This review covers the Disney World Monorail transportation system. The Disney World Monorail is one of the most popular and well-known transportation systems at the Walt Disney World theme parks.
Whether it’s your first visit or the 100th, one of the most important ways to prepare for your Walt Disney World vacation is to familiarize yourself with transportation. Disney provides free transportation to and from their parks and some resorts on property.
And let’s face it, almost everyone wants to take a ride on the Walt Disney World monorail at some point during their vacation.
Learning how to best maneuver transportation will benefit your trip in many ways. After all, time is money, and you probably will be spending a lot of both here.
2021 Disney Monorail Updates
Before getting started, it’s important to note a few specifics for the monorail in 2021. The information in this review is provided based upon our experience using the monorail.
- The Disney monorail is not operating between Epcot and the Transportation and Ticket Center. It is anticipated to return in 2021, but no guarantees yet.
- The resort monorail is operating but not on a full schedule. If you stay at a monorail resort and decide to visit another monorail resort for dinner, make sure you have alternative transportation back to your resort. The Magic Kingdom closes earlier than normal at this time. Therefore, the monorail will continue to run on limited hours for the foreseeable future.
- Additionally, the monorail is not stopping at the Polynesian Resort due to construction. There’s a full guide on using the transportation options at the Polynesian if you have an upcoming stay.
- The express monorail is operating between the Transportation and Ticket Center and Magic Kingdom. Alternatively, you can elect to take the Magic Kingdom Ferry. Both are operating with limited capacity due to social distancing.
We’ll update this review as things change for the Disney monorail system in 2021.
Disney World Monorail Transportation
The monorail service is probably the most classic form of Disney Transportation. It is free to all and a must-do experience while on vacation. Children and adults alike love a ride on the monorail. Three different monorail beams service the Disney parks. They are as follows:
- Resort Monorail
- Express Monorail
- Epcot Monorail
Disney’s Resort Monorail
The Disney resort monorail services the resorts at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Resort Area. The monorail stops at the following locations on the resort loop:
- Magic Kingdom
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Transportation and Ticket Center
- Disney’s Polynesian Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
The monorail stop for Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort (review) located on the hotel’s second floor. There are loading and unloading areas. If you are entering the monorail service area, you will have to go through security first.
Once on the monorail, you are defined by Disney as being in a secured area. You will not have to go through additional security if you stop at Magic Kingdom.
This is something newer to Disney in more recent years. While it does make it a bit of a hassle for resort hopping, the overall process to get to the Magic Kingdom is much improved.
The next monorail stop in the Magic Kingdom resorts area is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (review). It is also located on the second floor of the resort hotel, just off the lobby.
You will also have to go through security here as well. Regardless of whether you were heading to another resort or the theme park, all guests go through security. Thankfully, with the new system, the process is simple and not time-consuming.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort is usually a great place to take a tropical break from the parks. Often we enjoy visiting as a day guest for a meal or to take a walk through the resort.
At this time, however, the Polynesian is not open in its entirety. The resort is undergoing an extensive refurbishment with plans to re-open in late July of 2021. Guests can still stay here in the Disney vacation club area of the resort in the meantime.
It is highly probable that some resort amenities might not be available during this period. And as mentioned in our above updates, Disney has suspended the Polynesian monorail service during the refurbishment. Most will not want to stay at a monorail resort with no service.
The photo below was taken in early March of 2021. You can see that the Polynesian’s entire entrance is being gutted and the new monorail platform hasn’t been installed yet. If you are staying here you’ll have to walk over to the Grand Floridian or Transportation & Ticket Center to use the monorail.
The last resort on the Magic Kingdom loop is Disney’s Contemporary Resort (review). It will be the first stop when leaving the Magic Kingdom and farthest away from Magic Kingdom when leaving the resort. Most guests will elect to walk to Magic Kingdom from Disney’s Contemporary.
For reference, the resort monorail circles the area in a clockwise direction when facing the Magic Kingdom.
When should you take the Disney Resort monorail?
- When arriving at the Transportation and Ticket Center and you want to head to a resort hotel or Magic Kingdom. (There is also the express monorail option for those headed directly to Magic Kingdom with no resort stops.)
- If leaving the Magic Kingdom and wanting to go to any of the stops on the loop. Or when visiting one of the monorail resorts for lunch or dinner.
- When you need a break and want to take a ride on the monorail. (when applicable)
- If you are staying at one of these resorts then use this monorail to travel to the other resorts on the loop. (Check operating hours before boarding.)
- Additionally, use it to travel to the Magic Kingdom or to the Transportation and Ticket Center to catch the Epcot monorail line. (when available)
- Whatever your reason may be, remember, this line does make a total of five stops when it comes full circle. It takes time to load and unload at these stops. I always recommend keeping these things in mind and being patient so that you can enjoy the ride!
Disney World Resort Monorail Schedule
I can’t stress how important it is to note the hours of operation before using the monorail for those visiting soon. Since Disney World’s reopening last year, the monorail has been closing earlier than usual.
Therefore, if you are staying at the Contemporary and wanted to go to the Polynesian to get a Dole Whip around 9:30 p.m., you might have a bit of a challenge returning.
Under normal circumstances, the monorail has long hours of operation, like in the picture below. But these kinds of hours will return when we see an increase of park operating hours.
