Headed out to Magic Kingdom this past Saturday February 4th to experience one of our favorite things – Extended Queue Saturdays™. And we’ll pair that with a Not-Very-Important-Person tour of the Ticket/Transportation Center on our way over. The Ticket/Transpo Center (often abbreviated to TTC, though not here because I LOVE TO TYPE) is up first.
Here we are at the ticket portion of the Ticket/Transportation Center. These are your basic ticket purchasing windows. You’ll ordinarily find the longest waits to purchase tickets here, especially in the morning on Saturdays. At Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a line more than a couple of people long and usually you can walk right up and purchase tickets or ask a question. Much like the turnstiles at the theme parks, the further down from here you walk, the shorter the line will be. This isn’t actually too bad as far as crowds are concerned. Just wait for July.
Also further down are the Pre-Arranged Group Sales & Will Call windows.
The Ticket/Transportation Center is also the parking lot for the Magic Kingdom. If you’re driving your own car (or looking out the bus window), you’ll see plenty of signs pointing you toward “Magic Kingdom.” The truth of the matter is that you’ll end up here instead. Unless you’re traveling from a Disney owned resort (or the Swan/Dolphin) on a Disney bus/monorail, this is as close as you’re going to get to Magic Kingdom using your own transportation. From here, we have to catch the Monorail or Ferry Boat. The Ticket/Transportation Center is also the hub for bus transportation from Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We’ll see where those buses pick up/drop off guests shortly. We’ll also take a look at the taxi lot and the charter bus lot.
Most of the people driving their own cars will park and take a tram here to the Ticket/Transportation Center. You could walk, but it’s quite a distance from several of the lots and you’ll be dodging cars and trams the whole way. There are two sets of trams depending on which section you’ve parked at. Above is the Villains Lot.
And the Heroes Lot.
This new system was introduced on September 23rd 2011. Just like every other change Walt Disney Company tries to incorporate, this one came with its own fair share of criticism. “How hard is it for guests to remember whether they parked in Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, or Dopey?” they asked. For a lot of people, it’s as hard as remembering whether they parked in scandium, samarium, yttrium, ytterbium, promethium, praseodymium, or terbium. Those are all rare earth metals. I would assume they all look and act differently too. Just imagine how many people got back to the parking lot with the only thought in their head that they parked “in the dwarfs.” These names and movies should be a bit more recognizable.
The names of the characters are also listed where you board the trams:
I prefer the Villains Lot because heroes are for girls. And what aren’t we? Girls.
Here we have a tram dropping off guests.
There usually isn’t much of a backup for the trams during the day. The evening can be a different story, especially after the Fireworks and Nighttime Parade.
Here’s the pedestrian sidewalk to the left of the Villains Lot.
This is the transportation portion of the Ticket/Transportation Center. From the parking lot trams, continue forward past the ticket windows and you’ll end up here.
On the far right you’ll find the Epcot Monorail. This one runs from the Ticket/Transportation Center to Epcot with no stops. It takes about ten minutes. If you’re exiting from the Magic Kingdom Express Monorail, you can cross over on the platform without having to walk all the way down the ramp and then back up the Epcot Monorail ramp. From the Resort Monorail, take the right exit and you’ll also end up on the Epcot platform. The worst case scenario if you make the wrong turn is that you’ll have to walk up one more ramp.
The Epcot Monorail normally runs from one hour before Park opening to one hour after regular Park close. Today, Epcot has its usual 9am to 9pm day. The Monorail does not ordinarily run for the last two hours of evening Extra Magic Hours, meaning it would run from 8am to 10pm even if Epcot was hosting evening Extra Magic Hours this evening. When the Monorail isn’t operating, bus transportation to the Ticket/Transportation Center and Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian Resorts will be provided.
If you have a breakfast reservation at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall before 8:30am and you’re staying at the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, or Contemporary, talk to your resort’s concierge about bus transportation, which will be offered if the Monorail isn’t operating early enough to get you where you’re going.
