Minnie Vans are a new private vehicle service at Walt Disney World, operated in the same manner as Uber or Lyft, except operated by Cast Members in cute vehicles reminiscent of Minnie Mouse. In this post, we’ll share our experiences using the Minnie Vans, whether we recommend them, and tips for making the most of Minnie Vans. (Last updated January 1, 2018.)
After an initial test/preview period, Minnie Vans are now being rolled out around Walt Disney World. The vehicles can be requested at every Deluxe Resort via the Lyft app, and it would seem that Disney is making a significant investment in the program’s future, adding more vans (well, SUVs) to the fleet. It also seems that this will be the main ‘priority’ transportation option going forward, as Walt Disney World has discontinued Express Transportation.
I have to admit, when the Minnie Vans were first announced, and their initial price was released, I didn’t have much interest. At $20 per ride, Minnie Vans cost approximately double the price of an average Lyft or Uber ride. After using the Minnie Vans on a recent trip to Walt Disney World, I have to say, my mind has changed…
Even before using Minnie Vans myself, I knew Minnie Vans would be useful for those who still currently use taxis. As I’ve learned from reader comments to our Tips for Using Lyft & Uber at Walt Disney World post, there are many people who are distrustful of these ride-sharing services. There are a variety of reasons for this; some valid, others based on anecdotal fear-mongering (if you think taxis are safe, I have a documentary for you to watch). Regardless of the logic of the rationales, that’s how it is.
As of January 2018, Minnie Vans are now available at every Deluxe Walt Disney World resort hotel, with the Deluxe Villas and Disney Vacation Club resorts being the next phase of expansion that is currently underway. At present, the only Deluxe Villa/DVC resort where Minnie Vans are officially available is Old Key West. We’d expect the next phase to encompass the Moderate Resorts, and be ready by the kickoff of the Summer 2018 travel season.
Once fully rolled-out, Minnie Vans will all but drive taxis out of Walt Disney World. Bad news for those without smartphones who operate on an all-cash basis, but it should be a non-issue for everyone else. When it comes to Minnie Vans versus taxis, there is no comparison.
Minnie Vans are (on average) cheaper, offer better service, are more reliable, and more comfortable. There are also accessible Minnie Vans, which is a huge selling point for those who might otherwise have challenges using other services, be it taxis or ride-sharing services.
With Uber or Lyft versus Minnie Vans, it’s a much closer call. On average, Minnie Vans are more expensive. Not quite double the cost, but close to it. If price is your bottom line, you should probably stick with those ride-sharing services most of the time.
There are a few scenarios when Minnie Vans will be cheaper, such as when going from Animal Kingdom Lodge to Magic Kingdom with a party of 5 or more or when the ride-sharing services have higher pricing. Even though Uber no longer shows explicit ‘surge’ pricing, it’s still higher post-fireworks and other high demand times. Minnie Van pricing is static, not demand-dependent.
For families, it’s also noteworthy that car seats do not incur an additional fee with Minnie Vans, and there is no tipping. So, if you’d need a car seat with Uber or Lyft or would tip at the end of those rides, the lack of those added charges is going to bridge the gap price-wise with Minnie Vans.
However, price is not what makes Minnie Vans a closer call as compared to Uber/Lyft. Instead, it’s the caliber of the service Cast Members offer. In the past, I’ve praised Uber and Lyft for offering better service than taxis. I think that’s definitely true, but those ride-sharing services can still be hit or miss.
Uber and Lyft drivers usually engage in polite conversation, and the vast majority of the time this is either interesting or enjoyable. About 10% of the time, I’d say it’s uncomfortable or mildly irritating. Some of our most “notable” experiences with Uber in Florida have been a driver explaining to us how awful California is after we told him that’s we live, the nitty-gritty lowdown on a driver’s child custody dispute, and almost any time a driver brings up politics. (Made-up Walt Disney World trivia is another common one that might bug some people, but I legitimately love hearing stuff like that. So much creativity out there!)
Again, this is a small minority of the time we use Uber or Lyft, with most rides being pleasant or uneventful. In deference to the drivers, they are not professional conversationalists (whatever that means) and not trained in the art of polite conversation. Many are driving as side gigs, and it wouldn’t surprise me if in the culture of their normal workplace, the topics they bring up are perfectly normal.
Every Minnie Van ride is like the very best Uber experience. If our encounters with drivers thus far are any indication, these are the creme de la creme of Cast Members, of a similar caliber to those you’d have on a VIP tour or when dealing with Guest Services. One of our drivers also worked in entertainment, which was unsurprising given her friendliness and affability.
I strongly suspect the drivers for the initial rollout of Minnie Vans were cherry-picked, and the result is like a mini-VIP tour during your ride (no joke!). The dynamic of this type of intimate interaction with a Cast Member is great, and is a reminder of just how much of the Walt Disney World experience is built upon the exemplary qualities of Cast Members. (I could honestly see Walt Disney World trying to use the Minnie Vans as a way to pique curiosity about private tours in the future.)
