What you should know about Disney's Monorail System
There is nothing more iconic than arriving at the Transportation and Ticket Center bright and early...and getting a glimpse of the the "public transport of the future" sailing overhead as you start to grin from ear to ear.
When you look at the map for Walt Disney World Resort, it becomes apparent that you're not looking at your traditional "regional" theme park, like Disneyland or Six Flags. This is an all out Resort that spans more space than the Island of Manhattan (doubled) and it's not feasible to think that you're going to get from one end of the resort to the other in a short amount of time.
Within the transportation system that Disney has built up over the years, you have a multitude of options. From buses to express transportation (like the Minnie Vans), boats and ferries, trams or the newly announced gondola system...nothing is iconic as the Monorail!
Let's take a deeper look at the Highway in the Sky, the Disney Monorail System
The Walt Disney World Monorail System is actually three separate lines that travel throughout the northern part of property.
The Resort Monorail Loop
- Magic Kingdom Park
- Disney's Contemporary Resort
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
- Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC)
The EPCOT Monorail and Express Monorail both start at the TTC and offer express round-trip service to EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom.
The Monorail system starts 30 minutes prior to the earliest park opening until one-hour after the latest park closing, so you'll never have to worry about not making it for an early morning breakfast dining reservation OR making it back after an evening Extra Magic Hours event.
TIP - Although the resort monorail may look to be a better option, as the crowds are usually lighter, but there are always delays that occur at the various stops throughout the line. My suggestion is always to do the express monorail, unless you have a "gut feeling", at which point...you're probably right.
How to Use the Monorail?
It's actually incredibly straight-forward. You wait at one of the pick-up points on the line, which is well signed and centrally located. The monorail will arrive (usually within 5-10 minutes) and then will depart to its destination.
Let's look at the Operations
The system operates a fleet of 12 Mark VI monorails on a 13.6 mile long system, which carries an average of 150,000 guests daily. This means that operational issues have the potential to come up constantly, so knowing a back-up plan is essential, because you never know when you're going to take a bus to EPCOT and think that you're going to head to the Magic Kingdom....only to see the dreaded "Monorail Closed - Bus Transportation is available" sign.
The Cast Members
The cast members who work on the transportation teams are fairly well trained and efficient at their roles! That being said, every so often you'll get a newbie or someone who's only seasonal part-time, and you'll end up waiting longer than expected for a transfer or for information. Always voice your intentions in the first sentence when you're asking for help from a cast member, as they don't need to know every part of the story in order to give you the best advice.
Not able to ride Up Front
When I was working at Walt Disney World in 2007/08, riding up front was a cool added bonus that you could always ask to do. However, as of 2009, the operational procedure was updated after an accident and this isn't an option anymore due to safety concerns and possible distractions to the driver. It's an understandable situation, so better off to be prepared to not get your family excited about something that you read in an out-dated book or remember from a past trip when you were a kid.
I used to know all the colors of the fleet, but after getting upset with the Blue and Lime trains often enough during past trips, my current name for the monorail cars are "friends". This has been good luck for me, as I haven't had to wait crazy time frames...and I think it's because of this;)
Actually, the trains are all identified by a colored strip on the side, which allows for the operators to know which vehicles are in use on the system at any given point. Don't get too used to seeing the classic colors though, as Disney in the recent past have been using the Monorails as promotional pieces for movies (Avengers, Tron, Iron Man) and for events like Year of a Million Dreams.
EPCOT to TTC Monorail Line is down? Hop on the Disney's Contemporary Resort Bus and walk from the resort to the Magic Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom Line is down and they want you to use the Ferry boat? Walk to the Polynesian Resort and jump on the Resort Ferry or possibly get a shuttle. With the Deluxe Resorts, they're often more prepared for these transportation issues, as guests pay a premium to be on the Resort Line.
BONUS - Transportation Collector Cards
Diving into this topic looks to be a fun one, but is deserving of it's own article. Long story short, they are an awesome FREE souvenir that requires you to ask drives and other transportation Cast Members.
Each mode of transportation is unique, so be on the lookout for the following cards:
Do you have any tips or tricks? Share them with us on Social Media @StepsToMagic