My last post began sharing how to enjoy an almost free day at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. If you missed it, visit here to get up to speed before pressing forward with how to get free rides on your almost free day at Walt Disney World.
Here’s how to get around on your almost free day at Disney:
Ride the Disney transportation.
Ok. So you won’t be riding on Dumbo or Space Mountain on this almost free day, but you can ride the fleet of trams, buses, boats, and monorails to get from place to place.
Now, I know you can technically get into one of the resort parking lots if you have meal reservations (or pretend like you do) or park at Downtown Disney and go elsewhere. I say forget the hassle and guilty conscience. Don’t be that cheap, Clark Griswold.
Spring for the $14 to park in the Magic Kingdom parking area, also called the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). It’s the hub of Disney transportation. At least you won’t be walking around with a semi-guilty conscience about “sneaking in.” The blue fairy would not be happy. Besides, the kids will enjoy the tram ride from your car to the TTC as the first almost free ride of the day. Once at the TTC, it’s time to choose.
You can take one of three monorail lines.
- Express monorail to the Magic Kingdom Entrance. This is a good one to take if you want to simply stop and sit outside the main gates of Mickey’s house and soak up the sights and sounds. I especially love visiting at Christmas because I know the music played then by heart and can easily re-imagine Main Street as I know it appears right behind the train station.
- Resort Monorail Loop with a stop at the Magic Kingdom. Choose this one if you wish to get off at one or each of the three resorst around the lagoon. First stop is the Polynesian Resort. I suggest getting off there and walking through the gardens to the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. If the weather is nice, the walk is too. It takes you past the Disney Wedding Chapel. You can pick up the monorail again at the Floridian after checking out their rather cool lobby. From there the monorail continues to the Magic Kingdom entrance. You can get off or stay on to the Contemporary Resort – the monorail goes into the building itself. Final stop is back at the TTC.
- Monorail to EPCOT. The EPCOT monorail takes you to – wait for it – EPCOT. It’s at least a ten minute ride so you’ll have a chance to catch your breath. The cool part is the monorail actually enters the park and loops around so you get a chance to see the inside of the park without actually paying the $90! Cool, huh? It’s the only place at Disney I know of where that happens. Maybe it’s just cruel to have a brief glimpse. I guess it depends. Vets like us are looking to see what’s new and improved since our last visit. From there, you can return to the TTC or get off and catch a bus to any of the resorts.
You can travel by bus.
You can reach just about any place on the resort by bus from the TTC. Disney runs a fleet of well over 300 buses running at any one time around the Disney World property. Buses are the best, and sometimes only, choice to visit various resorts such as The Animal Kingdom Lodge or the new Art of Animation Resort.
Simply wait at the stop for the destination you want. When the bus shows up and the courteous driver gives the all-clear, step on board and ride in comfort – all the while hearing various pitches about future stays or attractions. My kids always love to sit in the back of the bus. Come to think of it, I do too. If you get confused, just ask the drivers how to get to the next stop.
You can travel by boat.
- The large ferry boats – big, white, and hard to miss – will also take you to the Magic Kingdom entrance from the TTC. They provide another fun option of getting across the Seven Seas Lagoon. you really should try them at least once.
- Resort boats. Disney runs regular boat transportation between all the resorts around the Seven Seas Lagoon and the accompanying Bay Lake. From the dock at the Magic Kingdom, you can catch a boat to visit the following resorts: Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds (our favorite); Wilderness Lodge; Contemporary Resort; Polynesian Resort; and The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Boats are not the fastest way to travel, but for free, what did you expect? One boat captain told me that Disney has the fifth largest fleet of naval vessels in the world. Not sure if it’s true, but there are a lot of boats. Here are a two other boating options that might be a fit in your almost free day:
- Boats from the back of EPCOT to HollyWood Studios. Few people seem aware that you can take a boat from just outside the Hollywood Studios entrance to the Swan and Dolphin hotels (not technically Disney hotels). A bus can take you to the Studios entrance for a photo op first before boarding the boat. At the Swan and Dolphin, you can switch boats and continue all the way to the back exit of EPCOT, past the Boardwalk and other beach resorts. One bonus on that trip is that the best miniature golfing can be found next to the Swan and Dolphin on Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Fantasia Fairways. Stroll along the Boardwalk afterward at night and you might enjoy a glimpse or two of Illuminations at Epcot.
- Boats from Downtown Disney to Port Orleans Resort. This quiet boat ride takes you past all of Downtown Disney and gives you a glimpse of the Vacation Club Treehouse Villas, before making stops at the French Quarter and finally Riverside by the Port Orleans Mill. It’s a great place to pause for a reasonably priced (for Disney) lunch. Port Orleans Riverside has a character all its own that both kids and adult love. My guess is that once you see the ante-bellum resorts, you’ll want to book a future stay.
It would actually take you several days to try to cover just the ground that I’ve shared in these two posts. Even after 103 days, I havn’t been to all the Disney resorts. And to think it all started with a mouse.
Tomorrow, I’ll finish the week with some sample itineraries based on our own almost free days at Walt Disney World.
What memories do you have from taking rides on Disney transportation? What’s your favorite way to travel there? Share a comment. Share the magic.