As the Minnie Van program is still being rolled out across Walt Disney World, one question we have is whether it can maintain this high degree of service as it’s scaled. Right now, the Minnie Van fleet is still small and has the feel of an upstart program. Cast Members are clearly proud to be a part of the nascent program, and the guest experience is seriously good as a result.
I’m optimistic that this can remain the case. The price point is going to make it prohibitive for the majority of guests who will elect to either use the free bus (or other) transportation, or opt to save money with Uber or Lyft. Unless those ride-sharing apps are banned from Walt Disney World (unlikely given that they’ve partnered with Lyft on this, and banning only Uber would run afoul of the FTC Act), there’s only so big the Minnie Van program can get. Keeping it relatively small-scale will prevent the type of quality-erosion that would inevitably occur if the service becomes bloated.
Alright, now let’s cover some tips and info about the Minnie Vans. The vehicles used as Minnie Vans are brand-new Chevy Traverse mid-size SUVs. (Plus other Chevrolet vans for guests with wheelchairs or ECVs.) One nice perk worth mentioning is that these cars feature USB charging ports.
Minnie Vans can seat up to 6 guests, versus the 4 people that can be seated in the lowest tier of Uber or Lyft vehicles. Definitely a selling point for guests with larger parties, and factor to consider if ‘doing the math’ comparing the services.
As of right now, Minnie Vans have been rolled out to all Deluxe Resorts at Walt Disney World. We also were able to request a Minnie Van at Coronado Springs, so you might have luck with a pickup beyond the “official” resorts.
To use the service, you need to have the Lyft app on your smartphone (Minnie Vans are “powered by Lyft). From there, you either need to visit the front desk of your resort to have the Minnie Van service activated within the app, or activate it yourself via My Disney Experience.
We did the latter upon seeing a pop-up notification in the app. This did not occur on the first day of our trip, so it’s unclear how that’s triggered. (It’s worth re-iterating that the Minnie Van program is still in its initial roll-out stage, and a lot of this is going to change as the program evolves over time.)
Once activated, you can use the Lyft app to request a Minnie Van pick-up. It works the same way as the standard Lyft or Uber experience, with available vehicles being shown on the map, and time/price estimates being given. The ‘estimate’ for Minnie Vans is meaningless–the service is a flat-rate $20 fee. (You can get free ride credits on Lyft via this link.)
In terms of logistics, Minnie Vans are nearly identical to Uber and Lyft. You are picked up and dropped off at designated locations identified in the app(s), albeit with some differences between Minnie Vans and the “traditional” ride-sharing companies.
The most notable of these is that Magic Kingdom drop-offs actually take you to Magic Kingdom instead of the Ticket & Transportation Center. In the past, we’ve recommend guests heading to Magic Kingdom be dropped off at the Contemporary and walk to Magic Kingdom. This obviates the need for such a ‘hack.’
There are other situations where the Minnie Van drop-off point offers a distinct advantage. If you’re going to Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue or Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness, you will be dropped off at Pioneer Hall (no internal bus system!). At Disney Springs, there are drop-off points beyond those for Uber and Lyft.
There are other quirks to the pick-up and drop-off locations, but those are the significant ones (to our knowledge) on Walt Disney World property. Beyond that, there is one restriction with Minnie Vans: drivers can only take you to on-property locations, and the service only operates between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. That means you’ll need to stick with Uber or Lyft when visiting Universal or the Waffle House on Vineland at 2 a.m.
In terms of efficiency, it’s too early to tell. There were several times when a Minnie Van was simply parked in front of our resort, and pick-up was (or could have been) immediate. At Coronado, our wait was under 5 minutes. In a few situations, no vehicle was available at all.
Right now, average wait times (ignoring the no availability instances) are shorter than Uber or Lyft averages in Orlando–and both services are incredibly efficient in Orlando. However, the Minnie Van program is still in its infancy. Aside from super-fans who read the Disney Parks Blog or third party blogs, this is something that has not been promoted by Walt Disney World. The true test of wait times will be once the service has fully rolled out, and when (if?) it’s promoted heavily to the general public.
Overall, the Minnie Vans score very high marks from us. To be frank, we used them for the sake of writing a review, and but for that, we would have never considered Minnie Vans for personal use. We are more “bottom line price” type of people, so Minnie Vans did not seem targeted at us. After using Minnie Vans at Walt Disney World, we not only see some value in this for our personal use, but also an air of light-luxury that justifies them over Uber or the buses. This is especially true on longer routes, or at the end of a long day when we don’t feel like rolling the dice on a potentially uncomfortable conversation and just want high-quality Disney Cast Member service.
Due to the cost, we will never use Minnie Vans as an exclusive form of transportation. Instead, we will integrate Minnie Vans into our rotation of ride-sharing services, buses, monorails, and other Disney transportation, using whatever the situation might warrant. In terms of Uber/Lyft v. Minnie Vans, we’ll probably use the former ~75% of the time. For an early-morning ADR, when we’re in a hurry, transferring resorts, or in other point-to-point situations, Minnie Vans can be a great choice.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
If you’ve used a Minnie Van, do you agree or disagree with our review? What do you think of the pricing–too high, or fair for what’s offered? Any questions about Minnie Vans we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!