My Experiences with the WDW Bus System

So I had this idea for a blog, which will come to fruition down the road, but in order to achieve it, I wanted to attend all 4 WDW Parks in one day.  As I started on my quest, I realized another idea and subject was born- the WDW Bus System.  I had to ride several that day, and I thought it would be good info for you all to know what it was like for me and how fast, or slow, they indeed, are. So get in line, watch for the White Bus with red lettering on it, because we are bussing it folks!

Again, my day was planned around another idea, but I thought, what the heck, let me also record how the system worked for me. First, I live close to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. With gas prices being high these days, I thought it only smart to park at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, then take the bus to the first Park of the day, which was AK.

I arrived at the Lodge at 10:35 a.m. and parked with no problem.  If you are heading to the bus stop like I was, there is no “real” walkway to the bus area from the parking lot. Makes sense, but I had to cut through the driveway area, so watch for Magical Express busses and guests driving up.  There IS a walkway to the Lodge from the Parking lot, but you have to go up, cross, and then left to the bus area, which seems silly when you could just cut left to begin with.

The bus for Animal Kingdom arrived at 10:44 a.m.  I heard MANY people complaining to our bus driver once he walked off, because they had been waiting 45 minutes for a Studios bus to show up.  Then another person walked up and complained about the Epcot bus being just as late.  Now, I felt really bad for the driver, not his fault, but wouldn’t it be in Disney’s best interest to have a Cast Member stationed at Main Bus Stops during high traffic periods of the day to monitor these types of situations?  AKL is NOT a cheap Resort, and to wait such long times is simply not acceptable.

The bus was nice, I read all the ads about the new “Pirates League” and also about the new tv shows coming up on ABC. They have a digital sign that reports the date and current time, along with a narration over the speakers that says where you are headed and where you are leaving.  I feel this is a great thing for those who aren’t sure if they are on the right bus, plus it really puts you in the Disney mood.

I arrived at AK at 10:52 a.m. – about a 8 minute ride over.  The busses drop off at a reasonable area to walk from, but not as nice as the parking tram that practically drops you off in front of the gate.

After my business affairs at AK, I walked to find the bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The signs were marked well, so I was able to find it with no problem.  The area to wait for the bus was a bit confusing though, you couldn’t tell where the line should begin and where the end of the line was.  I simply asked someone and went to the end of the line to wait. I left the park at 11:50, arrived at the bus stop at 11:55 a.m.

As the bus arrives, which is a story in itself, a woman walks up in front of the 30 or so waiting, and literally stands in the front with her 2 kids.  Let me reiterate this, STANDS in front of a boy in a wheelchair and his family. I WAS MORTIPHIED. As a Society, have we lost all decency to follow the rules? Is common sense just too hard for some people to “get?”  The bus just pulled up, so she quickly rushed on, and if the bus hadn’t been such a shock to me, I was ready to lay into this woman on how inappropriate her behavior was.

I get on this bus, and I swear to you, it was a coach bus, like the kind you ride for “Magical Express” from the airport to your Disney Resort. Except for the MAJOR and OBVIOUS- it was FILTHY! It smelled like someone left cheese and sausage on it and they were burning in the hot sun all day.  Noone who had a stroller or wheelchair could use the bus without having to fold them and put them under the bus. If you had an EVC, you were out of luck.  I was completely shocked at how cramped it was, and that Disney thought this was an acceptable idea. If I was a Disney guest, a NEW Disney guest, who had to ride this ugly mobile, I wouldn’t take the busses ever again.  He played normal radio music, and said nothing to anyone coming on or off the bus.  The difference was day and night from the bus I had just taken from AKL to AK. I assume they didn’t have enough busses that day, maybe something broke down, but the impression they were giving to Disney guests were of a cheap hotel bus experience.  You missed the mark on this Disney.  Bus left for Studios at 12:03.

We arrived at 12:16 to Studios, and I did meet a nice woman on the bus, from IL, who was also concerned with the odd choice of transportation for us all.  I know, I should be happy I got there at all, but again, if this was my first trip, I would not be impressed and quite disappointed.

I perused Studios for my blog idea, and just wasn’t feeling the magic there today. I decided to take a bench by the Blue Hat, and listen to the “Avatar” music playing by the Great Movie Ride.  As I was sitting there, a Disney Cast Member asked if I wanted to be a promotional Disney ad.  Sure! I had my Soarin shirt on, so I guess it made sense. LOL  We had a large group, screamed “Disney!” and I got my pic taken with one of the Producers. Whether it was real, or a set up, as I did NOT sign anything, it was still fun!

Left Studios at 1:00 p.m, got on the bus at 1:04- SCORE the bus was waiting for me!  Now, THIS bus ride was AWESOME! The driver had a personality, it was practically empty, and the Disney music was playing Epcot sounds and songs all the way there. THAT is what gets guests in the mood, not a junky bus playing Lady Gaga. (I don’t let my youngest listen to her at home, why would it be ok with Disney exposing her to it- also along the same lines- don’t like Gaga being played in Tomorrowland Dance Party either!)

