We talk about Uber a crazy amount on this blog, but we’ve put off writing a full post about it. Now that we’ve been in Florida for a few months and are using Uber around Disney World every day, we thought it might be a good time to share what we’ve learned. Here’s your guide to Uber at Walt Disney World.
About This Guide
We’re going to do this guide backwards. We expect most people who come to this guide already know about Uber, so it starts with the specifics of Uber at Walt Disney World. If you don’t know about Uber, scroll down or click here to jump to our Introduction to Uber.
Uber At Walt Disney World — Basics
These are the basic things you need to know about using Uber at Walt Disney World.
Drivers — A Slightly Mixed Bag of Experience
You should know that some drivers are inexperienced with driving around Walt Disney World. Most of our drivers have had no problem getting us to our destination, but problems do arise.
You might think they just do this all day every day, but some drivers wind up on property simply because they made a pickup at the airport and dropped someone off nearby. Some are also just new. We’ve had drivers with over 8,000 trips and one with fewer than 20. To that end, consider all the information in this guide part of your toolkit for helping them make sure your ride goes smoothly.
Uber & Rideshare Pickup Points at Walt Disney World
Uber knows about Walt Disney World. When you use the service around property, the app will be aware and will keep you informed as to pickup and drop off points. Basically, you cannot order an Uber to pick you up in the middle of your hotel grounds or on Main Street U.S.A.
When you place a request for pickup, Uber will show you where the pickup point will be (usually the front of the hotel or park) and confirm you can get there in time for your ride.
At the hotels, this will usually be in front of the hotel where all other drop-off / taxi traffic goes. We discuss park pickups more below, but briefly—at Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom it will be just in front of the park. At Magic Kingdom, pickups and drop-offs are done at Transportation and Ticket Center (where the parking lot is; a monorail or ferryboat ride from the park itself).
Keep in mind, these can change at any time. You can confirm the pickup point in the app, but its also always possible Disney will reroute traffic before the app can be updated. We’ve never had this happened. If it did, you would need to call or message your driver (through the app) to sort it out.
Ubers around Walt Disney World typically cost $8 to $15. During regular surge pricing, these fares can double. Obviously during the biggest surges—like New Year’s—there’s no limit to how high these fares can get. We cover avoiding surges more below. And Uber from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World typically costs $30 to $40. We often use Uber as an alternative to Disney’s Magical Express airport shuttle service.
During the day, we usually wind up waiting 5 to 10 minutes for an Uber driver, regardless of where we are on Disney property. The longest we’ve waited was 25 minutes. That was at 1AM following Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. We went through multiple cancellations before a driver finally got us at Contemporary and told us of all sorts of construction obstacles.
Before you confirm a request, Uber gives your estimate wait and shows you a sampling of nearby driver locations.
For current travel times, we recommend the Uber app (which gives an estimated arrival time) and Google Maps. The longest drive around Walt Disney World is somewhere near Animal Kingdom Lodge to Port Orleans — Riverside, which takes 15 to 20 minutes. Most other drives are completed in under 15 minutes, though traffic at chokepoints will cause delays.
Uber Car Seats at Walt Disney World
The Uber car seat situation at Walt Disney World is simple for most riders. Within Walt Disney World and in much of the surrounding area, after you put your destination into the app, the car-type selection screen will include options for “UberX Car Seat” and “UberXL Car Seat” in addition to the normal choices. These come at a bit of a surcharge ($5 to $10), and you may have to wait a bit longer if there isn’t one nearby.
Unfortunately, there are some spots near Walt Disney World where Uber does not offer its carseat service. For instance, at my current Airbnb just three miles south of Animal Kingdom, the option is not offered. At the nearby Walmart (half a mile away) it is.
You can check whether the service is available from any spot by setting it as the pickup point (rather than your current location). If it is available, you’ll just swipe the car options to the right to see it. If it isn’t, you’ll only see Black or Uber Select in that spot.
Where Can Uber Go At Walt Disney World?
Uber drivers can go pretty much anywhere a regular car can go (except for parking lots reserved for people who are parking). Basically, this means they can drop you off and pick you up at any Disney hotel, Disney Springs, and the Disney parks (with one exception).
The One Place Uber Drivers Cannot Go
The only place Uber drivers can’t get you conveniently is Magic Kingdom. Pick ups and drop offs for Magic Kingdom are made at Transportation and Ticket Center. We’ll cover this in more detail below.
Why To Use Uber at Walt Disney World
There are a few reasons you might need to use Uber during your visit. First, your accommodations might not have sufficient transportation. If you’re at an Airbnb, you’re on your own for transportation. Some hotels have shuttles, but they’re paid per person. Other hotels have free shuttles, but they’re bad or don’t run often enough. Disney’s free transportation is a perk of staying at a Disney hotel, but it is far from perfect.
Second, you need to get between hotels. If you want to get from Wilderness Lodge to Polynesian Village Resort for breakfast, the front desk will tell you to budget around an hour for the boat ride to Magic Kingdom, connection to the monorail, and monorail ride to Polynesian. That’s nuts. The Uber ride is less than ten minutes and costs around $7.
