The pathway between Magic Kingdom and Grand Floridian Resort gives Walt Disney World guests the option to travel by foot from the Transportation & Ticket Center or Polynesian Village Resort. This post shares photos, video, and excessive enthusiasm for this walking path project. (Updated May 27, 2023.)
We’ll preface this by saying we’re suckers for infrastructure projects, especially ones at Walt Disney World that give us non-bus transportation options. Long-time readers of the blog know we’re vehemently anti-bus, and while that’s not even remotely relevant here, it’s always worth reiterating because buses are the worst.
We were also ardent advocates of the Disney Skyliner gondola system long before it opened (and after its “infamous incident”), even as many readers had myriad “what if?” concerns and reasons why it’d be a colossal failure. If it weren’t for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance being so awesome, the Skyliner would’ve been our favorite Walt Disney World addition of last year. We certainly ride the Skyliner more than anything in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge!
May 27, 2023 Update: Walt Disney World has reopened the walking path between Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Magic Kingdom. This walkway closed beginning in mid-February and was originally expected to reopen in late Spring 2023. It’s now back in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend and the start of the summer tourist season.
Grand Floridian is currently in the midst of a substantial overhaul with “Enchanted Gardens” as the unifying visual style. See our Grand Floridian Resort Reimagining News & Construction Report for 2023for more details about construction. The Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom walkway reopens because work is now finished on the exterior of the Sago Key building (we have no clue about the interior–it doesn’t appear to be open yet, but should be within the next few weeks given the overall pace of the project).
Sago Key is the last building aside from the main lobby–the heart of the overhaul–to be done. All outlying buildings will be done once Sago Key reopens, meaning you will get a new room if booking any of the “outer building” categories going forward. Speaking of which, For a look inside the new rooms, see Grand New Rooms at Walt Disney World’s Flagship Resort.
On a related note, the walkway between the Grand Floridian and Polynesian has changed on a couple of occasions due to construction of the Poly DVC Tower. A new route just opened and is easier to navigate and feels safer. Given that this is open right now with the degree of structural construction that’s occurring, we expect that pathway to remain open for the duration of that project.
What follows is our original overview and “tour” of the walkway between the Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom from when it first opened. Given that not many people were traveling at the time, you might’ve missed it. (I’ll take any excuse to share my enthusiasm for this peaceful path!) Here’s why we love this path so much, and how it’s a big deal for guests of the Grand Floridian…
While there’s nothing to “ride” on the Grand Floridian Resort to Magic Kingdom walkway, this will likely go down as our favorite and most-used Walt Disney World “new attraction” of the year. Sure, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is good, but it has long lines, uses Ren & Stimpy character models, and is inferior to its predecessor.
By contrast, the Grand Floridian Resort to Magic Kingdom walkway helps you avoid waiting in the monorail line, is IP-free, and far superior to the frustrating “sidewalk to nowhere” that preceded it. Some might even call it the walkway of the future, paving the way for a great big beautiful tomorrow. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you that there’d be excessive enthusiasm for this walkway!)
We’ll have plenty of time for unnecessary commentary on the glorious Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom path. For now, let’s offer something of a “tour” between the resort and Walt Disney World’s flagship park.
Exiting the lobby of Grand Floridian, you’ll see signage directing you towards the walkway. Right now, this is somewhat insufficient. When you get to the next juncture, it’s unclear whether to head right (towards Narcoossee’s) or left (towards Gasparilla Island Grill).
Left is the answer to that question. You’ll basically hug the perimeter of the main building before picking up with the pathway under the monorail track.
Alternatively, you could cut back from the convention center or bus stop area for a shorter stroll, but that would be a pretty odd use case.
This instantly makes Sago Cay or Sugarloaf the most desirable buildings at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
They’re convenient to dining, the main lobby, and now this walking path.
One of my favorite things about the Grand Floridian Resort to Magic Kingdom walkway is the way the monorail crisscrosses overhead.
It makes for a more engaging experience, and makes the time go quicker.
The winding walkway also has plenty of mature trees, waterfront views of boats traversing Seven Seas Lagoon, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower as the constant “wienie” in the distance.
There are also occasional views backstage (including a peek at the Electrical Water Pageant barges) and glimpses of Cinderella Castle through the trees.
You probably didn’t come here for a review of the walkway, but I’d give this one high marks. The walkway is sufficiently secluded and much of its length feels like a stroll through a park, but there’s also a lot of visual interest, two bridges, and you can hear the music from Main Street.
This walkway has excellent kinetic energy and it strikes a great balance. Pretty much everything you’re looking for in a serene saunter.