If you stay at a Magic Kingdom Resort, there should be a schedule posted for the monorail. The times do vary depending on hours of operation. Again, make sure to check when you are there if you plan to take the monorail.
Recently, a cast member suggested I take a bus to Disney Springs. And then a bus back to the Contemporary, to get from the Polynesian to the Contemporary. That was the only form of free transportation available to get back to the resort where I was a guest. And if I’d had to do that, it would have taken a long time to travel to a resort that was literally only a few minutes away.
Disney World Express Monorail
Next on our list is the Express Monorail service. This is the monorail that runs solely between the Transportation and Ticket Center and Magic Kingdom.
The Transportation and Ticket system at Walt Disney World is located at the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot. There is a large body of water (Bay Lake) that sits between the center and Magic Kingdom. Guests have the option to take the ferry or monorail to reach Magic Kingdom.
The express monorail will take you directly to Magic Kingdom with no resort stops. Same thing if you are leaving Magic Kingdom. It will then only take you to the Transportation and Ticket Center. This will make for a shorter ride to access the park or your vehicle.
This monorail moves in the opposite direction of the resort monorail. So you will meet that monorail in passing, side-by-side on the beams.
Typically, the lines for the Express monorail are a bit longer. So you might wait longer in line. However, there aren’t any stops along the way.
If you elect to board the resort monorail when leaving the Magic Kingdom you will have one resort stop at Disney’s Contemporary. After that, the next stop will be at the Transportation and Ticket Center.
The fun thing, for most, is traveling through Disney’s Contemporary Resort. On the far right of this picture is the Express monorail, which will soon be on its way to the Magic Kingdom.
The monorail will slow down as it travels through the Contemporary. Guests can look down from the monorail and see people dining at Chef Mickey’s. If you look up, you can see various floors of the hotel.
The red monorail on the left-hand side of the picture is the Resort Monorail. Again, it travels in the opposite direction (away from the Contemporary, where it last stopped) and will stop here at the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Magic Kingdom Monorail Stop
Here is a look at Magic Kingdom’s monorail stop. This is where you exit and walk down the ramp to enter the Magic Kingdom.
A closer look at the exit area. The waiting area is on the opposite side of the monorail beam.
Disney Monorail to Epcot
Remember, the Epcot monorail is not currently running. I will update this review when those changes are made.
Perhaps, the most popular monorail ride is the one to Epcot from the Transportation and Ticket Center. As shown above, it is quite a scenic ride, especially during the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
If you happen to end up at the Transportation and Ticket Center to head toward Epcot, you will see three lines:
- Express Monorail
- Resort Monorail
- Epcot Monorail
The lines will be labeled like the sign above, and you can choose which destination you like.
The Epcot monorail comes away from the Transportation and Ticket Center and travels toward Epcot. It actually enters Epcot and makes a large loop around Spaceship Earth before exiting the park again. This monorail (along with the others) is free to ride since it doesn’t actually exit into the park.
When the monorail takes the loop inside Epcot, it offers different views from each side. If you are on the interior (closest to the Spaceship Earth), you will get views of the grounds and flower mural during the Flower and Garden Festival.
On the exterior side, you will see more along the lines of Mission: Space, Test Track, a view toward the World Showcase, and the Imagination and Land Pavilions. They are both wonderful views of the park and only last a short amount of time as the monorail glides through the park to its destination.
Take the Epcot Monorail when:
- Take this monorail when headed to Epcot from the Transportation and Ticket Center. Sometimes people who park hop might park at Epcot and then use the monorail to head to the Transportation and Ticket Center. And then take that monorail to the Magic Kingdom.
- Others like to park at Magic Kingdom (Transportation & Ticket Center) and then monorail to Epcot for the day. After that, they head back to the Magic Kingdom for the evening. There are several ways you can break up your day and make things simple if you know the ropes.
- On the way back to the Transportation and Ticket Center, you will exit Epcot and walk up the rampway to board the monorail. This will take you back to the Transportation and Ticket Center. There you can take a tram back to your car at the Magic Kingdom parking lot. Or you can exit the monorail and head down the ramp and re-enter the line for the Express monorail or Resort monorail.
- Take this monorail when heading back to a Magic Kingdom resort from Epcot. You can change over to the resort monorail at Transportation and Ticket Center to get to your resort. There is also a walkway from the Transportation and Ticket Center over to Disney’s Polynesian Resort if you feel like walking. It actually extends on to Grand Floridian as well. And soon, an additional walkway will service the entire pathway around from Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom.
Disney World Monorail
One last note, there are times when the monorails are down or running on a reduced schedule. As I’ve noted prior, this is one of those times where there is a highly reduced schedule. Additionally, due to social distancing, capacity is reduced on the monorail. Which actually makes for a much more pleasant ride since you aren’t packed in there like a can of sardines.
Disney has some guidance on their site here where you can check the schedule for any updates.
This wraps up where the Disney World monorails are coming and going. As far as new transportation goes, you’ll more than likely want to familiarize yourself with the Disney Skyliner and those travel times. The Skyliner runs between Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and a few of those resorts.
Thanks for joining along! I hope these tips for using the monorail will be helpful on your next vacation. Please leave me a comment with your thoughts on taking the monorail.