Before you stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the transportation items available. The resort offers boat service and bus transportation depending on where you’re going.
And you don’t want to end up lost in the Wilderness, well, Wilderness Lodge, during your vacation, do you? Walt Disney World is a massive place, and it’s easy to get lost if you don’t visit often enough to learn your way around.
So for this article, we’ll review the transportation options available at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Then, I’ll provide a few tips for getting to and from the parks and other popular destinations you might visit during your vacation.
You’re welcome to cozy up by the fireplace in the meantime and pretend you’re sitting in the resort’s magnificent lobby.
Transportation: Wilderness Lodge to Magic Kingdom
We’ll start by looking at how to travel from the Wilderness Lodge to the Most Magical Place on Earth, Disney’s Magic Kingdom. There are two options for getting to the park from the resort.
The first option is to take the resort’s boat service. To access the Wilderness’s Lodge boat launch, you’ll exit at the back of the resort.
There are several places to do this, depending on where you’re staying within the hotel. The path to the boat launch sits behind the resort’s feature pool area.
Signage indicates which direction you need to go. The walk is enjoyable.
You’ll cross over a raised wooden walkway that winds through the trees. Spanish moss hangs romantically from the branches.
When you get to the clearing, you’ll see the boat launch ahead of you.
There are two sides, one for each boat service. The left side travels to and from Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, as of early 2023, the right side remains closed.
Usually, the resort launch (blue flag) travels in a triangle from Wilderness Lodge to Disney’s Contemporary and Fort Wilderness. This service was convenient for traveling to dining reservations at the Fort or any of the monorail resorts.
Related: Monorail Resorts at Disney World
I’ll update you when this boat service returns. Fingers crossed, it won’t be long.
In the meantime, you can take the side with the red flag to Magic Kingdom. Boat service typically begins up to one hour before the park opens.
At this time, boats typically run an hour before early theme park benefits. Guests of the Wilderness Lodge are privy to that extra half hour in the parks every morning.
Additionally, since the Wilderness Lodge is a deluxe resort, guests can participate in extended hours on select nights. Those hours usually run up to two hours after the park closes.
Boat service runs up to an hour and a half after park closure. If you have a late dining reservation or end up in a long line before closing, don’t worry. Disney does an excellent job of ensuring their resort guests get back to the hotel.
As far as the boat service goes, the boats stop running during inclement weather. However, if it’s only raining, the boat service continues operation.
The boat ride from Disney’s Wilderness Lodge to Magic Kingdom takes approximately 11 minutes. On my last visit, I boarded a boat at Magic Kingdom at 3:50 p.m. and arrived at the Wilderness Lodge at 4:01 p.m.
My plans for this particular evening were to stay at Epcot until closing time. So I stopped at the Wilderness Lodge for a break and early dinner at Territory Lounge.
Related: Territory Lounge Review
My meal was delicious, except for the soup. But I really can’t complain.
Your other option for traveling back and forth to Magic Kingdom is to use Disney’s bus service. The bus stop is situated on the front right side of the resort.
There’s a walkway from the lobby directly to the bus stop. On your way out, you’ll pass by the Mercantile gift shop.
Often, the bus to and from Magic Kingdom is shared with Fort Wilderness. Therefore it could be fairly full upon arrival.
This usually happens during the slower times of the day when fewer guests are traveling to and from the parks.
In most instances, you’ll want to take a boat from the resort to Magic Kingdom. From my experience, the boat is always quicker and exceedingly more pleasant.
Bus Service at Wilderness Lodge
Regarding the other theme parks, you’ll have to take the resort’s bus service. Bus service begins one hour before the park opens.
That time includes an hour before the parks open each day for resort guests. For example, if Magic Kingdom opens at 9:00 a.m., resort guests can enter at 8:30 a.m. So the bus service should begin at 7:30 a.m.
Buses from Disney’s Wilderness Lodge travel to the following locations:
- Magic Kingdom
- Hollywood Studios
- Animal Kingdom
- Disney Springs
- Fort Wilderness
At this time, you must take a transfer bus to Disney Springs and then reboard another bus to cross the street to Typhoon Lagoon. The trip is more of a hassle on the way back than on the way there.
That’s because you must locate the bus stop for your resort on the way back. Then you’ll get grouped in with guests who have been shopping and dining at Disney Springs.
When Blizzard Beach reopens, you’ll take a bus to Animal Kingdom and then transfer from the park to Blizzard Beach.
As we discussed earlier, bus service to Magic Kingdom is often shared with Fort Wilderness. Additionally, you can take a separate bus to Fort Wilderness from the Wilderness Lodge.
In the past, guests could take the walking path to Fort Wilderness. But unfortunately, it closed a few years ago, and no one seems to know whether or not Disney will reopen it.
