Walt Disney World Bus System

(Please also see the page covering the Disney’s Magical Express airport transfer service)

Routes Updated December 2015

The Walt Disney World theme parks, water parks and other entertainment areas can attract hundreds of thousands of visitors per day, and moving them around the property efficiently is a major logistical challenge. While you can drive your own car if you prefer, Disney operates an extensive fleet of more than 300 buses which can (and usually do) transport guests quickly and efficiently from the resorts to the theme parks and other destinations within the Walt Disney World area.

Bus Wait Time screen at Riverside (South Depot at 12:02pm on 22 Aug 2014)

Bus Wait Time screen at Riverside (South Depot at 12:02pm on 22 Aug 2014)

The buses start running at approximately 7am (later for Disney Springs) until roughly 1½ hours after each location has closed, or until the last guests have been picked up to make sure that everyone gets home safely. A bus for every destination should arrive at least once every 20 minutes, and more frequently during peak demand periods. Special buses for guests attending early character breakfasts used to be provided but these have now been discontinued and you’ll need to use the regular services instead (possibly including a change of bus) so perhaps consider taking a taxi if you need to get to another resort hotel early.

Once the buses leave the resort area after all the local pickup stops, the journey times are fairly short. You should be at the Magic Kingdom within about 12-15 minutes, Epcot or Disney Hollywood Studios will take about 10-12 minutes, while Animal Kingdom is the furthest away at about 20 minutes.

The two Port Orleans resorts sometimes share a common bus service, although at busy times — such as at park opening or just after a fireworks display at park closing time — each resort will operate separate direct buses. Disney uses a GPS tracking system to monitor its fleet and they also check the current queue lines to determine when and where extra services are needed, so you should never be left waiting for too long – although after a long day walking around Epcot, “too long” can become a somewhat subjective term!

To help improve waiting times during busier periods of the day, in August 2014 work was carried out to modify the bus stop kerbside areas to allow the use of double-length “bendy buses” at Port Orleans, which are now in fairly regular use, especially for the Magic Kingdom route during the busier parts of the day. Also in August 2015 an Internal Shuttle service was introduced, running in combination with the Disney Springs route.

Trialled initially for a couple of years at the Riverside South Depot, as from early 2016 all of the Port Orleans bus stops now feature a dedicated Wait Time screen which displays the currently expected arrival times for buses for each destination. The system is pretty accurate but of course there can still be occasions when times change if a bus becomes full and gets diverted, or when they add an extra bus to a route.

Port Orleans French Quarter Bus Stops

The two Port Orleans French Quarter bus stations

The two Port Orleans French Quarter bus stations

The “Blues” and “Jazz” bus stations at Port Orleans French Quarter are located right outside the main Port Orleans Square building, just on the right hand side as you exit from the main building.

The first station (A) is the stopping point for buses to Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney Springs while the second station (B) handles the buses destined for the Magic Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios. Note: the daytime Disney Springs buses stop at Typhoon Lagoon en route, while the Animal Kingdom buses also serve Blizzard Beach.

French Quarter bus information signage

French Quarter bus information signage

Please be aware that when a combined service is operating, French Quarter will be the first stop but collecting from the four Riverside Depots can add a further 10-15 minutes to your journey time before the bus finally heads off to its destination.

Port Orleans Riverside Bus Stops

The Riverside ‘South Depot’ bus stops

The Riverside ‘South Depot’ bus stops

The main (South Depot) bus stop at Port Orleans Riverside is located to the right as you exit from the Sassagoula Steamboat Company main building, just outside the rear exit of Fulton’s General Store.

The first station (Blue Bayou Platform) is the stopping point for buses to Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney Springs while the second station (River Delta Platform) handles the buses destined for the Magic Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios. Note: the daytime Disney Springs buses stop at Typhoon Lagoon en route, while the Animal Kingdom buses also serve Blizzard Beach.

There are three smaller bus stops located clockwise around the Sassagoula Circle perimeter road, with about a two-minute drive between each Depot.

The other buildings are probably best served by the main South Depot, but please check the resort map to see which stop would be closest for your particular room.

The Routing Dilemma

Last Updated December 2015

The routes taken by buses used to vary significantly by park, but as from the beginning of December 2015 a new simpler routing plan has been introduced and time of day is now a more important factor. Shared buses now always call at French Quarter first, and Riverside pickups for the theme parks start at the West Depot before continuing on to pick up at North, East and South:

Theme
Park
 →
(French
Quarter)
 →
Riverside
West
 →
Riverside
North
 →
Riverside
East
 →
Riverside
South
 →
Theme
Park

The Disney Springs service is the only exception to this, calling at French Quarter first and then Riverside South, and adding an extra stop back at French Quarter after the Riverside circle route. The marquees on the buses will update to read “Internal Resort Shuttle” upon entering the resort and then switch to read either “Disney Springs / Typhoon Lagoon” or just “Disney Springs” depending on the time of day:

Disney
Springs
 →
French
Quarter
 →
Riverside
South
 →
Riverside
West
 →
Riverside
North
 →
Riverside
East
 →
French
Quarter
 →
Disney
Springs

Do remember that this can vary somewhat as the dispatch system is computer assisted and the buses are tracked around property using a GPS locater system. New buses can be added to a route if a driver reports that there are long lines at a particular location and guests are being left behind, and routes can also be adjusted based on other factors such as driver shift changes, etc. Sometimes a completely full bus will not even visit all of the remaining stops (other than to drop existing passengers off) instead calling for an additional bus to be sent out. So think of these as not so much Rules but more Guidelines.

