Narrow transportation

Using an ECV at Disney? Let’s rank the transport options available!

1. Ferry-boat – Lagoon of the Seven Seas

Seven Seas Lagoon Ferry

It was by far the easiest mode of transportation. The access ramp to the ferry is very wide. It’s not very steep. Once on the ferry, the main deck is easy to navigate. You can easily park towards the center of the boat or park on either side railing for a nice view of the lake. Unfortunately, unless you are traveling from Magic Kingdom to the Polynesian Resort, this is likely to be the least used mode of transportation for on-site guests, unless you have brought your own vehicle and elected to park at the Transportation and Ticket Center. It’s good to have options!

2. Monorail

We love a monorail!

The Disney Monorail comes second in ease of navigation. The main loading dock is easily accessible via an elevator at all three monorail stations (Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian) and the EPCOT monorail station, or via a ramp at the Transportation & Ticket Center and the Magic monorail station Kingdom. My only issue with the monorail was that the ramp to the monorail itself was a bit steep and in most cases you have to remove your ECV from the monorail. I almost felt like I was going to fall backwards when exiting the monorail. Driving forward would be so much easier, but unfortunately you don’t have that option. They also really disapprove of you trying to spin your ECV in the monorail. Yes, I tried. No, I failed.

The Magic Kingdom monorail circles the Seven Seas Lagoon, making stops at the stations mentioned above, Magic Kingdom and the Transportation & Ticket Center. To access the EPCOT Monorail, you will need to disembark the Magic Kingdom Monorail at the Transportation and Ticket Center and board the EPCOT Monorail. The EPCOT monorail only runs between the Transportation & Ticket Center and EPCOT.

3. Friendship Boats – Crescent Lake resorts/EPCOT/Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Crescent Lake Resort Friendship Boat

The Friendship boats were nearly on par with the monorail, but with one slightly heartbreaking exception. Don’t get me wrong, accessing the Friendship boat is very simple! Once on the boat, the area to park a wheelchair or VCE is generous to maneuver or turn around. Here are my two issues: First, the ramp from the dock to the boat is just wide enough for an ECV. There’s not much wiggle room if you’re not lined up properly. Second, in a few places when you leave the boat on the dock, once you get off the ramp it’s hard to turn left to stay on the dock or you risk plunging into the lake. It’s wise to lower the speed dial to turtle for this one.

These boats travel in a circle between EPCOT – International Gateway, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Swan and Dolphin Resorts, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. Or you can take the walking path from any of these stations to any of the theme parks mentioned above. Again, it’s good to have options!

4. Disney Skyliner

Disney Skyliner

The Disney Skyliner is almost a dream come true for people traveling in wheelchairs or CEVs. With the separate loading area, you don’t have to worry about taking too long and getting impatient looks from people who really want to go. Yes you can take all the time you need and once you are inside and located your gondola will be staged to join the main line. My only issue with the Skyliner is that the opening of the double doors is very narrow. There’s barely enough wiggle room to get your ECV out of the gondola, and yes, you have to back up. Entry into the gondola is simple: you drive straight, then a cast member will place wheel chocks against the rear tires. Backtracking can be a challenge. My strategy, and I’m lucky enough to be able to do this, was to put the ECV in manual mode, push it back towards the doors, and then pull it out from inside the car. Admittedly, I have also been shouted at several times for this method. Cast members can guide you out of the gondola if necessary.

Keep in mind that the Disney Skyliner has stations at EPCOT – International Gateway, Hollywood Studios, Riviera Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, and Art of Animation/Pop Century (they share one station). All these stations have a separate loading area for wheelchair/ECV passengers except Riviera.

5. Disney buses

The good old bus!

The Disney bus is the bread and butter of the transport network; one that goes virtually anywhere on the property. Do you need to go somewhere? There’s probably a bus going that way. As such the bus drivers have extensive experience with ECV and wheelchair passengers and are very helpful in assisting them. There are only two issues here with using the bus: parking and getting out. Getting on the bus is pretty easy, but you really have to step straight up the ramp. However, parallel parking in one of the two places is difficult. The second location, in my experience (the one in front of the doors) is the easier of the two. Let’s be honest, parallel parking in general is difficult and stressful. Having to do it on a bus is even more stressful. As if that weren’t enough, to get off the bus you have to walk out of the place and then reverse around a 90 degree turn to get to the bus exit ramp, and like the Friendship Boats, this ramp is barely wide enough. I almost fell several times because I wasn’t aligned properly. As drivers will also tell you, keep going straight off the ramp until all wheels are on the pavement before turning the ECV or you risk tipping over. It almost happened to me. Almost.

6. Disney Springs Water Taxi

Disney Springs Boat

Different from Friendship boats or Seven Seas Lagoon boats, these water taxis are like a large pontoon boat that travels to Disney Springs from resorts such as Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside. As they are smaller they are a bit more difficult to get on or off but once on the water taxi parking and maneuvering is quite easy. Due to the smaller waterways they sail on, you’re more prone to dealing with waves and boat swaying while trying to get in and out, but otherwise it wasn’t too terrible.

seven. Resort water taxi

Accessible boat (left). Boat not accessible (right).

I only encountered this mode personally during my stay at the Wilderness Lodge. At the time, water taxi transportation was the only mode available from Wilderness Lodge to Magic Kingdom. In addition, they had two types of water taxis going back and forth: ECV-accessible and non-accessible. If a water taxi arrives and it’s not the one accessible to the ECV, you had to move to the side and wait for the next water taxi. Not ideal if you are late or generally impatient. However, unlike the Friendship boats, these were the most difficult in an ECV. I thought I would come into a corner and drive straight to the cleared area and park. Rather the opposite. They had me drive on the water taxi, then navigate a narrow hallway around the front (where the captain is standing) to the opposite side and park there. It was extremely tight and I snagged on something twice. I’m lucky nothing broke. I absolutely hated it! Then, like the Friendship Boats, once I left the water taxi and got to the dock, I had to carefully turn right to avoid risking leaving the dock in the lake. Unlike the Friendship boats, however, there is no ramp to navigate. You literally step off the water taxi right onto the dock, so there will be times when the boat bounces with the waves. It didn’t seem very safe to me.

To my knowledge, ECV accessible water taxi transportation is also available from Fort Wilderness to Magic Kingdom. However, it is not available from Magic Kingdom to Contemporary, Polynesian or Greater Floridian stations (the monorail is however).