Walt Disney World Bus Transportation
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 160 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.
The buses start running about an hour before park opening and continue every 10-20 minutes throughout the day until approximately 1½ hours after each park has closed to make sure that everyone gets home safely. Downtown Disney buses start running at about 8:30am and continue until 2am. Special buses for guests attending Character Breakfasts start at around 7am (or half an hour before the earliest reservation times) but please advise the bus driver of when and where you are eating, and allow at least 45 minutes before your check-in time.
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 15-20 minutes, Epcot or Disney Hollywood Studios will take about 10-15 minutes, while Animal Kingdom is the furthest away at about 20 minutes.
The two Port Orleans resorts normally share a common bus service, although at very busy times — such as just after a fireworks display at park closing time — each resort may have 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!
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. This is the first pickup location for the Disney buses from the Port Orleans Resort, and is also the first drop-off location on the return trip.
The first station (A) is the stopping point for buses to Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Downtown Disney while the second station (B) handles the buses destined for the Magic Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios. Note: the daytime Downtown Disney buses stop at Typhoon Lagoon en route, while the Animal Kingdom buses also serve Blizzard Beach.
After the buses leave French Quarter they normally go on to pick up at the Riverside resort before continuing on to their final destination. Please be aware that collecting from all four Riverside Depots can take upwards of fifteen before the bus finally heads off to its destination.
The main (South Depot) bus stop at Port Orleans Riverside is located on 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 Downtown Disney while the second station (River Delta Platform) handles the buses destined for the Magic Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios. Note: the daytime Downtown Disney buses stop at Typhoon Lagoon en route, while the Animal Kingdom buses also serve Blizzard Beach.
There are three further bus stops located around the Sassagoula Circle perimeter road:
- The first is the West Depot, serving Alligator Bayou Lodges 24-26 and 28-35.
- The second stop is the North Depot, serving Alligator Bayou Lodges 36-39 and also Acadian House.
- The final stop is the East Depot, which is located behind Magnolia Terrace and also serves the garden-facing rooms of Oak Manor.
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.
Note: generally the early morning buses departing from the South Depot do not then continue on to service the East, North and West Depots, instead heading straight onward to their destination. Other buses will serve the outer three Depots. After 10:30am, all of the resort buses follow the entire route starting at French Quarter, then going around all four Riverside Depots in turn before heading on to their final destination. This can have an impact on overall journey times.
All of the theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney have separate waiting areas clearly marked for every resort. Most the time, Disney operates a combined service for the two Port Orleans resorts, so just look for signs indicating the “Port Orleans” waiting area. During busy periods however — such as at park closing time — the two resorts each have their own separate service, so watch out for waiting signs for “Riverside” and “French Quarter”. This can often apply at the Magic Kingdom during regular hours too. The destination will also be indicated on illuminated displays on both the front and the sides of each bus.
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 Downtown Disney, and then change onto a second bus to get you to your required hotel. Generally, you need to allow yourself at least an hour to do this.
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 Beach Club or any other Epcot-area resorts, 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. Note: this will almost always be quicker than walking all the way through Epcot.
If you’re trying to get to an early character meal and you don’t have access to a car then it may be worth considering getting a taxi, which will probably cost you around $10-$15 but make your journey a lot less stressful.
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)
- The easiest place to get a bus is obviously the first pickup point at French Quarter, but by the time that bus has progressed on to each of the four Riverside Depots it’s quite possible that there will be standing room only — or even no room at all. When this happens, Disney are usually quick to allocate extra buses to the route — but that doesn’t help you much if you’re waiting impatiently to get to the Magic Kingdom to watch SpectroMagic in 30 minutes and two buses have just gone past full. I would suggest allowing yourself a little extra time at especially busy periods, or perhaps try to catch the bus from the main South Depot rather than the outlying bus stops.
- If you really need to get to your destination as quickly as possible you may wish to consider using your hire car, if you have one, as this will often prove a bit faster than taking a Disney bus (since there will be no queues, no wait for the bus to arrive, and no interim stops). The one exception to this is when you are traveling to the Magic Kingdom, in which case you’ll need to take an extra journey by monorail or ferryboat from your car to the theme park entrance.
- Similarly, at the end of the day when you’ve just watched Wishes and you’ve heading back to your hotel room, please remember that there may be thousands of other people who have the same idea. Disney do run separate services for both resorts at park closing times, but even so the lines for Riverside in particular can get pretty long at during peak summer or holiday periods — even with some buses arriving seemingly nose-to-tail.
However, remember that no-one is forcing you to leave the park just yet. Stay a while and enjoy those thinning crowds and the beautiful evening illumination, or perhaps do a bit of late-night shopping (believe me, Disney will happily take your money until at least an hour after the official park closing time). Then meander your way back to the now-empty bus stop after all the sheep have departed and you’ll probably have a much more pleasant journey home.
- If you are worried that you may have missed the last bus back to your resort at night, speak to one of the Disney Transportation cast members and they will usually be able find a way to get you home — even if they have to radio for a spare bus to pick you up on its way back to the depot.
- All Disney buses are very disability friendly. If you or a member of your party needs to use a wheelchair or an ECV (electric vehicle) you will be given automatic priority and loaded on and off the bus before any other passengers. Access is via the middle doorway and each bus has a platform lift and a dedicated area to park and lock-down wheelchairs so that the user does not need to transfer.
For more information on any of the Disney bus routes or timetables, call 1-407-WDW-RIDE (1-407-939-7433).
The LYNX company provides a useful public bus service in and around the Orlando area, including one route which serves Walt Disney World. Check out their website for more details: www.golynx.com.
Two of the most useful services for Disney guests are the Link 50 which runs from Walt Disney World to Sea World, along part of International Drive and then to downtown Orlando, and the Link 111 which serves Sea World, the Florida Mall and Orlando International Airport. Both services run every 30 minutes or so and route maps and timetables can be found at Link 50 service and Link 111 service.
The two easiest Disney pickup points for the Link 50 are at the Transportation and Ticket Center (next to the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot monorail and ferry terminals) or more conveniently for Port Orleans guests, at Downtown Disney just opposite the Disney bus stops near to the Rainforest Cafe (there is a LYNX request stop just over the road on Buena Vista Drive, right next to the traffic lights for Hotel Plaza Boulevard, which is less than five minutes walk from the Port Orleans river ferry dock).
From outside Sea World you can catch the LYNX Link 8 bus (or perhaps the tourist I-Ride Trolley service, although you’ll have to pay extra for that) which runs the length of International Drive. Lynx tickets cost $2 per one-way trip, regardless of distance. If you need to change to another Lynx service for your journey, ask for a transfer ticket.
Another option would be to the use the Mears shuttle bus service, which costs around $18 each for a return trip to places like Sea World or Universal. You phone them the day before (on 407-423-5566) to book a pickup time slot and they come directly to your hotel to collect you. Then you phone them again two hours before you want to go home and they’ll give you another time slot for collection.