Operational Information: It might help to understand how the Disney bus system works if you realise that the buses do not technically run from a resort to the parks and back, but rather from a specific park to the resorts and back. While this might sound like a purely semantic difference, the operational ‘Hubs’ from which the buses are dispatched are located at all of the parks and at Disney Springs (plus a few backup locations, one of which is at French Quarter by the way). Thus a bus which comes from Animal Kingdom needs to return to its own base hub, even if there are a lot of guests at the resort waiting to go to a different destination. The buses are routinely re-routed from their hubs, based on demand, but generally cannot switch to a different park destination once they get to a resort.

When Do the Two Resorts Share Buses?

The ‘North Depot’, between the Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend areas

The ‘North Depot’, between the Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend areas

The theme park buses start running at 7am, and you can expect to find shared services (where the buses call at both French Quarter and Riverside) at the following times of day:

Magic Kingdom: Shared service first thing in the morning only (for early character breakfasts)
Epcot: Shared service first thing in the morning (for early character breakfasts) and 11am—4pm
Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Shared service first thing in the morning only (for early character breakfasts)
Disney’s Animal Kingdom / Blizzard Beach: Shared service 11am—park closing. This bus also serves Blizzard Beach during the water park’s operating hours.
Disney Springs / Typhoon Lagoon: Shared service from around 8am until 2am, incorporating an Internal Resort Shuttle service. This bus also serves Typhoon Lagoon during the water park’s operating hours.

At all other times, the two resorts operate independent bus services. The switch from the initial early-morning POFQ/POR shared service back to the regular morning routing does not happen at any fixed time, depending instead on factors like which parks have early Extra Magic Hours and the current level of demand. However you can expect the shared service to operate until at least 8am, possibly a bit later.

Return Transportation

All of the theme parks, water parks and Disney Springs have separate waiting areas clearly marked for every resort. During shared periods, just look for signs indicating the “Port Orleans” waiting area. Otherwise, watch out for waiting signs for “Riverside” and “French Quarter”separately. The destination will also be indicated on illuminated displays on both the front and the sides of each bus.

Return buses will continue to run for about an hour and a half after park closure (including any Extra Magic Hours) so it’s sometimes worthwhile hanging around in the park for a while longer rather than exiting with the rest of the crowds immediately after a fireworks finalé.

Transferring Between Disney Resort Hotels

An Epcot bus arriving at the ‘East Depot’ in the Magnolia Bend area

An Epcot bus arriving at the ‘East Depot’ in the Magnolia Bend area

Unfortunately, while Disney’s bus service is generally pretty efficient at getting you to the parks, it’s not so well designed for quick transportation between the various resort hotels.

If you’ve got a meal booked at one of the other resort hotels for example, the only way to get there by Disney transportation is to first take a bus to one of the theme parks, or Disney Springs if the parks have already closed, and then change to a second bus to get you to your required hotel. Generally, it’s a good idea to allow yourself around an hour and a half for most routes to be safe, and it is a good idea to avoid changing at a theme park around its closing time as you may experience long waits.

If you’re trying to get to an early Character Breakfast at another resort hotel and you don’t have access to a car, I would strongly suggest you consider taking a taxi, which will probably cost you around $15 but will make your morning a lot less stressful than trying to catch two buses before 8am.

If you’re going for a meal at the Contemporary Resort — such as Chef Mickey’s — first get a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then walk over to the Contemporary, it’s only a few minutes away from the bus stop.

For the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge or Fort Wilderness you may find that catching one of the small local ferry boats which dock just in front of the Magic Kingdom will be quicker than waiting for a second bus. The monorail is also a good option for the Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian (with stops occurring in that order).

For the Epcot area resorts — Yacht and Beach Clubs, Boardwalk, Swan/Dolphin — first get the bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and then take the free ferry boat service from the dock just outside the theme park gates. This will mostly be quicker than the alternative of walking all the way from the front of Epcot, and it does not require theme park admission.

Currently there is a lot of construction work at Disney Springs so ride times can be a bit variable, so avoid using Disney Springs as a hub to change routes if possible.

Waiting Times and Tips

One of the problems with the Port Orleans resort is its sheer size. There are more than 3,000 rooms spread out over a very large area, with a total of five bus stops servicing them all. It doesn’t take much imagination to realise that there are occasions, especially when the parks are very busy, that the bus service can become a little... well, shall we say “strained”? (See also the FAQ entry on this subject)

For more information on any of the Disney bus routes or timetables, call 1-407-WDW-RIDE (1-407-939-7433).

 

Note: There are separate pages providing information on the Disney’s Magical Express airport transfer service, the Sassagoula River Ferry to Disney Springs, and for other Ground Transportation options such as taxis, rental cars, public bus services, etc.