Welcome back to my unofficial #RWA17 at Walt Disney World Resort planning guide. In this post, we’re going to explore #RWA17 transportation options between the airport and Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort (“Swolphin”) and Disney-operated Resort hotels as well as how to get around Walt Disney World once you’re in the bubble.
Getting to #RWA17 From the Airport
When staying at Swolphin (or other non-Disney-operated Resort hotels)
Here are your transportation options:
- Uber (tips available here) Note: From the airport to the resort, only UberBlack (most expensive option) and UberFamily is allowed to pick up from the airport. There are no restrictions on the return trip back to the airport.
- Mears is the official transportation of the Swolphin resort. (Price – $37 roundtrip for adults <12 & older> and $28 for kids <4-11> plus tip. Kids 3 & under are free. Check around online as sometimes Mears offers discount codes.) Update: Try code WEB10
- Taxi (see this helpful post)
- Private sedan/limo service (read here)
- Rent a car
- Call upon Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother to do a little Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and create a pumpkin-shaped coach for you. (If only this were a real option!)
When staying at a Disney-operated Resort hotel
Assuming you’ve read my previous post about lodging, you’re already aware that for those staying at a Disney-operated resort, transportation to and from Orlando International Airport is complimentary. If your flight arrives between 5AM-10PM, once you land, you can bypass baggage claim and immediately board Disney’s Magical Express. This motorcoach will whisk you away to your Disney resort. Your checked-in luggage will arrive separately to your room (up to three hours later); therefore, be sure to have any necessary items/valuables such as medication and your MagicBands on your person. If your flight is outside that time window, you’ll still board the motorcoach but will take your luggage with you.
To book Disney’s Magical Express, inform your travel agent or select this option when making your Disney Resort reservation via the web or phone. This service is available to both domestic and international travelers. For those flying on participating airlines, here’s a nice added benefit when returning home.
Tip! Yes, I’m repeating myself from my last post on lodging. If you do a split-stay (meaning you’re a guest at Swolphin during the conference dates, but stay at a Disney-operated resort on the front end of your trip), you can use the Magical Express from the airport. If you book a Disney-operated resort on the back end of your Swolphin stay, you can use Magical Express for your return trip home.
You’ve Made It Inside the Disney Bubble. Now What?
You’ve arrived from the airport (or by car or riding Dumbo). Now it’s time to hear about the excellent and FREE transportation network you’ll find within Walt Disney World. Everything I list below is wheelchair accessible and won’t cost you a dime. As a trip to Disney can be costly, this is a good thing!
When I imagine Walt Disney World, right after the iconic Cinderella Castle comes to mind, I picture the monorail. For me and countless others, I consider a trip on the monorail as a ride. It’s up there with zipping through the dark on Space Mountain.
The Walt Disney World monorail has over 150,000 daily riders. I’d argue that, unlike its cousin at Disneyland, this monorail is truly a mode of transportation. Let’s explore the two different monorail routes.
-The first monorail route loops around Seven Seas Lagoon with stops at Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Transportation and Ticket Center, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. This route has two lines. There’s an express line that goes between the Transportation and Ticket Center and Magic Kingdom. The other line stops at all the resorts on the loop as well as Magic Kingdom.
-The second route goes between Epcot and the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Per the Walt Disney World website, “The monorail operates from 30 minutes prior to the earliest theme park opening until 1 hour after the latest park closing.”
Tip! From Swolphin (or any Disney-operated resort), take a bus to Magic Kingdom Park. From there, you can board the monorail (resort loop route) and have yourself one helluva fun night out with your RWA friends. We’ll discuss more in an upcoming post.
Walt Disney World bus transportation is provided to all guests with buses typically departing every 20 minutes. While most destinations (resorts, theme and water parks, and Disney Springs) are accessible by bus, some trips may require a bus transfer. Swolphin and Disney-operated Resorts have designated bus stops. Swolphin guests can board at either the front entrance of the Swan or Dolphin wings.
