5 Things Disney Bus Drivers Wish You Knew
When you visit Walt Disney World, you’re going to wind up on a bus. It’s inevitable. While the monorail and boat systems are viable options in certain circumstances, the buses are the main form of transportation. Before you board one, however, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Here are a few things Disney bus drivers wish you knew about riding the buses at Walt Disney World.
Don’t Try to Board Immediately
Disney bus drivers have an ordinary of precedence for their pick-ups and drop-offs. When picking up passengers, the first thing that bus drivers will check is whether a passenger is in a wheelchair, scooter, or electronic controlled vehicle (ECV). These guests will board first.
There’s nothing that irritates a bus driver more than guests who try to rush onboard the bus in these situations. They cannot seat you yet, and they will request that you get back off the bus and wait until the ECV passenger is comfortably positioned.
This process requires the tilting of the bus to lower a flat platform in the middle section. Then, the passenger rides over this plank to reach the ECV space on the bus. Technically, there are two of them, although both are rarely in use on the same bus ride, at least in my experience.
Ironically, when you try to rush onto the bus, you slow down the process. The driver must stop the loading of the ECV to tell you to wait your turn. It’s annoying for them and a pointless delay for you.
You Should Ask about Stops
Bus drivers have one of the truly thankless jobs at Walt Disney World. Their services get taken for granted, and they receive a slew of complaints when things go wrong. A bit of communication could sidestep many of these issues, too. Guests just don’t understand how.
When you want to take a bus somewhere, ask the driver whether they’re taking a direct path to the location. At many larger resorts, the bus route may call for several stops, each of which will delay your arrival by several minutes. It’s not the bus driver’s fault, and your directing nasty words at them won’t help any. Instead, you must take accountability here.
Understand that large resorts have multiple stops. Also, accept that smaller resorts may not have enough people to fill a bus. So, Disney will route these buses to other hotels. And some properties are located so close together that it makes perfect sense for stops to occur at multiple hotels.
You can skip a lot of frustration/aggravation by being inquisitive. Your driver will tell you everything that you need to know about stops internally at your current resort or at other resorts. With this knowledge, you can decide whether to take this bus, wait for another one, or debate alternatives like ride-sharing and Minnie Vans.
Understand the Driver’s Job
A Disney cast member has a boss, just like you or me. They can’t do whatever they want on the job. Sometimes, what their dispatcher instructs them to do isn’t great for you…or even them.
For example, imagine if a bus pulls up in front of you and lets off passengers. You’d expect them to accept guests for a return trip. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it’s not always true. On occasion, bus drivers receive different instructions. They must diverge from the standard route to do a special pick-up. In these instances, they know that they’ll face angry customers.
From your perspective, you’ll be standing in line at a Disney theme park for a while. When the bus for your designated hotel arrives, you’ll expect them to, you know, take you to the hotel…only they can’t. They have a new job task and cannot service you.
When this happens, cast members want you to understand that they’re not at fault. They take orders from elsewhere. They know that this turn of events is frustrating to you, but a lot of things can happen.
A bus breakdown or accident elsewhere might force a recalculation of available resources at Dispatch. Alternately, the bus driver could be finishing their shift or heading on break. Remember that bus drivers are people, too, and they have lives. They want to help you, but it’s not always possible.
Drivers Have Nothing to Do with Bus Routes
Here’s a big one. Do you know how Disney recently changed their transportation schedule to Disney Springs? Buses from theme parks now travel to the entertainment district after 4 p.m. Prior to this hour, you must head back to your resort and use the bus transportation there.
For you, this is an added layer of overhead. For the bus driver, it’s another way that you’re likely to get mad at them for something that’s not their fault. Disney executives utilize high-end metrics to decide the most cost- and energy-efficient use of their bus system. When they view a particular route as wasteful, they eliminate it, which is environmentally responsible for them. Bus drivers aren’t the Boogie Man when this happens.
Tipping Isn’t Allowed
Have you ever had that one perfect moment when a Disney bus driver showed up and instantly became your hero? Every Disney park veteran knows that film. After a long, tiring day at the parks, the idea of standing on your feet for another second seems like eternal damnation. When the bus pulls up, you want to hug the driver and thank them for their impeccable timing.
Since you probably shouldn’t hug a stranger without their permission, the next best idea you have is probably to tip the driver. It’s a kind thought that cast members appreciate. However, Disney has somewhat strange rules in place about tipping.
You may tip Magical Express drivers. Anyone who carries you luggage is someone that you SHOULD tip. Boat captains are even on the shortlist of Disney employees who can accept your generosity. Oddly, bus drivers are not, though. Should you offer to tip, they must refuse, which puts them in another awkward position.
What you’re realizing right now is that it’s hard to be a Disney bus driver. The job is relatively thankless, and a lot of the requirements place good people in adversarial positions. That’s why bus drivers wish you knew how hard their job is. It’d make you most empathetic, and hopefully you are now!