When Epcot is hosting a morning Extra Magic Hour, the Epcot Monorail should begin operating 30 minutes prior to the start of it. Here, the morning Extra Magic Hour is 8am – 9am with the Monorail beginning service at 7:30am.
The Express Monorail is located in between the Resort Monorail and the Epcot Monorail and will say “Magic Kingdom Monorail” over the entrance. This Monorail travels from the Ticket/Transportation Center to Magic Kingdom without stopping. It does travel through the Contemporary before arriving at Magic Kingdom. The trip is three to four minutes long. Other than the speed of the trip, the other positive is that there are far more Express Monorail vehicles than Resort or Epcot Monorails. This means that an Express Monorail will arrive every three to four minutes, whereas the Epcot and Resort Monorails arrive every ten minutes or so. Even if the line for the Express Monorail is backed up all the way out here, you would still most likely arrive at Magic Kingdom before someone taking the Resort Monorail. However, the Resort Monorail may be more pleasant if there are far fewer people on it because you’ll be able to sit and enjoy the ride.
The Express Monorail ordinarily runs from 30 minutes before Magic Kingdom’s regular open until one hour after it closes. Here, the Magic Kingdom’s hours are 9am – 12am. The Express Monorail does not ordinarily operate from the beginning of morning Extra Magic Hour. For example, if Magic Kingdom had a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am to 9am today, the Express Monorail would still begin operating at 8:30am, or 30 minutes before Magic Kingdom’s regular open. The Resort Monorail runs for the entirety of morning Extra Magic Hour.
The Resort Monorail is located on the far left. Because it is designed for use by guests of the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian Resorts, Disney purposefully moves it all the way over here, furthest from the buses from the other theme parks, the charter bus lot, and the trams. The sign is also much smaller and the ramp is shorter and smaller, making it less obvious. From the Ticket/Transportation Center, the Resort Monorail travels to the Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort, and then back to the Ticket/Transportation Center in that order.
The Resort Monorail usually runs from 7am until one hour after regular theme park close. The Resort Monorail usually begins operating at 7am even when Magic Kingdom doesn’t open until 9am in order to funnel Monorail Deluxe guests and those staying off-site to the various resort breakfasts. Chef Mickey’s begins serving at 7:00am, ‘Oahana breakfast begins at 7:30am, and 1900 Park Fare at Grand Floridian begins serving at 8:00am, so the early Monorail service is necessary.
The fourth option from the Ticket/Transportation Center to Magic Kingdom is the Ferry Boat, which is located over here to the left of the Resort Monorail. It is ordinarily the slowest mode of transportation, but it’s also usually the most pleasant. You’re not crammed into a monorail car with 19 people and two double strollers and if a child(ren) starts screaming at the top of their lungs, you can walk to the other side of the boat. The voyage across Seven Seas Lagoon takes about five minutes. The reason the whole trip takes longer than the Express Monorail is due to the time it ordinarily takes for the ferry to arrive, the current guests to disembark, and then the current crop of riders to embark. You’re in business if the boat is waiting for you when you arrive.
The walkway down to the docked ferry boat.
I normally take the Express Monorail as it’s the quickest method of transportation. I rarely opt for the Resort Monorail, no matter how long the line at the Express Monorail is, because I know it could be five or more minutes before the next Resort Monorail arrives and then the trip is significantly longer once it does arrive. I take the Ferry Boat if the kids/adults/Brazilians are really getting on my nerves and I’m about to kill someone.
Now we’ll take a look at the bus lot. If you’re trying to transfer from Magic Kingdom to one of the other theme parks, you have to transfer at the Ticket/Transportation Center. For Epcot, you would transfer here and then board the Epcot Monorail. For Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, you would transfer here and walk over to the left to those buses. Likewise, from Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom, you would have to ride the bus here and then get on the Monorail over to Magic Kingdom. There is no bus that takes you from Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, or Epcot directly to Magic Kingdom’s gates. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have buses that will take you directly to Epcot and vice versa.
We’re now looking left and heading straight. Our full route over to the buses is pictured above.
