While taking the Disney Transport buses is the most common way to get around Walt Disney World, you actually have many other options in most cases: monorail, walking, boats, driving, cab, and Uber/Lyft are all often options. While many people are amazed by the Disney bus system, I'd be shocked if anyone from a large city with an even semi-functioning bus system felt the same way. Disney buses still lack basic regularity, and wait times are for some reason only posted at resort stations. Rather than improving its existing transport, Disney is focusing resources on introducing two new forms of transport.
Transportation, Transportation, Transportation
Among the first questions Walt Disney World first-timers have to decide is what resort to stay at. Typically, they make a relatively simple price/quality analysis. Unlike picking a hotel in a big city, Walt Disney World is well-connected, so visitors discount the traditional mantra of "location, location, location." This is a mistake.
The truth is that while "location" might not be so important, there is a huge transportation gap between the Deluxe resorts and the moderate/value resorts. Every Deluxe resort besides Animal Kingdom Lodge has a means of transit to a park other than bus (AKL makes up for this with the best quality/price ratio of the Deluxe resorts). Narrowing this gap with new options could mean big changes when it comes to picking a resort. Now, onto the rumors...
Expected 2019 - The Gondola
I assumed the gondola plan was a bad joke, or at least that its advancement into the public eye was the result of an overzealous middle manager. Alas, it seems more and more like Disney really will be building a gondola system to connect Hollywood Studios and Epcot to Pop Century, Art of Animation, and Caribbean Beach.
It's nice to see Disney giving these resorts improved transportation options, but my biggest worry is that the whole thing will be an eyesore. Hopefully I'm wrong, and I'm sure Disney will take steps to avoid it being too obnoxious, but it's also something you can't quite picture until it's done.
Expected soon - Disney Ridesharing
Less innovative and more horizontal integration, Disney is apparently looking to create its own, internal Uber-like service. Unlike the gondola, this service will presumably be available to guests of all resorts, though for a fee. With Uber and cabs already an option (and insofar as it isn't it's because Disney isn't interested in integrating them), it's unclear whether this actually improves options. But, like all things Disney, we can be sure people who would never consider using Uber will use this service simply because it is Disney. The worst case scenario here is that Disney's service winds up being more expensive than Uber and Uber gets boxed out of competing (for example by Disney denying them access to park properties).
A Quick Take
For me, it's hard to see these options significantly changing my decision tree for picking a resort. Having access to a monorail or the ability to walk to a park is always going to be more convenient than other options. Pop Century, Art of Animation, and Caribbean Beach will presumably be better for having gondola access, but they won't compare to the walking access that the Boardwalk resorts have. However, if the gondola can compete with the boats are far as speed and efficiency, people who don't walk might rethink paying for the location premium at the Boardwalk resorts.
Either way, I can't wait to try these. Part of the (somewhat disturbing) appeal of Walt Disney World is that Disney really wants to have you in the parks, spending money. Every second you're on a bus, Disney is losing money. Hopefully these options get us in the parks faster without ruining the view or limiting consumer choice.