Yes, You Can (and should) do Disney Without a Car Seat
If you’re headed to Disney World with little kids in tow, you’re not alone. On our last trip, I saw more kids in strollers than I could begin to count. And meltdowns? There were plenty, mine included. Our first year at Disney, we decided to rent a car. We didn’t know the lay of the land or have a solid understanding of how Disney’s public transit works. After spending this year relying solely on Disney’s public transit system, I can say, without hesitation, that going to Disney sans car seat is not only doable, it’s the only way to do a Disney vacation.
Before we get started, I’d like to disclose that we did use a car seat on the plane. Between safety concerns and my own toddler’s personality, I opted to strap her in for the plane ride. If you’re teetering on the edge, I highly recommend getting the extra seat. Besides the safety benefit, I find it much more pleasant for all involved if baby/toddler has their own car seat. They’re more likely to sleep and you won’t have to juggle a wiggly little human for the duration of the flight. I’ve done it both ways, and that’s my two cents. You do you.
Airport Transportation at Disney World
Arguably, the most difficult aspect of visiting Disney World without a car seat is the airport transportation. While it may be the most difficult, it still isn’t challenging by any stretch of the imagination. For our 2023 trip, my husband booked airport transportation with The Sunshine Flyer. Each direction we waited maybe 5-10 minutes before our bus arrived. I imagine this might be longer during higher-volume times – one of the many perks of homeschooling. Sunshine Flyer stows car seats, strollers, and luggage beneath the bus and unloads them at the destination. The buses are very clean and there is a bathroom in the back. They show old cartoons throughout the drive. My kids found them hysterical even if it made me a bit nervous (those things seem to bring up all sorts of conversations I’m not trying to have yet).
Due to the size of the vehicle, kids can sit on laps or independently. Did this make me 100% comfortable? I’d be lying if I said yes. I sat with my toddler on my lap, with seatbelt on. Each of my other kids (3.5, 6) used seatbelts solo.
Cost was pretty reasonable at approximately $13/person each way, and we lucked out and hit a special that allowed the kids to ride free. Forgot which e-mail you sent your ticket to? We did, too. Sunshine Flyer was more than okay about it – they keep all your information on an old-school roster, so there’s no stress about scanning QRTY codes and flipping through apps.
Getting Around INSIDE The World
The most famous Disney Transportation is the monorail, yet it connects the least number of destinations. The monorail connects Magic Kingdom and Epcot and has stops at the Polynesian, Contemporary and Grand Floridian. If you’re staying at any of the resorts near Magic Kingdom, this is the fastest option to get to Epcot. A cast member informed us it is only an 8 minute ride. Unfortunately, the monorail stops at Epcot’s main entrance, so unless you have a park hopper, you won’t be able to get to the International Gateway (and associated transit) from this point. I wanted to give the Monorail a spin just for funsies this last trip, but time didn’t allow for it. I cannot speak to it’s cleanliness.
The Disney Skyliner connects the International Gateway at Epcot to Hollywood Studios. It also has stops at Caribbean Beach Resort, Pop Century Resort, Riviera Resort and Art of Animation Resort. It’s a fun little ride, except when it unexpectedly gets stuck midflight. This has happened multiple times to us, but it still hasn’t deterred us from riding it. The cabins comfortably fit four adults, three small children, and a BOB single stroller or folded double. For anyone with mobility issues, they have stationary cabins for onloading/offloading. The Skyliner has bench style seating, with toddlers being able to sit independently without issue.
Disney Boats Water Transportation
If the Skyliner makes you nervous, you’re probably in good company. Being suspended over traffic or gator-infested waters when it mysteriously stops is not everyone’s idea of “a good-time-was-had-by-all.” Luckily, there is water transportation available at each of the major hubs. Disney boats have bench-style seating, and kiddoes can sit on laps or on their own.
If you luck out, you may even be on a boat during fireworks.
There are water transportation options that basically connect everything. Be forewarned: they are L-O-U-D and sensory-sensitive kids may need a set of ear muffins.
Magic Kingdom has it’s own water transportation system that connects Fort Wilderness, Grand Floridian, Polynesian and the Wilderness Lodge. Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios share a boat, connecting those parks to Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Dolphin & Swan. Lastly, Disney Springs has yet another boat that connects Disney Springs to Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Port Orleans Riverside & French Quarter.
Disney Bus Transportation
The Disney Bus system is a rather impressive, well-oiled machine. The buses are similar to city buses, except cleaner and more organized. Disney buses connect everything the Skyliner, Boats and Monorail do not. You can go anywhere you want to go on the Disney Bus system. You may have to make a couple of connections, but you will get there eventually. Like everything, there are shortcuts, and cast members are happy to help. For example, one night we needed to get from Beach Club to the Polynesian. To do this, a cast member instructed us to hop on the Skyliner, take it to Hollywood Studios, and board a bus to the Polynesian. It took us about 30 minutes total and I didn’t have to strap my kids into a hot car (seat) and navigate Orlando via GPS. It was a much more relaxing experience to board an air conditioned bus and have someone else do the driving. Like any of the other transportation options, kiddos can sit on your lap, or on their own.
Beach Club Transportation Specifics
I have spent the last two (plus) years getting to know the ins and outs of Beach Club. I love it’s location and the entire vibe. The pool is a huge benefit even if I find the sand situation a bit… strange. One of my favorite things about Beach Club is the ability to W-A-L-K to Epcot. The only other resort that connects to a a park via footpath is Grand Floridian & Magic Kingdom.
If you’re staying at Beach Club, here’s everything you need to know to get where you want to go:
|Magic Kingdom Hotels (for dinners, etc.)||Skyliner to HS then Bus|