Guests staying at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort are often intimidated by all the transportation options available. It can be overwhelming to figure out how to travel from the resort to the theme parks, shopping areas, and other Orlando area activities.
I know when our family travels to Disney, knowing our transportation options BEFORE arriving is incredibly comforting.
In this post, you will learn about all the modes of transportation available at the Dolphin so you know EXACTLY how to get around.
7 Transportation Options at WDW Dolphin Resort:
Option #1: Take the FREE bus!
One incredible benefit of staying at the Dolphin is that FREE bus transportation is provided directly to some theme parks and Disney Springs. The shuttles run throughout the day for guests’ convenience. In addition, you can use the service to get to two waterparks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) and any of the other Disney hotels!
Where do the buses at the Dolphin go?
Once you arrive at the bus stop at the Dolphin, you must pay attention to the signs to ensure you get on the correct bus! Luckily, everything is clearly marked, so this should not be a problem.
The buses at the Dolphin Resort provide direct service to:
- Magic Kingdom: The bus ride is approximately 10 minutes. It is 4.5 miles (7 km) away. Your bus will drop you off at the Transportation and Ticket Center. To avoid this, you must take a Minnie Van (Option #6)!
- Animal Kingdom: The bus ride is typically between 10-15 minutes. It is 4.8 miles (7.2 km) away.
- Disney Springs: The bus ride is approximately 10 minutes. It is 2.7 miles (4.3 km) away.
Epcot and Hollywood Studios are accessible by other transportation options at the Dolphin.
In addition, you can get to these locations from the Dolphin with ONE bus transfer.
- Blizzard Beach: Take the bus from the Dolphin to Animal Kingdom. Then, get off the bus and find the shuttle going directly to Blizzard Beach.
- Typhoon Lagoon: Take the bus from the Dolphin to Disney Springs. Then, get off the bus and find the bus going directly to Typhoon Lagoon.
- ANY of the other Disney World Resorts: Do you have dinner reservations at the Polynesian Resort? Or do you want to check out the Wilderness Lodge for your next vacation? Luckily, it’s EASY to get to any of the other 20+ Disney hotels from the Dolphin using the free Disney bus transportation. All you need to do is take the bus to Disney Springs. Then get off the shuttle and find the bus that goes directly to the resort you want to visit!
- ESPN Wide World of Sports: Check with the front desk regarding bus transportation here. The schedule and operating hours change depending on what events are being held. If there are no direct buses, you must take a bus to one of the parks and transfer to ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Where is the bus stop at the Dolphin Resort?
The bus stop is just a short walk outside the main lobby entrance. When you exit the front lobby, turn left and follow the covered walkway until you arrive at the bus stop.
What is the bus schedule at the Dolphin?
Bus service to the theme parks typically begins 45 minutes before the park opens and ends 1 hour after closing.
Bus service to Disney Springs begins when it opens and ends 1 hour after closing.
Once they start, the buses run continuously throughout the day. I have found that you can typically expect a bus to arrive around every 20 minutes.
In addition, you will find screens that show the approximate times the next shuttle is expected to arrive at the bus stop!
As you can imagine, since the buses do not cost anything extra, they’re the most popular way to travel. However, at certain times of the day, such as the park opening, you might experience a bit of a line to board the bus. So make sure to give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination, especially if you have a dining reservation.
Option #2. Take a ride on the FREE Friendship Boats
One of the benefits of staying at the Dolphin Hotel is the Friendship Boats. This additional transportation option is located on the walkway between the Swan and Dolphin Resorts. They typically start operating at 8:30 am and run until about 60 minutes after the parks close for the night.
To find the boat dock, walk out the back of the Dolphin and head toward the Swan Resort on the path between the hotels until you reach the signs for the Friendship Boats. The boats will be on your LEFT.
Line up on the RIGHT for direct service to Hollywood Studios:
- The boat trip to Hollywood Studios takes about 10 minutes. It’s one of the fastest ways to get there! The friendship boats dock at the front of Hollywood Studios. And for me, this is a great thing because Hollywood Studios is my FAVORITE Disney Park. 🙂 In no time, you can be catching the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, dropping to your doom on the Hollywood Tower of Terror, or enjoying a fantastic meal at 50’s Prime Time Cafe.