Third, you’re in a rush. As you’ll see throughout this guide, Uber is not perfect. If you’re in a rush, Uber is no guarantee that you’ll get to your destination faster than a Disney bus route directly between your two points. But really, Disney transportation is only going to beat Uber if they pickup at the same time and something goes wrong on your Uber ride. Magic Kingdom, with its special drop-off location for Disney transport, is an exception to this rule.
About Lyft and Those Minnie Vans
This post is not about Minnie Vans. Minnie Vans are an Uber-like service operated by Disney in partnership with Uber’s largest competitor, Lyft. Much of this guide is applicable to Lyft, as well, but Minnie Vans are substantially different. We don’t cover Minnie Vans here because they cost much more than Uber, at $25 per trip.
Taking Uber to and From the Disney World Parks
Now we’ll talk specifically about the parks.
Uber to Magic Kingdom
Taking an Uber to Magic Kingdom is the most complicated, as only Disney transport is allowed to drop off directly at Magic Kingdom. Everyone else has to go through Transportation and Ticket Center (and from there take the monorail or ferryboat), and that’s where Uber drivers have to pick you up and drop you off. Uber knows this and will direct rides to “Magic Kingdom” to TTC:
If you have an inexperienced driver, you absolutely must make sure they follow the signs for drop-off (to the left as your approach the Magic Kingdom gate) and don’t head into the parking lot.
There is one decent alternative—you can use Contemporary as your Magic Kingdom drop off and pickup. Contemporary is a ten-minute walk from Magic Kingdom.
If you get dropped off at Contemporary (or any hotel), the guard at the front will ask “guest or dining?” I always go with “dining,” because I’m always planning to stop at the Contemporary’s lobby cafe, Contemporary Grounds before my walk.
It’s a bit awkward to walk right back past the guard station on my way out, but I’ve never had any problems. If you’ve had problems or ever honestly said “walking to Magic Kingdom!” let us know what happened.
One big reason to use Contemporary as your drop off is because of the traffic. During crowded times, the left turn from World Drive on to Seven Seas Drive (that takes you to TTC and Polynesian) gets to be a real drag. Going straight to Contemporary, though, is usually easy.
Uber to Animal Kingdom
The Animal Kingdom pickup and drop-off point is just in front of the park. There are no alternative pickup or drop-off points for this park. When you leave the park, you’ll head left, as the signage indicates.
There’s no landmark for the pickup except a few benches.
Uber to Epcot
The Epcot pickup and drop-off point is always just a short walk from the front of the park, though in the crowded front of Epcot it can be a bit tough to pin down. It’s at the southeast corner of the Journey parking lot, right by the electric charging stations.
The primary alternative to this pickup and drop-off point is going to be to use Beach Club or Yacht Club. You can walk between the World Showcase to Beach Club in under ten minutes.
Uber to Hollywood Studios
There is a lot of construction going on at Hollywood Studios, so this will likely change. Uber lists the current pickup as row 39 of the television lot. If you head out from the park, you’ll pretty much just be hugging the right, and you can follow the signs as well.
Here’s what the pickup spot looks like.
From Hollywood Studios, you can also walk to BoardWalk Inn, the Walt Disney World Swan, or Yacht & Beach Clubs for a pickup.
Tips and Tricks for Using Uber Around Walt Disney World
These are the best tips and tricks we have. Some of these are restating things we said above or will say below, but we know some people come straight to this section.
Use Contemporary as an Alternative to Transportation and Ticket Center
We covered this above, but we always get picked up from Contemporary when leaving Magic Kingdom. Besides being a convenient ten-minute walk from the park, Contemporary will also be less chaotic at park close. You’ll see legions of Uber riders waiting, sure, but it’s much less busy than TTC.
Getting dropped off you probably only save a bit of time using Contemporary, and don’t forget you’ll need to stop for coffee if you tell the gate agent you’re there for dining 😉.
Use Beach Club as an Alternative to Epcot
Like TTC at close, the front of Epcot turns into a bit of a madhouse when the park closes. You’ll probably be better off walking over to Beach Club for a pickup. Our preference is usually to head one more resort down to Yacht Club’s Ale & Compass Lounge for a nightcap before grabbing an Uber.
Help Your Driver Out
Look, you probably don’t know your way around Walt Disney World any better than a driver does, but you really might have a better sense of the details than your driver does, especially if you’re reading this guide.
For example, one time we took a ride from All-Star Music to Polynesian. It should have been about a ten minute ride, and it wound up taking 45 minutes. Our driver repeatedly got lost, and I was way too grumpy to help. Now, I always help.
That driver saw the location and thought we were going to Magic Kingdom (nope). Then she didn’t believe the Uber app’s directions, and instead of following the directions for drop-off, went toward the main gate (wrong again).
Drivers definitely struggle with the Magic Kingdom drop-off. In all cases, if you miss a turn in Florida, you might be in for a long re-route. Just remember that inexperienced drivers will be seeing lots of signage with names that mean nothing to them.
Hotel Pickups and Drop-offs are at the Front of the Hotel
While I’m curious as to whether a driver could pick you up anywhere at Caribbean Beach Resort, I won’t test that hypothesis. Disney obviously intends—and Uber usually directs—drivers to pick you up in the front of the hotel where all other drop-offs are made.