Once you are close to the Disney Park on these busses, the music changes to a louder version and a happy arrival tune to welcome you to the Park you are getting close to. It was fun to hear, as I had never heard it before, and it really did get me in the mood and excited for a Park I have been to a hundred times before. I arrived at Epcot at 1:16 p.m.

After some blog business and a ride on Nemo, which by the way- there is NO cell service in the Nemo line, I was tired and headed out to find the Animal Kingdom Lodge bus. I left the park at 3:10 p.m, bus came at 3:25, and I got to AKL at 3:45 p.m.  The busses go to Kidani Village first, then Jambo House, so keep that in mind when depending on getting there for a specific time. My bus was empty.

I enjoyed the journey because I didn’t have to drive. It was nice to save the gas and people watch all at the same time. I was in no hurry, so it never mattered to me when the busses were going to show up. That said, being on vacation, especially a Disney vacation, you always have somewhere to get to, and not a whole lot of time to spare. If you plan on using the Disney Bus System, here are my tips:

  1. Allow for at least 45 minutes- to an hour, if not more, to get from your Resort to your Park destination. It takes time to walk from your room, to the bus stop, then for the bus to get to your stop, then it may stop at other Resorts or stops in your Resort, and THEN to your destination.
  2. If you have a Disney Dining Reservation, allow for even more time because once you get off the bus, you still need to get inside the Park and find your Restaurant. If you run into a parade or show, you could get stuck, held up, etc…  Give yourself enough time.
  3. Don’t cut in line- you will just upset others and it just isn’t ok or cool. Everyone most of the time, unless it’s Park closing, will get on the first bus that arrives.
  4. Be kind to the drivers- these Cast Members I am sure have heard it all- and they have heard it ALL. DAY. LONG.  So, be nice, ask questions kindly, and thank them whenever you can.
  5. If the bus is crowded, help one another. If you see a Mom struggling with a child in her arms who has to stand because there are no seats left- OFFER HER YOUR SEAT.  If anyone else falls in that category, do the same. I realize many can’t as we all have our own kids to watch and sit with, but if you are able, please be kind and do so.
  6. Be patient for those loading on an EVC or Wheelchair.  I have heard it all – “Why do they get to go on first?”  To those I say this – you are blessed with two good legs, you do not have to sit in that all day- you have NOTHING to complain about. If they get on first, then let’s be patient, because it is a SMALL thing to wait for and let them have this without an unkind word uttered.
  7. Be ready for the unexpected when taking any Disney Transportation- vehicles break down all the time, and no one is to be blamed.  If you don’t like having to wait on Disney’s time frame, then I highly encourage you to rent a car or bring your own.
  8. If you have time, take a Disney Bus to a destination that you have never been too. Check out a Resort or the Campground, and enjoy that Disney is spending the gas so you don’t have to. Take it as a challenge and an adventure and the busses could be your best friend.

Again, you may have all had different experiences, these are my own. If you don’t like to drive on vacation and you have time, the busses will be fine.  If you have everything planned to the mili-second, I would suggest figuring out other transportation.

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16 responses to “My Experiences with the WDW Bus System

  1. Great blog post, I can’t stand people that cut in line, and the filthy bus would have upset me.

    Bless you for #6, my Bill is in a motorized wheelchair and we get comments and looks every trip when he is loaded first. I have said basically what you have said to people before. I have also told him that he would happily stand in line if he were able to. They are loaded first for safety. Could you imagine an inexperienced ECV user trying to maneuver on a crowded bus? That scares me.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us :)

  2. Good info!! Thank you for taking time to blog this!! I have to confess when we were at AK in March, I wasn’t as polite as you.Me, my two daughters, my son, and my 5 month old granddaughter had been waiting in line for about 15 min. when the bus pulled up and this big group just bypassed the line and walked around to get on the bus without waiting..I took the stroller and cut them off and made them wait until we the rest in line got on…(embarrassed.) not very Disney like behavior… But the line was full and had they all got on, none of us who had been following the rules and waiting patiently would have had a seat..I agree with you, if we all follow the rules things go much smoother for all..thank you for the post!

  3. I think rules of riding the Disney bus system should be handed out with every welcome package at the resorts! They could use the list you wrote . . .

    Often at the end of the day they will double up busses for loading, when the driver says standing room only and people complain it makes me laugh. If you want a seat, wait for the next bus, if you want to get back to the resort, stand on the bus for 10 minutes. Pretty simple.

