Taking the Magic Kingdom Ferry (With Resort Boat Service Tips)
Magic Kingdom’s Ferry is one of the most well-known forms of transportation at Walt Disney World. The ferry takes guests back and forth across Seven Seas Lagoon between the Transportation and Ticket Center and Magic Kingdom.
Additionally, several of the surrounding Magic Kingdom Resorts offer boat service to the Magic Kingdom. However, these are smaller-scale boats in comparison to the ferry.
In this article, we’ll discuss the Magic Kingdom Ferry and the surrounding resort boat service. Whether you’re headed to the Magic Kingdom or want to visit a resort for dining or leisure, knowing the best way to travel to your destination is essential.
These tips and details are based on our travel experiences. Since we’re often at the resorts and parks, we intentionally practice these processes and take photos to share with you.
It’s essential to learn as much about the transportation options available at Disney as possible. That way, when you visit, you’ll be in the know instead of trying to figure things out on the fly.
We often run into guests trying to figure out where they are going. Some of them made it to their destination but don’t remember how to return.
After a long day in the parks, everyone is weary. So it’s understandable that you might not be able to clearly recall the exact steps you took 12 hours earlier.
Besides, if you drive or take an off-site resort bus to Magic Kingdom, you have to cross a massive body of water to get to the park. So you can’t leave the park and head straight to your bus or car.
Thankfully, the Magic Kingdom Ferry is one of the most pleasant ways to travel around the Magic Kingdom. There’s something about sailing across the water to the most magical place on earth, especially on a sunny Florida day.
This article was updated on April 10, 2023.
Magic Kingdom Ferry Boat
When visiting the Magic Kingdom, guests who drive will have to park at the Transportation and Ticket Center, which serves as the parking lot for Magic Kingdom. Additionally, guests who take a bus service from an off-property resort will be dropped off at a bus stop adjacent to the Transportation and Ticket Center.
After parking, you can take a tram from the lot to the Transportation and Ticket Center, which sits at the front of the lot. If you prefer, you can take the walkway. However, it might be a significant walk depending on where you park.
Tip: Take a photo or write down the row where you parked. The last thing you want is to spend 30 minutes looking for your car after 12 hours of standing in line for rides all day. Disney also has a car locator tool you can use in the My Disney Experience app. Instructions for using the tool are available here on Disney’s site.
When you arrive at the Transportation and Ticket Center, you have two main options for getting to the Magic Kingdom:
- Magic Kingdom Ferry
- Magic Kingdom Monorail
If you are interested in taking the monorail, we have a separate guide covering all its facets.
Related: Disney World Monorail Guide
Before deciding which form of transportation to take, you’ll first head through security screening. Security was formerly on the other side of the water near the park’s entrance.
However, this newer security process is a tremendous improvement. After you clear the security area, you can continue to the ferry or monorail.
Two Magic Kingdom ferry boats run simultaneously across Seven Seas Lagoon. Each ferry docks and drops off guests. Then new guests can board before it returns across the water.
The Magic Kingdom Ferry runs about 45 minutes to an hour before the park opens and continues up to an hour after the park closes.
If the Magic Kingdom is open for early theme park benefits, the ferry will begin running approximately 45 minutes before those hours. The same goes for extended evening hours for parties or after-hours events.
After going through security, there are a few ticket booths. When you pass these, you’ll see the monorail entrances straight ahead. On the far left, you’ll see the dock for the ferryboat.
From my experience, if the ferry has just left, it takes approximately 10 minutes for the next ferry to arrive. Thankfully, most of the waiting area is partially covered, so there’s some shade.
However, you can expect a significant line if you arrive first thing in the morning.
After the ferry unloads from its return trip, a cast member will open the gate for new guests to board. You can then board the ferry and decide to stay on the main level or head up to the second level.
Here is a photo of the ramp that extends for guests to board. Magic Kingdom’s ferry is wheelchair and ECV-accessible.
Seating is fairly limited on the ferry. A few benches are available on the main level.
We usually like to go up to the second level, where more seating is available.
A staircase is available at the front and back of the ferry. It’s roped off while the boat is in motion.
