During my last trip to Walt Disney World we had the experience of using Uber and the Minnie Van for transportation so that I could compare these services. These services do come at an additional charge and the free transportation options at WDW still exist, but Uber/Lyft and the Minnie Van allow you to, in most cases, get around the World quicker.
[This article was originally published in December 2017 and was later updated September 2019.]
The Minnie Van is the car service provided by Walt Disney World to compete with Uber/Lyft. They are operated by Disney employees (cast members) and are driving Disney provided vehicles. (Disney provided vehicles known as the Minnie Van. (Which aren’t really a van but are instead an SUV, but are ADORABLE!))
Uber/Lyft, as you know, is a company competing with taxi services, where the drivers are independent operators driving their own vehicles at schedules they themselves create. (Some drivers in select cities including Orlando now rent their cars from Lyft. I am not sure if Uber allows the drivers to rent vehicles.) For the most part, I’ve found them to be very clean. Much cleaner than any taxi I’ve been in. Out of maybe 30-40 rides, maybe 5 cars were not as clean as I would have liked. One of them even had phone charging cables and a bottle of water for me!
The Lyft/Uber/Minnie Van services are used via apps on your phone. The Minnie Van operates under the Lyft app. To request a ride, just open the Lyft app from anywhere on the Walt Disney World property. Scroll through the vehicle choices, and select a Minnie Van ride.
For more information on how to work the apps, check out this previous article that we wrote about using Uber at WDW.
Comparing both modes of transportation
When the Minnie Van first came out the price was pretty comparable when comparing an Uber plus Car Sear with that of the Minnie Van, which provides car seats included in the price. Minnie Vans started at a $25 flat fee but now they charge based on the distance. Unfortunately, it is MUCH more expensive to use the Minnie Van as it is to use a Lyft/Uber.
To travel from the Wilderness Lodge to Hollywood Studios, for example, it is $9.43 in a regular Lyft car and $14.29 in a Lyft XL (a vehicle that can fit 6 passengers,) but with the Minnie Van the price is $25.68. A car seat with Uber is $10 more so for this example the price is comparable, but many times we were finding the price for a Minnie Van to be about 3 times the price of Lyft/Uber. It’s difficult to choose this service based purely on price.
When comparing Uber plus Car Seat versus the Minnie Van, the price for a car with a car seat was roughly the same. It was $19.55 ish for an Uber with a car seat (Uber Family) versus the Minnie Van at $25 which always has two car seats available. As of now, I’m not aware of an option to use Lyft with car seats. (Edited in March 2018 to add the increased Minnie Van rate.)
The Minnie Van wins on the cuteness factor! It’s ADORABLE! They also can play music from the different Walt Disney World Resort deluxe hotels! It was so fun to pick and choose what we wanted to listen to. Plus the cast members give fun Disney tidbits. As a drawback, it took a little time getting the car seat installed, and it was tight fitting the stroller in the trunk with the unused car seat. Each Minnie Van carries 2 car seats. But a fun extra, Minnie Vans will apparently make a stop at a nearby gas station for water, etc. if requested.
When we use Uber/Lyft on Disney property we often have Disney cast members that are off duty driving us around. So that’s fun, but not always guaranteed. And you do more regularly now get individuals where English is not their first language making communication a little more difficult.
Transportation to/from the Airport
You can use both Uber/Lyft or the Minnie Van to get to and from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to your resort at Walt Disney World. Uber/Lyft will cost about $30 to go from property to the airport and the big jump here is that the Minnie Van costs $150. With Uber/Lyft you have to collect your bags and then go to the ride share area at your terminal to pick up your ride. You will have to wait a short bit to be picked up. With the Minnie Van the driver will be waiting at the bottom of the baggage claim escalator with a sign with your name. The driver will help you collect your bags and then take you to the Minnie Van. This would be a quicker process, but at a premium. (In the alternative, you could take an alternate airport car service that would provide you with black car service at the current price of $60 for a sedan, plus tip. We love Orlando Airport Towncar Service and have been using him for years.) One note, You cannot use the Minnie Van from the airport to go to a park, you must take it to a Walt Disney World owned and operated property. (Yes, we wanted to do this once!)
The Bottom Line
I would advise someone who wanted to get somewhere quickly on Disney property to take a Minnie Van if they were traveling with a preschooler/toddler. Or I’d recommend taking Uber/Lyft if it’s an adult only trip, or if you are out of the car seat phase. One other note, when we use Lyft/Uber now to travel to the airport we use a BubbleBum Inflatable Backless Booster Car Seat to secure my son in the seat on the way to the airport.
Which way are you leaning- Minnie Van or Lyft/Uber? Have you used either service around Walt Disney World? Comment below with your experience.