Uber, Lyft & Minnie Vans at WDW: Comparing NEW PRICING STRUCTURE & Value (Updated Oct., 2018)

Uber and Lyft have been servicing the Central Florida region for a while now, much to the chagrin of the local taxi companies such as Mears, Taxi Orlando and Yellow Cab Orlando. Their integration into the area became complete in the summer of 2017, when the two ride sharing services were finally allowed to pick up at Orlando International Airport.

Walt Disney World (WDW) joined the ride sharing game a few months later with the introduction of what they call “Minnie Vans.” Minnie Vans provide guests with point-to-point rides within the WDW complex, or directly to Orlando International Airport (MCO). When introduced, each Minnie Van ride was $20. In February 2018, they increased the price to $25 and not long afterwards, they introduced Minnie van rides from MCO to WDW for the (sarcasm) low, low (/sarcasm) price of “just” $150. Gratuity not included. Because of course it isn’t.

Although the ride from MCO hasn’t changed in price (yet), WDW has now changed the price of on-property Minnie Van rides to a $15 flat fee with a “per mile” rate on top of it. The “per mile” rate is not documented, which means Disney can play with the amount as much as they want, include their own form of surge pricing, etc. However several Disney blogs are suggesting the flat rate is currently based on roughly $2.75 to $3 per mile and the real-life examples that Summer from The Points Guy recently gave would support those rates.

So for potential ride-sharing customers who want to travel within the WDW property or to MCO, there are three options. Which one is best? Well, it depends. Read on…

Uber and Lyft each have their own software and price structure – prices are based on:

  • distance of ride
  • how popular ride sharing is at that moment (i.e. rides at rush hour, when it’s pouring outside, or right after the fireworks at Epcot all cost more because there’s more demand for rides during those times)
  • Size of the car you get (requesting a 4-passenger vehicle costs less than a 6-passenger one)
  • Type of the car you request (i.e. you can request a luxury car such as a BMW, Mercedes, etc., but it’ll cost ya)
  • Whether or not you’re willing to share a ride with a stranger (this “pool” option is not available in Orlando at this time)
  • Whether or not you’re willing to share a ride with a stranger and walk a bit to get to a specified pickup point (this “pool” option is not available in Orlando at this time).

Minnie Vans (which run off Lyft software) are red-with-white-polka-dots Chevrolet Traverse (Traverses? What’s the plural of Traverse?) that hold up to 6 passengers. Pricing had previously been a flat fee but is now a lower flat fee with a per mile fee on top of it.

How Much Do They Cost?

Minnie Vans’ price within the confines of WDW property is now, as we mentioned above, a flat fee of $15, plus a per mile rate.

Both Uber and Lyft offer fare estimate calculators so you can find out approximately how much a ride would cost.

Here are some examples of one-way prices, as of October 2018:

  • Grand Floridian to/from Disney Springs (this is about as far as a guest can go from one end of WDW property to another):UBER:
    Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 5.50.18 PM

    LYFT:
    Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 5.52.15 PM

MINNIE VAN:
          OLD PRICING, PRIOR TO 10/18: Previous to their change in pricing, this trip would have cost $25
NEW PRICING: Google says this trip is 6.8 to 7.4 miles, depending on route. Average of the 3 possible routes is 7.27 miles. Based on the prices several Disney groups have given ($2.75 to $3 per mile), you can expect this ride to cost $15 plus a mileage charge of between $19.99 and $21.81, for a total of between $34.99 and $36.81.

  • Coronado Springs to/from Disney’s Animal Kingdom (this is roughly halfway across WDW property):UBER:
    Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 6.03.17 PM

    LYFT:

    Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 6.06.37 PM

    MINNIE VAN:
    OLD PRICING, PRIOR TO 10/18: Previous to their change in pricing, this trip would have cost $25
    NEW PRICING: Google says this trip is 3.1 miles. Based on the prices several Disney groups have given ($2.75 to $3 per mile), you can expect this ride to cost $15 plus mileage charge of $8.53 to $9.30, for a total of between $23.53 and $24.30.

  • Old Key West to/from Universal Studios Orlando (off Disney property)UBER:
    Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 6.11.31 PM.png

    LYFT:
    Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 6.12.57 PM

    MINNIE VAN: Not an option

  • Port Orleans Riverside to/from MCO (off Disney property)UBER:
    Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 6.16.34 PM.png

    LYFT:
    Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 6.15.18 PM.png

    MINNIE VAN: $150, only from MCO to WDW (WDW to MCO not available)

Are there any discounts?

  • UBER: You can get a free ride (up to $15) as a new Uber customer, using the code q47f4 (full disclosure: if you use that referral code, we get a small kickback, as well)
  • MINNIE VANS run on LYFT software so any Lyft discount you have available to you is also available for Minnie Vans. Joe and I don’t have a referral code for Lyft, so if you do, feel free to post it as a reply here. Who knows, we might even use it ourselves! 😉

Some other things to keep in mind that may affect which service you’ll want to use:

  • Uber/Lyft are regular car owners who drive their own cars. I can tell you from multiple experiences that the cars are kept clean, smoke free and at a comfortable temperature, and many drivers have bottled water and candy available. Minnie Vans are dedicated vehicles that are driven by trained Disney Cast Members (CMs), which would mean you could expect the same high level of customer service as you would with any other Disney CM.
  • Uber and Lyft are available 24 hours per day. Minnie Vans are generally only available 6:30am to 12:30am on Disney property and 7am to 10pm for the airport shuttle.
  • Neither Uber nor Lyft offer wheelchair or ECV/scooter access in Orlando at this time (they do in other cities, just not in Orlando yet. Lyft’s website does offer alternative Orlando-based services that offer accessibility). You can request a Minnie Van that’s wheelchair or ECV/scooter accessible, but as per WDW’s website, an additional wait time may occur.
  • Both Uber and Lyft can provide car seats for an extra charge. Minnie Vans are equipped with 2 versatile car seats for free.
  • Tipping your Uber/Lyft driver is highly recommended, the same as you would for any motor vehicle ride in the U.S. (click here to learn about recommended tip amounts/percentages). Tipping is not required for Minnie Vans, although it’s specifically mentioned that gratuity is not included for the airport shuttle, which would suggest that tipping is suggested for that trip.
  • Both Uber and Lyft can drive you anywhere on or off Disney property. Minnie Vans can only drive you within the confines of WDW, or directly from WDW to MCO.
  • If your destination is the Magic Kingdom, Uber/Lyft can bring you as far as the Ticket & Transportation Center (and then you’d have to take a monorail or boat to MK), or you can have the driver drop you off at the Contemporary hotel and you can walk to MK. Minnie Vans can bring you directly to MK.
  • If your destination is Pioneer Hall (Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue) or Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness, Uber/Lyft can only drop you off at Fort Wilderness’ main parking lot, and then you have to take an internal bus to get to your final destination. Minnie Vans can bring you directly to the Pioneer Hall/Trail’s End buildings.

So which one should you use?

Honestly, that all depends on you and your priorities. Obviously, if you want to go off Disney property to anywhere except MCO, you’ll have to use Uber or Lyft since Minnie Vans aren’t available for those kinds of rides. Most of the time Uber/Lyft will be a little to a lot cheaper (unless you’re a party of 5, need a car seat and are going from one end of property to the other). Minnie Vans have the perk of a closer drop off point for MK and Fort Wilderness. And some people love the idea of a Disney CM driving them in a car painted like Minnie Mouse ;-). So, as is often the case, Your Mileage May Vary…but at least you now have the tools to help you compare, and that’s half the battle right there :-).

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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