The wheels on the Disney buses go ’round and ’round

So you’re finally at Disney for a vacation. Great! Let the magic abound! And you’re even staying on the Disney property due to some person’s blog about how great the property resorts are. Even better (and you’re welcome).

Hang on, how can you get to the parks? Would driving be the best way? Won’t that cost an awful lot of extra money for parking?

No worries, my friends. The Disney Imagineers have you in mind yet again. Your comfort and ease have been made a top priority. There’s a bus for that.

Now, I am not one to say that I travel by public transportation particularly often. Typically, I would prefer to drive my own car and have my own things very handy. But you’re on vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth. You shouldn’t have to worry about trivial things like parking.

Should you want to, that’s perfectly fine. Every park, resort, etc. has a parking lot, though, at least for the parks, you will need to pay a fee. And good luck getting to your car when the parks close. I’ve never done it myself, but I know it can be a hassle. Except for maybe Downtown Disney, where parking is free, if you can find a space. Oddly enough, we did when we went pretty late at night (around 10 PM, I would guess?). That’s why, in today’s post, I’m going to discuss the Disney transportation shuttle buses.

You can find the buses at every Disney resort and theme park, as well as Downtown Disney and the water parks. From your hotel, you can go on these options of buses: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, MGM Studios (Ok, Disney Hollywood Studios, but I still can’t get used to it) and Typhoon Lagoon, Animal Kingdom, and Downtown Disney and Blizzard Beach. As you notice, some of the buses may make multiple stops. It may sound out of the way, but these extra stops really are on your way if you’re going to the farther destination. It will just take a little extra time.

Once you’re finished at the park you are at, you have the choice to take a shuttle back to any of the resorts on the property or hop over to another park. No questions asked. This is super convenient if you have a park hopper pass. For example, say you have a few attractions you want to see at one park and then you’re done for the day. Well, then you’ll have time for a jaunt over to a water park or some shopping at Downtown Disney. No problem. Just hop on the appropriate bus, and you’ll be there in no time. Well, it could be some time, but at least you don’t have to brave the busy traffic.

The greatest things, though, about the shuttle buses are the bus drivers. No lie. You never know what to expect when you get on that bus, especially if you stay for extra magic hours at Magic Kingdom. Not every bus driver wants to interact with his/her passengers, but some do. They have stories to tell, too, and you may not want to miss that. And sometimes they just want to have some fun with you and put a little extra magic in where it could be lacking on this most special of trips to Disney. Just one little thing like an entertaining bus driver could form some memories for your family.

And I’ve got stories to tell!

Let’s talk about Nick. I mean Gladys. I mean… We had Nick multiple times, and he was a hoot each time. Definitely some jokes that we still tell from his trips to and from parks. If you liked the ride, his name was Nick. If not, his name was Gladys. Remember to take your children when you leave the bus, or else he would have them clean the bus with a toothbrush. Whenever he drove up to the gates at one of the resorts, he would “magically” open the lifting bars by saying “Open sesame.” And, if you want to see him again, don’t forget: he’ll see you at midnight.

Then there was Ken. He threatened that, if you left your kids on the bus, he would take them to stay in “it’s a small world” overnight and then eventually return them to you, the parents. And the kids would forever sing, to you, the Small World song. In all 56 languages.

Remember my Caribbean Beach blog? Yes, there was a reference to one of my favorite drivers there. Ja-MAI-ca. Bar-BA-dos. It actually sounded like he was from the islands. It made the experience both more authentic and more entertaining.

One of the most interesting experiences was when we came back at 2 AM from Magic Kingdom after staying for extra magic hours (I can talk about this awesome extra in another post). Everyone on the bus was half-asleep after a long night, but our bus driver was far from tired. In fact, he wanted us all to join him in some rousing songs. We sang happy birthday to a fellow bus rider, and we also joined in a chorus of “it’s a small world.” Our driver told fun jokes throughout the drive to keep us from falling asleep by keeping us entertained.

Unfortunately, these nuances of especially entertaining drivers is becoming a lost art. When I visited WDW this past summer, I was disappointed to find that they now have “park/resort appropriate” music playing throughout the ride, and, instead of the drivers welcoming passengers aboard over a microphone and introducing you to your destination, there are automated messages that explain where you are headed. I found this took away from one magical portion of my trip. I love these bus drivers and the stories and jokes they have to tell. I hope that, as time goes on, more bus drivers go away from this new system and go back to the days of cast member driver improv.

The biggest problem I would say you have to deal with is the wait for the buses. Typically, you shouldn’t have to wait more than about 15 minutes for a bus at any given bus stop. However, sometimes the buses aren’t quite on schedule because of traffic, amount of people per bus coming on and off, the shuttles just getting out of sync, etc. The buses can get quite full at night, so wait times could get rather lengthy, or at least so they may feel, especially after a long day of theme park hopping. So definitely weigh your options before you go. But, remember, this is a FREE SERVICE if you stay on the Disney property with little hassle. And it can definitely leave some lasting memories that you may not expect, even from a Disney trip.


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