Walt Disney World recently released a test on an Express Transportation bus system that runs from park to park. During my visit last week I was able to enjoy this experience and it was incredible.
This is available for $15 a day or $24 for seven consecutive days.* You may purchase this option at your resort concierge or directly from the Express Transportation location in each park. You must have a valid Park Hopper ticket. Once purchased, the virtual “bus ticket” will be loaded onto your magic band for quick processing at the next bus stop.
Each park contains a special bus stop location and are clearly marked with sandwich board signing and staffed with cast members to answer questions and process guests. Below are the bus stop locations:
Magic Kingdom: left of Buzz Lightyear Ranger Spin
Epcot: East of Spaceship Earth (left of the entrance as you are entering the park)
Hollywood Studios: next to Rockin’ Rollercoaster at the entrance to Sunset Showcase.
Animal Kingdom: left of the entrance to Kilamanjaro Safari
Buses run every 30 minutes from 10am to park close (times will vary based on park hours). The bus will arrive 10 minutes early and leave promptly at its departure time. Each park contains its own bus schedule. This is the current bus schedule at each park.
Animal kingdom bus schedule -Epcot departs :20 and :50; Hollywood Studios departs :10 and :40; Magic Kingdom departs :00 and :30
Magic Kingdom bus schedule -Animal Kingdom departs :00 and :30; Hollywood Studios departs :20 and :50; Epcot departs :10 and :40
Hollywood Studios bus schedule – Epcot departs :00 and :30; Magic Kingdom departs :20 and :50; Animal Kingdom departs :10 and :40
Epcot bus schedule – Hollywood Studios departs :00 and :30; Magic Kingdom departs :10 and :40; Animal Kingdom departs :20 and :50
I was lucky enough to enjoy this option on the last day of my trip. We started at Animal Kingdom at 9am and after a few runs on Expedition Everest, we were off to the Express Transportation kiosk located next to the Safari. We arrived at 9:55am, purchased our daily ticket and we were brought backstage to our bus marked Magic Kingdom VIP.
We were whisked out of the back stage area of Animal Kingdom and brought directly to the backstage area of Tomorrowland.
After enjoying some time in Tomorrowland, including a quick trip on Space Mountain, we went back to the Express Transportation bus stop at 11:15am where our Magic Bands were scanned and we were off to Hollywood Studios.
We were brought in behind Tower of Terror and around to a bus stop that is located next to Sunset Showcase and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
At Hollywood Studios we were able to enjoy Frozen Ever After, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, as well as lunch at Pizzerizzo and some shopping. At 3:55 pm we went back to the bus stop, had our magic bands scanned and boarded the express bus to Epcot.
Here we were brought through the backstage entrance of Epcot (those that have done the RunDisney events know this entrance.) We went right onto Avenue of the Stars towards the bus stop location near Spaceship Earth.
At Epcot we rode Spaceship Earth and walked out the exit to our bus. We were back at our resort by 5pm just in time for to head back to Orlando International Airport. Just to wrap up, that was 4 parks, 7 attractions, lunch, and shopping in exactly 8 hours. I can’t imagine what I could’ve accomplished with better planning and more time. Below are a few notes I took along the way.
- No pictures were allowed once you walked into backstage areas. There were sandwich boards everywhere reminding you of the rule and cast members monitoring you while you were back there.
- Of the three bus routes we took, the Animal Kingdom to Magic kingdom route was by far the coolest. There were only 2 of us on the bus. We were driven past the animal enclosures for the safari animals, the Safari sunset, the Horticultural Department where all the plants are grown and then transplanted from this location to their new homes on stage. We also saw where they grow the food that is used in the restaurant and where our waste is shipped. (lucky us!!!) We were driven past the several backstage facilities. That ride felt like a backstage tour. The bus driver was incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and was letting us know about everything we were passing.
- The Express Transportation system is outstanding. However, I was asked a question concerning the exposing children to backstage areas. This should be handled case by case. Our children travel to Disney often. I am not concerned about them seeing off stage areas. However, if this was a first trip or a child that doesn’t go often, it may be something to consider as it may impact the Magic.
- According to one of the drivers, this program is now permanent. It is no longer in test mode. I want to believe that but at most there were 7 guests on a bus. It didn’t seem that popular. I think it will grow as people become aware of the program. I saw quite a few people asking about it.
- One pitfall: You miss the experience of walking into the park and having that moment with Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, the Tree of Life, and/or the Chinese Theater.
- One perk: Time saved. We went from Kilimanjaro Safari to Buzz Lightyear Ranger Spin in 24 minutes; from Buzz to Rock’n’Roller Coaster 15 minutes; and Rock’n’Roller Coaster to Spaceship Earth in 13 minutes. These times are impossible using the normal transportation system and going back through security.
* It is still unclear to me what the annual pass limitations are with this experience. I was told that we would be able to pay $24 for 7 consecutive days. However, in previous communication I read that annual pass holders can only go day to day.
Thanks for reading and have a magical day!!!
I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse. – Walt Disney
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