Photos & Video: Meandering the Magnificent Magic Kingdom to Grand Floridian Walkway
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 February 7, 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!
February 7, 2023 Update: Walt Disney World has announced that, due to refurbishments of guest rooms and buildings at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the walking path between Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom will be temporarily closed beginning February 13. The walkway is expected to reopen in late Spring 2023.
Grand Floridian is currently in the midst of a substantial overhaul with “Enchanted Gardens” as the unifying visual style. The scope and scale are not yet known, but the hotel rooms have been receiving a reimagining that’s similar to the DVC side since last fall. See our Grand Floridian Resort Reimagining Report for more details about construction.
In all likelihood, this closure is occurring because the room reimagining is progressing to the building closest to the Grand Floridian walkway, and construction progress will necessitate its closure. Thus far, the Big Pine Key (DVC) and Boca Chica buildings are finished; Conch Key and Sugarloaf are now in progress. It would thus make sense for Sago Key to be next up, and that’s the building adjacent to the walkway. Once work starts, expect it to take a few months to complete. For a look inside the new rooms, see Grand New Rooms at Walt Disney World’s Flagship Resort.
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.
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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!
I love this walkway and have used it as an “attraction” even when not staying at the GF or Polynesian. Another favorite transportation habit of mine is for early entry at Epcot. I take the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios then stroll the path to International Gateway as the sun is coming up. (Also, on my non-park days, I often do a Skyliner crawl. It’s a nice way to spend the afternoon and you almost always get a car to yourself at that time of day. The Skyliner is a Disney highlight!)
We are leaving on Saturday and were intending to take this pathway (coming from Shades of Green to the Polynesian to the pathway). Is there an alternative route being set up? Or are we just out of luck? So glad you shared this news!
I have this question as well. Now what? I have called twice and received two different answers. The first time I called a cast member told me the walkways closed you cannot walk to Magic Kingdom. I said what if we walk to the Polynesian can we walk from there? He said no. So then I called back a couple days ago and I said how can we walk to Magic Kingdom young lady? I spoke to said, just walk to the Polynesian and then walk from there. So I’d have never stayed at the grand Floridian, so I don’t really understand what people did before this.. was there never an option for walking to Magic Kingdom? I don’t know. I will be there in a couple days I can repost and let you know how it went.
There is no walking option from the Grand Floridian or Polynesian to Magic Kingdom currently. This was the only pathway that connected both resorts to the park, and it’s closed. You’ll have to take a boat or the monorail now. Hope that makes sense and enjoy your trips! 🙂
My absolute favorite new thing at WDW. We’ve used it to walk from the MK parking lot to MK, and it’s so terrific to leave a busy day at the Magic Kingdom to almost immediate peace and quiet on the walkway, walking back to our car (or the Polynesian, where we stayed last year).
Oh so peaceful, and beautiful.
I love the new walkway connecting the Grand Floridian to the Magic Kingdom. I also love that it’s now possible to walk from the Ticket and Transportation Center and Polynesian to the Magic Kingdom via this new walkway.
I enjoy walking and plan on heavily using this walkway. I’ve wanted this walkway to exist ever since I was a teenager in the 1990s.
I always found it odd that the first stretch of this walkway extending from the Magic Kingdom, AKA “The Sidewalk to Nowhere,” had existed since the mid-1990s and was never completed.
I feel bad for the people who paid for the commemorative pavers that were placed here that were removed right before the walkway was completed. They paid for pavers leading nowhere.
Question for you, if you don’t mind…my family is coming for the FIRST TIME!!!! in April. Can we Uber from Coronado Springs to GF for a quick-service breakfast, then walk from there to MK? Thanks!
Clint: Maybe. If they allow Uber to bring you to the front of the resort. But in the past, they haven’t let people enter the grounds of the various resorts unless they were guests of that resort OR they had an ADR at the resort. You won’t have either.
