Essential Disney Bus Tips & Hacks You Need to Know
Buses are a fact of life at Walt Disney World. Even when you bring your own car to Walt Disney World, you’ll still need to park it and use Disney transportation while moving around the campus. There’s a lot to know about the bus system, which is the third-largest fleet in the state of Florida. Here are a few bus tips and hacks you can use to improve your visit.
Pay Attention to Traffic Patterns
You’re in the same boat as most other Disney visitors. The times when you want to leave the park are often the times that others do, too. The same is true in reverse. When you’re ready to start your park day, everyone else is thinking the same thing. Buses are at a premium at these times.
You may plan for this through scheduling. Prepare for Rope Drop by leaving your resort 45 minutes early instead of 20 minutes early. The people who do the latter frequently discover that they’ve missed Rope Drop entirely due to the bus crunch. They have to wait longer to catch a ride.
During the day, especially at the end, certain events lead to more substantial park traffic. The afternoon parade is a good example, but the most extreme one is the nightly fireworks presentation. All four Disney parks have one now. While each show is terrific, they cause a weird traffic problem.
Since many guests leave after the fireworks end, the hour after the show is the worst time to grab a bus. The crowds are outrageous, forcing you to wait 45 minutes or more on occasion. Also, let’s just say that most of the other people in line are tired, cranky, and less than ideal conversationalists.
You can avoid this by leaving the fireworks show early or skipping it altogether. These options are better for frequent Disney guests. Those of you who haven’t watched the shows a lot shouldn’t miss them. My suggestion is for you to stay in the park until 15 minutes before closing. You’ll avoid the post-fireworks traffic but also get ahead of the crowd that waits until the last possible second. These two groups create the worst bus crunches.
Understand the Routes at Large Resorts
Here’s a dirty secret about Disney’s largest resorts. They have multiple bus stops along their internal routes. You may have to wait for three or four different drop-offs and pick-ups before you ever leave your hotel. That’s less than ideal, but it’s not the biggest problem.
Disney buses have large capacities, but they’re not unlimited. Buses can and do fill up. When that happens, the drivers skip later routes. The first thing that you should do at your Disney resort is to study the internal bus route. Plan to get picked up at the first stop along the way. That way, you’re guaranteed a spot. Yes, you’ll have to wait for more drop-offs and pick-ups this way, but it’s much better than getting skipped altogether.
Resorts that have this issue include Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Reddit maintains a handy Disney transportation map that you may find useful, too.
Think about Travel Comfort
After a particularly ambitious evening at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, I was done. My feet were blistered, my back was killing me, and I didn’t feel like I could stand for another second. When the bus arrived, I felt like shouting, “MY HERO!”
I was wrong.
As one of the last people on the bus, I didn’t get to sit down. It was completely the opposite. For the longest 20 minutes of my vacation, I stood right behind the bus driver, perilously swaying back and forth. If I had collapsed at that very moment, I might have caused a wreck due to my proximity to the driver and steering wheel.
While I hated the thought at the time, the reality was that I should have let strangers go in front of me. I should have let them get on the relatively full bus while I waited for the next one. As the first person in line for it, I could have sat down and saved my body 20 minutes of agony.
Learn from my stupidity. Sometimes, waiting for the next bus is better for your body than forcing your way onto the current one.
Skip the Buses When Possible
With the Disney Skyliner opening soon, you’ll have unprecedented transportation options at Walt Disney World. You’re no longer as reliant on the bus system. Take advantage of that fact by thinking in 3D when you visit Disney. Remember the skies, my friends!
The Skyliner connects several Disney resorts to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. More importantly, this gondola system connects those two parks together. In combination with the monorail at the front of Epcot, three of Walt Disney World’s parks are accessible without using the bus system. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the only outlier, a place where you must take a bus.
When you’re trying to avoid waiting in line for travel, the Disney Skyliner is superior to the bus system. It’s always in motion, meaning that you can board it almost immediately. Also, since it has a direct and unimpeded path between locations, it’s a quicker trip. Get used to the Disney Skyliner as your preferred form of transportation. It’s simply better.
The only current flaw with the gondola system is that it doesn’t have depots at either water park, ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, or Disney Springs. You’re still 100 percent reliant on the bus system for these destinations. For that matter…
Pay Attention to Disney Springs and the Water Parks
Disney frequently changes its transportation routes. They rely on updated information to decide the most efficient bus system. Please understand that this doesn’t always mean the best thing for customers. Disney wants to use the least amount of gas possible, for economic and environmental reasons. When they see a new way to reduce gas usage, they change their bus routes.
In recent years, Disney has altered the paths to and from the water parks and Disney Springs. Sometimes, these improvements have proved beneficial to park guests. In other instances, well, I said some swears.
You should read MickeyBlog to keep current with updated bus routes. It’s the best way to know about any changes in Disney’s transportation strategy. And a lot is likely to change soon. As recently pointed out, every theme park will have an entirely new entrance over the next two years. Disney will adjust their bus route strategies as part of these changes.
You’re Not Married to the Bus System
Sometimes, you’ll have a run of bad luck with the buses. I call this Tuesday because it seems to happen to us about once a week. On these days, we just can’t catch a bus when we need one, forcing us to wait at the depot for 20 minutes or more. Here’s something we’ve learned in recent years.
The Disney bus system is no longer the only game in town. Ride-sharing services provide guests with a different way to transfer from place to place on the Disney campus. Uber and Lyft both service the area, and taxis are still a thing.
Any of these options can save you time, albeit at the price of some of your vacation budget. Disney has watched this phenomenon unfold and even introduced their own ride-sharing service, Minnie Vans. These vehicles are the most stylish way to move around Walt Disney World.