Editor’s Note March 24, 2022: Minnie Vans were discontinued (and some feared permanently) when the parks closed in March 2020. But Disney has now confirmed that Minnie Vans will be making a return in summer of 2022! Watch this space for updates and more information on dates when they are available. In the meantime, keep reading for how the service worked in 2020 below as the returning service will likely be quite similar.
If you have been to Walt Disney World in the past year, you might have spotted some red and white polka dotted SUVs around the property. Painted to look like Minnie Mouse herself complete with logo and Minnie’s signature bow, these “Minnie Vans” are the latest and greatest in Disney transportation.
Minnie Vans are Disney’s answer to Uber and Lyft, providing private on-demand transportation door-to-door around Walt Disney World. While Disney’s transportation system is pretty robust, with a complex system of monorails, buses, and ferries, there are kinks in the system. Some connections are hard to make. And sometimes the waits are more than all guests might want to tolerate.
As with all new things at Disney, you’ve probably got questions. As always, we have answers here at Trips With Tykes! I took Minnie Vans several times with my family during my most recent visit to Disney World for the opening of Toy Story Land. The devil is often in the details, so I grilled Minnie Van drivers to make sure I could address concerns and answer all the logistical questions other traveling families might have.
So, without further ado, here is the ultimate Minnie Van FAQ – all your questions about Minnie Vans at Walt Disney World answered plus tips and tricks for making the most of the service.
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Disney World Minnie Vans Questions Answered
Where can you find Minnie Vans?
When Minnie Vans were first announced, they were available at just a few Disney World deluxe hotels. Their expansion is now complete as of summer 2018; Minnie Vans are now available anywhere and everywhere on Walt Disney World property. They can go to and from Disney Springs, all four theme parks, the water parks, and every Disney resort from value to moderate to deluxe.
Several outlets have also reported that the vans go to the Swan and Dolphin hotels as well as the Four Seasons Orlando. The Lyft app shows Minnie Vans as available from these locations. Although I have no personal experience, I also was able to spot Minnie Vans available in the Lyft app for pickups at Shades of Green. So even if you aren’t staying in an official Disney resort, double check with your hotel’s concierge or on the app because Minnie Vans may still be available to you too!
Minnie Vans also now are also even available for rides to and from Orlando International Airport. As you might guess, those rides are incredibly expensive, especially given the free Magical Express transportation that Disney hotel guests already have.
How much do Minnie Vans cost?
When I visited earlier this summer, Minnie Vans charged a flat fee of $25 regardless of distance and number of passengers.
Just last week, however, a brand new pricing model was unveiled. And suffice it to say that prices didn’t go down. Minnie Van rides are now a minimum of $15 and charge a per mile fee on top of that – approximately $2.75 per mile. Average rides around Disney property are now more like $30-35 depending on distance. I mapped out a few routes to show you the prices you can expect below:
- Yacht Club to Art of Animation: $23.26
- Port Orleans French Quarter to Magic Kingdom: $28.96
- Epcot to Grand Floridian: $30.16
- Pop Century to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue at Ft. Wilderness: $34.06
- Port Orleans Riverside to Animal Kingdom Lodge: $35.20
- Contemporary to Animal Kingdom Lodge: $38.51
Finally, airport transfers are the ultimate splurge at a flat fee of $150 each way.
How do I request a Minnie Van at Disney World?
Requesting a Minnie Van is as easy as being able to use the Lyft app. If you have never used Lyft before, I strongly recommend downloading it to your phone in advance of your Disney World vacation and making sure your credit card is already linked and loaded.
The app is pretty easy to use and intuitive even if you are brand new to it. You simply select your location and input a destination. You will then see a number of Lyft car types available, but just scroll all the way to the right under the “more” menu where you will spot the very obvious Minnie Van logo and an estimated wait time. Hit the request button and your ride will be on the way (and trackable via GPS in the app).
If you have Lyft credits in your account, you’ll find that they will be automatically applied to your Minnie Van ride as well. If you are new to Lyft, you can even get $5 off with my referral code LESLIE620998.
