So, you want to take a break from the parks and do something a bit different? Then, the Walt Disney World Resort Transportation Challenge is for you. Originally inspired by the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” the challenge is to ride all forms of transportation in the Walt Disney World Resort. So, let’s get started:
If you are staying on property, start by taking a Disney bus to Hollywood Studios. The Disney bus fleet has around 325 buses, which have recently been updated to add USBs between seats on the inside and have new character wraps on the outside. This is your first mode of transportation – Bus to the main entrance – check.
If you are not on property or are an annual passholder and live in Orlando, then drive your car to Hollywood Studios. Once you park, you will take your first mode of Disney transportation – the Disney tram – check.
If you are facing the main entrance to Hollywood Studios and look to the right, you will see the boat launch – more on this later. Keep looking past that to the right and you will see the entrance to the Disney Skyliner. It is themed to match Hollywood Studios’ colors and architecture. Keep your eye out on how the station theming changes as you go to the different stations during your ride.
Walk on over and take a gondola to the Caribbean Beach Resort Hub. The Skyliner opened in September 2019 and consist of comfortable gondolas that connect Hollywood Studios, Epcot and some of the Epcot resorts. The gondolas are themed with different characters and are quite cute. Although they don’t have air conditioning, they have an airflow system which I found made them comfortable, especially when moving. Notice how interesting the design is. When you see the gondolas from the ground, they appear “chubby”, but once you board, they look long and spacious. They will give you a new perspective on the Walt Disney World Resort.
Once you arrive at the Caribbean Beach Station, you need to disembark your gondola. The Caribbean Beach Station is the main hub where all lines meet and has bathrooms and an interesting clock in the middle. Look for the line that goes to Epcot and board a new gondola.
On the way to Epcot, this line first stops at the new Riviera Resort, a new Disney Vacation Club property that opened in December 17, 2019. It is located across the lake from the Caribbean Beach resort. The theming for this new station is different and here you have a choice. You can get off and explore the new resort for a while – rumor has it that they have beautiful murals and gardens – or you can continue. If you select to visit, disembark and tour the Riviera. Once done, come back and get back on the gondola to Epcot.
The trip to Epcot from the Riviera is right over and alongside the busy Buena Vista Drive. Then it turns at the turn station by the entrance to the Boardwalk Hotel. As the gondola approaches Epcot, you get a great view of France and the Ratatouille ride that is under construction. Notice how once again the Epcot’s station theme has changed to match the surroundings.
We are now at a decision point. If you don’t have annual passes or are ready to head back, you can walk straight out of the Skyliner station and into the boarding zone for the friendship boats. These boats take you to the EPCOT area resorts (Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk, Swan and Dolphin) and finally to the boat launch in Hollywood Studios – you remember, the one we said we would get to later. The ride has 4 stops, but it is nice and unlike the Skyliner gondolas, the boats do have AC.
Once you get to Hollywood Studios, you are back where you started and traveled by bus or car, Skyliner and boat – not too shabby.
However, if you have tickets to get into Epcot, you can go left from the exit of the Skyliner and enter the park at the International Gateway. From there walk to the main park entrance by turning left into the United Kingdom, then Canada and past Future World. Currently there is a lot of construction due to the Epcot remodeling, but once at the main entrance, exit the park and take the monorail to Magic Kingdom. The monorails have been a feature in the resort since 1971. There are 3 lines – the one between Epcot and Magic Kingdom, the one for the Magic Kingdom Resorts (Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian) and the Express Monorail from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Magic Kingdom entrance. The ride is nice and enjoyable.
Once you arrive at the Transportation and Ticket Center, you can change monorail lines or take the Steamboat to Magic Kingdom. Either way you travel, you can get to the entrance to Magic Kingdom to make another decision. Once you arrive and if you have the cash, take a Minnie van back or you can take the bus back to your resort or back to Hollywood Studios for your car.
Once back to your destination (either your hotel or Hollywood Studios), you can see you traveled by car, tram or bus, Skyliner gondola, monorail, and steamboat – again, not too shabby.
And that, folks, is your Walt Disney World Transportation Challenge. If you can think of anything to add, please feel free to comment.