So, you’re going to Disney World and you’ve decided you don’t want to completely rely on the Disney World transportation system. Or, maybe you’re staying at an off-site hotel and need a way to get to and from the resort. Or, you’re just trying to figure out how to get from the Orlando International Airport to your Disney World hotel now that Disney’s Magical Express has been discontinued.
Well, unless you’re willing to pay the hefty price of renting a car and then paying to park at your hotel or at the parks, one of your best options might be a rideshare service like Uber. But, how exactly do you use Uber in Disney World? Where can Uber pick you up and drop you off in the parks? And, are there ways to really maximize how you use it? Rest assured — we’re breaking it all down and giving you some of our BEST tips for using Uber at Disney World!
What exactly is Uber?
If you’re not familiar with Uber, it is essentially a rideshare service that you can use on your phone to catch a ride from one place to the next. Think of it like a taxi service that you hail your ride and pay for through an app. There are others out there, like Lyft, but we’d argue that, in general, Uber is regarded as the most well-known and used option.
To use Uber, you’ll first need to download the Uber app onto your smartphone and set up an account (this will include your payment method). Then, when you’re ready to request a ride, you’ll enter your destination where indicated on the app, confirm your pickup location, and then Uber will search for available drivers in your area.
You will then be assigned a driver and, using the app, you can see in real-time how close that driver is to you. You’ll also be given your driver’s name, along with a vehicle description and license plate number so you can ensure you’re getting in the right car when they arrive.
You’ll wait for your rider at the designated pick-up location (which you select) and, when the driver arrives, confirm the vehicle information in the app (the car’s make, model, and license plate number) before getting in the car. Uber safety etiquette should be practiced here, even at Disney World — don’t tell the driver their name to confirm your ride is here. Always check the plate/make/model. You likely wouldn’t get in a total stranger’s car under normal circumstances, so make sure you know your ride is your ride before you hop in.
When you arrive at your destination, you’ll automatically have paid for your ride through the app and you’ll be prompted to rate your driver and have the option to leave a tip. Easy-peasy, right?
Another rideshare service is Lyft, which works in pretty much the same way as Uber. We’d recommend having both apps downloaded to your phone before you head to Disney World so you can compare ride costs (though often the prices are very similar) and see which service has a driver closest to you (to minimize your wait time). At their core, the two services are almost identical so sometimes it just comes down to personal preference on which you use, but they’re both great options.
So, what are our best tips for using these services in Disney World? Let’s dive right in!
Tip 1: Make Sure You’re In the Pick-Up Area Before You Book A Ride
Our top tip is to make sure that you’re ready to be picked up at the time you book your ride. The rideshare pick-up locations at the parks are typically located beyond the Disney bus stops, so you’ll have a little bit of a hike out of the park to get there. If you order up your ride before you even leave the park, it’s pretty likely that you’ll miss your pick-up window or you’ll need to do the Disney transportation shuffle (AKA that weird and embarrassing speed walk/run that we kick into when we see the Disney bus at our stop and don’t want to miss it) to catch it.
Where exactly are the rideshare pick-up and drop-off locations in each park, you ask?
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can catch Uber at the front of the park off to the right side of the parking lot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a rideshare pick-up spot in the last row of the bus station, EPCOT’s drop-off and pick-up location is right as you get into the parking lot on your left, and for Magic Kingdom, you’ll have to catch your ride near the bus terminal at the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Plus, at Disney Springs guests can take rideshare services at the Marketplace Bus Loop on the east side.
It likely won’t be immediately obvious to you where the rideshare pick-up location is as you exit the park, but be on the lookout for signage!
The hotels are a little bit different, as the Uber pick-up and drop-off locations are usually at the front entrance, but in some cases, you can select where to be dropped off. For example, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has two pick-up and drop-off points — one is at the front of the main lobby and the other is near the DVC area of the resort. And, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is similar, with rideshare locations are at both Jambo House and Kidani Lodge.