On odd observation…. we were there a few weeks ago, and it seemed like a lot of the lights were not centered on the concrete bases. Is there a reason for that? It doesn’t bother me, but just seemed odd.
Can I put a plug in for a loop all the way around bay lake? It would be lovely for the runners/walkers and a nice promo for runDisney! I know this adds complexity around MK but I’m certain Disney could figure it out.
I was so excited this morning to get an early run on this path. Headed over a little before 7 and sign was up stating path was closed. Looped over to Poly and then back around again and it was still closed. So disappointed. I still love running the 2 resorts to see the castle, it was really hoping to decrease the number of laps required.
It will probably only be open when MK is open or about to open or close. There is a Security Checkpoint on the path.
Thanks to Sarah and you for the lovely video of the new walkway. I can totally use it as a meditation lol!
Great addition. I’ve always wondered why for years there was the sidewalk to nowhere between GF and MK.
This, this is the content I read this blog for. So glad to hear the path is finally open.
Thank you for the video Sarah. It is lovely. You picked a great time of day for filming! I will use your video for stress relief in the future, along with a Guy Selga video of rain on Main Street USA at DL.
Tom- thank you for your review. I totally “get” it. Things like this walk really help make WDW the special place it is.
I have walked some of those paths many times in the evening at Disney World – the perfect getaway from noisy crowds (I love the crowds but it’s nice to get a break) and a chance to really stretch your legs and walk. Traveling at night, however, one should be aware that alligators are often out hunting at that time. I see fences along the water in some of your photos, which I do not remember being there a few years ago. I have had one near-encounter with an alligator on one of these nightly walks and it was completely chilling. I realized then that it probably wasn’t a good idea to be meandering along an intercoastal waterway area late at night.
I agree with you 100%. We like Boardwalk and Beachclub. They are nice resorts but our favorite things is that you can walk to Epcot and Studios. Bay Lake was not our favorite resort and we have only stayed there once but we LOVED being able to walk to MK.
Do you know the distance from Beach Club to Studios for comparison? Many people won’t do that walk including some in our party but we do it every time and love it. Like you we walk at a brisk pace then sometimes stop for a nice picture.
One of my favorite features of VGF is the running trail that links the 2 resorts. I am even more excited to add this path and reduce the number of laps. Hopefully will be trying it out next week!
I didn’t think about people walking from MK to the TTC.
Do you think they’ll eventually put someone or something there to prevent those who aren’t staying at the two resorts from using the walkway?
Doubtful. It’s highly unlikely that many guests will make the walk from TTC to MK, and even if a ton did for some reason, that eases the burden on transportation.
Great article and video Tom- plus the crowds for the monorail line will be minimized and spread out more, a win- win for all guests-
I am SO excited about this!! Thank you for your comprehensive review!
Any upgrade to promote outdoor commuting and accessibility is a huge plus. I would stay at the Poly over a moderate resort just for the opportunity to walk to MK, strolling my toddler, enjoying a cup of coffee and enjoying the air, and now is the perfect time to realize the benefits of having that opportunity. I wish they would extend the walkway around the entire lagoon, as that would be the ultimate morning run, or nighttime stroll, even in the rain.
Having moved to Florida three and a half years ago, I have to smile when people talk about taking a pleasant stroll. Most of the time it may be too humid and hot to enjoy the walk. Mornings are especially bad in Florida and a walk from the Polynesian to the MK might result in you winding up soaking wet before you even pass through the security check point. If you aren’t a ponytail and hat person, you might not like how you look when you arrive.
I have heard that the path to the MK will be closed at the security checkpoint when the park is closed. So the morning run will stop before you get to the MK. You won’t be continuing to the Contemporary.
I understand where you’re coming from, but I lived in central Florida for many years, and am familiar with the climate. I still would love to use that pathway for a jog! I actually love running in humidity and getting drenched.
This is the content I need. I doubt I’ll ever stay at a Deluxe Resort but I will imagine walking this for many years and look forward to the 23 follow-up posts