It's been a while since we've seen those adorable red and white polka dotted cars driving around Walt Disney World and I'm excited they're coming back after a long hiatus because of…well, you know. If you have questions about Disney Minnie Vans, operated by Lyft, I've got answers. We've used the Minnie Van service at Walt Disney World (not to be confused with a minivan which is considerably less cool) several times.
This post has been updated to reflect the return of the Minnie Van at Walt Disney World. 6/9/22.
What you need to know about the Minnie Van Service at Walt Disney World
We have the full scoop on Minnie Vans at Disney World so you can decide whether using the Minnie Van service is right for you. If your time at Disney World is short or if your schedule is packed, you may find Minnie Vans (or even just a regular ride share service) at Disney World a time saver.
Plus…they are just so darn cute I had to be able to say I'd ridden in one! Here's what you need to know about Minnie Vans and Lyft at Disney World.
1. The Minnie Van service is operated by Lyft at Disney World
You’ll need the Lyft app on your phone to be able to use this service so download it in advance of your trip. The app is free in the iTunes Store and Google Play Store. You can download the Lyft app from anywhere but I recommend you add this to your list of things to do before you leave home.
Related post: One day Epcot Touring Plan with Kids
If you are a registered guest at the resort where your ride originates, you should automatically see the “Minnie Van” option when you request your Lyft. If you don’t see it or if you’re not a registered guest, see a cast member at the front desk and they can quickly unlock the option for you. The Minnie Van option didn’t show up for us at first, even though we were registered guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge but the cast member at the front desk took care of it quickly and it worked like a charm after that.
We typically use Uber at home so the Minnie Van service was our first experience with Lyft and we loved it. We've had a several folks ask us about the “Disney Vans” after seeing our pictures with the adorable polka dot Minnie vans and we're excited to tell you everything you need to know about using the Minnie Van Service.
We used the Minnie Van Service for the first time when we needed to get from Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to Trattoria al Forno on Disney’s BoardWalk for an early character breakfast. We waited about seven minutes for our ride, although that wait time will vary based on demand.
2. What's the difference between Minnie Vans and regular Lyft or Uber?
Aside from the cute factor, there are a few major differences to ordering a Minnie Van versus a regular Lyft ride.
First, Minnie Vans (all are late model Chevrolet Traverse) are operated by Disney Cast Members who are familiar with the resorts and the parks. When we got into our Minnie Van to be dropped off at Disney's BoardWalk first thing in the morning, the driver said “I bet you're going to the Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast” and he was right. This was a far cry from getting into a regular Lyft at Disney's Wilderness Lodge and expecting to be dropped off at the Polynesian for breakfast at Ohana and being taken to Disney's Transportation and Ticket Center because “That's where my phone tells me to go.” If you take a regular ride share around Disney, you won't leave the bubble but the experience might be outside the bubble.
Second, Disney Minnie Vans can go places that regular ride shares can't go. Minnie Vans can drop guests off in the same area the Disney buses do, which results in less steps for you, which might really matter at the end of a long park day.
Third, Disney Minnie Vans carry two child seats and the drivers are trained in how to use them. This combined with the near the entrance drop off are big draws for parents with young kids.
The final major difference is pricing. While regular ride share prices are based on distance and peak times, Disney Minnie Vans are a flat rate of $25 each way.
3. The Minnie Vans can fill a much-needed gap in Disney transportation
The Walt Disney World property is roughly 40 square miles, which is about the size of San Francisco, so depending on where you're going, you need some type of transportation. All resorts offer at least one form of Disney free transportation and many resorts offer more than one choice.
If you want to go from one resort to another, things start to get tricky because Disney doesn’t offer resort to resort transportation. If you want to get from Resort A to Resort B, the only way to do it is via one of the parks. You'll take resort transportation to one of the parks and then find the transportation that takes guests back to whatever resort you want to go to. If it sounds clunky that's because it usually is, especially if you're trying to make an early character breakfast at a resort you're not staying at.
So why would you want to go to a resort you're not staying in? There are a lot of great shopping and dining experience that are outside the parks and in the Walt Disney World resort hotels, especially character breakfasts. Popular Chef Mickey's is at Disney's Contemporary Resort and Ohana (breakfast with Stitch or a Hawaiian Luau dinner) is at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.
Guests don't need to be a guest of a particular resort to explore, shop, or eat (although there are restrictions on using the pools.) Resort hopping is a fun thing to do and you don't need a park ticket. The Minnie Vans really come in handy here.
To see a list of my favorite character dining experiences, read here.
4. Why use the Minnie Van Service versus free Disney Transportation?
In a nutshell: time is money.
One of the biggest benefits of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel is the free transportation. That's what Disney says. And, while that is true, the free transportation takes time. Using Minnie Vans or other ride shares (AKA Lyft at Disney World) sometimes fills a much-needed gap.
Disney generally does a great job with transportation. Disney's Magical Express that used to offer transportation between the Orlando Airport and the resort, plus the resort-to-park buses, boats, and the SkyLiner and Monorail are very reliable but you'll often wait in long lines, especially during peak hours or at the end of the night. The buses are supposed to run every 20 minutes but in my experience, that's not always reliable, especially at the end of the day when everyone is trying to get back to their resort hotel.
I think taking the Minnie Van from resort to resort is the best use of the service. I’d also recommend using the Minnie Van service if you’re super compressed for time. If you’ve only got a couple of days to spend at Disney World, you might not want to spend your time waiting in line for the bus.
If you're hopping from one park to another, my general advice is for people to plan on 90-minutes. It doesn't always take that long but when you factor in leaving one park, waiting in line, the actual transportation time, and going through security and scanning your ticket in to a second park, the minutes can add up, especially if things are busy. If you have a dining reservation or a Lightning Lane ride reserved, 90-minutes is a safe estimate to make sure you don't miss your window.
The Minnie Van service is easy. Punch a few buttons on your phone. Go to the pickup point. Ride in comfort and get to where you’re going while everyone else is still waiting in line.
We also took the Minnie Van Service from Coronado Springs to the Magic Kingdom on an afternoon where we wanted to maximize our time in the park. Yes, it was more expensive but it gave us an extra hour to hit the rides, so it was worth it.
5. The Minnie Van can replace free Disney transportation if you're prepared to spend
Should this be your primary means of navigating your way around Walt Disney World Resort? Yes, if you budget for it. $25 a pop can add up quickly. If you're using the Minnie Van to get to the parks in the morning and to return to your resort hotel in the evening and do one park-to-park transfer per day, that's $75 per day. Only you can decide whether that level of spend is worth the time saved.
If you don't need the child seats, don't mind a little extra walk to get to the park entrance, and aren't in a huge hurry, a regular ride share might be a better option. You're still bypassing the Disney transportation lines.
While the free/included Disney transportation is listed as one of the perks of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, the experience, especially with the buses, is often frustrating for me. While we try to use the Disney transportation to stay in budget, it's nice to have a faster option. If you've brought your own car to Disney, read my review on what it was like to bypass the transportation and take our own car to the parks every day.
We try to use the free Disney transportation as much as possible. While it is nice to get where we want to go faster, we prefer to spend that money somewhere else at Disney World.
We do like knowing the Minnie Van service is an option when we need it and I'm thrilled to see it returning as an option for guests, especially for young families.