Just a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in a room filled with 7000 Disney fans and media during D23Expo when gasps were heard and jaws were dropped. The big Disney Parks and Resorts announcements were monumental!
From both Star Wars and Marvel themed hotels to the first Mickey Mouse themed attraction at any Disney park, every announcement (and there were many – read here) was exciting. One favorite Disney rumor I’d been hearing for weeks was confirmed – Disney’s Minnie Van Service!
Yes, Disney was announcing a new Minnie Van service available to certain guests at Walt Disney World.
It just so happened that I was taking a red-eye flight from Anaheim to Orlando that very weekend. From one Disney coast to another. It also just so happened that I would be staying on Disney property, at a specific Disney resort where this service would be available.
This is our Minnie Van experience…
It was a practice week for the Minnie Van service. What that meant was that you couldn’t exactly “order” a car to meet you, but if you so happened to be at the right place at the right time, you might just be rewarded with a free ride.
Lucky for us, we were at the right place (Disney’s Yacht Club), were resort guests (they verified at front desk), and were in need of a ride immediately to another Disney resort (we were resort-hopping to another favorite of ours, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort!)
One perk about staying at Walt Disney World is their first class transportation (another big announcement you might have missed, the future Disney Skyliner Transportation System, connecting some resorts and parks). From Disney’s Magical Express (free ride from the airport for Disney resort guests) to the fun of the Monorail and buses shuttling guests to and from parks, resorts and Disney Springs, it’s top notch.
Why a Minnie Van Service?
Though Disney Transportation was incredible, there were a few situations you might find yourself in, where it wasn’t much help…
- Those early morning character breakfast reservations before park opening (if you were at a Disney resort not nearby, sometimes bus service hadn’t begun).
- That early tour before park opening (for us, it was the VIP Ultimate Thrills Tour)
- Resort hopping (while Disney takes care of moving luggage for you, all complimentary of course, it’s not always easy for YOU to get from one resort to another quickly. I’ve been guilty of calling a taxi to save time, instead of using Disney transportation.
For example, that morning we were leaving Disney’s Yacht Club and going to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. How would I get there using Disney Transportation?
- Idea #1 – Wait on Disney bus to transport us to Disney’s Epcot or Hollywood Studios parks. From there catch a resort bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge.
- Idea #2 – Take boat outside Yacht club to Hollywood Studios park. From there catch resort bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge.
- Idea #3 – (Only if have park tickets for that day for Epcot) – Walk to side entrance of Epcot, cut through park to entrance. Either catch resort bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge OR take monorail to Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) and get resort bus from there.
As you can see, it’s not that easy. Plus, I realize that I’m a pro at getting around Disney Parks, having been many, many times, but to a first-timer, this could prove challenging. So taxicabs or another alternative were often used by guests.
With Disney’s Minnie Van service, those weaknesses in the Disney transportation system have been eliminated somewhat. For that, I am thankful!
Minnie Van Driven by Cast Members
We happened to walk outside in the hopes of spotting a Minnie Van at the entrance of Disney’s Yacht Club and to my surprise there was one right there.
We approached the Cast Member…yes, my driver was a Disney Cast Member. This will make all the difference in the world, having a Cast Member as a driver, one who knows and follows Disney’s exceptional customer service.
We discovered that we were the VERY FIRST resort guests to use this particular Minnie Van. Big smiles all around. The Cast Member was incredibly nice as we asked a gazillion questions and photographed the vehicle.
Minnie Van Capability
The Minnie Vans are Chevy Traverse vehicles and incredibly room-y inside, fitting up to six guests. Two car seats are inside every Minnie Van so there are no worries about child safety during transport. In addition, there are 2 wheelchair accessible vans for those who are wheelchair bound.
Minnie Van Availability
With the hopes that this service will expand to other resorts, currently it is only available to guests of Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.
While our Cast Member walked us inside to verify with the front desk that I was a resort guest, I imagine this might be handled differently now that the Disney has partnered with US’ fastest growing rideshare service, Lyft, for this service. I would love to see MagicBand use somehow in the future if this trial period proves successful.
Minnie Van Use and Cost
Using the Lyft app on their smartphone, guests can order up their private Disney transportation and be taken anywhere within the Walt Disney World resort.
This is a big plus, as guests know that taxis and rideshare services are not allowed to drop you off at the front of Magic Kingdom park (they drop off at the Transportation and Ticket Center and you would still be one monorail or boat ride away from the park). With the Minnie Van service, you will be dropped off at the front of the park.
UPDATE: I’ve now heard from friends firsthand that the cost is a $20 flat fee, one way, to any destination on Walt Disney World property. There are no time constraints or mileage limitations.
As I was told from our original Cast Member during our trip, they still cannot accept tips.
The cost for using the service hasn’t been released in any Disney notice I’ve seen. In speaking with the Cast Member, I was told my ride was FREE . When I tried to tip him, he politely said he could not accept. So the question remains, in using the Lyft app, will there be a charge? Are you allowed to tip? Since the users will ONLY be resort guests, will it remain free, or be available for a nominal fee? As soon as one of you experiences it firsthand, please comment and let us know. I’ve heard many rumors, but no one experienced it firsthand.
Minnie Van service will be available between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. (subject to change).
We loved our Minnie Van ride.
Everyone stared in awe as we pulled up to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Will we use this again? Definitely, and I hope it expands so more resort guests have the opportunity. Until then, book your next stay at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.
YOU WILL ALSO LOVE:
If you like this post, you’ll love these that I’ve picked out just for you!