There are tons of ways to get around the Walt Disney World Resort. We're probably all familiar with the buses that serve the parks and resorts, but did you know you can also get around using boats? That's right! Water transportation is a wonderful Walt Disney World perk that not many people know about. They are super convenient and the best part…free!
Water transportation in Walt Disney World covers lots of ground, but you'll need to understand the different routes and how they work. Luckily, it's not hard at all. So, for the days when you're not in a rush and just want to enjoy the sights and sounds of the water, then you should consider hopping on one of the many boats around Walt Disney World.
Keep reading our Walt Disney World water transportation guide to learn more!
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Water Transportation: Overview and FAQs
Boats are a great way to get around the different parks and resorts at Walt Disney World in Florida. Since much of the property is water, Disney strategically created boat routes that cover lots of the Walt Disney World property. Depending on where you start, you can get to a number of places just by hopping aboard a boat. As I mentioned, they are completely free and you don't need to be a resort guest or hold a theme park ticket to use them! Free sunset cruises anyone?!
This water transportation guide is going to cover everything you need to know to navigate the magical waters of the Walt Disney World Resort! But before we go into the details, let's cover some basic information.
How much does it cost to use the water transportation options at Walt Disney World?
I've said it once, twice, but I'll say it again because it's fun: all boat options are completely free!
Is water Transportation available from anywhere in Walt Disney World?
No, we're going to cover this below, but there are only three areas where you can grab a boat. That said, they still cover a lot of locations!
Can I board a boat in a wheelchair or stroller?
Yes! All of the water transportation options in Walt Disney World are stroller-friendly and wheelchair accessible. For strollers, depending on what boat you're boarding you may have to remove your child from the stroller and/or fold it up. As for wheelchairs, whether or not it requires a transfer also depends on the boat you're boarding.
Will I get motion sickness?
While this one is hard to answer for everyone, my experience is that the boats are fairly smooth and don't move around a lot. Now, they are still boats on moving water so if you tend to get motion sickness very easily, you may not enjoy the experience as much as someone who rarely gets seasick.
Will I get wet?
As much as we love a Splash Mountain experience, these boats will not get you wet. That said, some boats are open-air or have no windows so if it's misting you may get a splash of that, but you certainly won't walk off the boat soaked.
What if there are storms?
Like many outdoor activities in Florida, the boats will not run if there is inclement weather. This is, of course, for your safety as well as that of the captain and crew.
What are the operating hours for the boats?
Depending on the route, boats typically begin running 30 minutes before the opening of the destination attraction. For example, if you're headed to the Magic Kingdom in the morning and Early Theme Park Entry begins at 8:30 am, you can expect the boats to start running around 7:30 am.
As for closing, the boats will typically run 60-90 minutes after the destination attraction closes.
If I want to rope drop a park, should I take the boats?
Rope dropping is when you want to be the first one in the park so you can quickly head to a popular attraction to beat the eventual long lines. Since the boats tend to go at a slower pace, we would not recommend them for early morning rope drop. Depending on the season and ride you're looking to enjoy, you'll need to be at the park entrance before boat service even begins so you'd need to find another method of transportation that can get you to your destination faster.
Water Transportation: Route Overview
The water transportation options at Walt Disney World are separated into three distinct areas. These areas are the Magic Kingdom resorts area, the EPCOT resorts area, and the Disney Springs area. This water transportation guide is going to break them all down for you and give you everything you need to know.
Magic Kingdom Resorts Area
The boats around the Magic Kingdom area primarily serve as transportation to the Magic Kingdom Park from the various resorts around the Seven Seas Lagoon. In total, there are four routes. The boats around the Magic Kingdom all wave a different color flag. The flag represents the route the boat will take. If you're staying in a resort around the Seven Seas Lagoon, be sure you know what flag color represents your resort!
Let's take a look at the four routes!
Gold Flag Route
Tip: The route follows the order I just mentioned above so it's a great route to take if you're avoiding a busy monorail as it travels in the opposite direction.
Travel Time: If you took a boat and made a loop around all three stops, you'd be looking at a travel time of about 20 minutes.
Average Wait Time: The average wait time for a boat is about 12 minutes.
