Vacation Tips

A Transportation Guide to Walt Disney World

We’ve all gotten to the end of a long theme park day, trudged to the bus depot with visions of that comfortable hotel bed and then encountered a line that was as seemingly as long as all of those attraction queues you’ve just left. The horror! There are are other times in the middle of the day where buses just don’t seem to come to pick up resort guests. After covering where each WDW resort is a few weeks ago, it seemed like a good time to get into how to get around all of these resorts and parks. In this post, we’ll break down all of the transportation options for WDW hotels and how to maximize the efficiency of getting around the entire resort.

Staying at a Walt Disney World hotel enables guests to use the ‘complimentary’ transportation that is offered. Save for the Magical Express, really anyone can use this transportation. It’s also not exactly complimentary, as guests are paying a premium for this and other amenities within the hotel cost but I digress. This transportation is obviously nice to use as it lets guests stay away from having to rent a car and parking every day. But if you’ve been to Walt Disney World a few times then there’s a very good chance that you’ve complained about the bus system at least once. I’m a patient person but I know I have had a few qualms along the way.

Skyliner daytime Pop Century Art of Animation

Thankfully, at least for some of the hotels on site there are ways to work around the often inconsistent bus system. Along with the Disney Skyliner, boats and monorails, taking buses to other resorts can sometimes get you back to your room faster. I’ll start with the value resorts and work our way through all of the Walt Disney World owned hotels. Essentially the more options a resort has, the better! Let’s get to it!

All Star Resorts – Use buses to any of the All Stars

Some of these resorts just don’t really have any other transportation options outside of just direct bus routes. The All Star Resorts fall under that category. If they are running buses to the individual Music, Movies and Sports resorts then don’t be afraid to catch a bus to any of them, regardless of which one you’re staying at. There’s a short walk between each one so if the line for your stop is very long and you notice a shorter line for one of the others then go there, especially around park closing time.

All Star Music Resort pool

Pop Century & Art of Animation – Options galore!

When the Disney Skyliner was added, Pop Century and Art of Animation gained an incredible amenity for a value resort. With brevity in mind, I’ll say that anytime you’re staying at one of these resorts then looking for either one of these buses is a savvy move. It’s just a short walk across Hourglass Lake to get to the other. Beyond that, we’ll break down the transportation options with bullet points because there are lots of them!

  • To Epcot and Hollywood Studios – Use the Skyliner
    • Even if they’re running buses to these parks, the Skyliner will be faster and is a more enjoyable ride.
  • Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, etc. – Bus options
    • Look for buses to either Art of Animation or Pop Century, regardless of where you’re staying.
    • If both lines are backed up (which is common) look for a bus to Caribbean Beach and get off at the station closest to the Skyliner then take that back to the resorts. If Caribbean Beach is backed up then use the same strategy and look for a bus to the Riviera.
    • One last option is catching a bus to Hollywood Studios and riding the Skyliner from there. This likely won’t come into play as buses going from park to park are usually full and the Hollywood Studios closes earlier than some other parks.
Mickey and Foosball Pop Century night

Coronado Springs Resort – Bus only

There’s no other Disney complimentary transportation option outside of buses to Coronado.

Port Orleans Riverside & French Quarter – Buses and boats

Like Pop Century and Art of Animation, catching a bus to either of these resorts and then walking is a good rule of thumb, although Riverside is quite big and has lots of stops. Buses are the only way to the parks unfortunately. Both of these resorts do offer a beautiful boat ride (about 20 minutes) to and from Disney Springs. Adding that to the strategy won’t likely save you anytime but it’s a relaxing way to get around if you want to shop or are getting some food at Disney Springs.

Alligator Marching Band POFQ

Caribbean Beach Resort – We’ve got options!

Caribbean Beach acts similarly to Pop Century & Art of Animation except it may have even more options. The resort is the hub of the Disney Skyliner and that gives guests plenty of ways to get around. To the bullets!

  • To Hollywood Studios – Use the main Skyliner station
    • Regardless of where your hotel room is, using the main station here makes the most sense as getting on at the Riviera will just lead to an unneeded transfer.
  • To Epcot – Use either Skyliner station
    • Here’s where you could take advantage of being so close to the Riviera. If your room is closer to the new resort then walk over to that Skyliner station if you’re going to Epcot. If not, catch the gondola at the main station.
  • Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, etc. – Bus options
    • There are so many options here, the first of which is to just catch a bus to Caribbean Beach or the Riviera. The Riviera is a fairly small hotel so bus waits shouldn’t be extremely high. That said, if you are all the way on the other end of Caribbean Beach then that turns into a long walk and you might as well catch the Riviera Skyliner to the main hub if that’s the case.
    • If those bus lines are long then look to Pop Century or Art of Animation, as that’s the fastest Skyliner ride back to Caribbean Beach. Those bus lines aren’t often short though. Same goes for Hollywood Studios buses.
    • Finally, looking for the Boardwalk or Yacht & Beach Club buses is an option here. They are very close to the Epcot Skyliner Station. However, this involves catching the bus and then a fairly long Skyliner ride. This is a last resort to use if all of the other bus lines mentioned above look very long and there’s no one in these.
Caribbean Beach hammock