Line up on the LEFT to go to any of these destinations:
Disney’s Boardwalk: Stop # 1
Most guests automatically go to Disney Springs for shopping, dining, and nightlife, but the Boardwalk has some of the best restaurants and entertainment, in my opinion! You can visit the arcade, rent a four-person bike, or enjoy street performers without even going to one of the parks. The Boardwalk is about 10 minutes from the Dolphin.
Yacht Club & Beach Club Resorts: Stop #2
You can also take the Friendship Boat to the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts! It takes about 10 minutes to get here from the Dolphin, and the boats stop here after the Boardwalk.
For a change of scenery, to get ice cream, experience a new dining experience, or to research your next Disney trip, you can stop at the Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts. The cool, coastal theme will remind you of an East Coast vacation, and there’s even an ice cream shop for those with a sweet tooth!
Epcot: Stop #3
When you board the Friendship Boats at the Dolphin, you will first stop at the Boardwalk and the Yacht Club & Beach Club resorts before arriving at Epcot.
It takes approximately 20 minutes to get to Epcot with these stops. The boat dock at Epcot is at the International Gateway, near Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in the France area of the World Showcase.
I love going to Epcot for the rides and entertainment and for the World Showcase, where you can experience food, drinks, and culture from countries around the world. And if you happen to be at Epcot during one of their festivals, you have even more to enjoy! For example, during the winter holiday season, you can take a cookie stroll, sampling holiday treats and stamping your passport along the way.
It’s incredibly convenient to have all these destinations available by water.
The worst part about taking a boat to your destination is waiting for a boat to arrive. This can be especially frustrating if you walk out to the pier and see a boat just pulling away. In my experience, you can expect a new boat to arrive approximately every 20 minutes.
If you miss a boat, don’t worry – the next option will have you at the park in about the same amount of time! 🙂
Option #3. Walk!
The best part about walking from the Dolphin is that you don’t have to WAIT for a boat. Once we start walking, our family knows that within 20 minutes, we can get to some of our favorite places in Disney World!
Here are all the places you can comfortably walk from the Dolphin:
This is the first destination you’ll come to if you walk toward Epcot from the Dolphin. There are tons of things to do here as well! The Boardwalk has restaurants, street performers, a classic arcade, and incredible views over Crescent Lake. It only takes 5-10 minutes to walk here from the Dolphin!
If you plan to visit Epcot during your stay at the Dolphin, don’t skip this relaxing and fun walk! After passing the Boardwalk, you’ll continue down the path, cross the bridge over the canal, and turn right.
From there, you can enter Epcot at the International Gateway in the heart of France in the World Showcase! It’s about a 20-minute walk from the Dolphin.
Beach Club & Yacht Club Resorts:
Maybe you have a dinner reservation at one of these resorts or want to check them out for your next trip to Disney. Whatever the reason, you can walk to the Beach Club and Yacht Club resorts from the Dolphin in about 15 minutes! Just follow the path from the Boardwalk, and once you cross the bridge over the canal, turn left to arrive!
You can arrive at Hollywood Studios in about 20 minutes if you walk there from the Dolphin. You’ll follow the canal on a walking path directly to the front of the park!
But don’t rush, and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, including Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets!
Disney’s Swan Resort:
The Swan is the sister resort of the Dolphin, and it’s often overlooked as a place to visit when you stay here. But you can enjoy different restaurants, a new view, and another atmosphere by walking across the water into the Swan!
Option #4: Take an Uber
If you want to reach your destination quickly, using a rideshare service (Uber or Lyft) from the Dolphin is easy. This option can save a lot of time, especially if you just missed the bus. I would also advise using a rideshare if you have an early breakfast at another resort since taking a bus from the Dolphin to another resort involves a bus transfer, which adds a considerable amount of time!
The easiest place to meet your driver is outside near the Dolphin Resort’s front lobby, as there are plenty of spots for them to stop and for you to get in the car.
Taking a rideshare like Uber is also a great way to visit places OUTSIDE Walt Disney World Resort.
We have often stayed at a Disney resort but wanted to visit somewhere else for a day or evening. To help save money, we rarely rent a car, so we have to find alternate transportation.
Luckily, rideshares can easily take you from the Dolphin to the following locations:
- Sea World <– One of my favorite places. 🙂
- Universal Theme Parks
- Downtown Orlando
- Restaurants, parks, etc. Honestly, you can go anywhere you want!
