Having your own car at Walt Disney World is the easiest. If you stay at a Disney hotel, your overnight parking fee also covers the theme parks. If you're staying offsite, you'll pay once per day to park at as many theme parks as you want.

The next thing to know is: Trams (about 210 passengers each) go to parking lots but buses go to parks and hotels. However, they are unreliable—even in late 2021, a year and a half after Disney World returned from the pandemic closure, the trams remained unavailable and guests still had to walk all the way from their cars to the parks. 

Disney Transportation System (DTS; no luggage allowed) is free and reportedly the third-largest bus system in the state, after Miami and Jacksonville’s public services. Taking DTS to a theme park eliminates the parking tram rigmarole, and they stop fairly regularly at the resorts, although in peak times you may still have to wait for multiple buses to fill before finding space. (Disney resort guests can also use the Disney World app to figure out when the next buses arrive.)

However, DTS adds waiting time, which can be 20 to 45 minutes, plus the commute itself, which can be just as long and require standing as if it’s rush hour on a Brooklyn subway. You might even have to transfer buses. All told, 90 minutes to 2 hours of a busy day can be devoured by DTS. So often, having a car is worth the expense.

DTS is usually overwhelmed during the opening and closing of the theme parks, even though dispatchers run extra buses around those times and keep routes rolling for about 2 hours extra before opening and after closing. If you’re staying at a Disney resort that offers another kind of transportation—say, the monorail to the Magic Kingdom—then a bus won’t be available for the same route. Also, since the system has a hub-and-spoke design centered on the theme parks and Disney Springs, you must often transfer if you’re going between two second-tier points, such as between two hotels, a hotel and a water park, or a theme park and Disney Springs.

Buses to Disney Springs from theme parks don’t even start running until 4pm.

The famous Monorail only goes to Magic Kingdom and three luxury hotels adjoining it. A spur line, which requires a change, goes from the Magic Kingdom ticketing center to Epcot. It's free.

The Walt Disney World resort also supports a few free ferries that are generally designed to carry guests of certain resorts to theme parks or entertainment areas. One major ferry line brings guests from the ticket center of the Magic Kingdom to its front gates; in that case, taking the monorail is the alternative.

Parking: Each Walt Disney World theme park has its own sunbaked lot ($25/day; free for Disney hotel guests and annual passholders; $45 for “Preferred” to be extra close). As you drive in, attendants will direct you to the next available spot.

Parking is probably the most dangerous part of your day, because everyone is excited and you’re at risk of hitting a distracted child or hitting an open car door—take it slow. Parking lanes are numbered and sections are named; at the very least, remember your number. Don’t stress out if your row is a high number; at Epcot, for example, the front row is 27. (Don’t lose your car: Before you get out of your car, open your phone’s mapping app or Waze and stick a pin in your location. If you still forget, remember what time you arrived: Disney tracks which sections are being filled minute by minute.)

You’ll board one of the noisy trams (if they're available; cross the yellow line to signal you’re boarding; drivers never budge if someone’s in that zone), which haul you to ticketing in their own sweet time; at Epcot and Hollywood Studios, the lots are compact enough so that you could probably walk to the gates within 10 minutes without taking the tram, but for Magic Kingdom, with some 15,000 spaces (in either a Heroes or a Villains section—remember which one), you still must take either the monorail or a ferryboat to the front gates; at the other parks, the tram lets you off near the gates.

There are a few charging stations for electric vehicles, which cost $0.35 per kilowatt, but you can count them on one hand, so if you drive an electric car, arrive early. Charging stations require both a credit card and a pre-ordered ChargePoint card (chargepoint.com); ask the toll attendant where they are.

In 2019, Disney opened the free Disney Skyliner gondolas, which are not unlike the enclosed gondolas that transport dozens of skiers at a time in the Alps. The first phase of the installation links Epcot’s International Gateway side entrance with the Caribbean Beach Resort and a stop shared by Art of Animation and Pop Century. A spur line from Caribbean Beach goes to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

So to travel between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, you’ll have to change at Caribbean Beach—but even with that, a park change only takes about 20 minutes. Disney, in its current penny-pinching corporate mode, elected not to splurge on air conditioning in the cabins; instead, you rely on a window cross-breeze generated by movement.

Disney also has red polka-dotted Minnie Vans zipping around. This newly launched premium transportation network is Disney’s answer to Uber. You hail one using the Lyft app—when you open the app, it will tell you where to go to hail one and wait. Each very clean Chevy Traverse (no theme decoration inside, unfortunately) fits up to six and keeps two children’s car seats on hand, and it costs a flat $25 plus tax to go wherever you want within Walt Disney World. That’s more than an UberX or often a taxi, and in inclement weather or peak periods, good luck finding one. They will also take you to the airport, but at $150, you can do better with another method.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.