For parks and resorts, buses generally operate from 45 minutes before a theme park’s opening time until one hour after a theme park’s closing time. For Disney Springs, buses to the resorts go until 2AM. If staying out past that time (a clear indication you’re having serious fun), you can take an Uber/Lyft or taxi back to your resort.
Walt Disney World was built on a swamp, so there’s plenty of lakes on property. And to get across lakes, you need boats! Fortunately, Disney’s water transportation is pretty comprehensive. Most water taxis and ferry routes operate on 15- to 30- minute intervals. Keep in mind, most destinations do not have direct service, rather they operate on a loop, picking up and dropping off along the way. Water transportation may not be available during inclement weather.
Like the monorail resort loop I described above, you can also take a water taxi to those same resorts as well as Magic Kingdom. It’s quite nice out on the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake (especially at night). You could definitely make a night of it, but I’ll focus more on that topic at another time.
With regards to Swolphin, you can board the Friendship Boats that loop around Crescent Lake, making stops at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, and Disney’s Yacht Club. The Friendship Boats also travel to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Swolphin guests can board from the boat dock located between the Swan and Dolphin wings.
There are ferry boats that take you from the Transportation and Ticket Center (a.k.a. Magic Kingdom’s parking lot) to the theme park’s entrance. (I’ll dive more into the theme parks in the future.) There’s also separate boat service that operates in the waterway connecting Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Disney’s Saratoga Springs, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, and Disney Springs.
Transportation to the Theme and Water Parks
Magic Kingdom – accessible by bus, monorail (if staying at a resort in that area), private car/Uber/Lyft/taxi (via Transportation and Ticket Center), ferry boat, and water taxi.
Epcot – accessible by monorail (if coming from Magic Kingdom area), bus, Friendship Boats (from Swolphin/BoardWalk area), private car/Uber/Lyft/taxi. You can also walk there from the conference hotel.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – accessible by bus, Friendship Boats (from Swolphin/BoardWalk area), and private car or Uber/Lyft/taxi. You can also walk here from the conference hotel.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park – accessible by bus and private car/Uber/Lyft/taxi
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach – accessible by bus and private car/Uber/Lyft/taxi
As described on the Walt Disney World website, here are how the theme parks are connected when it comes to transportation:
- Magic Kingdom and Epcot are connected via monorail.
- Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are connected via boat
- Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are connected via bus
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom is connected to the 3 other theme parks via bus
Tip! Download the My Disney Experience app on your phone. By clicking on the link, you’ll find instructions on how to download it and get set up. Since you’ll need this app for a myriad of reasons while at Walt Disney World, I strongly suggest you install it on your phone. I’ll dive further into all the benefits of the app in the future, but for now, just know it will provide you with directions (whether walking or utilizing Disney transportation) as well as ETA information when onsite. That’s a lot of valuable information right at your fingertips!
Resort Hotel to Other Resort Hotel Transportation Within Walt Disney World
No matter whether you’re staying at Swolphin or a Disney-operated hotel, there is no free direct transportation to other resort hotels at Walt Disney World (with the exception of resorts on the monorail loop). Some resorts are easier to get to than others, but most aren’t too difficult of a trip.
While at Walt Disney World, you can utilize the My Disney Experience app or ask Cast Members for assistance to get you where you need to go. More often than not, if you do not have your own car, calling for an Uber or Lyft will be your best option when resort hopping.
This concludes my discussion on Disney transportation. As always, if you have a question, feel free to ask away by clicking on the comment box below. I’m happy to help.
Visit here if you’ve missed other topics in this planning guide. There, you’ll find a calendar to help you keep track of key dates. Be sure to also heck out my Pinterest Board which complements this planning guide.
This unofficial guide is not associated with Romance Writers of America® . I am not receiving any compensation or gifts for these blog posts.
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