While bus service is often shared with Fort Wilderness, you’ll also want to know that sometimes it’s shared with Disney’s Contemporary.
For instance, I boarded a bus for Epcot from the Wilderness Lodge on this visit. Unfortunately, the bus was packed upon arrival, but we managed to squeeze inside.
Then we headed straight to the Contemporary. The bus was packed because it was returning from Epcot with guests of the Wilderness Lodge and the Contemporary.
It took approximately eight minutes to travel from the Wilderness Lodge to the Contemporary, where a decent crowd was waiting. At the Contemporary, I’d had enough of the overcrowded bus and decided to take my chances with the monorail.
(It wasn’t like I was in a hurry or anything. And if this happens to you and you are in a hurry, you should probably stay on the bus.)
Usually, guests of the Contemporary have to take the monorail to Epcot. However, the monorail experienced some downtime this day. Therefore the buses were running between Epcot and the Contemporary.
So when traveling to and from the Wilderness Lodge and Epcot, you probably won’t stop at Disney’s Contemporary. That is unless you encounter bad weather or the monorail is down.
However, when traveling to and from the Wilderness Lodge to Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom, it is common to share a bus service with the Contemporary Resort.
Sharing bus service with the Contemporary isn’t usually a big deal because you’ll get dropped off first on the way back. However, on the way to the theme park, you will have an extra stop to make, which can be annoying.
If you are visiting during a high crowd time, you probably won’t have to deal with sharing a bus service with another resort. But don’t be fooled. You’ll have to wait in plenty of other lines in the parks.
These things have a way of balancing out. And I felt like bus sharing between these resorts is common enough that it’s worth a mention.
Here’s the thing. If you waited 15 minutes for a bus to Animal Kingdom, it might feel like you waited forever. But once the bus arrives and you board, you’ll look down at your phone to check the time and think, okay, that wasn’t terrible. We’re on our way now.
But then, eight minutes later, you’re pulling up at the Contemporary, and you’ve gone somewhere completely different. You’re stressed, excited, and maybe nervous about everything working out.
If you knew in advance that the bus might make an extra stop, it probably wouldn’t be a big deal. You’ll think, okay, I knew this was a possibility.
But if you didn’t know and you already feel like it’s taken way too long, this extra stop will leave you frustrated. You might even question whether or not you’re on the right bus.
I know because we had to learn our way around when my son was younger. And the difference between “being in the know” and “not being in the know” can sometimes make or break your vacation.
The last thing you want is for your day to get off to a rough start due to transportation woes.
Wilderness Lodge to Other Popular Destinations
Lastly, I always like to include a few other destinations you might visit during your vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort. For instance, Disney’s Boardwalk has several excellent dining options and offers a place to enjoy an evening away from the busyness of the parks.
To get to Disney’s Boardwalk, you have several options. Here are my favorites:
- Take a bus from Wilderness Lodge to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Exit at Hollywood Studios and then walk or boat to the Boardwalk.
Related: Disney’s Friendship Boat Service
- Take the resort boat to Magic Kingdom from the Wilderness Lodge and board a bus to Boardwalk Inn. This way does require walking through security at Magic Kingdom. However, you don’t have to walk through the ticket turnstiles.
You can return in the same manner as you traveled. However, if it’s later and Hollywood Studios has already closed, you’ll want to take a bus from the Boardwalk to Magic Kingdom. From there, you can boat back to the Wilderness Lodge.
If you want to travel to the monorail resorts like the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, or Contemporary, you can take a boat to Magic Kingdom. Once you arrive at Magic Kingdom, you can walk, boat, or monorail to Grand Floridian or the Polynesian.
Additionally, you can walk or take the monorail to get from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary.
Related: Disney World Monorail Guide
*Remember, if the resort boat launch has returned during your stay, you can take a boat to Fort Wilderness or the Contemporary. And from the Contemporary, you can take the monorail to the Polynesian or Grand Floridian.
You’ll likely enjoy the journey as much as the destination when the weather is pleasant.
I hope you found this article helpful in planning a stay at the Wilderness Lodge. You are in for a real treat! The resort is stunning, and the boat service to Magic Kingdom is one of the most pleasant ways to travel around Disney World.
For more details, all of our articles for the resort are listed in our guide below:
Additionally, you might enjoy these individual articles:
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Review
- Copper Creek Villas Review
- Restaurants at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Geyser Point Bar and Grill Review
Preview all our hotel transportation articles in our guide or the full list of transportation options at Walt Disney World.
In the comments:
Do you feel confident about tackling the transportation options at the Wilderness Lodge? Is there anything this article didn’t answer for you?