TWO rideshare companies operate in Disney World – Uber and Lyft. Between them both, there are a lot of drivers cruising around. Almost every time I’ve used a rideshare from the resorts, I’ve had to wait less than ten minutes to get picked up.
The one-way fare around Walt Disney World averages about $15. In my opinion, if you have limited time to travel somewhere, it is money well spent!
Option #5: Ride in a MINNIE VAN
Another transportation option at the Dolphin is to take a Minnie Van!
Disney World has partnered with Lyft to provide MINNIE VANS, Minnie Mouse-themed mini-vans! Please be aware that this option will be more expensive than a regular Lyft vehicle.
Here are the advantages of using a Minnie Van:
- A complimentary car seat.
- A big benefit of using a Minnie Van from the Dolphin is they are driven by DISNEY CAST MEMBERS. I know many people like this fact because the drivers are Disney employees, which provides additional peace of mind.
- Accessible vans are available and provide two spaces for mobility devices.
- Minnie Vans can access areas that regular rideshares cannot. One example is that you can get dropped off directly in front of Magic Kingdom instead of at the Transportation and Ticket Center! This is the ONLY option from the Dolphin that will drop you off directly at the front of the park.
If you want to use a Minnie Van, open up the Lyft app while inside the Dolphin and choose your destination. You should see the option to ride in a Minnie Van and the price. If you’re satisfied, order the Minnie Van to come and pick you up!
As you can see below, Minnie Vans are much more expensive than a typical Lyft vehicle and driver.
YOU CAN ONLY USE A MINNIE VAN TO GO SOMEWHERE WITHIN WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT! If you are trying to visit Universal or go somewhere else around Orlando, you must review another option.
Option #6: Take a TAXI
I know some people don’t like using Uber or Lyft because they don’t know about the person driving or don’t feel comfortable using the app. If this describes you, calling a traditional taxi company for a ride is easy.
Option #7: Drive yourself!
Getting in your car and driving yourself is an often overlooked way from the Dolphin Resort to the parks or Disney Springs. It’s probably the fastest way to travel since you don’t have to wait for someone to pick you up. 🙂
The driving distance around Disney World is reasonable, and you can get to most locations from the Dolphin within 20 minutes, depending on traffic.
And here is the BEST news about driving yourself around Walt Disney World:
As long as you stay at the Dolphin, the parking at the theme parks is FREE! Unfortunately, many guests don’t realize (or forget) that parking at any of the parks costs nothing if you stay here.
Getting FREE parking at the theme parks is an incredible benefit of staying at the Walt Disney World’s Dolphin Resort, as parking costs a minimum of $25 per day at each park.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I walk from the WDW Dolphin Hotel to all of the theme parks?
Unfortunately, the short answer to this question is NO.
You can comfortably walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, but the other parks are too far away. In addition, there are no walking paths that connect them.
Can I take the Disney Monorail from The Dolphin?
No, the monorail does not have a boarding station at the Dolphin. If you want access to this transportation option from your hotel, you must stay at the Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, or Polynesian Village Resort.
Can I take the Disney Skyliner from The Dolphin?
No, the Skyliner does not have a boarding station at the Dolphin. If you want access to this transportation option from your hotel, you must stay at Riviera, Art of Animation, Pop Century, or Caribbean Beach.
Are there transportation accommodations at the Dolphin for guests with special needs or disabilities?
Yes. The friendship boats and the Disney bus service are wheelchair accessible. You can also take strollers on board, as long as they are folded and stowed out of the aisle.
Do the transportation options at the Dolphin cost extra to use?
This depends on which option you decide to take. The buses, Friendship Boats, and walking are free transportation options for guests at the Dolphin. Rideshares, taxis, and driving yourself will all have costs associated with them. Minnie Vans are probably the most expensive option because of the additional convenience and theme.
Do I need to make reservations for transportation from the Dolphin?
It depends on which transportation option you are using. You do not need a reservation if you’re using the Friendship Boats or bus shuttle service.
But you must schedule your ride when you need rideshares, Minnie Vans, and taxis, and they will typically be available within ten minutes.
Of course, if you walk or take your car, you have complete freedom over when you leave!
Related Posts – Walt Disney World’s Dolphin Hotel:
What is your favorite transportation option at the Dolphin?
Please let me know in the comments below. Or please feel free to ask any other questions I did not answer above! 🙂