A couple of other unsung highlights about this pathway: it doesn’t stink and it’s wide.
Two of my biggest complaints about the walkway between Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Magic Kingdom are that portions of it smell like sewage and it’s incredibly narrow, making passing difficult. Neither present issues here.
Continuing with the Contemporary comparison, this walkway is about double the length, but the upside is that it’s nonstop–no waiting at an intersection. The Contemporary path is more utilitarian, whereas this one is pleasant and provides a meandering mosey.
I’m not about to pooh-pooh the Contemporary walkway (besides, it smells like someone already did that!) as it’s been a sidewalk stalwart for decades. For as long as I can remember, that has been our exclusive form of transportation between those resorts and Magic Kingdom.
With that said, the Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom walkway is undeniably superior. It just is.
There’s no sense in letting our Walt Disney World walkway power rankings be colored by nostalgia and history. After all, we’re not talking classic EPCOT Center attractions.
I’ve walked a lot of Disney theme park pathways in my day, and nothing fully compares to the way this melds ‘peaceful promenade’ with waterfront & transportation views.
The former aspect reminds me of the path at Hong Kong Disneyland between the hotels and park. That’s an absolutely lovely stroll with beautiful trees, abundant benches, and nice pavers. That one is definitely more polished than this path.
However, the Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom walkway absolutely trounces that one when it comes to views and commotion. This is a much more thrilling walk.
Some might even say it’s an E-Ticket Expedition.
It’s really hard to draw a clear parallel between this path and Disney’s other elite avenues.
All of the other walks that feature monorails (Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Resort) are much more urban and lose points for that. This is one of those ‘distinctly Walt Disney World’ things. Here, you have tranquility but also the bustle of transportation, all while being in the Disney bubble. Nowhere else can replicate that.
Some of this is undoubtedly inducing eye-rolls, and there is some hyperbole and sarcasm here, to be sure. Probably not as much as you might suspect, though.
We legitimately love walking. We would prefer to be “masters of our own fate” than being beholden to a breakdown-prone monorail. Even if the path takes slightly longer and requires more steps, walking is always our strong preference.
We will absolutely use this walkway not just when staying at the Grand Floridian and its villas, but also when staying at the Polynesian and its villas.
Walking time is going to vary from person to person and precise starting and ending locations, but it’s about 10-14 minutes from Magic Kingdom to Grand Floridian (.75 mile), 8-13 minutes from Grand Floridian to the Polynesian (.5 mile), and 5-8 minutes from the Poly to the Transportation and Ticket Center (.3 mile). Please note that those walking times and mileage are very much estimates; we walk at an incredibly brisk pace but also get distracted easily along the way.
As with so many things, your mileage may vary on how much of that is practical. Time of year will also make a difference. This is much more enjoyable right now with temperatures in the 70s than it’ll be in July with high heat and humidity.
While we “only” did a few laps on the walkway yesterday, we have a Villas at Grand Floridian Resort stay coming up next month. (After this year’s earlier “Stroll-less Stay at the Grand Floridian,” we guessed right this time!) I’m trying to convince Sarah to ride the monorail and “race” me from Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian and TTC, so stay tuned for that (maybe).
This walkway is absolutely the type of thing we love to see. Even though this is coming to fruition decades after originally planned and over a year since construction began, we had lost hope that this project would be undertaken ages ago.
It’s not a “sexy” or marketable addition, but one that improves the experience tremendously for a select group of guests.
Since my photos jump around and don’t give full context, here’s a 14-minute video of the walk by Sarah.
Kudos to her on this–if left up to me, it’d be a jerky mess with a lot of stopping, starting, and dropping the phone for photos every time the monorail passed.
Finally, here’s a reward for those of you who tolerated my walkway rambling and made it all the way to the end of the post. In addition to being great weather for a stroll, it was also a nice night in Magic Kingdom. While I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” I’m not so sure that’s true here. The walkway is a joyous journey, but when this is the destination…well.
Ultimately, we hope you didn’t mind humoring our overly passionate pathway post. In our view, this walkway exemplifies what helps make Walt Disney World a special, memorable place. It’s the closest many guests will get to experiencing a great city’s infrastructure and transportation network, and walkability is an integral part of that. As with so many aspects of Walt Disney World, it’s the cumulative little things that leave a lasting impression and make a big difference, even if they don’t distinctly stick out in your mind.
Have you taken this E-Ticket Expedition yet? Where would it rank for you among the top additions of the year at Walt Disney World? Any deep thoughts of your own on transportation and/or walkability at Walt Disney World? Are you looking forward to this path between the TTC and Magic Kingdom? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? 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!