My family and I will be traveling to Disney in March of 2013 over Spring Break (I know we are crazy!!) My sister's family (kids 5,6,and 8)will be visiting for the first time and my Mother will be traveling with us as well. I am concerned we will have to wait for several buses if our resort is not the first stop on the route to the parks. We are not renting a car because of the size of our group...
Travelling at spring break or with a large family can be challenges in and of themselves, so doing both is going to require some great planning on your end to ensure that everyone (both kids and adults) know what to expect. The most important thing on this vacation is to make sure that everyone packs their patience!
As far as transportation goes, visiting at a peak season like spring break isn’t that much different than any other time of year. Even in the off-season, guests sometimes have to wait for buses to and from the parks, particularly at park opening at closing. Most things as Walt Disney World require some sort of a wait – attractions, shows, restaurants, and even buses! It’s just a fact of life.
Disney does their best to ensure that guests are taken care of in a timely manner, and they carefully monitor lines at the resorts and parks so that buses can be dispatched and redirected as needed around the property. There are no set “routes” (one bus doesn’t go back and forth between the Pop Century and the Magic Kingdom all day long) and buses go where they are needed most, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.
I understand your concern about your resort not being the first stop on a particular route, but almost all of the resorts share buses (for instance, the Contemporary and the Polynesian Resorts share a bus) or have multiple stops within one resort (like the Caribbean Beach Resort which has many stops around it’s property). The only way to combat that is to stay at a resort that doesn’t share buses and only has one stop (such as the Pop Century or Art of Animation).
Disney fills up buses with seated and standing guests (there is room for about half and half), but guests with wheelchairs and ECVs get priority boarding and often several seats are taken up before the “standby” passenger line gets to board. When it’s your turn to board, if there is standing room only you can choose to wait for the next bus but there are no guarantees that there will be more room on the next one.
You can better your chances of getting a seat by being the early bird – leave your hotel room 30-60 minutes before the park opens to get in line for the bus. Most guests don’t arrive at the park until later in the morning so early in the day your wait should be less. This especially applies during Extra Magic Hours mornings!
Going to and from the parks mid-day shouldn’t result in too much waiting, but be prepared to wait at the end of the day to get back to your hotel. If you head our before the parade or fireworks let out you’ll have a better chance at a shorter wait, but the end of the day always feels like an especially long wait with tired kids in tow!
You can prepare some entertainment to keep the kids occupied while waiting for the bus (or a ride, or show, or lunch) – allowing them to bring a toy or video game in their backpack is a popular trick. You could also bring some Disney trivia cards, search for Hidden Mickeys or play a game like 20 questions with them to keep them focused on something other than the wait.
Dad's Bottom Line
Kara, don’t worry too much about the waits. Be prepared to entertain the little ones (it will help keep you entertained too!) and try to enter and leave the parks ahead of the crowds. You’ll be just fine – and remember, patience is a virtue.