Leaving my apartment near Walt Disney World, I usually leave 45 minutes before park opening in order to arrive 30 minutes before. I’ve never had any issues with traffic.
If you cut that window down to arriving 15 minutes before the park opens, you’ll start to run into traffic. Since we always advise arriving a minimum of 30 minutes early for rope drop regardless, this shouldn’t be an issue. But if you’re skipping rope drop, probably plan to arrive 30 minutes to an hour after the park opens if you want to avoid traffic.
Avoiding Surge Pricing
If you really want to avoid surge pricing, you have two choices—wait and/or move. Surge pricing typically happens right when a park closes. At Animal Kingdom, all you can do is wait. At the other three parks, you can wait and walk to a nearby hotel—Magic Kingdom to Contemporary or TTC to Polynesian, Epcot to Beach Club, Hollywood Studios to Walt Disney World Swan or BoardWalk Inn.
Introduction to Uber
Uber is usually called a “rideshare” service, which is sort of a misnomer (as you don’t actually have to share your ride). Really, Uber is a way of booking private drivers on short notice via an app on your phone.
Signing Up for Uber
To use Uber, you download the app and link it to a credit card. All payments for Uber will be done via credit card (or Paypal) through the app, so you don’t need to worry about bringing cash or making sure a taxi’s credit card machine is working. You’ll create a basic profile when you sign up, but it’s a simple process, now you’re ready to ride!
Getting An Uber
The home screen of Uber shows your location and the locations of nearby Uber drivers. This gives you a sense of whether you’ll be waiting a long time or not. In Walt Disney World, we usually wait between 5 and 10 minutes for a ride.
Type in your destination in the “Where to?” field. You can also change your pickup location if you’re going to be there shortly. For example, we will often change our pickup to the front of our gated neighborhood, since we walk over there for cars to pick us up.
Once you’ve typed in your destination, Uber pulls of a screen with a few bits of information:
First, it maps out your route. Second, it tells you about how long you’ll be waiting for pickup. Third, it gives you different car options—UberX seats four passengers; UberXL seats six; Uber Select is nicer vehicles (four passengers); Black is the highest level of luxury. We exclusively use UberX, and the rest of this guide is about UberX.
Fourth, underneath the car types, Uber gives estimated price and estimated time you’ll be dropped off. These estimated prices are accurate most of the time. Your ride usually only costs more if the driver has to reroute or the ride takes an abnormal amount of time. If the driver reroutes because of his mistake, you can request a refund from Uber and they’ll reprice the ride to your original quoted amount.
Fifth, underneath the car types is your payment method, the number of allowable passengers, the confirmation button, and the button to schedule a ride for a later time. If you don’t schedule for a later time, Uber will find you a nearby driver immediately.
When you click the “Request” button, you may have to confirm your pickup spot, particularly if (1) your GPS is not currently located right at a pickup spot or (2) you changed your pickup point manually.
Riding In Uber
Once you’re matched with a driver, you’ll be given a bunch of new information. You’ll see your driver’s name, picture, vehicle description, and license plate. You’ll also see where the driver is, the estimated arrival time, and the route Uber suggests the driver take to you.
You’ll also be able to see a profile of your driver, including accolades (“Great at Conversation”) or accomplishments (“2,000 Five-Star Rides”). You’ll see their total ride count. We draw an arbitrary line around 1,000. Below that, we’re very cautious about making sure they’re going the right way. Above that, we sort of just gauge how confident they seem along a route and help if needed.
Remember, the driver will go to the designated pickup spot if there is one, so that is where you’ll need to be. When the driver arrives, they’ll often confirm your name, and you should do the same.
Like taxi drivers, Uber drivers vary in personality, chattiness, and choice of music. Unlike taxi drivers, Uber drivers will rate you at the end of the ride. You’ll also have the chance to rate them.
Tipping With Uber
Once your ride is done, you’ll have the opportunity to rate your driver and tip in the app. 10% to 15% for average service, with a $2 minimum, is standard. Uber drivers do not see your tip amount until after they rate you, so they’re not supposed to consider it in rating you. That said, a generous cash tip is likely the easiest route to maintaining a high rating. I only rarely tip with cash, and I have a 4.92 rating.
Canceling Rides, Penalties, and Disputes
If you have to cancel a requested ride, you may be subject to a monetary penalty from Uber. This is to compensate the driver for the time they spent on your ride.
If the driver just wasn’t following the directions to you, you can usually request a refund of any penalty. Relatedly, if your driver takes a longer route than expected, Uber may charge you more than it originally quoted you. If this is your driver’s fault, you can request Uber adjust the amount to the quoted amount.
Uber’s strategy with these issues tends to be to give a little each time you ask. Getting a full refund for a ride, even a completely botched one, isn’t straightforward and will involve multiple requests.
Safety Concerns with Uber
We don’t have any safety concerns with Uber. We’ve used it in probably a dozen countries around the world, probably near 100 times with no issue. If you’re more interested in this issue, we suggest checking these Google results for “Uber safety.”