In May 2016, I took a trip to Walt Disney World resort. This isn’t surprising since I’d been visiting Disney World pretty much every year since 1986, but my oldest son had just graduated from high school so we decided to do a bigger family trip this year to celebrate. It was me, my two sons, my parents, my sister, her husband, and her three kids. We didn’t plan it to be an anniversary trip, but this trip was 30 years (almost to the week) since the first time my parents took my sister and I to Disney back in 1986. That very first trip, we stayed with my aunt and her family in their travel trailer at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. (And it was amazing!)
For the 2016 trip, I wasn’t trying to necessarily stay at Fort Wilderness because of it being where we first stayed, but we ended up booking two cabins there for the 10 of us. It became kind of exciting for me because we all got to stay here together 30 years after my family’s very first visit to Disney World. And after all of the times that I’d been since then, and all of the time I spent during those years researching my trips, I ended up making a mistake in 2016 that cost us a lot of time one morning and threw off our park touring plan for that day.
The morning that we were going to Magic Kingdom, everyone except my parents (they didn’t go to the parks at all for that trip) walked to the main bus station at Fort Wilderness since our cabins were very close to the front and the bus station. All of us had used the bus transportation at Disney numerous times, so we got to the bus station to wait for a Magic Kingdom bus. Disney had begun using monitors at the bus stations at the resort hotels about a year earlier and the monitors showed estimates of when a bus would arrive for all of the locations.
When we first got to the bus stop, I noticed there were only two times on the monitor, but I assumed it was because it was early and the parks weren’t open yet or the buses just hadn’t posted their times yet. I should have thought to question this immediately, but I didn’t. After about 30-40 minutes of no buses arriving for Magic Kingdom and no times showing on the monitor, a couple of other families and I were rumbling to one another about how long it was taking for a Magic Kingdom bus to show up. I ended up suggesting to my sister that we take the EPCOT bus that was pulling up and from there we’d take the monorail to Magic Kingdom. She agreed and we all got on the EPCOT bus.
Magic Kingdom was opening at 9:00 that morning and I already knew we weren’t going to get there before or even by 9:00 at that point. We rode the bus to EPCOT, from EPCOT we rode the monorail to the Ticket and Transportation center, and then we found the line for the Magic Kingdom Monorail to be super long. Clearly I hadn’t tried to take the monorail to Magic Kingdom before. With the line being so long, we decided to take the Ferry boat instead.
It wasn’t until we returned to our cabins for a mid-afternoon break that I found out that there are no buses from Fort Wilderness to Magic Kingdom. Before I tried to call the front desk at Fort Wilderness, I found the pamphlet near the cabin phone that mentioned that there was no bus service to Magic Kingdom. Instead, it said something about going to the Marina at the back of the resort to take a launch boat to Magic Kingdom.
I felt so stupid. All of the times that I researched the best ways to get places, the fact that we decided it would be easier to take Disney transportation instead of our cars, I never once thought to look up bus information for Fort Wilderness. It was almost 10:00 before we got to Magic Kingdom that morning. We used the launch boat to leave that afternoon and return to our cabins. I actually can’t remember how we got back to Magic Kingdom after we went back to stay until the park closed, but at the end of the night, we noticed there was a bus stop labeled Fort Wilderness Cabins and Campgrounds.
We were confused by this, but it was drizzling and about to rain at that time, so we went to the bus stop to find out if it really was going to Fort Wilderness. The bus driver assured us it was and we took the bus back. I asked the driver about there being a bus going back and not one to get to Magic Kingdom and he basically told me that there was a bus but you had to go to a certain stop near the Marina, blah blah blah, other stuff I don’t actually remember anymore. But I noticed he did enter and go down a road that seemed like it was not a normal bus line road. He dropped us off around 1a.m. near the bus stop at the Settlement Depot at Fort Wilderness. We then waited for an internal bus to take us up to the bus stop near our cabins.
This has been my biggest Disney World Fail, as far as I can remember, and all I know is that if/when I stay at the cabins again (we stayed in a cabin in 2019 but we had a car and only checked in after we’d already gone to the parks that day), I’m likely going to have a car, and at least if I don’t, I know not to try to wait for a bus to Magic Kingdom. °O°
— If you want to hear me talk about this, you can watch a video I posted in 2016, a few months after that trip. The part about the bus fiasco starts at about the 13 minute mark. —
We’re Disneyland veterans, so we only sort of know what we’re doing when we go to WDW. For our 2016 WDW trip we stayed onsite for the beginning of the trip, and then moved offsite for the end of the trip. That means we had taken the resort busses the first day we went to the Magic Kingdom. The second day we spent at the Magic Kingdom we drove our rental car. I completely forgot that if you park at the Magic Kingdom you are still across a lake from the entrance. That meant we were a good 20-30 minutes later than we planned and missed rope drop. Oops.