Operating Hours: The boats run 30 minutes before the Magic Kingdom Early Theme Park Entry and stay open for about 90 minutes past park closing.
Red Flag Route
Stops: The red flag route does a loop between the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Wilderness Lodge.
Travel Time: The average travel time between the two stops is about 10 minutes.
Average Wait Time: Wait times are on average about 8-1o minutes.
Operating Hours: These boats run 30 minutes before the Magic Kingdom Early Theme Park Entry and stay open for about 90 minutes past park closing.
Tip: Be sure you note that this boat will not take you to The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness. There's another boat for that!
Green Flag Route
Stops: The green flag route does a loop between the Magic Kingdom and The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort.
Travel Time: The travel time between the two stops is about 12 minutes.
Average Wait Time: Wait times for the green route can vary, but on average you can expect between 10-15 minutes.
Operating Hours: Green route boats run 30 minutes before the Magic Kingdom Early Theme Park Entry and stay open for about 90 minutes past park closing.
Tip: The green route can be more crowded than the other routes since The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort do not have bus service to the Magic Kingdom. It's a scenic route but may require a little more time built into your schedule.
Blue Flag Route
Stops: The blue flag route doesn't travel around the Seven Seas Lagoon, but instead serves the Bay Lake Area resorts. The route consists of stops at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Wilderness Lodge, and The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness.
Travel Time: Since these stops are not too far apart, the average travel time is about 6 minutes.
Average Wait Time: Average wait time for boats is about 10 minutes.
Operating Hours: The blue flag route is known to start as early as 6:45 am, but follows the same closing route as the other routes.
Tip: This route usually has two boats running throughout the day and note that the direction of the boats typically reverses at around 3 pm.
Stops: The ferryboats are larger boats that hold up to 600 people that run from the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) and the Magic Kingdom.
Travel Time: The route is fairly short rounding out at about six minutes one way.
Average Wait Time: Average wait time for boats is about 10-20 minutes.
Operating Hours: The ferryboats follow the Magic Kingdom park hours. Like others, they start about 30 minutes before park opening and up to 90 minutes after park closing.
Tip: Since the TTC serves commuters, it can get very crowded. Unless you're driving into the TTC, you might consider another option. This is not the best option for all you rope droppers! I'd head over to the Polynesian and take the monorail or the gold flag boat.
EPCOT Resort Area
The next area that has water transportation is centered around Crescent Lake in the EPCOT resort area. The boats in this area are referred to as the Friendship Boats and serve a variety of theme parks and resorts.
While the route is incredibly charming and relaxing, these boats are notoriously slow and can have long lines during peak times. I only use the Friendship Boats for pleasure and not when I'm in a hurry to get somewhere.
It's also important to note that if you're staying at Disney's BoardWalk, Disney's Beach Club, Disney's Yacht Club, or The Swan and Dolphin Resorts, there are no buses available to both EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios. This means your two options are the Friendship Boats or on foot.
Let's take a look at the routes!
Tip: Since the Crescent Lake stops are all close together, it's often faster to walk to your desired destination. We recommend only using this service if you're looking to enjoy the experience. Otherwise, lace up those sneakers and get your steps in!
The EPCOT boats leave from a stop located right next to the International Gateway entrance of EPCOT. Again, this is where the long lines come in. At the end of the night, when your feet are aching, especially after the Food and Wine Festival, it's appealing to jump on a boat, but believe me, the line is not worth it. Some report waiting upwards of an hour!
Route: This route will begin at EPCOT and then take you to Disney's BoardWalk, Disney's Yacht and Beach Club, The Swan and Dolphin and then back to EPCOT.
Disney's Hollywood Studios Route
Route: The Hollywood Studios route will begin at the theme park and take you to The Swan and Dolphin Resorts, Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Disney's Boardwalk, EPCOT, and then back to Hollywood Studios.
Again, this route can be slow and since it serves a lot of resorts, it can be pretty crowded. We recommend the walking path to Disney's Hollywood Studios!
If you want to learn more about the Crescent Lake area, be sure to check out our complete Beach Club Resort guide.
