One of the best ways to maximize your time at Walt Disney World is to attend an Early Morning Magic event or schedule your breakfast dining experiences early in the morning. Many Table Service locations at the resort begin serving breakfast before parks open, allowing guests to enter the park before the day crowd and enjoy their meal with time left to start their touring early. Those with early morning reservations may be wondering what the best way is to get to their meal or any other activity that starts before theme parks open. Let’s check out the Professor’s guide to early morning Disney transportation.
The most readily available transportation option open to Walt Disney World Resort guests is the Disney bus system. These buses are complimentary and offer transportation to all theme parks, hotels, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and Disney Springs. Although official posted operating times list the buses as beginning 45 minutes prior to opening, in our experience it’s usually 2 hours before. This window will also apply for parks hosting an Early Morning Magic event where the park is opened a few hours before the posted time at an additional charge. While Disney buses tend to be reliable, there can be delays due to construction and traffic. Generally, buses run every 20 minutes or so, but using this option requires adding a bit more travel time to your plans, in the event of a bus running late. If your family usually has issues getting to things on time, the bus may not be your best option.
Bus arrival times can now be tracked at resorts with the use of information screens in the bus stops. The screens can give updated arrival times as well as park hours and weather. These times can also be tracked in the My Disney Experience app, under your resort information page.
The option for early morning transportation that tends to be the most reliable also comes at a premium. The Minnie Vans are a fleet of vehicles owned and operated by Disney. These vans can seat up to 6 people and come with complimentary child car seats. Minnie Vans are decked out in Minnie Mouse polka-dots and operate through the Lyft rideshare app. Much like a Lyft or Uber, these cars can be requested by a mobile device and met at designated areas in parks and hotels. The difference lies in the Minnie Vans ability to drop guests off directly in front of the Magic Kingdom (in the bus loop area) while other rideshare drivers can only drop guests at the Transportation and Ticket Center. This makes these cars a great option for guests with early morning reservations at the Magic Kingdom.
Minnie Vans have a base pick-up rate of $15 with a fee of $2.75 to $3.00 per mile, depending on demand. The vans can be a bit slow to pick you up in times of high demand like park openings and closings, so you’ll want to make sure you reserve your car ample time to get to your destination.
Lyft and Uber
If the price of a Minnie Van isn’t in your budget, you can always use a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber for a smaller price. Both of these services are allowed to operate on Walt Disney World property 24 hours a day, and can transport guests to any onsite destination for rates much lower than a Minnie Van. There is a catch however when it comes to the Magic Kingdom, as we mentioned before. Rideshare drivers are only allowed to drop guests off at the Transportation and Ticket Center, where they will then need to transfer to a monorail or boat to the Magic Kingdom gates. If you’re planning to use this option for your early morning arrival to reservations like Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest, you’ll want to add in extra travel time to get through the TTC.
Boats and Monorail
Guests staying at select Walt Disney World resorts have access to boat and/or monorail transportation to theme parks. Boats and monorails usually begin service at 7 a.m. and while the boats can be relatively reliable, the monorails tend to encounter maintenance and technical difficulties that constantly slow them down. This makes the monorail an iffy choice for getting to an important reservation. While the experience of arriving at Epcot or the Magic Kingdom by monorail can be an exciting one, the Professor doesn’t recommend it for a reliable mode of transportation.
Disney’s newest form of complimentary transportation, the Disney Skyliner, is also the most fun way to get around the resort. This gondola-based system operates much like those found at ski resorts and connects guests at Disney’s Pop Century, Disney’s Art of Animation, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and the upcoming Riviera Resort with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The new system uses a quick-moving loading system ensuring that gondolas will be constantly running at all times. This makes the Skyliner a quick and easy way to get to reservations at those parks. Here’s the current schedule through December 2019 for the Disney Skyliner:
- September 29 & 30th 8 am- 10 pm
- October: Sunday, Monday, & Wednesday from 8 am-10 pm
- October: Tuesdays 8 am- 12 am
- October: Thursdays 7 am- 11 pm
- October: Friday & Saturdays 8 am- 10 pm
- November: Sunday, Monday, & Wednesday from 8 am-10 pm
- November: Tuesdays 8 am- 12 am
- November: Thursdays 7 am- 11 pm
- November: Friday & Saturdays 8 am- 10 pm
- * Beginning Friday, November 29th hours change to 8 am- 10:30 pm
- December: Sunday, Monday, & Wednesday from 8 am-10:30 pm
- December: Tuesdays 8 am– 12:30 am
- December: Thursdays 7 am- 10:30 pm
- December: Friday & Saturdays 8 am- 10:30 pm
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Some Photos Courtesy Disney