When my parents so kindly drove Howard and me to the airport this past January for our trip to Disney World, my dad mentioned that we should have stayed at their timeshare instead of on property because it would be cheaper. He started talking about the car rental costs, but I explained to him that we don't rent a car. Later on in the day, my mom emailed me and said my dad had asked her how we were going to get from the airport to the resort. Considering that as a family we've only stayed at the timeshare and never on property, my dad didn't know all the transportation benefits of staying at Disney. It's just another one of the wonderful reasons why we choose WDW as our vacation destination!
The first leg of the trip is always exciting. Flying to Orlando and seeing the store of Disney souvenirs in MCO is just the start of being immersed in the Disney magic. After Howard and I enjoy some Chik-fil-A at the food court, we head downstairs to catch the Magical Express, which shuttles all resort guests to their homes away from home. It's freeing knowing that we don't have to wait in the line for a car rental or pay an exorbitant fee for a taxi. It's also relaxing to know we can show up for ME at any time without even bothering to get our luggage as Disney will later deliver it to our room, and we don't have to rush to catch a certain bus. The ride itself is only about 25 minutes or so before we can see the welcoming arches, but it may take longer depending on the bus route as it usually stops at 3 resorts to drop off guests. We take the time to enjoy the bright sunshine and the video that plays on the bus followed by the Mickey or Donald cartoons from yesteryear!
Of course, many Disney fans call the bus the un-Magical Express when it's time to take it back to the airport to return home. Even though it's never fun to have to go home, it's still a relief to know that we just have to be outside at the ME stop by a certain time to hop on the bus. There's no need to worry about refilling a car rental gas tank or dealing with traffic since ME forces you to leave much earlier than your flight. Often times, the exhaustion of the park visits catches up to us, so instead of having to navigate the roads back to the airport, we have the opportunity to take a brief nap.
The transportation is still not something that we have to worry about once we're on property. There are people who dislike using the internal bus service because there can be long waits, but for the most part, Howard and I have always had great luck with the buses and never have to wait too long for it to arrive. It's stated that they show up every 20 minutes, but sometimes it's a little frustrating seeing bus after bus for just one particular park come by time and time again. However, it might be the fact that we're both used to the MTA in NYC, so waiting in Disney isn't an issue. Plus, when we stay at Pop Century, I have to say that I really like that the lines for each bus are made incredibly organized because of the chains they put up. Since Pop is the resort with the most rooms on property, there have been times that we were on line and have had to wait for the second bus because the first was already full.
But of course, as long as you give yourself ample time to get from one location to the other, it doesn't feel that long to us. Each bus is labeled with the destination, so it's a way for everyone on line to bond when we see a bus drive on property and strain our eyes to read the name. The one time we stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge for our honeymoon, we enjoyed the bus stops there as they completely under shade. Though there weren't any official lines, for the most part people are pretty good about letting those who were waiting the longest get on first. Of course, we can't really say that for sure because we "commuted" more during the odd hours of the day.
Though we've only stayed on property by ourselves, I can imagine the bus service being really beneficial for groups. There's no need to wait for your friends or family to get up in the morning and get ready. It's possible for everyone to split up and arrive at separate times. It would also be helpful throughout the day as those who need a nap or want to take a break at the pool can head back to their resort while everyone else enjoys the parks without worrying that there's no access to a shared car. And when the Disney trip ends up in the hotter months of the year, that air conditioning in the middle of the day can be quite a respite!
At the end of the day, the bus arriving at the resort's stop is quite the sight for sore eyes. It's so fitting that the recorded spiel on the bus ends with the following: "And now we invite you to relax and let us do the driving. You'll be home soon." It really is nice to know that someone else is taking care of the driving especially after staying in the parks for nighttime Extra Magic Hours and really wanting a shower and a bed.
It's pretty easy to hop from park to park or visit other resorts to enjoy their ambiance and restaurants too because of the transportation system. Epcot and Hollywood Studios are close enough to each other so that they're in walking distance, but there's also a ferry from the International Gateway to the front of DHS. Hopping between Magic Kingdom to Epcot is even more fun because there's the monorail. The views from the monorail windows can be breathtaking especially during the Flower & Garden Festival as it glides on the track through Epcot. It wasn't very difficult learning how to get from one place to the next, but if it's at all confusing, there are plenty of cast members near these modes of transportation to help out. Plus, the signs are pretty easy to follow.
Lastly, Epcot has transportation within the park. The FriendShip boats really come in handy when wanting to explore World Showcase and being too tired to walk back. For Howard and me, we love the boats because then we don't have to walk all the way around to Morocco to get a lamb shawarma platter from Tangierine Cafe. I also have a great appreciation for the boats as we watch them go by when we have nachos as a snack in Mexico because of how cute they look in the tilt-shift video for Epcot.
With all the walking and standing that's required in the Disney parks, the modes of transportation provide a great moment off one's weary feet. Plus, a Disney vacation is filled to the brim with planning and organization, at least when you're huge fans like we are and want to make the most of our time and money. Having the "how-will-we-get-there" question all solved just gives us another reason to make WDW our top vacation choice!