Disney Springs Area
The boats servicing the 3 Disney Springs docks run along the rivers around the resorts located near the shopping and dining destination. Similar to the routes around the Seven Seas Lagoon, the different routes here are broken up into flags that represent the four possible routes. The routes around this part of town are gorgeous and allow you to take in the lush landscaping around Walt Disney World. Plus, these routes can take you to some awesome foodie destinations such as brunch at The Boathouse!
Let's take a closer look!
Yellow Flag Route
Stops: The yellow flag boats run along the Sassagoula River and serve Disney Springs, Disney's Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, and Disney's Port Orleans – French Quarter. Note that the dock at Disney Springs for this route is the Marketplace Dock located at the eastern end of Disney Springs.
Average Wait Time: These routes are a bit longer so the average wait for a boat here can be about 20 minutes.
Operating Hours: Service in the morning begins around 10:30 am and can be slower until the late afternoon. The last boat usually leaves at around 11:30 pm.
Tip: Depending on where your Riverside room is, you can hop off at the French Quarter and walk to your Riverside room from this stop.
Green Flag Route
Stops: The green flag route is for guests staying at Disney's Old Key West. The route only runs between the resort and Disney Springs. The dock for this route is located at The Landing, which is towards the middle of the Disney Springs area.
Average Wait Time: You should expect an average wait time of about 20 minutes, though that could increase in the evenings.
Operating Hours: Similar to the yellow route, the service begins around 10:30 am and runs through around 11:30 pm.
Tip: This route will take you through Disney's Old Key West Resort so it's a great way to see just how large this resort is and see its different buildings.
Blue Flag Route
Stops: The blue route services travel between Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and The Landing at Disney Springs.
Average Wait Time: Since this route is fairly short, you can expect a wait time between 10-15 minutes.
Operating Hours: Similar to the rest of the routes, the service begins around 10:30 am and runs through around 11:30 pm.
Tip: Depending on where you are in Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort, it might make more sense to take the lovely walking path between the resort and Disney Springs. The two destinations are right next to each other so the boat may not make the most sense if you're in a hurry!
Red Flag Route
Stops: The red flag route is the internal route that takes you between the 3 docks within the Disney Springs area. The line makes a loop starting at The West Side dock, over to The Marketplace, and then to The Landing.
Average Wait Time: The wait for this route averages about 10 minutes.
Operating Hours: In contrast to the other routes, this route runs until about 1:00 am.
Tip: Again, this route services docks that are very near each other. Although the Disney Springs area is large, it still might make more sense to walk depending on what your destination is.
Water Transportation: Enchanting Extras
By now, you've seen a broad overview of the different ways in which water transportation in Walt Disney World can help you get around from a practical level. However, there are other ways in which you can enjoy the waters around Walt Disney World! In comes Disney's Enchanting Extras Collection. The Enchanting Extras Collection offers paid activities that take place around the Walt Disney World Resort. The experiences vary in type and price, but are awesome activities to try, especially if you're not visiting a park for the day.
One nautical example of an offering are the Guided Fishing Excursions. This guided catch-and-release experience allows guests to board a pontoon and enjoy some fishing near a handful of the Walt Disney World Resorts. The guide will provide all of the materials you need and best of all, it's open to all ages!
If you're looking for something extra magical, then for a steep cost of $399 plus tax, you can charter a private boat that will take you right along the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake, or the World Showcase Lagoon to get an up-close viewing of the Enchantment fireworks show in Magic Kingdom or Harmonious in EPCOT. This is what we call a huge splurge, but one that can create some amazing memories. The experience even includes snacks and refreshments. Up to 10 people can hop aboard so if you're traveling with another family, it might be a great idea to share this experience and split the cost!
Water Transportation: Final Thoughts
Water transportation at Walt Disney World is such a wonderful benefit to enjoy while in the resort. The boats can indeed be a bit slower, but sometimes the slower pace is exactly what you need after a lot of walking. We like to take advantage of this method of transportation whenever it makes sense. Sure, the buses can take you anywhere you want to go, but during the summer, nothing beats the open-air breeze you get when taking a boat to your next destination. We recommend it and see it as a mini attraction of sorts that is sure to please all members of your party!
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