Saratoga Springs & Old Key West Resort – Bus and Boats

Both of these Deluxe DVC Resorts essentially offer the same transportation options – boats to Disney Springs and buses to everywhere else. This is a shorter boat ride than Port Orleans so using Disney Springs as a way to get somewhere quicker might be an option. In that same vein, if you have a room at Saratoga Springs that’s close to Disney Springs then you can just walk over. I would generally just catch buses to these resorts without looking elsewhere though, unless it’s extremely backed up then move on to Disney Springs if there’s no line.

Animal Kingdom Lodge – Buses

The biggest downside of this deluxe resort is the location and lack of transportation. It’s bus or bust here! (I’ve been waiting all post to say that.) Depending on where you are, taking a bus to Animal Kingdom and then going to the lodge is a good option assuming a lack of line there. With AKL so close to the park, they run buses to-and-fro pretty quickly.

AKL lobby night

Riviera Resort – Lots of options!

The options here are pretty much identical to Caribbean Beach, thanks to the proximity of the two resorts. That said, catching a bus to the Riviera should be less of a problem than Caribbean Beach because of how much smaller the hotel is. There’s always some weird circumstances that come into play but I don’t think buses here will be a big issue. In case they are, I would probably flip-flop the Pop Century/Art of Animation and Epcot Resort steps of the Caribbean Beach plan. Limiting transfers is what we’re about here!

Riviera side day

Grand Floridian, Polynesian Village, and Contemporary Resorts – Buses and Monorails! And maybe a boat?

The Magic Kingdom Resorts are pretty simple to figure out from a bus point of view. If your home resort has a big bus backup then just catch a bus to one of the other listed resorts or Magic Kingdom. From there you either ride the monorail to your home resort or take a boat from Magic Kingdom, if boats are your thing. Now that there’s a path from Magic Kingdom to both the Contemporary and Grand Floridian, getting around these resorts is even easier. When the TTC-Epcot monorail is running then that makes the location here all the more appealing but it likely won’t help guests speed up getting back to their hotel rooms unless there’s some extreme circumstances.

Poly Bungalows night

Wilderness Lodge & Fort Wilderness – Boats and buses!

Wilderness Lodge & Fort Wilderness are largely bus resorts save for transportation to Magic Kingdom via boats. You can catch a bus to either of these, regardless of which one you’re staying at because a very short boat trip connects them. Typically, there is also a boat that runs from the Contemporary to Wilderness Lodge as well. That likely won’t save you much time though because Wilderness Lodge and the Contemporary generally share a bus when the buses aren’t under COVID protocol. The only trick to use here if it’s really backed up is to take a bus to Magic Kingdom and then boat from there. Generally, that’s not going to save you time unless there’s a huge backup.

Christmas Tree lightburst Wilderness Lodge

Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club Resorts – Skyliner, boats and buses! Oh my!

Saving the most complicated for last? The Crescent Lake Resorts, right outside of Epcot have plenty of options that start with catching a bus to any of these or the Swan & Dolphin, regardless of which one you’re staying at. Unless it’s absurdly hot, the walk between these resorts is pleasant and pretty short. Let’s break this down a little further.

  • To Epcot – Walk!
    • It’s not that far and probably not worth catching a boat for although that is an option. It will slow you down though.
  • To Hollywood Studios – Skyliner, maybe boat.
    • The Skyliner from these resorts will likely be the fastest option. If the line appears to be long then boat transportation may be a good option as it takes about 5-10 minutes longer than the Skyliner ride assuming you don’t have to wait for either.
  • Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, Water Parks – It’s bus time!
    • There’s no other option than bus here. Here’s the order to go. Start with your home resort and if that’s backed up then go for one of the other Epcot area resorts that I listed in the paragraph above.
    • If none of those work very well then head for the Riviera and catch the Skyliner. If that’s bad then Caribbean Beach would be the next best and then you catch the Skyliner again.
    • If the parks aren’t closed and you have a park hopper ticket, you could catch a bus to Epcot and walk through there to your hotel. It’s a longer walk then you think if you’re trying to speed through though.
  • Magic Kingdom – Bus, probably.
    • The fastest option will likely be the bus options I listed above.
    • If you’re feeling adventurous or all of the bus lines are terrible then you could go for the monorail from Magic Kingdom to Epcot and then walk through the park to your resort.
Lighthouse Boardwalk

Confused yet? I think that pretty much covers your options on how to quickly get around WDW and use the resorts that are bunched together.

Do you have any questions or thoughts about this strategy? Let us know, along with any other questions you might have, in the comments below. Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our planning guide for help! If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to the blog and like our social media pages. You can do both of those things on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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