Walt Disney World has announced that the Minnie Vans private vehicle service by Lyft is coming back soon! This post shares everything we know so far–dates, details, plus our commentary about what to expect from this transportation offering when it resumes in the coming months. (Updated June 7, 2022.)
For those who are unfamiliar with Minnie Vans, the paid 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.
Like so many other things, Minnie Van service was “temporarily suspended” when the parks reopened following the multi-month closure two years ago. When the parks & resorts reopened, there were persistent rumors that Minnie Vans were gone for good–or at least, would not be returning anytime soon.
Minnie Vans were even purportedly spotted outside of Walt Disney World, leading some fans to wonder whether the fleet had been sold off–as many rental car companies had done–during the closure. While we never could confirm or deny that, it didn’t seem far-fetched.
Given Walt Disney World’s persistent staffing shortages and reluctance to put guests and Cast Members in prolonged, close-contact situations it seemed like it’d be a while.
June 7, 2022 Update: planDisney announced in a transportation update that Minnie Vans will officially return to service on June 29, 2022, and guests can enjoy being driven around Walt Disney World property by expert, specially trained cast members.
Per theme park journalist Scott Gustin, test rides will begin this week, meaning you could see Minnie Vans available in the Lyft app as an option to book prior to June 29. However, it will be at random and not something you can request added by Guest Services or other Cast Members. Either you’ll have the option in-app, or you won’t.
Guests needing an accessible Minnie Van will be able to reserve using the Lyft app–previously, this required a phone call to request. Walt Disney World has stated that over 75 former Minnie Van drivers have returned to the program.
Walt Disney World has not issued a dedicated press release about the return of Minnie Vans nor have any other details been announced. All we know at this point is what’s stated above.
One of the big unanswered questions is, naturally, going to be about pricing. Between the nonstop price increases on pretty much everything at Walt Disney World plus higher gas prices, it stands to reason that the cost of Minnie Vans will be going up. By a lot. Expect prices to be significantly more expensive than they were two years ago.
For those who are curious about what Minnie Vans previously cost, the last time we used Minnie Vans, the base rate was $15 per pick-up, plus a per mile fee that varies based upon demand, but was typically around $2.75 to $3.00 per mile. (It’s possible there was another price increase after we last used it, but I don’t think so. Feel free to contradict in the comments.)
With most park to resort trips being between 6 and 8 miles, this means the average cost for a Minnie Van was in the neighborhood of $30-35, with some trips being over $40. With an average Lyft or Uber ride costing around $15 to $20, you’re paying a significant premium for the Disney-branded Minnie Vans.
If we had to guess, we’d bump that base rate to $20 and the mileage to be somewhere around $3-4 when Minnie Vans return in Summer 2022. That would put the average cost in the range of $40 to $50. (It seems like that should be well above the balking point for the vast majority of guests, but nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to Walt Disney World pricing and what people are willing to pay.)
For many guests with deep pockets, using the Disney-branded Minnie Vans will be the most attractive alternative. This is despite the Sunshine Flyer and Mears Connect, or even Uber/Lyft and private car services would probably be cheaper. Enough guests feel more comfortable using something with the Disney brand, regardless of price. To be clear, we’re not talking anywhere near a majority of guests–if even 1% of all visitors use Minnie Vans, that’s still a ton of demand versus the total vehicle capacity.
Given all of the issues Walt Disney World has had with staffing, it’s entirely possible that Minnie Van service will be limited at first. (That, or the full fleet won’t be available for one reason or another after not being used for ~2 years.)
In such a scenario, it’s entirely possible that Disney will prioritize Minnie Vans for airport runs. Sort of the same way some Uber and Lyft drivers try to game the app and avoid shorter routes, except with Disney being more obvious about it. The longer trips between Orlando International Airport and Walt Disney World’s resort hotels will be more lucrative for the company, so that would certainly make sense in a supply-constrained environment with high demand.
Before the closure, the Minnie Van airport service was offered to guests with airline flight departures out of Orlando International Airport between 9 a.m. and midnight and flight arrivals 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. The cost was a flat rate fee of $155 per trip. Expect that to also increase by a significant amount–my guess is that it goes up to $200.
On the plus side, airport Minnie Vans accommodated up to 6 people per vehicle, including up to three car seats for guests. Guests wanting to request a Minnie Van to get to MCO were advised to use their hotel’s Resort Airline Check-In for additional information. (For what it’s worth, we regularly use Uber/Lyft to get to MCO, and our cost rarely exceeds $40 per trip.)
Speaking of car seats, that’s probably the biggest demographic that will be excited for the return of Minnie Vans. For families with multiple children who need car seats, there’s no option for efficient transportation (aside from your own vehicle) at Walt Disney World.
From what we’ve heard repeatedly from readers, Uber and Lyft are very hit or miss with car seats. We have no reason to doubt this, as Uber and Lyft are hit or miss in Central Florida, as a general matter. (Some drivers are absolutely fantastic, but we’ve also had far more drivers who are unfamiliar with the local layout more than anywhere else. Rideshare services can be a popular temporary position for recent transplants.)
Overall, we are very happy to hear that Minnie Vans are returning to Walt Disney World in Summer 2022. We won’t be using them since we are more price-conscious and prefer to splurge on substantive offerings without comparable substitutes (e.g. Uber and Lyft). Nevertheless, we understand there’s a huge market for Minnie Vans and many guests love them. It’s always good to see popular offerings come back at Walt Disney World, even if they’re not for us–not everything needs to be.
The reason we are hyped about Minnie Vans resuming service is because it’s yet another sign of the return to normalcy. In fact, it’s an incredibly significant one, as it involves prolonged close contact between guests and Cast Members. From a health safety perspective, Minnie Vans will likely be one of the very last things to return. Now we just need more royal dining, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and a range of entertainment options and Walt Disney World will be back to normal–or at least as normal as it’s going to get until staffing shortages are sorted out. Hopefully more news is coming very soon–we’ll keep you updated!
Are you excited about the return of Minnie Vans? More enthusiastic about what this means for the return of normalcy at Walt Disney World? If you’ve used a Minnie Van, do you agree or disagree with our take on the service? 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!