Walt Disney World and Disney Springs – Shore Trip or Pre/Post Cruise Visit
Everything you need to know about visiting Walt Disney World (and Disney Springs) as a shore trip or excursion from Port Canaveral. It is about 65 miles (depending on the attraction) and should take less than 75 minutes from the Port.
Walt Disney World (click to enlarge)
Cruisers visit the Disney World area as follows:
- Pre-cruise Stay
- Full Day Shore Trip when ship arrives before 8am
- Half-day Shore Trip when ship arrives around noon
- Partial-day Post-cruise visit when flight home departs in the late afternoon or evening
- Post-cruise Stay
Driving Directions to Walt Disney World/Disney Springs and back to Orlando Airport
- Exit the Port and head West on FL-528. It is a toll road – pay $1.25 + $1.00 = $2.25 (change available).
- Take exit for I-417 West towards Disney World. It is a toll road – pay $1.50 + $1.50 = $3.00 (change available).
- Take exit 6 toward Epcot/Disney Springs even if going to the Magic Kingdom! (the signs say use exit 3 for Magic Kingdom but we prefer exit 6)
- Follow the signs to your attraction of choice. Buena Vista Drive takes you to/from Disney Springs!
Afterwards – Retrace your route to return to Port Canaveral and the Airport. Simply follow the Airport Signs back to I-417 and look for the airport exit after the 2nd toll booth or continue straight for the Port.
UberX costs about $95 +$5 (port pickup fee) = $100 for one-way from the Port to the Disney area.
Disney Springs Parking
Below is an image of the approach road to Disney Springs as you arrive from the port via toll road 417. The signs are very clear; once on Buena Vista Dr look for either the Orange or Lime parking garage unless you have an over-sized vehicle.
There are several parking areas as shown below. Lime Garage is most central and places you closest to the action. As you approach the garage keep to the right because you want to park on Level 2 if you can for the fastest access to the shopping areas.
If you have an over-sized vehicle, you have to park in the surface lot (Strawberry) which is the first one you will encounter when approaching Disney Springs.
The Magic Kingdom Parking
Below is an image of the parking lots at the Magic Kingdom. Upon arrival you will be directed to an available lot – the later you arrive the further away the parking! But no worries, you will hop on a tram to the ticket center and will not have to walk far. As you step off the tram, you have to get in line for the security check and then you line up for the ticket booths! From here you have to decide if you want to ride the Monorail or the Ferry to the Magic Kingdom.
You can see there are two trams. Basically the parking lot is split into two sections – HEROES and VILLIANS. After you parked, make sure you make note of your section and lot (for example, you parked in HEROES – PETER PAN). When you return after a day in the Kingdom you hop on the HEROES tram and get off at the PETER PAN stop. Very easy.
How long does take? From the moment you drive underneath the Magic Kingdom Arch just before the parking pay booth until you step foot inside the Kingdom – plan on at least ONE HOUR.
TIP – The best route back from the Magic Kingdom to Port Canaveral or Orlando Airport is to follow the Airport Sign until you are back on Toll Road 417! If you follow the airport signs you cannot get lost.
Disney Springs – The Perfect Starting Point For Exploring WDW Beyond The Parks
Unless you have dinner/resort reservations, it is not possible to park at Disney Resort hotels! So Disney Springs is a great FREE PARKING option from where to explore the Resorts and attractions. However – PLEASE DO NOT PARK AT DISNEY SPRINGS IF YOU ARE VISITING A PARK. It is a very cumbersome way of doing things due to the transportation timetables, it is taboo and it is frowned upon. If you are visiting a Park, drive up and pay for parking – as simple as that.
Once you parked at Disney Springs, you have many options to choose from! Where to go and what to see!!
First, you have to understand the Disney Transportation system from/to Disney Springs.
- Taxis and Uber – available and very efficient. The pick up areas are on the edges of Disney Springs as shown on the parking map above.
- Water Taxis – The most fun way to get around but service is limited to just a few resorts as described below.
- Disney Buses – The most popular way to get around (when no monorail is available!).