Note that if you do plan to use a Minnie Van for airport transfers, you need to make a reservation in advance. Check with your hotel’s concierge for details or call 407-WDW-PLAY.
How long should I expect to wait for a Minnie Van?
Just like with Uber and Lyft, rides are not instantaneous and can be affected by factors like demand, time of day, and weather. Plan accordingly.
During our visit, wait times averaged about 5-15 minutes, but were usually something less than 10 minutes. The Minnie Van fleet has grown considerably in recent months, so Disney guests will probably be pleasantly surprised by their speed. The recent price increase may have the lucky result of slowing demand and reducing wait times as well.
I’d recommend requesting a ride as you are leaving your room in your hotel or walking out of a theme park to cut down on a few minutes you might be waiting on the curb.
Where do Minnie Vans pick up and drop off?
Don’t stress too much about exact location because the app will do the work for you. When you are requesting a ride, it will ask you where exactly you are. Just scroll through the choices offered and pick the best one.
If you are staying at a larger resort, you can request that a Minnie Van come to your building rather than having to walk to the main hotel lobby. For guests in places like Port Orleans Riverside or Coronado Springs, this can really cut down on transit time. Sometimes walks to the lobby there are 10 minutes or more for the more remote rooms!
Minnie Vans drop off at set locations by each park. Again, the app will feed you the choices that are available.
How many people can a Minnie Van hold?
Minnie Vans are Chevy Traverse SUVs and can hold up to 6 guests in addition to the driver (3 in the rear, 2 in the middle bucket seats, and 1 in the front passenger seat).
What hours are Minnie Vans available?
Minnie Vans are typically available from 6:30am until 12:30am every day of the week.
Do Minnie Vans have car seats for my kids?
Yes! The biggest reason for family travelers to use Minnie Vans is that every vehicle comes with two car seats in the trunk ready and waiting to safely transport your kids.
While Orlando has Uber Car Seat service, it’s definitely a service where your miles may vary. Different drivers may have different car seat models. When I took it with my toddler son on our last trip, the model he sat in worked well for his age but would not have rear-faced for an infant. And since Uber Car Seat charges approximately a $7-9 surcharge for Car Seat service, the price can be similar to what Minnie Vans charge.
And of course, if you have two children of car seat age, then there is no other transportation option that will meet your needs.
What car seat models can I expect in a Minnie Van? Will my child be too big or too small for them?
Disney uses the Graco 4Ever car seat in its Minnie Vans exclusively. Disney guarantees the seats are less than a year old and will replace them if they are ever in an accident.
The Graco 4Ever is probably one of the most versatile car seat models on the market, so I’m confident it will fit nearly every child that might need to use one. It’s a 4-in-1 convertible car seat. but I was told that Disney only uses 3 of the 4 modes (opting not to use the low back booster mode for the oldest of kids). This means it can be used rear-facing for younger children, forward-facing, and also in high back booster mode with the seat belt. As a result, it works in Minnie Vans for infants as small as four pounds to older kids up to 100 pounds.
Drivers get a full day of training on how to install the car seats in all different modes. As a result, they can do it for you in accordance with the model’s instructions in record time.
Who drives Disney’s Minnie Vans?
Minnie Vans are exclusively operated by Disney cast members. Even though you can find Minnie Vans in the Lyft app and Lyft technology allows you to request the ride, the drivers are not usual Lyft drivers. Many travelers hesitate to use Uber and Lyft because of the safety question. So you should have no fears if you aren’t comfortable with ridesharing because the Minnie Van drivers work directly for Disney.
Of course, being Disney cast members, you can expect service and friendliness to go above and beyond. Our drivers quizzed my daughter on Disney trivia, pointed out interesting sites, and told Disney stories as we took our rides. You definitely feel like you are in the Disney bubble in every way when riding in them.
Can Disney guests with special needs use Minnie Vans?
Yes! For guests in wheelchairs or ECVs, there are currently two options. Some of the regular sized Minnie Vans can accommodate a wheelchair or ECV. There are now also several specially-equipped larger Minnie Van vehicles that can provide transportation as well.
Guests who have special needs should check with their hotel’s concierge to make sure they can get the vehicle they need.
Should I tip my Minnie Van driver?