Tip: We often ride on the top level. When the boat docks, we stay on our bench and let everyone clear out ahead of us. It makes for a much more peaceful experience.
From the ferry, you can see Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, which sits next door to the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Beyond the Polynesian sits Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
Finally, the Magic Kingdom will come into view. It’s a magical way to arrive.
Additionally, the ferry is a pleasant open-air option, and the pace is enjoyable.
It takes approximately 15 minutes to board the Magic Kingdom Ferry, travel over, and dock. You could easily spend the same amount of time waiting in line for the Express monorail.
However, if there isn’t a line for the monorail, it is usually the faster of the two options.
Unfortunately, I don’t know the exact specifics of how many guests can board each vessel. But it seems that the ferry has a higher capacity.
You’ll return to the same dock outside the Magic Kingdom gates at the end of the day. This dock also provides a partially covered waiting area.
Tip: If you wait until after the evening fireworks to leave, you’ll be packed in this area like a can of sardines. We usually like to find a seat in the park and let the crowds clear before we attempt to leave.
My favorite time to take the ferry is on a leisurely day when the sun is shining and it’s nice outside. I will nearly always take the ferry over the monorail when I arrive at the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Magic Kingdom Resort Boats
Next, we’ll look at the different resort boats serving the Magic Kingdom area. If you’re staying or visiting one of the Magic Kingdom Resorts, you will have several options for traveling to the theme park.
The following resorts offer boat service to the Magic Kingdom:
- Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
Boats that service the resorts are substantially smaller than the ferry. However, there won’t be nearly as many guests using them.
When you exit the Magic Kingdom, there are three different boat launches.
- Magic Kingdom Ferry Service
- Boat Dock 1 (Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness)
- Boat Dock 2 (Disney’s Grand Floridian and Disney’s Polynesian)
Boat Dock (1) is on the left side of the two resort launches. Guests returning to and coming from Disney’s Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge Resorts will use this dock.
This boat dock has a separate line for each resort, so make sure you get in the correct one.
Boat Dock (2) is on the far right-hand side of the dock. It services guests coming from and returning to Disney’s Grand Floridian and Polynesian.
This resort launch only has one line. The boat travels in a triangular pattern from Magic Kingdom to Grand Floridian. It then continues to the Polynesian before returning to Magic Kingdom.
Tip: A walkway from Magic Kingdom to Grand Floridian begins directly behind this dock. If you leave during the mass crowds at night and are headed to the Grand Floridian, this walkway is an excellent option.
Boat Service at Grand Floridian and the Polynesian
Even though the Grand Floridian and Polynesian share the same route to Magic Kingdom, they each have their own boat dock. Here is a photo of the resort boat dock at Disney’s Grand Floridian.
This boat travels from the Grand Floridian to the Polynesian. From the Polynesian, it travels to Magic Kingdom before returning to the Grand Floridian.
Related: Transportation Options at Disney’s Grand Floridian
Here is a photo of the boat dock at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
Boat transportation between the resorts and Magic Kingdom begins one-half hour before the park opens and lasts until 45 minutes after the park closes.
You’ll want to fold any strollers before boarding. Additionally, most of these smaller boats require a step down into the boat. So they may not be accessible for wheelchairs or ECVS.
*Details for those with mobility issues (i.e., wheelchair, ECVs) can be found here on Disney’s site.
If you’re having difficulty finding the boat launches, they are fairly easy to see from the shoreline. So head toward the water, and you should be able to locate the path to the nearest boat dock.
If you’re visiting the Polynesian for a meal or shopping, you’ll want to head to the Great Ceremonial House after you dock. This is where you’ll find the Polynesian’s major dining and retail areas.
Related: Disney’s Polynesian Restaurants Guide
Boat Service at Wilderness Lodge
Next, we’ll examine the boat service from Magic Kingdom to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Some of these boats are larger than those that run between the monorail resorts. However, as of late, we’ve seen some larger boats servicing all the resort launches.
These boats have an interior and exterior seating area. They are also usually accessible for guests with wheelchairs and ECVS.
When you reach the Wilderness Lodge, you are greeted by a scenic walkway through a wooded area.