Disney Water Taxis
Few things feel “Disney” as much as the boats sailing the waters around WDW! In the midst of all the buzzing and craziness, the boats offer a few moments of quiet bliss!
At Disney Springs, you can use water taxis to get around the shopping areas or you can travel beyond the Springs to 5 beautiful Resorts.
NOTE- these are NOT sightseeing boats. You are expected to ride only from point A to Point B and get off at your stop. During busy hours the captains will ask you to exit the boat if they suspect you are just touring around in a circle! No worries, you can get back on but you have to go to the back of the waiting line on the dock.
Take a look at the map and pictures of the boats below. You will notice there are 3 docks at Disney Springs.
- The West Side Dock is home to the RED FLAG boats that circle anti-clockwise as follows: WEST SIDE – THE LANDING – THE MARKETPLACE and straight back to WEST SIDE. You use this RED FLAG boat to explore Disney Springs. It saves you from walking all the way between the west and east sides of the Springs.
- The Landing Dock is home to two different boats: The BLUE FLAG boats that circle to Saratoga Springs Resort (5 minutes) and back. Please note, if you are going to the Treehouse Villas you must change boats at Saratoga Springs. The GREEN FLAG boats circle to Old Key West Resort (15 minutes) and back.
- The Marketplace Dock is home to the YELLOW FLAG boats that circle to PORT ORLEANS (French Quarter and Riverside) Resorts (22 minutes to Riverside).
The comprehensive Disney bus system can be frustrating at times but the air-conditioned rides are a great relief from the Florida summer heat! WDW is a large place and some rides are well over 30 minutes long so do factor in the wait times, etc. when planning a day from Disney Springs.
The schedules are a bit crazy too because these change during the day based on traffic. Disney expect most visitors will be inside the Parks between 11am and 2pm and they schedule the buses accordingly (more or less). We’ve seen many bloggers and websites trying to publish time tables but those are mostly inaccurate because of the daily changes and “real-time” adjustments by transportation control. In addition, buses lose time due to the many strollers and folks struggling to park mobility scooters securely inside the packed buses.
TIP – The rule of thumb is to give yourself enough time – if you are in a hurry then take taxis or Uber!
In the image below (and on the map above) you can see the bus terminals at Disney Springs. The buses drop off to the left (next to the Lime Garage). To board a bus you walk to the right and follow the signs to the gate for your bus.
So how do you know which bus to board? There are signboards posted at the bus stop to the gates. Just pick your resort as shown below!
NOTE- Some resort buses begin early each day (between 9am and 10am) whereas others start later around 11am (Grand Floridian, etc.) Disney is trying to prevent folks from getting to the Parks early when parked at Disney Springs. Please do not park at Disney Springs when going to the Parks.
Once at a Resort, the bus stops have signs (most have arrival times indicated on electronic boards) to help you find the correct bus back to Disney Springs!
Riding the Monorail!
Few things create magic like riding the monorail at Disney World! It is more than just a transportation system; the ride is a rite of passage!
Please look at the map below to see the routes of the three monorail lines and their stations. Click on the lines or icons for more information:
- The Magic Kingdom Express Line (pink color) – counter-clockwise – 4 minutes from TTC to MK (the only two stops)
- The Magic Kingdom All-Stations Line (pink color) – clockwise – 5 stops
- The EPCOT line (lilac color) – clockwise – 12 minutes from TTC to EPCOT (the only two stops)
Note: the Magic Kingdom Monorails run on two parallel tracks in opposite directions. Express goes counter-clockwise, all-stops goes clockwise. This is important, for example, if you are at the Contemporary Resort the line to MK will stop 4 times!
How do you get from Disney Springs to the Monorails?
- Pick which monorail you want to ride first
- Take a bus (or Uber) to any resort with a monorail station (shown on the map). If you are too early for a specific resort bus, ride to another resort in the same direction, then change buses to reach the TTC at Magic Kingdom or EPCOT.
- After the rides, return to a resort with a monorail station and take a bus back to Disney Springs