The service timed out several times and we were required to reinitiate the request before finally finding a driver.

Unfortunately, a more recent test of the service in 2023 revealed a similar pattern. We opened the app at 7:00 am to request a ride to Early Morning Entry at Magic Kingdom beginning at 8:30 am. All Minnie Vans were in use.

To combat this problem, Disney has introduced a reservation service. If you know you are going to need a ride to Magic Kingdom on a certain date and time, simply tap into the app the day before. You’ll be offered the option to schedule your Minnie Van pickup. New improvements like these have greatly enhanced the efficiency of the service, but still leads little room for sponteneity. Because of this, our efficiency scores were lower than they could have been, considering other factors such as how comfortable it is to get where you’re going.

Minnie Van Transit Times

Once seated and on our way to Magic Kingdom, we accomplished the ride from Animal Kingdom Lodge in Minnie Van 45 in 19 minutes. Minnie Van speed is on par with other ride sharing competitors. A return trip from the Magic Kingdom to Kidani Village on a different night, with a drop off at Shades of Green, was accomplished in 22 minutes.

Driver Friendliness and Other Factors

Where overall experience is concerned, driver friendliness was a clear advantage over other forms of transportation. Comfort also rated highly over bus service and standard Lyft or Uber rides, but was ranked on par with either ride sharing service’s luxury line.

Cost was one detractor on the overall experience scale. A ride from Kidani Village to Magic Kingdom netted a fare of $44.60 on a night when Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party was held. Conversely, the same trip well before park closing and with an added stop at Shades of Green cost less at $43.43.

To give you a basis for comparison, a standard Lyft ride from EPCOT to Kidani Village, a similar 7-plus mile distance, was only $12.70. Taking Lyft’s Lux service from Wilderness Lodge to Kidani (again, a similar distance) resulted in a fare of $28, a little more than half of the Minnie Van fare.

Overall, we enjoyed the Minnie Van service and would use it again under certain circumstances. While far more enjoyable than Lyft or Uber, the cost was pricey and not always worth the added benefits.

Finding the Fastest Disney World Resort Transportation Option

While we expected to save a lot of time using ride sharing services over the Walt Disney World Bus transportation, the numbers did not always prove that to be the case. When traveling close to park openings or closing, when more buses and drivers are in service, we waited, on average 4-7 minutes for either a bus or a car driver to arrive. This was consistent whether we were traveling to or from the park.

Minnie van service, on the other hand, averaged 5-10 minutes to locate a car. Often, we gave up and took another mode of transportation.

When evaluating transit times, buses did take a little longer than Minnie Van or ridesharing, particularly when making stops at multiple pick up/drop off points. A tester staying at Port Orleans Riverside reported that it took a bus just over 6 minutes to make its round of stops during non-peak travel times, but increasing the number of individuals getting on at a stop, particularly when ECVs or strollers were concerned, could raise the inner resort travel time significantly.

Traveling mid-day, when fewer buses are in service, did have an impact on wait times. While we experienced a minimal one- to two-minute extra wait when hailing a ride service, we found that it could take buses 15 to 25 minutes to arrive at either the park or the resort, though most were on the shorter end of that range.

Once enroute, all modes of transportation traveled to and from the resorts at similar rates of speed.

When to Use Ridesharing or Minnie Vans over Buses

In our estimation, there are a few times when you might benefit more from using either ride sharing or Minnie Vans over Disney World resort transportation bus service or vice versa:

Middle of the day travel

Since most guests are in the park at this time, fewer buses are usually running. That means waiting for one to arrive at your stop could take longer. On the positive side, you’re almost certain to get a seat and may only share the space with a few other travelers.

If traveling from your resort, check the wait time on the My Disney Experience app or at the bus stop monitor and then decide whether it would be quicker to travel by car.

Resort to Resort travel

You’ve finally snagged that character breakfast at O’hana or Chef Mickey’s, but how do you get there from your resort? Usually by traveling first to one of the open parks or Disney Springs, and then transferring to a resort-bound mode of transportation. This process can take up to an hour in some circumstances.

To make sure you arrive on time for your reservation, and to simplify the travel process, it might be better to take a Lyft or Minnie Van.

Younger Travelers

It isn’t uncommon for our travel party to include high school students. Often, they return to the hotel in the middle of the day to complete school work. It’s a personal preference, but I feel safer allowing them to travel solo on the Disney World resort transportation system over Lyft or Uber.

You Want to Travel in Style

Sometimes you just want to treat yourself. You are on vacation after all. If that’s the case, then by all means, take the Minnie Van, Lyft or Uber.

You’re Tired of the Crowds or You Don’t Feel Well

Buses can get crowded around park opening and closing. Often it’s standing room only, which may not be your favorite way to start or end your day. On one trip, two members of our party fell ill during the day. In either case, taking the Minnie Van or car will definitely keep you singing a happy tune.

A Special Note to Guests of Magic Kingdom-Area Resorts

If you are staying at the Contemporary, Bay Lake Towers, Grand Floridian or Polynesian Villages, your best bet is to take the monorail to Magic Kingdom. Resorts now conduct guest bag checks before allowing entrance to the monorail. This can be a real time saver when entering the parks as lines at the monorail metal detectors are often much shorter than those you will experience at the parks.

For travel to other theme parks, follow the guidelines above.

Have you used Disney’s Minnie Van service or ride sharing to get around the parks? If so, what are your thoughts?


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Mother daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S.

We're Kat and Ali, a pair of mother-daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S. We're sharing our experiences, tips and insights to help you more easily get out and explore the beautiful landscapes and places of this nation.


Kathleen Hesketh

Kathleen is a travel agent with Mickey World Travel, a platinum level Authorized Disney vacation planner, where she helps people discover the magic of a Disney vacation and other travel destinations. She is also the chief author and editor for Seconds to Go - a travel blog where she shares experiences from traveling the U.S. with her daughters. Kathleen has been a professional writer for more than a decade, helping businesses craft compelling content to advance organizational goals.

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