Walt Disney World has released new information about its transportation upon reopening. This includes whether/when monorails, boats, buses, and the Skyliner gondolas will operate. Here, we’ll cover when each will resume routes, along with other details and tips for efficient transit between the resort hotels and theme parks.
As you’re undoubtedly aware, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopen on July 11, with Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios resuming operations on July 15, 2020. Several Disney Vacation Club/Deluxe Villa Resorts have already reopened, as has Disney Springs. Bus transportation has already been running between these villas and Disney Springs. On July 10, Pop Century and Contemporary Resorts also reopen.
This continues our Walt Disney World reopening info series, which also includes Resort ‘Know Before You Go’ Infoand Restaurant ‘Know Before You Go’ Infopages. The good news here is that, unlike the hotels and dining, there’s a far greater sense of normalcy with transportation. With the exception of a few relatively minor cuts, the options are pretty close to normal…
Let’s take a look at the operating status of the monorails, buses, boats, and Disney Skyliner gondolas between July 11 and July 28, 2020…
Known as Walt Disney World’s Highway in the Sky, the monorail will resume partial service on July 11, 2020. On this date, the Magic Kingdom monorails–both the Express and Resort beams–will begin operating.
The Epcot monorail line will not reopen on July 11 or 15, and does not presently have an opening date as far out as the released schedule goes (July 28, 2020). Guests staying at Magic Kingdom monorail loop resorts will need to utilize bus transportation for getting to Epcot.
Dubbed the Most Magical Flight on Earth, the Skyliner services two Walt Disney World theme parks (Hollywood Studios and Epcot) plus four resorts (Art of Animation & Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, plus Caribbean Beach (again) & Riviera Resort) via 5 stations.
While not every resort serviced by the Disney Skyliner will reopen right away, every station and gondola line will resume operations on July 15, 2020. Notably, the main hub at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will be open despite that hotel not reopening until July 29, 2020.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, plus Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness will resume boat transportation to and from Magic Kingdom beginning July 11, 2020. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa will not offer boat service at this time, presumably due to the NBA’s use of the resort, which has resulted in fencing up that cuts off access to the boat launch.
It’s unclear whether resort to resort boat transportation will be offered at any point through July 28, 2020. We assume there will not be blue flag service among Contemporary Resort, Fort Wilderness, and Wilderness Lodge. It’s entirely possible that all boat routes will be modified, serving multiple resorts before making their way to Magic Kingdom.
For Villas at Grand Floridian Resort guests, it’s worth noting that the walking distance to the Polynesian boat launch is not that much longer than the (closed) boat launch at Grand Floridian. Still, you’re better off taking the monorail.
Remaining boat routes will be non-operational when the Walt Disney World theme parks reopen. This includes the Sassagoula River Cruise, which goes to and from Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside from the Disney Springs Marketplace Dock. As neither Port Orleans Resort has a reopening date, this should be unsurprising.
Additionally, FriendShip boats will not offer service among the Crescent Lake Resorts, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This one also makes sense. Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is being used by the NBA, and its dock is blocked off by fencing. Moreover, the Swan & Dolphin Resorts are in use by Major League Soccer. Finally, park hopping is not even possible at this point.
As always, guests staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn or Beach Club Villas are best off walking from their respective resorts to Epcot’s International Gateway. From BoardWalk, it’s fastest to walk to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. From Beach Club Villas, it’s likely fastest (and easiest) to take the Epcot Skyliner to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
To our knowledge, all bus service is operating as normal (albeit likely with reduced frequency between the parks and resorts), with one exception. Per the information we’ve received, there is no bus service from Skyliner resorts to Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
You might recall that early this year (which feels like a decade ago), Walt Disney World reduced bus service from Skyliner resorts to these parks. It now appears to be discontinued entirely, at least on a temporary basis. It’s worth noting here that bus service to the parks from Skyliner resorts was/is considerably less efficient, but was offered as a courtesy for guests with fears of heights.
Note that while Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will have Annual Passholder previews on July 9-10, 2020 and there are numerous resorts open those dates, transportation will not be provided to the parks from said properties. (Per the registration confirmation: “If you are staying at a Disney Resort hotel, Disney transportation will not be available for this limited event. You will need to provide your own transportation to the Theme Park parking lot.”
It’s also unclear how transportation will operate from the various parking lots to the Walt Disney World theme parks. Most notably, there’s the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) to and from Magic Kingdom. It would appear likely that the ferry boats will be operating, an assumption we’re making simply because they’ve been testing for the last several days.
Less clear is whether the parking trams will operate. We are hearing that they will not be operating, but there is no official confirmation of this. With the parks operating at significantly reduced capacity, this should not be a major problem. On a normal day, it’s just as fast to walk as to take the tram. With parking lots at ~20% of their normal capacity, that should definitely be true for the foreseeable future.
Ultimately, this is actually more transportation operating during the reopening month at Walt Disney World than we anticipated. This is particularly true of the boat launches to Magic Kingdom, which we figured would not be in use. Honestly, we were surprised to see the monorails start testing–with incredibly low occupancy rates, those resorts probably could’ve gotten away with just offering boat and/or bus service.
Speaking of monorails, it’s actually a bit unfortunate that Walt Disney World didn’t pull the trigger on a new monorail order (like Tokyo Disney Resort did) and work on installing that during the downtime. The next several months would be the best possible time for the monorail to go down for upgrades. Unfortunately, present circumstances being what they are, it instead seems more likely that the current monorails will hobble along for another decade-plus.
What do you think about these Walt Disney World transportation changes? Pleased by the amount of non-bus options available, or disappointed that the Epcot monorail and some boats won’t operate? Do you have plans to visit Walt Disney World this summer or fall, or have you cancelled? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!