Disney’s Express Transportation at Walt Disney World
*** Note this service ended in August 2017 ***
What is it?
Disney’s Express Transportation is an add-on/upcharge/premium scheduled bus transportation service between the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The service launched in December 2016. You purchase either a single day or multi day (good for up to 7 consecutive days) pass. You must have a park hopper ticket (annual passes are also eligible) to be able to use this service. You do not need to be a Disney Resort guest, anyone can purchase. The service runs from 10am until park closing (check with the park to confirm as hours can change). Buses run every 30 minutes for each destination. The pick-up/drop off points are inside the park so you only have to go through the front entrance and security lines once to start your day, then you by-pass both the front entrance and security lines the rest of the day as you hop from park to park.
How Much Does it Cost?
Disney’s Express Transportation can be purchased at any ticket window, guest relations, hotel concierge desks, or at the check in kiosks in the park.
- As of May 2017 the pricing for guests ages 3+ is $19 for a single day or $29 for up to 7 consecutive days, under 3 are free.
- Annual Passholder Summer Promotion – $59 for the service from June 5 – August 10, 2017
- Note: There has been one price increase already from the original price of $15.00 for a single day or a multi-day pass for $24.00.
How it works:
After you purchase your Express Transportation you show up at one of the park kiosks and tell the cast member where you want to go. They will tell you the time of the next bus and scan your MagicBand. A few minutes before the departure time they will escort you backstage to a waiting bus. Upon arrival at your destination another cast member greets you and walks you from the bus into the park.
Park Check-in location as of May 2017:
Magic Kingdom – Near the Buzz Lightyear exit in Tomorrowland
Epcot – Between the restrooms and guest relations on the east side of Spaceship Earth
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – By Rock n Roller Coaster
Disney’s Animal Kingdom – By the Dawa Bar (near Tusker House check-in)
Note: If you rent a Disney stroller, ECV, or wheel chair they have them available at each stop.
During my spring 2017 trip to Walt Disney World I decided to give this service a try for the week. We purchased the muti-day pass on the second day of our trip because we were there 8 days and wanted to use it the last day. The purchase process was very easy. I stopped by the concierge desk at the resort. They scanned my MagicBand and confirmed that I wanted it for the entire party. You could have it added to your room bill, pay by credit card or by Disney gift card. The process was only a couple minutes and very easy.
Over the course of the seven days we used the service 10 times. We found the buses always left promptly at the stated time so you had to check in early to make the bus.. they never waited. Most of the trips we had the bus to ourselves. A couple times there was one other party on board. One time there were two other parties with us. The process was very smooth and the guest relations and transportation cast members were almost all very friendly and talkative.
Transportation time varied from around 15-25 minutes depending on the route you were on. You do spend a little time backstage at the parks getting to/from the drop off locations. So you can have a little behind the scenes tour as part of your experience. Note no photography is allowed backstage and there are signs and reminders. The most interesting routes are at the Animal Kingdom where buses enter/exit through the back gate off of Western Way and go behind the savanna. At Epcot buses enter at the backstage gate behind Test Track and go behind Future World East. Magic Kingdom buses enter at the backstage gate by Tomorrowland and do not travel that far. At the Studios buses enter through the backstage gate by Tower of Terror.
We ran an experiment one day that we were touring the parks with some relatives who did not have the express transportation option. We were at Epcot and traveling to the Animal Kingdom. We parted ways at 3:37pm near the Electric Umbrella once the decision was made to leave the park. The next Express Transportation Bus to Animal Kingdom was at 3:50pm so we had a wait. We were walking by the tree of Life at 4:15pm. They arrived and met us on Discovery Island near the Tree of Life at 4:40pm. So we saved 25 minutes and quite a few steps at both locations. Also we had a bus to ourselves while they said their bus was standing room only and very crowded.
We encountered only two hiccups. The first was arriving at the Studios one afternoon no cast member was there to greet the bus. Because you are backstage they will not let you off the bus until someone is there. It took a good five minutes for someone to show up. The bus drive talked to us while we waited. The second challenge was our last day. I went to use the service and it said we were not eligible. The cast member who was checking us in at the Magic Kingdom was no help at all. They basically shrugged their shoulders and said to go to guest relations. I had my receipt that clearly showed this was day 7 but they did not even want to look at it and were not about to help. Needless to say we missed that bus and it messed up our plans slightly for the morning. Guest relations could not explain what happened and ended up just adding on a single day for us to us. Which by this point was too late and not helpful. I do not understand why the cast member could not handle it at the kiosk or put us on the bus and sort it out while we were en route. I am assuming what happened is even though we purchased it on Day 2 of the trip it got linked to our room and thought it was the 8th day.
A couple of operational suggestions. First it would be very helpful if they had a schedule available either on the app or on a piece of paper that listed the departure times and operating hours of the service. I found the schedule to be the same each day (and I confirmed this with a cast member and they could not remember it changing in weeks/months). Here is what I found:
Disney Express Transportation Bus Schedule During our Visit:
|Magic Kingdom||Animal Kingdom||00 & 30|
|Magic Kingdom||Epcot||10 & 40|
|Magic Kingdom||Hollywood Studios||20 & 50|
|Epcot||Hollywood Studios||00 & 30|
|Epcot||Magic Kingdom||10 & 40|
|Epcot||Animal Kingdom||20 & 50|
|Hollywood Studios||Epcot||00 & 30|
|Hollywood Studios||Animal Kingdom||10 & 40|
|Hollywood Studios||Magic Kingdom||20 & 50|
|Animal Kingdom||Magic Kingdom||00 & 30|
|Animal Kingdom||Hollywood Studios||10 & 40|
|Animal Kingdom||Epcot||20 & 50|
My second suggestion would be expanding the service to include Disney Springs. It is really a time sink to venture out there for a meal or shopping and having a scheduled bus would make it much more enjoyable and an option for an additional trip or two. Maybe once an hour vs twice an hour and/or just the afternoon/evening.
My Review/Closing Thoughts:
My biggest issue with the Express Transportation Option is the mental hurdle of having to pay an add on for the service. I feel that I am already paying a premium to stay on site at a Disney Resort and for the park hopping privilege and those two premiums both include transportation. So instead of offering a new service I thought Disney should be investing in and optimizing the existing services. I have thought for years that you should be able to travel between the parks within the “secure zone” and be able to ease congestion and save time at security for all. Same goes for having buses on a schedule so you can plan more effectively and not have to guess as to when the bus will arrive.
The service itself was efficient and a really nice comfort. We found it relaxing to know when the bus would be there and that there would be a spot. Also by-passing the security and front gate hassle and delays were a great benefit. Many times they would let us board the bus early and sit in the air conditioning too, so you were not waiting out in the sun/weather for the departure time.
The price point does not seem that bad when you look at $30 for the week compared to the total cost of your vacation. But if you look at the number of times you will use it the cost per trip can be high. For us it came out to $2.90 per bus ride.
For each of us vacation spending really comes down to time and money and how you want to spent each. This service can save you some time and steps. The cost point is a premium but not an unreachable one for most and can fit into a budget.
Will we use the service again? That will depend on where the price point climbs to, I am assuming it will continue to rise, and what our plans are for that trip.
For more information here is the official Walt Disney World Website Page