  4. I have to be careful with my comments to this post as I have very strong feelings about the WDW bus transportation! Firstly as a non driving guest from the UK I think the bus service that Disney provide is excellent. The bus drivers do a grand job in what, for some reason, can be a stressful environment! I cannot understand why some guests feel like they are entitled to get on the first bus that arrives at their stop no matter how many people are waiting in front of them; at WL last December we had so many people push in front of us at the resort bus stops that in the end we had to start doing the same as we were losing out to rude people, it didnt make us happy :( I also noticed during that trip that we did have CMs at all the resort bus stops monitoring the arrival times of all the buses, a great idea as it took the abuse away from the drivers. A great exercise for research purposes, but I’m sure you’re not recommending that all guests park at the resorts and use the buses to get around, it would make the lines even more crazy ;)

  5. Such a great blog post. We have had to use a wheel chair on two trips. And Let me tell you it’s as uncomfortable for us knowing we’re delaying other guests as it is for the guests having to wait for us.

  6. I agree with you about the bus system. We have went to WDW many many times. Each trip there is always someone rude at the bus stops at some point on our trip.

    • And also, my parents went to WDW once and got on a bus and they were about 2 other people and the driver seemed drunk or high on something. My dad called Disney while on the bus. My parents were scared. The driver was swerving and trying to stay awake. I beleive they said when they got to their resort, a CM was waiting for the bus. That has to be the worst experience they had.

  7. When we were there in June, we stayed at the Boardwalk and they had some interns monitoring traffic and such – even doing some random Q&As with the guests – at the bus stop. I love all the transportation options that WDW gives, from trams to ferry to bus to monorail and I have never been disappointed with it, nor have ever had to wait more than twenty minutes for a bus. I guess we’re just lucky. :) We have stayed at Port Orleans, Old Key West, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs and Boardwalk and each time we have been treated great by the bus drivers. We have had some that interact a lot and others that are very professional, yet always welcome my daughters with a “hello princess” which they simply love. Now I have never taken a bus from AK to HS and I am curious if you can find out if that is the norm for that route, because that is just wrong. Thanks for sharing your observations, I don’t always comment, but i do always read it. :)

  8. We have never had a problem with the transportation system at Disney. My grandma was in a wheelchair her final Disney trip with us and ALL the drivers we very nice and helpful. I hope that the issue with the bus to HS was just a fluke, not Disney at all. I think people forget how big Disney is and think “It only took us 15 minutes to get to the park this morning, it should take longer to get back!” Keep up the blog Amy, having fun reading about the ins and outs people forget about while on vacation.

  9. We had a fab bus experience from DD back to AKL. My hubby was wearing his b’day badge (pin) & the cm got the whole bus to sing Happy Birthday to him!! It was even more funny because the cm who wrote his name put hour surname ‘Heath’ rather than ‘Gary’ It made me laugh so much!

  10. We’ve never rode any of the busses but thought about doing it last time for fun. Thanks for the wonderful tips & taking the time to let us know what you’ve observed first hand. As for rudeness, I can’t stand when you’re in line for something & some can’t follow rules etc – it really irritates me especially when theres those that are handicapped or with small children etc.

  11. I didn’t see “Disney” in big red letters on the side of that bus in your picture. Maybe you’re right that they had to bring in reinforcements during the high crowd.

    While we’ve always used our car to get around (and we’re not locals), we’ve also taken a bus once during each trip just for fun – once from our resort to AK, and once from Downtown Disney to our resort.

    Personally, I wouldn’t want to rely on the buses for my sole source of transportation, but your points of common courtesy are well taken.

  12. I’d also like to say that it was very nice of you to use your whole day to give us this perspective and test the bus system. Maybe you should get a job with touringplans.com!

  13. Great tips. The monorails have same issues with rude people. They leave MK every 6 min or so. After a long evening @ MK with friends & family, we waited in the crowd for the monorail. It arrived & after all boarded, we were thrilled to be right @the gate for the next boarding. Right on time the next 1 arrived……& people actually stepped over our stroller to block us & get their group in 1st. I calmly explained that there was nothing cm could do as he hadn’t seen it but you can imagine how upset my son-in-law was when the cm walked over & asked us to move down as more people were filing in. Tempers were flaring & I stepped in quick to state that, I understood the cm’s position but that oue stroller with baby in wIit, hD just been pushed aside by a group that felt they needed to exit immediately. He let us stay put, we positioned ourselves to protect the stroller & were on our way with the next boarding. Life is never dull in WDW LOL

  14. Nice blog Amy. How do you get to park at the resorts without staying at them? Everytime we have stayed at the resort they would ask us for our names to make sure we have had reservations.
    The last time we were there in October we never had any problems with the buses. We had one great driver that talked to my 2 year old great nephew. It was just us and one other person on the bus. When we were on our way the driver started talking over the speaker system to my great nephew as he sounded like Mickey Mouse. Trying to get him to count with him. That type of service isn’t seen very much anymore around Disney.
    We use to have some drivers that use to do trivia questions with the guests. I think that is great when they interact with the guests.
    Keep up the great work!

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