The monorail system at Disney World opened with the original complex on October 1, 1971. It is one of the best, and most fun, ways to get around the Walt Disney World Resort area. In fact, it’s my favorite mode of transportation at WDW. I use the monorail for many reasons: it’s a fantastic way to see the WDW property; it’s a relaxing and enjoyable way to really feel like you are at Disney; it’s a fun way to get from Point A to Point B; and it is, understandably, the only transportation to facilitate some extra fun activities I will be discussing later.
Once you become familiar with how to use the monorail transportation system, you will get quite comfortable using it. Soon, you’ll be taking full advantage of this fun way to travel. Here is an overview of the routes and schedules.
There are three monorail routes: Express (outer loop), Resort (inner loop), and Epcot. The Express and Resort monorails run on a dual-beam with the following routes and schedules.
- Route: This monorail connects the Magic Kingdom with the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). The route travels on the outer loop in a counter-clockwise fashion.
- Schedule: Service begins 30 minutes prior to Magic Kingdom park opening and ends 1 hour after park closing.
- Route: This route travels on the inner loop in a clockwise pattern making stops in this order: Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Transportation and Ticket Center, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
- Schedule: Service begins at 7:00 a.m. and continues until 2 hours after the Magic Kingdom and Epcot (whichever is latest) closes. During MK Extra Magic Hours, as well as special events, this monorail runs until the Magic Kingdom is emptied of all guests.
The Epcot monorail is run on a single-beam with the following schedule:
- Route: This route provides service between the Transportation and Ticket Center and Epcot. Service on this route runs clockwise on the loop.
- Schedule: Service begins at 8:00 a.m. and continues until 1 ½ hours after either Epcot or the Magic Kingdom (whichever is latest) closes. During Epcot Extra Magic Hours, as well as special events, this monorail runs until Epcot is emptied of all guests.
During peak times, the monorail can get quite crowded so, just as on the Disney Bus Transportation System, you may need to stand. There are hand rails above each side by the doors and poles in the center of each monorail car to hold onto in that event. All monorails are also wheelchair-accessible.If you have any questions, any monorail cast member will be happy to help you.
The monorails will get you around, but they can also help you to discover some extra fun that can only be found on the monorail route. Two of my favorite activities are resort hopping and the Monorail Mania Meal.
Resort Hopping, especially during the holidays, is such a fun thing to do. Disney goes all out all the time, but during the holidays they really do it right. Each detail is top-notch and in a class of its own. There are some not-to-be-missed sights all throughout Walt Disney World resorts: the Christmas tree at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, the Gingerbread House at the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the Gingerbread Christmas tree at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Chocolate Carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, the Christmas tree at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Gingerbread House at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. These are just a few of the numerous decorations to be seen throughout all the Disney resorts, and the first 3 can all be found by monorail resort hopping.
Monorail Mania Meal
One of my family’s favorite activities is something we began doing when my kids became teenagers, our “Monorail Mania Meal.” Being from an Italian family, most of our best visiting has often ensued in the kitchen around a meal, so I guess it is no stretch of the imagination that I began this tradition in the same way.
When I developed our Monorail Mania Meal, I decided to start with drinks at the Grand Floridian then monorail over to the Polynesian Resort for dinner and then to the Contemporary Resort for dessert. We liked it just that way the first time, so we continued it that way for future trips. We do this during the evening and into late night, but a family with young children could easily do it at any time of the day. This is also a great rainy day activity. Here’s how we do it.
We take the Disney transportation from whichever park we are enjoying to the Grand Floridian. If you are coming from the Magic Kingdom or Epcot, you may take the monorail. If you are coming from Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom park, a bus will get you there. Once at the GF, we head to the Beach Pool Bar. After ordering our drinks, we head over to the lounge chairs on the beach, veg out and enjoy the view. We talk about what has been best about the trip so far and what we are most looking forward to during the rest of the trip. When our drinks are gone, we head back to the monorail to go to the Polynesian Resort. You can also walk along the beach to the Polynesian. We like riding the monorail because it has to travel all the way around to get back to the Poly so we enjoy the ride and the view.
Once we arrive at the Polynesian, we proceed to Captain Cook’s. We usually order a combination of Caesar Salads, pizzas and burgers. We get our food and drinks and then head outside to sit at a table overlooking the lagoon and pool area. If you can’t tell yet, we love being outside and since we visit in the Fall it is usually comfortable outside. We enjoy our dinner and then take a stroll around the grounds, as they are so beautiful, before heading back to the monorail station on our way to the Contemporary Resort.
Once we arrive at the Contemporary Resort, we usually have about 45 minutes to spare before the Electrical Water Pageant (EWP) begins. We head to the Contempo Café and order our choice of dessert, and there are many choices whether you are a chocoholic like me or not; then we grab a coffee, milk, juice, etc. and either eat there before the EWP begins or head on out to the marina to enjoy our dessert outdoors and await the pageantry.
The EWP doesn’t usually begin at the Contemporary until around 10:10 pm so this has been a great thing to do with older kids, especially on nights that the parks don’t have extra magic hours. If you have young children and prefer trying this idea earlier in the day, you might do this for lunchtime in the early afternoon and then go back to Magic Kingdom for the 3:00 parade.There are so many fun activities you can tailor around your family; this is just one idea.
We utilize quick-service locations because it saves both time and money, but it could easily be done around a table-service reservation as well. There are even numerous versions of what we call our Monorail Mania Meal.
Now, adult guests have morphed this into something called a Monorail Crawl. They hop on and drink around the monorail. You can certainly tailor it to fit your needs. Practically any idea can be personalized for your family – it just takes a little planning. Have fun with it!
I hope you enjoyed your ride around the monorail today. You certainly know a lot more about it now than you did yesterday. Congratulations! Have a magical day!
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