Let me start by saying I hate taking a bus from one place to the next! Its a lot of waiting and riding. But it works. We didn’t wise up on the bus system until the last two days of our trip! And that was only because we ran into someone who knew the ins and outs! Overall the bus system is very reliable and clean…but slow moving! Leave it to Disney to make me content to have to ride them from here to there.
You CAN take the bus from your hotel to any of the parks and Downtown Disney. You CAN go from park to park. You CAN NOT take the bus from one hotel to another. To do this you have to transfer from either the Ticket and Transportation Center or you need to go Downtown Disney. You CAN NOT go from a park to Downtown Disney. You can only access Downtown Disney from a hotel.
Familiarize yourself with what hotels operate on what systems. For example…we were at Magic Kingdom and wanted to go to Downtown Disney. Like dummies we went back to OUR hotel (Movies) which was the farthest hotel from anything…to catch a bus to Downtown Disney. You do not need to go back to your hotel. We should have taken the Monorail from Magic Kingdom to the Polynesian and then a bus to Downtown Disney. We would have saved 35 minutes! After we wised up…we were at Downtown Disney and needed to go to Epcot. We took the bus to the Boardwalk and then jumped on a ferry which dropped us off in World Showcase at Epcot (our destination). So….before you go….sit down and see what operates on what. The bus is the slowest mode of transportation. If you have an option to take a monorail or ferry, do so!
Now, the bus system that Disney operates inside the World is slow. Aside from that, it’s pretty good. The buses operate approximately 20 minutes apart (at times they were much quicker…but at midnight with a really tired kid, 20 minutes is a LONG wait). Then it’s about 20 minutes once on the bus to get to most destinations. The buses are like most public transportation, they will try to get as many bodies in as possible. The plus side is that they are really clean. In the mornings we typically had seats, but in the evenings (at park closing or when a nighttime show was over) we were packed in like sardines. If you can linger to let the crowds thin, do so. If you can’t...you can expect to sit and wait for a while to get on. We liked that the stops all had queue lines for everyone to stand in…it wasn’t a free for all mad dash to the bus. Not many riders (except for me and a surprising number of teenage boys) will give up their seat for you even if you have a sleeping, heavy, four year old in your arms. So, when all else fails, hand him off to dad!
Now, if you don’t want to deal with a crowded bus, you can always drive your car and park for free (if staying on property). However, if you happen to park at the back of the lot (they were always full to the gills), you have to take a tram to your row which is jam packed with people as well, so it’s just as easy to take the bus…then you can snooze/zone out and not have to drive at the end of a long day.
My overall opinion of the bus system is that it’s A-OK. It’s slow but steady and dependable….and most importantly; clean. My wish is that they would extend the Monorail to the entire World, but since they haven’t…the bus system will do. Familiarize yourself with the monorail and ferry stops and use those when you can. You must transfer to get from hotel to hotel or from park to Downtown Disney. You can go direct from hotel to Downtown Disney or hotel to any park. Once you master the system, it’s a breeze.*
This review was contributed by Mynde, aka Esmeralda on the DisneyMouseLinks message boards.
*Be sure to pick up the pamphlet on the WDW Transportation system when you check into your hotel - they are supposed to hand these out automatically, so if you don't get one, be sure to ask. This will also explain using the different types of transportation.