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Last summer, Disney World introduced the Minnie Van, one the theme park’s cutest — and handiest — services. This summer, the wildly successful fleet of polka-dotted vans was nearly doubled, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The Disney Minnie Vans, driven by a Disney Cast Member (employee) will transport you to and from almost anywhere on Disney property. The service is available daily, typically from 6:30am to 12:30am. The fee to use a Minnie Van is now based on the distance traveled, but often totals more than the $25 flat fee that was previously in effect.
Because Disney World has a free transportation network of buses, boats and the monorail, you rarely need to use a Minnie Van to get around. But sometimes, you want a direct, private ride. And for parents with little ones, the Minnie Van’s car seats are a huge plus. Want to catch a ride with a Minnie Van during your next Disney vacation? Here are six things to know before you go.
1. You can request a Minnie Van in an app
Rather than ask your resort’s concierge to call a Minnie Van for you, download the Lyft app on your phone before your trip to Disney World, if you don’t have it already.
In the Lyft app, you can track the progress of your Minnie Van, tip your driver and connect a credit card to your account that offers 3 points per dollar on travel Chase Sapphire Reserve or Citi Premier Card.
You can also communicate with your Minnie Van driver via the app if you’re unsure of where to meet him or her, as the pick-up spots aren’t always obvious.
2. Minnie Vans have complimentary car seats
The Minnie Vans can accommodate six people, with two forward-facing or rear-facing Graco 4Ever car seats available at no extra charge. This is a big deal, as Lyft and Uber typically charge extra for car seats, and many ride-sharing vehicles aren’t equipped with them at all.
The cast members driving the Minnie Vans seem to actually know how to safely install the Graco 4Ever car seats — a huge help for unfamiliar parents.
If your family needs to request a Minnie Van that can accommodate a wheelchair or ECV, the maximum capacity for those Minnie Vans is reportedly just four passengers. (There are rumors that larger Minnie Vans for travelers with wheelchairs and similar assistive devices are in the works. The process to request a Minnie Van that can accommodate ECVs and wheelchairs is a bit different, and can be completed by Cast Members over the phone.
3. Be strategic with your Minnie Van use
Minnie Vans are best used when they will save you a significant amount of time over Disney transportation, and when they can get you much closer to the entrance of your desired destination.
A perfect example of this is at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, where Minnie Vans drop you off right in front of the park — whereas an Uber, traditional Lyft or taxi would drop you off at the Transportation and Ticketing Center (TTC). From the TTC, you would typically still have to board the monorail to reach the Magic Kingdom.
Another great use of the Minnie Vans is when your family is heading to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue. Getting to this show at Fort Wilderness Resort is normally a major pain, as it requires you to take the Disney bus and transfer to an internal Fort Wilderness bus. I would 100% recommend a Minnie Van for your family if you are heading to that dinner show. Note that with the newer distance-based pricing, these longer rides may get pricey.
We’ve personally used the Minnie Vans to get from the Contemporary Resort to Animal Kingdom for rope-drop at the park’s opening. This allowed us to sleep in as long as possible before starting our day. (We later used the Minnie Van for the 20-minute ride back to the hotel that afternoon when we were beyond exhausted from our park day.)
4. You can take a Minnie Van straight to the airport (but you probably shouldn’t)
Our final Minnie Van ride of the trip was from the Contemporary Resort to Orlando International Airport (MCO). Could there be a better way to stretch the Disney magic as far as possible than to take a Minnie Van to the terminal? Well, that all comes down to price.
A Minnie Van to and from MCO can cost a staggering $150 each way. But the ride to the airport in a Minnie Van displayed as just $24 in my Lyft app on our trip. Because it’s not a ride within Disney property, however, travelers shouldn’t bet on a price that low. When our driver arrived, he told us the fare was in fact an error and should be $150. But rather than honor the mistake, our driver actually gave us the ride to the airport for free.
If you see a similarly low fare for the ride to the airport in a Minnie Van, definitely take it. Otherwise, I would not be chomping at the bit to pay $150 to get to or from the airport.
5. Expect a bit of a wait
We personally never waited longer than 10 to 12 minutes for a Minnie Van, but I have heard of longer waits — especially if you need a wheelchair-accessible van. And you shouldn’t expect a Minnie Van to appear instantaneously.
With the expansion of the Minnie Van convoy, however, the vehicles seem to be swarming Disney grounds like ladybugs in autumn.
6. You’re paying for a luxury item
Generally speaking, Minnie Vans are a Disney World luxury, just like staying at a deluxe resort or splurging on a VIP experience. They add a bit of extra ‘magic’ — at an extra cost, of course. The drivers are real Disney cast members that are knowledgable, professional and sometimes have their own magic available to make your day extra special.
For example, my eldest daughter told our Minnie Van driver about how storms in the area shut down the Everest ride at Animal Kingdom before we could use our FastPasses. Our Minnie Van driver then treated us to extra FastPasses to use on a different ride the next day. That special touch would not have happened on a Disney bus.
There are also phone chargers in the Minnie Vans and air conditioning, though there’s no doubt that being picked up and dropped off is itself a treat. I’ve even heard of Minnie Vans allowing a quick, complimentary stop at the on-property McDonald’s.
Minnie Vans certainly can be worth the price in certain situations — just use them selectively so you don’t blow too much of your Disney budget getting around the property.
Know before you go.
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