Using the Walt Disney World Boat transportation system on their extensive waterways is a relaxing, convenient, and unique way of getting from place to place on Disney property. Since not every location is connected by a waterway, it is simply not possible to use Disney World Boat transportation for all your travel needs on Disney property. However, if their routes fit your itinerary, boat transport can be a peaceful escape from the crowded busses, offering a smoother ride and even a cool breeze off the water. In addition, although they travel more slowly, their routes may still get you to your destination more quickly, especially when bus lines are long and nobody realizes the boat line is empty. Not to mention that there are no traffic lights on the waterways, and for that matter, there is no traffic whatsoever!
Epcot Internal Transport
On your first trip or two to Disney World you may not consider using the boats simply because there is not a lot of readily available info to help you find your way. For my first visit I didn’t even realize that the boats in World Showcase Lagoon in Epcot were open to the public. One runs between Canada and Morocco and the other between Mexico and Germany. Each of those boat rides saves a third of a mile walk. That may not sound like a lot saved steps, and you may be able to do the walk in less time, but after a full day in the parks in the 90+ degree August heat, it is a welcome break. Note that these routes run the Friendship boats which are enclosed and air conditioned. There is also limited open air seating in the back of the boat.
Epcot to Resorts and Hollywood Studios
Saving some miles in Epcot is just the start. Just outside the World Showcase entrance to Epcot you can pick up a boat that will get you all the way to Hollywood Studios. These are also from the Friendship fleet, offering the same enclosed air conditioned seating. The entire trip to HS will take about 40 minutes, including stops at the Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club and the Swan and Dolphin resorts. That may sound like a long boat ride, but if you were already in World Showcase you would have a 15-20 minute walk out to your bus stop, a 5-20 minute wait for your bus and a 15 minute ride to Hollywood Studios. You may also consider walking to Yacht & Beach Club for an ice cream at Beaches-n-Cream and waiting for the next boat headed towards Hollywood Studios. Point is, there are many different ways to utilize the Disney Boat Transportation system to break up the day.
Port Orleans to Downtown Disney
If you are staying at either of the Port Orleans resorts, Saratoga Springs, or Old Key West, you have the option of traveling by boat to Downtown Disney. These boats run to Downtown Disney Marketplace. For Port Orleans, take the Yellow Flag Boats.
Saratoga Springs and Old Key West to Downtown Disney
The Disney World Boat Transportation also runs between Downtown Disney and the two DVC Resorts, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West. From Downtown Disney, take the Blue Flag boats.
The walk from Downtown Disney West Side to Marketplace is about 0.6 miles. Later in the day you can avoid this hike by taking the Green Flag Boat, which has a dedicated route between the two ends of Downtown Disney. Note that the Green Flag boats do not run until later in the afternoon.
Magic Kingdom area resorts to Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom has the most extensive options for traveling to and from by boat. There are three docks to catch the four different routes leaving Magic Kingdom. Check the signs to make sure you are waiting at the correct dock. Depending on the time of day, one to three large Ferryboats run back and forth to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). These are the largest boats, carrying up to 600 people on two levels and will accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. There are two dedicated boats for Wilderness Lodge (Red Flag) and two dedicated for Fort Wilderness (Green Flag). There are also two dedicated boats (Gold Flags) that run loops between Magic Kingdom, the Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian. Note that there is no direct boat from Magic Kingdom to The Contemporary. The only way to The Contemporary via boat would be to go to Wilderness Lodge or Fort Wilderness and then take the Blue Flag boat, which runs a dedicated loop between The Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness.
As you can see, the boat transportation system at Disney World can be somewhat confusing and a bit complex. But once you get it figured out, it can add another dimension to the Disney Magic. It is a relaxing and unique mode of transportation that is sometimes more convenient and possibly more time efficient than other Disney transportation options. Download a Disney Boat Route Map.