By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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The Buses of Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute

MBTeal Logo 2013


Bus Stop at Disney's Polynesian ResortWelcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Teal. Enjoy the ride as this month we share our favorite WDW “attractions” that you don’t need a ticket to experience.

My friends on the Blogorail view this as just more evidence that I’m nuts–but my candidate for “favorite attraction that doesn’t need a ticket” is the Disney World buses.

Yes, the buses…


If you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, you’ll find that Disney provides transportation from your hotel to the parks.

TTC Monorail and Disney's Polynesian ResortAll of the deluxe resorts except for the Animal Kingdom Lodge provide some form of “special” transport:

  • At the Epcot resorts, it’s boats to and from Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • At the Monorail resorts, it’s the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, and also, after either a walk or a transfer, to Epcot as well.  Moreover, boats to the Magic Kingdom are available from both the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian
  • At the Wilderness Lodge, it’s boats to and from the Magic Kingdom

All other parks from the deluxes, and all parks from the moderates and values, are served by buses.

Now the boats and the monorail are legitimately fun, and almost anyone would count them as fun attractions that don’t need a ticket (although by the end of a trip I do get tired of the boats)…but the buses? What’s up with that?

Magic Kingdom Bus StopThe buses, with (in most cases, especially at the moderates) multiple stops, uncertain arrival and loading times, vast lines at park close, and all too often standing room only, are usually viewed as the bane of a Disney vacation.

Better than having to pay for a rental car…but that’s about the only positive.

Well I used to think that too.  We almost always have a rental car, and, except for the Magic Kingdom, which is always easier to access via bus than car, that frees us from the buses–and hooray for that!

But on recent trips where my younger son has joined me for just a few days (he was in college in St. Augustine) when we didn’t go to the Magic Kingdom…he still wanted to take the bus.  “Buses are part of my Disney World happy memories,” he explained.

And as I thought back to our first visits to Disney World, with two little boys exhausted with joy quietly sleeping in their parents’ arms in a darkened bus rumbling back to the Wilderness Lodge, I got it.

Bus Stop at Disney's Pop Century ResortIf your first visits to Walt Disney World go mostly right, then any of their component parts, even the ones that later seem like part of the frustration, not part of the fun, can merge into almost tactile memories, and any recollected experience, sight, sound, or smell can reconnect to the remembered self, stunned by magic.

So the buses can be attractions too–at least in memory, and with nostalgia.

Almost all my visits to Walt Disney World these days are working visits, and my day usually starts around 5a at one of the nearby Starbucks, answering comments posted here, working on new material, working on the real job.

Where Buses Gather to Sleep at NightFor part of my last trip we stayed at the Polynesian, so my early morning travels took me past the Hess station near the Magic Kingdom.

And so I learned where the buses nest at night.  Get up early enough, and you can see them here yourself, as together they dream of children dreaming.


Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is The Many Adventures of a Disney Lovin’ Spectrum Mom.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Teal loop should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard: Mom

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1 Kathy Kelly { 05.28.13 at 8:24 am }

Ah, Dave! You finally got to sing the praises of the Disney buses!

2 Mary @ Capturing Magical Memories { 05.28.13 at 8:45 am }

Well put! You are right there is a definite feeling to the buses. Even the worst times (waiting 90 minutes for a bus to Pop after park closing) are memories we relive tiem and again. They are now like famous fish stories. Thanks for putting it back in perspective.

3 Paula @ The Magical Mouse Pad { 05.28.13 at 12:40 pm }

Certainly not on my top 10 attractions without tickets (I prefer the boats), but I can definitely see your point. I remember the bus rides of year ago (70s/80s) from trips with my parents — the buses were always so cold, especially the platic seats! No music back then, though.

4 Dave { 05.29.13 at 6:38 am }

Mary, Paula, and all–you are all just too nice to say that I’m nuts!

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5 Hedy @ WDW Not Just for Kids { 05.28.13 at 1:06 pm }

Love the deluxes!

6 Troy { 05.30.13 at 8:47 am }

Really good post, Dave. I never thought about the buses like that, but you’re right: as I think back to our first trip in November, those nights riding back to the A of A – totally exhausted, yet having time to just sit and think on the great day we had. Nice job…

7 Dave { 05.31.13 at 7:47 am }

Thanks, Troy!

8 KE { 06.03.13 at 10:21 pm }

Favorite bus memory- Driving up to the MK Spring Break April 2007 from Coronado Springs. My husband and I had just found out we were expecting our first a few short weeks before our Disney trip. We’re on the bus and we’re listening to the excitement of all the children and my husband gives me a look and puts his hand on my stomach. It was such an intimate moment and brought so much joy to us knowing that one day we’d be able to share the Disney magic with our own children. This fall we’ll do just that and I can’t wait to hear and see their excitement on that bus as we approach the most magical place! Yes, happy memories indeed!

9 Dave { 06.04.13 at 8:04 am }

KE, thanks for sharing this wonderful story! And have a great trip!

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10 Jessica { 08.19.13 at 8:25 am }

I’m so glad you posted this! My boys are going to be 3, 6, and 6 when we visit WDW for the very first time in Feb 2014. I know they might tire of the buses, but right now it’s one of the things they are most looking forward to. We live in a suburb of Detroit, so public transportation is a thing of mystery to them. They were thrilled to ride the trains and buses when we visited Chicago and I can’t wait to see how excited they are to board a BUS to take them to THE castle 🙂

11 Dave { 08.20.13 at 7:11 am }

Jessica, that is so cute!!!

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12 Heather { 08.19.13 at 10:10 am }

On our recent trip: It’s our second day, and MK EMH goes to 2AM. Myself and two of my boys boarded Pirates at 1:57, walked out of the park gates around 2:30, waited 20 minutes-ish for a bus, and were then put on a half-full All-Star Movies bus (we were staying at All-Star Music). The bus, of course, stopped at Movies first. As we pulled away from the curb, the automatic announcement came on over the speakers, “You are on your way to the Magic Kingdom.” Those of us left on the bus laughed and cheered. It was 3:10 AM, and the bus driver said, “Yup, they opened it back up, just for you!”
So, yeah, the buses can be fun! But I know what you mean about those tactile memories, too. I once walked into a restaurant and said to my husband, “This smells just like Living with the Land!” I can’t even describe the scent, but it took me right back to that ride – and made me smile!

13 Dave { 08.20.13 at 7:17 am }

Heather what a cute story–and so much better than “This smells like the Tangled bathrooms!”

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