I do wonder what Dante would have thought of the Walt Disney World Resort (the Mouse-in-Law). Sadly, he died 650 years before he got a chance to visit. However, if he had visited, I feel pretty certain that he would have considered the bus system to be worthy of inclusion in a level of hell. Maybe even its own level.
So to back up, it’s important to know that the Mouse-in-Law is Very Very Big. The parks and resorts (resorts being each hotel, which is its own little dealie-bob with pool(s), restaurants, etc.) are miles apart, and the basic way to get to them is through a bus system. Sometimes there are boats and monorails, but for other parks you’re on a bus.
Disney recommends allowing “one to one-and-a-half hours” between parks or parks and resorts. I thought they were exaggerating or being overly cautious.
They were not.
We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, which was quite nice and a quick boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom. Our options were taking a bus from the resort to the parks, or taking the boat to Magic Kingdom, then the Monorail to the Ticket and Transit Center, then a bus or like a Monorail to Epcot. Anyway, we spent a lot of time on buses.
It was awful. And admittedly, a big part of the problem was that we have a two-year-old who quite simply hates sitting still. Sadly, on a bus on the actual highway in actual traffic, it is not appropriate to stand on one’s seat or run up and down the bus aisle. Keeping him semi-seated was exhausting.
And that was after you got ON the bus, even. First, you had to wait for the bus, which supposedly came every 20-30 minutes but in reality came on some sort of random, totally unpredictable schedule (or lack thereof). So you’d stand there and wait for the bus, then you get on the bus, then you drive in the bus, then you get off the bus and do your thing. Oh, also sometimes the bus made multiple stops. Try explaining THAT to a two-year-old who hates you because you won’t let him pull the attractive, shiny, red emergency bar on the window. That same two-year-old who is so exhausted and wired, he is poised and ready to go with his meltdown(s).
Ignore the scary lady with the glasses and admire how beautifully Theo is sitting in his seat. This is because we just got on the bus and it hasn't actually started yet.
Adding to our bus problems was the fact that our dear, sweet Theo can only sleep in two places: 1) a car seat, and 2) a bed. Notice this list does not include things like 3) a stroller. And we didn’t bring a car seat on this trip. This is also a toddler who NEEDS his nap. I mean, truly needs it. He takes one nap a day and it’s a great one starting at about 1:30 or 2:00. This is very convenient at home. This is not very convenient at the Mouse-in-Law.
This is the face of someone who still really needs his nap
What this meant for us is that we had to literally go back to the hotel every day in order to give Theo his nap. This wouldn’t have been a problem if everything was basically close together, but when there’s the hour-to-an-hour-and-a-half transit time both to and from the park, it takes up a giant chunk of your time. Since we were there on the off-season, the parks closed at 8:00 (except Epcot, which was open until 9:00). So basically we’d get up in the morning, get ourselves to a park, do a couple of things there, come back to the hotel, nap, and get back on a bus to get to a park again, and have time for like 2 things.
To be completely honest, it felt like we spent an equal amount of time on a bus or waiting for a bus than we did in the parks. Intellectually I know that’s not the case, but it sure felt like it. AND, this was the off-season so there was plenty of seating on the buses. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to have to wait for a second bus if the first was too full for you.
And remember that part about how Theo won’t stay seated, even on our laps (kicking and hitting!). It was like hours of that. HOURS. The worst was when we had a dinner reservation at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. On the way back, we had to wait for and then take a bus to Downtown Disney (because the parks were closed) and then wait for and take a bus back to the hotel. It took nearly two hours for this process with a toddler basically either having a meltdown or on the verge of a meltdown the entire time.
I wish we had walked, because at least then we could have strapped him in the stroller. 10 miles of walking would have been more merciful than that bus trip.
Plus, I don’t know why, but we encountered an alarming number of surly, unfriendly, rude, brusque bus drivers in the bus system. One actually pounded the side of the bus and shouted at us when we accidentally tried to board through the rear door. SHOUTED! No lie.
Have a magical day!
Kevin and I returned home and thought, “surely there’s a better way.” And apparently the better way is to just rent your own car and drive from place to place. I think that’s simply a brilliant idea and when we go back in a few years, that’s exactly what we’ll do.
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