Keep in mind that Disney Parks and Disney hotels are pretty large, so being in the pick-up locations before you order up your Uber will ensure that you’re not stressing over missing your ride.
Using Uber to get to your character meal reservation? Check out Disney World Character Meals by Travel Time here!
Tip 2: Know That You Can’t Uber Directly To and From Magic Kingdom
You may have noticed that the Magic Kingdom pick-up and drop-off location isn’t actually at Magic Kingdom. Instead, you’ll find it at the Transportation and Ticket Center. So, this means that you’ll need to hop on the monorail or ferryboat to actually get into the park or back over to the rideshare location.
Not knowing this can add A LOT of hassle to your trip, because you’re going to need to budget in some extra time to get between the park and the Transportation and Ticket Center. For example, if you’re planning to use Uber to get to, say, a dining reservation, this can cause a BIG hiccup in your plans if you aren’t paying attention to the clock. So, go in ahead of time knowing that it’ll take you a little extra time and maybe opt for Disney Transportation to this park if you can.
Tip 3: Make Sure You Account For The Time You’ll Be Waiting For An Uber
If you need to be somewhere at a specific time (perhaps for rope drop or a dining reservation) be sure to leave plenty of time in your plans for waiting for an Uber. Although the current average wait time for an Uber is around 7-10 minutes, we have seen waits MUCH longer (even as long as 40 minutes) during the busier times of the year.
A general rule of thumb is to book your Uber at least an hour before you need to be somewhere. If you arrive early, that’s better than late, right?
Tip 4: Understand That Peak And Busy Hours Are Typically More Expensive
Unlike Disney transportation, getting around Disney World using Uber isn’t free. And, while you can find pretty low rates most of the time through the app, a ride will cost you more during peak and busier times (think right after fireworks or over the holidays). Ah, the joys of “surge pricing.”
So, how can you avoid wasting away your Disney budget on Uber? Well, the easiest way is to simply avoid traveling during the peak times of the day when that surge pricing is in place (such as before park opening or just after park close, for example). The window of time where the surge pricing is in place is often pretty short, so keep refreshing the app often to catch it when the prices go down.
Plus, another sneaky way to avoid surge pricing is to check both Uber AND Lyft and see who has the best prices. What might be a peak time for one service might not be for another!
Tip 5: Need To Get Somewhere Fast? Ditch Uber and Use Lyft Priority Mode
Here’s when having both the Uber and Lyft app downloaded on your phone can really come in handy! If you open up Uber to find that your ride won’t get to you fast enough, you can switch over to the Lyft app and select “Priority” mode. Now, this feature does cost a little more than your average ride, but the idea is that the extra cash motivates your driver to get to you even faster.
When you use priority mode, you’ll be given a specific timeframe upon which the driver will pick you up and, if they don’t make it to you by that time, the upcharge for priority will be removed from the total cost.
Tip 6: Plan Ahead and Schedule an Uber Ride
If your plans are set in stone, you can actually schedule an Uber ride ahead of time. You can schedule a ride up to 30 days in advance, and if you schedule at least an hour in advance, the price of your trip will be locked in. This can be especially convenient if you’re planning on using Uber to get from the airport to Disney World or if you know that you need to leave the park at a specific time to make a dining reservation.
Here’s how ride scheduling works through the Uber app (though it can also be done online):
- In the Uber app, tap on “Schedule” or the button that says “Now” next to the “Where to?” bar.
- Set your pick-up date, time, location, destination, and ride type — the app will give you a price estimate.
- Confirm all the details of your trip and tap “Schedule.”
Note that you can edit or cancel the scheduled ride at any time before your pick-up time.
Well, now you have all the tools that you need to navigate the world of Uber on your next Disney World trip! Of course, using Uber (or another rideshare service) can be a great way to get around, but it’s not the only way. We’ve been learning all the ins and outs to Disney transportation for a while now, so we’ve got even more tips that you can check out in our video below!
And, be sure to stay tuned to DFB for more of the latest Disney vacation tips, tricks, and updates!
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Have you used Uber or Lyft at Disney World? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments!