One of the big updates announced at the D23 Expo was the start of Disney's own transportation service called Minnie Vans. (If you missed those new announcements click here to see all of them.) Well the Minnie Van fleet has hit the streets of Walt Disney World and I took one for a test drive to give you all the details.
Minnie Vans will be Disney's taxi service. They will drive guests anywhere on Disney property. As long as the location is part of Disney World they will pick up and drop off there.
The "van" is actually a 7 seater crossover (Chevy Traverse). It'll hold up to six of you (driver makes 7) and comes with two car seats in the back.
Minnie Vans Price and Booking
It's a $20 flat rate for any one way transportation. No matter how many people in the car, how far you go, or how long it takes, it's still $20. Drivers do not accept tips, so theirs no extra charge for that either.
No official word on the specifics of booking but Disney has said that you'll use your smart phone to call for a pick up.
Update: Confirmed that you will be using the Lyft app to book the cars.
If you've never used Lyft or Uber the process is very simple. You create an account on their app, and use it to call for a pick up. It will tell you how close the next available driver is and show you their location as they head to you. Payment is made directly thru the app so no money is changed hands and no cash is needed.
Partner hotels that aren't technically owned by Disney would not be included in the service such as Swan and Dolphin hotels. However, it'd be very easy to get dropped off next door at Boardwalk or Yacht or Beach Club and walk over. Disney Springs is of course included, as well as water parks and Fort Wilderness Campgrounds.
Disney's Minnie Vans VS Uber
I did some cost comparison with Disney Minnie Van service and Uber. I compared rates for driving from Contemporary Resort to Animal Kingdom Lodge to get one of the longest driving points on Disney World property. Uber lists a range since their prices are like a taxi service and do adjust based on time (traffic).
A standard Uber car was $9-12. Definitely cheaper than the $20 Disney rate. However, if you have a group larger than 4, you'll need an Uber XL which would be $15-19. And if you needed the bigger car AND a car seat, that would be $23-27. So, if you have a larger family and need a car seat, the Disney service would actually be cheaper.
The other thing to think about is the safety aspect. For many families with children they may not feel comfortable using Uber and hanging a stranger pick up their family. Whereas Disney's service would have the all the warm fuzzy feelings of safety and being driven by a Cast Member. So in that sense I can see many people preferring to use the Disney service even if they end up paying a little more.
Do we Need Minnie Vans?
We know that attendance at Walt Disney World is continually going up each year. With the addition of new lands over the next two years this will keep going. Especially with Star Wars Land, as we're really tapping into a whole new fan base. Crowds will be increasing and transporting all of them to the parks and resorts quickly and safely is a big concern. Monorails often have down times and issues, and the increasing traffic means that buses take a long time to get you anywhere. You pay a lot to be at Disney, and time is money. So having an option that gets you where you want to go easily and quickly is needed. Comparing the cost of using services like Minnie Vans or Uber to renting a car can help you decide the best option for your family.
This is still in testing phase, so for the moment they aren't available everywhere. Only Beach Club, Yacht Club and Boardwalk.
I'll update this post when I have a confirmed date on the start of the full program.
Update: the program has officially launched as of today, 8/01/17. Still only at those three resorts as a pick up spot but expect that to expand very shortly.
Here's an article from TechCrunch about the partnership between Lyft and Disney.
If you plan to use the service I'd recommend installing the Lyft app and creating an account so you're ready to go when you want to use it. Keep in mind that you won't really see the Minnie Vans as an option on your Lyft app until you are in the resort area where they pick up.
When you do use the app the Minnie Vans actually show up on the Lyft app different so you can identify them. Here's a pic I found on Twitter of what it looks like. (Couldn't track down who's image this is)