Plenty of directionals will help you get to the right place. Don’t forget that the resorts are large. If you haven’t visited before, it can be easy to get turned around.
Some of my favorite moments on Disney property are the quiet, relaxing times at the resorts. And that especially includes my time spent at the Wilderness Lodge.
Related: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Review
Boat Service at Fort Wilderness
Finally, the last resort boat launch from Magic Kingdom takes us to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. As mentioned, Fort Wilderness shares a resort launch with the Wilderness Lodge at Magic Kingdom.
When you arrive at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground, you’ll be within walking distance of Pioneer Hall. That’s where the popular Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue is located.
If you are visiting for horseback riding, you will want to locate bus transportation after exiting the boat. Fort Wilderness is a massive resort that has an internal bus service.
There are two stables on the property. But the one with horseback riding is at the front of the resort, which isn’t anywhere near the bus stop.
We did this a few years back, and there was a lot of confusion from cast members about where we were going. So we ended up in the wrong place.
It took us a while to get good directions after initially docking at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. Since then, I’ve spent a good deal of time at the resort. It’s taken a lot of wandering the resort to learn my way around.
With that being said, Fort Wilderness is a unique resort and a great place for anyone who loves spending time outdoors!
Related: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Review
Boat Service at the Contemporary
Lastly, Disney’s Contemporary is the only Magic Kingdom Resort that doesn’t have boat transportation to the theme park. However, you can easily walk back and forth between the Magic Kingdom and the Contemporary.
Related: Disney’s Contemporary Resort Review
The following boat transportation is not running as of this update. You’ll want to check at the hotel to see if it has been returned if you desire to use it.
In the past, guests could take the blue flag launch from Disney’s Contemporary and travel to either Fort Wilderness or Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. It was a convenient way for guests of any of these resorts to travel to the other for dining or recreation.
When I took this picture, boat service was available between 6:45 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
In the past, we have taken this boat from the Contemporary to the Wilderness Lodge for breakfast at Whispering Canyon Cafe.
Related: Whispering Canyon Cafe Breakfast Review
Formerly, this boat service traveled a triangular route from the Contemporary to Fort Wilderness and then back to Wilderness Lodge.
Final Thoughts: Magic Kingdom Ferry and Resort Boats
Magic Kingdom’s Ferry and surrounding boat service provide an efficient and fun way to travel. A warm sunny day sailing across the Seven Seas Lagoon can improve even an already cheerful mood.
If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, I can not reiterate enough the importance of learning the best ways to get around Disney property. Here are a few other transportation reviews we’ve yet to discuss:
- Disney’s Skyliner with Travel Times and Routes
- Friendship Boats at Disney World
- Tackling Transportation at the Disney Resort Hotels
- Disney Springs Transportation Options and Tips
Additionally, we specialize in resorts, characters, and dining. We have a complete list of reviews for each resort:
Not for sure if you want to stay on Disney property? We also have a guide to finding the best off-site hotels near Disney World. Some of our favorites include:
- Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Review
- Wyndham Grand Orlando Review at Bonnet Creek
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando Review
- Signia by Hilton Bonnet Creek Review
- Flamingo Crossings Hotel List (Affordable Near Disney)
Or browse over our list of the Best Marriotts near Disney World.
You’ve probably heard that sometimes the most fun is in the journey. And let’s face it, where else can you take a scenic boat ride, a highway in the sky, or a gondola for free while on vacation?
In the comments:
Have you ever taken the Magic Kingdom Ferry or one of the resort boat launches? Did you find this article helpful? Do you still have questions about using any of these boat services?
MK closes at 6PM and the Electrical Water Pageant starts at 8:30. I would like to go to Fort Wilderness to watch the water pageant and eat at a quick service restaurant there. Can I catch a boat there and one back to the parking lot at MK after the water pageant?
My best guess would be probably not. BUT your best bet would be to ask the cast member at the boat service before heading over that way. From my experiences, Disney’s transportation times have been drastically reduced given shorter theme park operating hours. You might have to take a taxi or car service to get back to your car. Good luck, I’ve never watched the pageant from Fort Wilderness. I’ll have to check that out sometime!