This is directly to the left of where we’re standing in the picture above this one. In extremely limited scenarios, Disney may run buses from here to the Magic Kingdom. This can happen when the Monorail is going to be down for an extended period and the boats won’t suffice.
Now we’re turned back to the right and headed straight through.
Yep, that’s a gift shop over there on our left. “Mickey’s Gift Station.”
Don’t hold out for this one. It’s about as generic as it gets.
Continuing forward. We have some prime bathrooms on our left and a few vending machines if the kids are “about to die of hunger.” There is also a bus information kiosk to the left which can help you figure out where you need to go.
At the end of the walkway, you’ll find the Shades of Green and Hollywood Studios bus stops to your right along with the theoretical Epcot bus stop.
To the left is the Animal Kingdom bus, Downtown Disney Area Hotels, and Lynx (public) bus stops.
It’s important to note that this is not a bus to the Downtown Disney shopping/restaurant complex. These buses take guests staying at the various Downtown Disney hotels back to where they are staying. To get to Downtown Disney via Disney transportation from here, the easiest way would be to walk to the Polynesian Resort and catch the bus there. I’ll show you where that walkway is momentarily and link you to a post that details the walk. There are no Downtown Disney buses from the theme parks or the Ticket/Transportation Center. That way, you can’t park “for free” at Downtown Disney and catch a bus to Epcot. The same is true for the Water Parks – you would need to walk to the Polynesian Resort and catch a bus there. You won’t find buses to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.
It’s worth noting that buses to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are much more frequent here than the Disney resorts. 99% of the time, I take the Lynx bus here to the Ticket/Transportation Center and then catch a bus/boat/monorail to the theme parks. Waits over ten minutes are rare and I’ve usually at least boarded the bus within five minutes of arriving at the stop. We tend to sit for a couple of minutes while we wait for additional passengers, but the buses are nonetheless there and waiting. The chances of running into a 20+ minute wait are slim.
If you are taking a bus from an off-site hotel/motel/resort to “Magic Kingdom,” this is also where you’ll be dropped off. That includes the Waldorf Astoria, Hilton Bonnet Creek, Gaylord Palms, Nickelodeon Resort, and the assorted Howard Johnsons, Clarions, etc. This is as close as anyone can get to the Magic Kingdom without being on a Disney bus, Monorail, or boat.
Don’t worry, there are signs pointing you in the right (or left) direction. And there will be a lot of Disney employees around. Some of them will be “off duty,” but they’ll be happy to point you toward the monorails, buses, etc. I see it happen daily. And if they give you a little sass, I see one of those Grand Floridian Resort upgrades in your imminent future. Just tell them Len Testa sent you.
Remember when we were here? So if you look to your right now you’ll see this:
This is where you’ll be picked up for the Richard Petty Driving Experience, free of charge assuming you have a reservation. Behind their van is the Lost & Found building. TouringPlans.com has a better overview of the Lost & Found process than I’d like to write at this moment in time, so check it out here if you have questions about what to do with you’ve lost something: http://blog.touringplans.com/2011/11/23/losing-your-stuff-at-walt-disney-world-what-to-do-when-something-goes-missing/.
The short version is that if you lose something and don’t realize it until the next day (or sometime down the line when you’re still on or around property), then you’ll be sent here to claim your goodies. My cast member friends refer to it as “The Christmas House.”
Now it’s time to hunt some taxis. We’re back out at Ticket/Transportation Center Proper. Those are the ticket windows and Monorails to the right. The taxis will be sitting out to our left and the path to get to them is straight ahead.
Here we are a little further ahead. The walkway over to the taxis loops around here. The walkway to the Polynesian Resort is also ahead. I have a detailed look at that walk here if you have interest.
Those are the taxis to the left just beyond the Heroes Lot trams.
I leave you with the defibrillator unit. We’ll all excited to meet Mickey Mouse. Just breathe.
The Ticket/Transportation Center and Disney transportation really isn’t too difficult to figure out. We’ll be taking a closer look at the best ways to optimize it in the coming days.