This is entirely up to you. When Minnie Vans first started, cast members were not allowed to accept tips. As of a few months ago, tipping is allowed, either in cash or in the Lyft app. I personally always tip Lyft drivers when I have a positive experience, and was happy to leave a $5.00 per ride tip for the extraordinary service we received aboard Minnie Vans. I’d imagine that with increased pricing, whether guests will tip is very much going to be a moving target.
Are Disney’s Minnie Vans worth it?
As with many Disney splurges, whether this extra cost is worth it to you depends on your unique personal circumstances. When pricing was a $25 flat fee, I was happy to pay it in certain circumstances. With some rides now more like $35+, I’m probably going to balk at using Minnie Vans quite a bit more on future trips. The price differential between Lyft/Uber is too great, especially as my kids get older and we will no longer need car seats.
Even with the price increase, there are circumstances where I think the splurge can be worth it. Since my almost 5 year old son is still of car seat age at the moment, my family is still definitely in the target demographic. I’d use Minnie Vans again but only under particular circumstances where I’d save time or have a more convenient travel experience.
Situations when I’d consider using a Minnie Van again for my family:
- Early morning hotel character breakfasts: Going from one Disney hotel to another always requires a transit connection, so a Minnie Van is a smart way to shortcut extra transit time and still sleep in.
- Going to the Magic Kingdom: Minnie Vans can drop guests right in the bus stop area of the Magic Kingdom steps from security. Anyone driving their own car or taking a Lyft or Uber has to get out at the Transportation and Ticket center and then take a monorail or ferry to the Magic Kingdom. Minnie Vans can substantially cut transit time for Magic Kingdom days, making their premium well worth it when time is of the essence.
- Going to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue: My family made the mistake of taking an Uber to our reservation at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Review on our last trip, not realizing that Uber couldn’t get us all the way there. As soon as we entered the gates of Fort Wilderness, we were dropped at the internal bus stop and had to ride a bus to our destination. As with Magic Kingdom, the Minnie Vans can go farther beyond the gates than other options can. They can drop you right near the Pioneer Hall theater. No extra bus ride required, making the Minnie Vans a time and stress saver.
- Going to Blizzard Beach: Blizzard Beach doesn’t have direct bus service from many Disney on-property hotels. If you want to avoid a transfer (usually at Disney’s Animal Kingdom), take a Minnie Van instead.
- During thunderstorms: Disney transit can definitely stretched at the seams when the weather gets bad. If we didn’t want an extra long wait for a bus in the pouring rain, I’d spring for a Minnie Van on occasion.
- When I have Lyft credit: Being able to apply regular Lyft credits to Minnie Vans is a huge and slightly unexpected perk. I often have credit in my account, and having even $5 off per ride brings the cost down to a more moderate and defensible splurge level in my mind.
I’d also recommend Minnie Vans to the following types of Disney visitors:
- Anyone nervous about ride-sharing safety: Although I use ride-sharing services liberally both alone as a woman and also with my children and have never had any issues, I realize everyone’s comfort level differs. If you are skittish about Uber and Lyft, Minnie Vans have the same functionality with none of the concern.
- Families with infants and younger toddlers who rear-face in car seats: While I’ve used Uber Car Seat with my son, there is no guarantee that families who have younger children that still need to rear face can get an appropriate seat. Minnie Vans have a car seat model you know will work so there are no surprises.
- Families with two children of car seat age: Other than taking your own car, there is simply no other option in the area that provides two car seats.
- Groups of 5-6 people: While up to 4 people can fit in a standard Uber or Lyft, larger groups either need to upgrade to an UberXL or LyftXL to fit in one car. At this point, Minnie Vans become more competitive price-wise and the difference may be negligible if you need a car seat. Take, for example, a trip from Port Orleans Riverside to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon. An UberXL with Car Seat is $18.84 but a Minnie Van is only $21.42.
Have you taken Disney’s Minnie Vans yet? Leave your experience in the comments. And let us know what you think about the new pricing model!
Disclosure: Disney hosted me on one of my Minnie Van trips on my last vacation for editorial purposes. All other experiences were at my own expense.
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