Disney World can be a fabulous place for a family vacation but transportation can strain your patience and budget. Almost a year ago, Disney World announced a new service that would augment existing transportation options in the parks. Dubbed Minnie Vans, Disney planned to roll out their own car service. Not as expensive as a private transport, but not as cheap as the buses or Uber X/Lyft, the service would cater to families. It launched to rave reviews. Painted in Minnie colors and equipped with car seats, the limited release quickly expanded and increased in price.
Still, the popularity of the service doesn’t seem to be waning. Some of that could be due to the fact that Disney World started charging for parking at their resorts. Parking fees combined with a free ride on Magical Express from the airport to Disney World likely mean fewer people getting a rental car for their Disney trip. Buses can take quite a while to get between certain parks, which is where Minnie Vans fit in.
The only way to order up a Minnie Van is through the Lyft app. When you open the app on Disney World property, you’ll probably see something like this:
The first time I opened the Lyft app I didn’t see a time beside the Minnie Van choice. Turns out that there were briefly no vehicles available. A few minutes later I was able to order a Minnie Van. The app updated me on what to expect:
I mistakenly tagged our location as the Dolphin instead of the Swan. I texted the driver who correctly adjusted and picked us up at the Swan shortly thereafter.
The Minnie Van was spotless. Our driver, Scott (more on him in a bit) hopped out to open the doors. I checked the back for car seats and there were two impeccably clean ones sitting in the back.
Minnie Vans are predominantly Chevrolet Traverse SUVs with a decent 3rd row. That meant our family of 4 easily fit.
On our short ride to the Polynesian Village Resort we chatted with Scott, our driver. He offered to answer any questions we had about the service. Turns out Scott was a trainer with Disney for quite a few years. He relished the opportunity to get back out in the field and get some customer contact. Scott told us that when the service first launched an employee (or Cast Member, as Disney calls them) needed at least 3 years of experience before they could drive a Minnie Van. Disney wanted only very knowledgable and experienced Cast Members driving guests around.
Scott told us about the accessible vans for folks in wheelchairs or motorized scooters. Minnie Vans are offered for folks dealing with those disabilities, with all the same safety measures as they find on the buses. He also interspersed humor along the way. For example, he asked the kids to pull up on the yellow tag to make sure their seat belt was fastened before we got started (the same line they ask on rides like Soarin’ to make sure you’re buckled).
Between Scott and Frank (the driver who took us back to the Swan later in the day) we learned the location of some Hidden Mickeys and more about Minnie Van technology (Disney has a proprietary phone drivers use) . We learned about some of the safety rules (drivers aren’t allowed to take phone calls while driving) and heard a few Disney-themed jokes along the way.
Scott even offered to snap a few pictures for us when we got to Polynesian, and jumped into a picture when the kids asked to.
The Final Two Pennies
At $25 per ride, Minnie Vans aren’t for every budget. But, for larger groups, it’s a decent value that can be a big time-saver. The drivers are fantastic. Scott was an absolute joy to talk to and was very patient as I paced around the Minnie Van snapping pictures.
While your budget might not include exclusive use of Minnie Vans on a week-long stay, I can think of a couple of sweet spots where you can save a bunch of time without spending a ton of money. For example, switching buses coming from Animal Kingdom Lodge to one of the water parks. And, certainly leaving the parks late at night when the bus lines are long.
We couldn’t have been happier with our Minnie Van experience. The kids viewed it as a treat. We’ll be occasional users of Minnie Vans if the price stays where it is.
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