Minnie Vans are private vehicle service at Walt Disney World, operated by Lyft (and similarly to Uber), but operated by Cast Members in fun cars. This reviews our experiences using the paid transportation, pricing info & cost comparisons to alternatives, plus tips & info for best using it. (Updated December 5, 2022.)
For those who are unfamiliar with Minnie Vans, the vehicle service can be requested at every Walt Disney World resort via the Lyft app. Disney has made a significant investment in the program, with a huge number of vans and SUVs added to the fleet. Walt Disney World considers it a ‘priority’ transportation option, with private point-to-point service that’s almost always more efficient than buses.
When the Minnie Vans were first announced, and their initial price was released, we didn’t have much interest. The service was–and is–significantly more expensive than Uber or Lyft, so I thought “what’s the point?” After using the Minnie Vans on a recent trip to Walt Disney World, I have a more favorable opinion of the service, albeit one that has been tempered significantly by price increases.
Speaking of which, let’s start with Minnie Van pricing, because that’s going to be the threshold issue for most families visiting Walt Disney World. As of Late 2022, Minnie Vans have dynamic pricing. This means that the cost will be different by destination and time of day, with rates largely dictated by supply and demand.
As you can see from the screenshots above, Minnie Vans are often triple price of a base Lyft vehicle for the exact same destination. They’re often double the price of Lyft XL, which is the more apples to apples comparison since both Minnie Vans and Lyft XL seat 6 people.
In some instances, this price gap is even larger. For the longest routes at Walt Disney World, we’ve found prices as high as $60 at times when Uber or Lyft were around $15 to $17. One example of that is in the screenshot below (left), which goes between Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness and Jambo House at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s a similar story with Magic Kingdom to AKL (right). These routes were chosen deliberately both for their duration and because, as discussed below, the Minnie Van service is fundamentally different (and thus a bit incomparable) due to drop-off locations.
On the pricing front, there are a couple of unique wrinkles with Minnie Vans v. Lyft or Uber. First, Minnie Vans are often in higher demand than regular rideshare, which leads to both higher prices and longer wait times. There have been instances of near-immediate availability via regular Lyft vehicles (or Uber–but that’s a different app so it’s more difficult for the direct comparisons), whereas Minnie Vans had lengthy waits.
However, there is a flip side to that. Since Minnie Vans are almost always in high demand, the gap closes when regular Lyft vehicles are also in high demand. Meaning that when Lyft or Uber have surge pricing in the mornings or (especially) in the evenings after fireworks, Minnie Vans are still more expensive, but not triple the price of a regular Lyft or Uber.
Moreover, the Minnie Van service is not more expensive than all Lyft or Uber options. We’ve found that Minnie Van costs are typically slightly less expensive than the Lyft Lux Black XL, pretty consistently by about $10. (Even then we’ve found that the wait is usually longer for a Minnie Van, so if your vacation time has value–and it should–Minnie Vans usually lose on efficiency.)
When you consider that Walt Disney World resorts typically charge a luxury-caliber premium for their themed resorts, it’s easier (and perhaps more palatable?) to pay extra for the Minnie Van service. After all, you are getting a friendly Cast Member, a fun polka-dot vehicle, and in-car entertainment. (We aren’t suggesting it’s worth it or these services are comparable, just that the case could be made–and that this is consistent with the surcharge for Disney-branded resorts.)
For families, the biggest selling point for Minnie Vans, that might overshadow everything else about pricing, is that each Minnie Van vehicle comes equipped with two car seats and the Cast Member has been trained to properly install them. Unfortunately, this can otherwise be very hit or miss in the Orlando rideshare market. So if you need a car seat for your kid(s), the Minnie Van service might not just be your best choice–it could be your only option that isn’t a gamble.
December 5, 2022 UPDATE: Limited Minnie Van service to and from Orlando International Airport is resuming before Christmas, according to Walt Disney World. For the remainder of 2022, airport Minnie Van service will only be available for guests staying Club Level, and is bookable by the resort concierge team (also known as Disney Signature Services).
Pricing is $199 plus tax for a one-way trip between any Club Level resort at Walt Disney World and MCO as of December 2022. Reservations for airport Minnie Van transfers can be made up to 60 days prior to your arrival date by contacting Disney Signature Services at (407) 939-7777 or via email.
The airport Minnie Van service is offered to guests with airline flight departures out of MCO between 9 a.m. and midnight and flight arrivals 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. Airport Minnie Vans can accommodate up to 6 people per vehicle, including up to three car seats for guests. Availability is limited, but it’s unlikely you’ll need to book 60 days in advance.
Previously, Minnie Van service was also available to and from Orlando International Airport for all guests at Walt Disney World for a flat rate fee of $155 per trip, making this a pretty steep price increase on a service that was already ridiculously overpriced as compared to regular Uber or Lyft. We regularly use Uber/Lyft to get to MCO, and our cost rarely exceeds $50 per trip, even during periods of high demand. (We’ve paid as little as $25 in the off-season of December 2022.)
It’s unclear when all guests will once again be able to book the airport transfers and is likely dependent upon staffing and demand. Our expectation is that airport transfers will be available for Deluxe Resort guests next, sometime in early 2023. As noted above, there’s a supply and demand imbalance for Minnie Vans, which is driven in part by guests wanting to use the themed rideshare service…and also a shortage of drivers. Walt Disney World has been attempting to address it’s staffing woes for the last year, and has yet to fully remedy the problem.
We have used Uber and Lyft on a number of occasions in 2022 for getting between Walt Disney World and MCO. These services are our recommendation for anyone who values their time and doesn’t want to break the bank with a private transfer. Alternatively, the Sunshine Flyer and Mears Connect are our top recommendations for shared shuttle services.
With Late 2022 pricing out of the way, let’s turn to our review of Minnie Vans. 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.
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, the scale tips in favor of the former–at least for us. On average, Minnie Vans are much more expensive. With the new per mile pricing, you’re looking at rates that are around triple the cost of Lyft or Uber. If price is your bottom line, it’s a no-brainer. You should stick with those ride-sharing services.
There are a few scenarios when Minnie Vans will arguably be better. For families, it’s also noteworthy that car seats do not incur an additional fee with Minnie Vans. 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.
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 continues to grow, one question we have is whether Walt Disney World 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 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”). 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. (You can get free ride credits on Lyft via this link.)
In the screenshots throughout this post, you should be able to see how we had the option to select a Minnie Van (the top option) as well as any other Lyft vehicle while traveling on-site around Walt Disney World. 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. 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.
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 were really impressed. They offer an air of light-luxury in a themed vehicle with a friendly Cast Member that could potentially justify them over one of the higher tiers of Uber or Lyft for those who want a luxury-adjacent private vehicle service that’s efficient and comfortable. This is especially true on longer routes (like the aforementioned one to Fort Wilderness), 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. In fact, it’s unlikely that we’ll use Minnie Vans for personal use much, as they are simply so much more expensive than other ride-sharing services. Instead, we will continue to use Uber and Lyft as a supplement to Walt Disney World’s buses, monorails, and other Disney transportation, using whatever the situation might warrant.
However, that doesn’t mean Minnie Vans are a poor choice, especially for those with large budgets or families wanting a more “Disney” experience than Lyft. Likewise, those doing an early-morning ADR, transferring resorts, or in other point-to-point situations, might find Minnie Vans to be a worthwhile option.
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? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of the Minnie Van service and how it compares to Lyft or Uber? 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!