This is the first of what will be many Disney review posts. I’ll try to break things down by topic over the next few weeks.
For perspective, this was our third trip to Disney World. That being said, it was the first time we’d stayed on property or used the meal plan. We also were there for nine days, which is a very long time. Because we’d gotten the stomach bug on both previous trips our original intention was to take a few days off (TBD based on illness) over the course of the week. But, (YEAH!) this time nobody got sick so we had nine days in the parks. We used all this extra time to not drive ourselves to exhaustion. Every day (except one) the boys ate dinner and were in bed on time, the adults were in bed early, and we woke reasonably easily in the mornings. I think staying on schedule was crucial in keeping everyone sane.
Today, I’ll do a quick review of Disney Transportation. I’ll talk about the resort, meals, Fast Passes, and parks in later weeks.
Our first experience with Disney Transportation was the Magical Express, which takes you from the airport to your hotel. We used the yellow stickers to send our bags all the way through without our having to grab them at the airport. Since we’d been warned that this would mean that we might not get our bags until 3-4 hours later, we put the boys’ pjs in our carry on bags. As it worked out, we landed about 5 pm and the bags were in our room when we got back from dinner.
The Magical Express was clean, comfortable, and pretty efficient. The bus was ready to go when we arrived in the depot area and we were the third or fourth stop on Disney property.
The trip back to the airport was a bit trickier. First, we had a 9:30 am flight so we had to board the Magical Express about 6:30, which is early for us. But, we made it. This time we did not have them handle our luggage since we’d been told it needed to be dropped at 5:30 (before we got up). But, as it turned out the distance from the bus depot to baggage check was very long. Since we were able to print our boarding passes at the resort, it would have been easier to check the luggage also.
Our experience with the internal Disney buses was similarly positive. We had no trouble getting to the parks by 8:30/9:00, even in the few cases where we had to wait for a second one. About half the time we were able to get seats. And, when the bus was quite full it didn’t make extra stops on the way to the parks.
The one exception was when we had dinner at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and needed to get back to our resort. Disney has no internal mechanism of getting from one resort to another (unless they’re both on the monorail). Because we had to take two buses and transfer at an intermediate destination (Downtown Disney in our case), it took over an hour to get from the Lodge back to our resort. I think as Disney puts more of the branded restaurants in the hotels they should consider an internal taxi service. Especially since one is making dinner reservations anyway, it would have been no problem for us to identify way in advance that we would need to move x people from A to B hotel following a x:xx dinner reservation. I’d even pay a few extra bucks for that, especially if it was as good or better than the Magical Express, meaning 2-3 stops max on your journey.
In advance of our trip I’d read a lot about what a pain Disney Transportation was and how we should rent a car even for internal trips. We did not find that to be the case at all. Maybe it was the season, but we would use the buses again.