Ultimate Guide to the Boats of Walt Disney World
You’ve doubtlessly boarded several boats if you’ve ever visited Walt Disney World Resort. Pirates of the Caribbean and Living With the Land’s attraction vessels definitely count, but those types of boats run on tracks and don’t require a captain…but they are certainly boats! Have you opted to take the boat to Magic Kingdom instead of the monorail? Have you taken a boat from The Contemporary to The Polynesian? How about one from Epcot to Hollywood Studios? The attraction boats have a big job: make sure the guests are transported into whatever story is being told, that’s a huge task! Believe it or not though, these other boats have an arguably bigger job: transport guests TO and FROM the magic, as fast and comfortably as possible! The water transportation is so often overshadowed by busses and monorails that it is about time they, and their trusty captains, got the recognition they deserve! Here’s your ultimate guide to the Boats of Walt Disney World!
Believe it or not, there are 5 vastly different types of boats that run daily all across Walt Disney World Resort, and they are meant for one purpose and one purpose alone: to get you from point A to point B quickly, comfortably, and absolutely free of charge. The Water Launches patrol the lake that connects Disney’s Polynesian Village, Disney’s Grand Floridian, Disney’s Contemporary, Disney’s Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge, and the Magic Kingdom. These vessels are easily recognizable by two distinct features: they are the smallest of the water craft and they are the lowest to the water. You can catch one of the Water Launches from any of the above ports and you’ll soon be off on your leisurely yet speedy journey to your destination!
The motor cruisers patrol the waterway that connects Bay Lake to Seven Seas Lagoon and takes passengers from Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds to the Magic Kingdom from well before the park opens ‘till after closing. Contrary to the Motor Launches, these boats are HUGE! Their jutting, pointed bows are the giveaway for these gigantic water taxis, and their massive scope is best highlighted when you see one of these babies docked next to a seemingly puny Water Launch! Even if you aren’t staying at the Wilderness Lodge Resort area, a tour on this watercraft takes you over a man-made water bridge that is totally worth the trip! Their size is only rivaled by that of the Magic Kingdom Ferry.
Magic Kingdom Ferry Boats
Speaking of those Magic Kingdom Ferries, they’re the next up on our watercraft tour of Walt Disney World! If you’ve ever chosen to ride the Ferry instead of the Monorail, you know just how many people these boats can accommodate on a single journey. Have you ever worried that hundreds upon hundreds of passengers boarded the boats ahead of you and you’d have to wait for the next boat? Me too, but I bet that you too fit on that boat as each one can hold up to 600 guests at a time! Each of the Ferries are unique, and next time you ride, make sure to check out the history behind the name of your vessel- there are plaques and photos inside each one describing the person from which the boat derived its name!
After a long, hot day of walking in the Parks, I love to spend my evenings at Disney Springs! One of my favorite things to do is to walk through the Springs at night without an agenda and pop in and out of different restaurants, shops, and bars as my travel buddies’ hearts desire…but at the end of a day in the Disney Parks, walking is often the last thing I want to do! That is where the River Cruisers come in to save the day! If you’ve been to Disney Springs and looked out over the water, you’ve doubtlessly seen the flat, ferry-looking boats that chug their way across the vast and gorgeous waterways. Not only are these boats great for weary feet that want to make it from the West Side to the Marketplace, they are the boats that connect Disney Springs with Saratoga Springs and the Port Orleans Resorts!
Inside Epcot, all across Crescent Lake, and down the river to Hollywood Studios is where you can board the indoor-only Friendship Boats. Save for the Motor Cruisers, these are the only boats that offer indoor (aka air conditioned) seating- which is exactly what the doctor orders on a hot and sticky Central Florida afternoon! The boats connect the Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Clubs, Swan and Dolphin, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. Phew…that’s a lot of ground- or should I say water- to cover! When you’ve got a boat responsible for covering that much open water that weights as much as the Friendship Boats do…it’s no wonder it takes almost 25 mins for the boat to make it from Epcot to Hollywood Studios! You can also find the Friendship Boats inside Epcot- they’re the handy cruisers that make the trip from World Showcase Plaza to the heart of World Showcase an easy breezy experience!
If you’re as interested and intrigued by the different boats of Walt Disney World as I am, you’ll definitely want to start collecting Transportation Cards! If you’ve never heard of them before, you can read up on the whole experience here and join in on the fun the next time you visit! All you have to do is ask your Captain for a card, and you’re well on your way to starting a great collection! Who has ridden every single one of the Walt Disney World boats? Let us know in the comments, we can’t wait to hear all about your experiences!
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Special thanks to Maria Salerno for writing this article: Hiya pal! I am a NYC-based writer thrilled to be a part of your Walt Disney World vacation planning! I’m a WDW Annual Passholder, so you can find me in the parks regularly throughout the year. In addition to being a Disney Parks loving girl, I’m also a Disney toy and merchandise collector, a runDisney enthusiast, and Disney music and movie aficionado. You can follow me on Instagram: NYCtoAP and find me on YouTube: NYCtoAP. Thanks for reading, hope to see ya real soon!